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Hundreds gather at Philippine Independence Day festival in SLC

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jun 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-12 23:50:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — More than a few hundred people gathered at the Jordan Park on Salt Lake City's west side Saturday to celebrate the Philippine Independence Day.

It was a day filled with music, laughter, and most importantly, Filipino food.

"Very excited to be among my people and to celebrate the independence day," said attendee Spencer Ferrer.

The Yum Yum Food Truck, which was vandalized with racist, anti-Asian hate messages last week, unveiled its new look at the event.

Utah Jazz star and Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson donated the new wrap for the truck, as well as the detailing and restoration.

READ: Jordan Clarkson lends support for food truck vandalized with hate messages

"I got on the phone and they got on the phone, and we all just made the contact real quick and made it happen," Clarkson said in a post-game interview posted to ESPN's Twitter.

The community turned out in droves to support the food truck. The wait was an hour-and-a-half at times, with hundreds of people lined up to taste their food.

"Seeing all these people come here to support us is amazing," said Natalie Richards.

Throughout the pandemic, Asian-Americans and Asian-owned businesses have experienced a wave of racist attacks and bouts of vandalism. According to reporting from CNN, hate crimes against Asians in the country's 16 largest cities is up 164% from this time last year.

Attendees said events like the Philippine Independence Day celebration can help to bridge the divide.

"It is so sad," said Regina Mercado, a co-chair of the Filipino Festival who helped organize the event. "But we hope, we're hoping that people will accept one another because we co-exist."

"I'm here to support the Philippine community and make sure that they know there are people here that support the cause and love the people," said Judy Weeks-Rohner.

Mercado and other organizers said they were not expecting the massive turnout on Saturday.

"Celebrating my heritage means a lot to me," said Richards. "Being half Filipino is really amazing. I get to show both sides being half white and half Filipino. Being here with my friends means a lot because they're supporting me as well."

"Love is greater than hate," added Ferrer. "So, we've got to represent."