Monday, October 24, 2011

October 2011 The Filipino-American Story: FilAm Fest Chair Dennis-Michael Broussard

Dennis-Michael Broussard, Event Producer,
 Speaker, MC, Coach & Trainer
Congratulations Dennis-Michael on another successful year of the FilAm Fest! It looks like it just keep getting better and bigger! I heard last year attracted 12 thousand people but this year, 20 thousand people, is this correct?  What do you think made this event so huge and much better this year?

This year, FilAmFest estimated attendance is somewhere around 17,000, but we don't have the final tally.  Could be a little more, maybe a little less, but let's just say it was about that.  This keeps getting bigger every year because every year we expand our marketing and outreach and having COX as a sponsor really helped in that effort, too, as they were playing our commercials.  Additionally, the event was better because of a few reasons - our committee is getting better with experience and the planning process is getting smoother and easier every year.  There are the hitches and bumps every year, but that comes with events on this size and scale.  We also shifted the focus to be greater on traditional and cultural aspects and I think that was cause for greater interest and participation from the community. 

Being the Chair of the FilAmFest, how long does it take to prepare this size of an event?
We start planning for the following year almost immediately after the event happens.  We do a wrap up meeting and discuss the good and the bad, what went right and what went wrong and how we can make it better next year.  The first year I was a FilAmFest director, we did the event in four months.  Now as chair, the committee knows that we need much more time than four months, so we start by the end of October of the previous year.

How did you become the Chair of FilAmFest?
I became Chair of FilAmFest after serving as a director of the event for a few years.  My relationship with the the special events department in the City of San Diego as well as my personal contacts with sponsors is what puts me as chair for the event.  I am less involved with the operations as I once was, as I let the very capable committee deal with that, while I oversee the major decisions of the festival and help guide them in some areas where their expertise might be somewhat limited.  

Chair Dennis-Michael at the Organizing Committee Meeting of FilAm Fest 2011
What do you want to do differently, if anything for next year's FilAmFest?
Differently?  I would like to see FilAmFest continue its increasing focus on traditional and cultural facets.  We are going to build on our relationships with the mainstream media, to reach out to more non-Filipinos, while at the same time, increase our outreach to other Filipino groups who we have not yet had a part of the FilAmFest.  There is talk and interest in bringing carnival rides into the event, but we will see if that actually happens.   

FilAm Fest 2011 Organizing Committee Meeting

I have learned you are really active in the FilAm Community, what are your other projects this year?
I am extremely active, not just in the Filipino community, but in the Asian American community in general.  This fall season has been one of my busiest falls ever.  My team did the Filipino Cultural Night Pre-Game Entertainment with the San Diego Padres; we created the AMP Music Festival (which is an Asian American out door music festival); I just came from San Francisco last weekend where I was directing an Economic Development Conference; I just completed some events with the San Diego Asian Film Festival; and my team is doing the Asian Business Association's Annual Dinner Gala Fund Raiser in November.  There are several other projects that happened this fall, but these were our biggest ones.  I also created the Asian Cultural Festival, which we do in May, for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. 

Filipino Food at FilAm Fest 2011

With a busy life in America how do you find time to all of this?
Well, this all why I am busy.  It's finding the time to do other things that is the having a normal life!  ;-)

You are the owner of Silk Road Productions? Tell us about it?
Silk Road Productions is my event management and production firm.  I started it as a side project when I was completing my second graduate program.  I've been doing all of my events and projects under this banner and in the years that have passed, I have been able to expand and build a team of the most talented, capable, intelligent, and attractive team.  Megia Chou, Cynthia Francisco, and Ruriko Sato have been instrumental in all of our major productions.  We do it all.  Festivals, conferences, parades, concerts, networking mixers, fund raisers, dinner galas, conventions, art shows, whatever the project is, we produce it.  And we do it on two fronts, either for hire, or we create them ourselves. 

Are you born here in America?
I was born in the USA, but before I can remember, we moved to the Asia-Pacific area.  My father was in the US Navy so we bounced around quite a bit.  I lived in the Philippines for a total of about six years.  But I was very young.

Where are your parents coming from in the Philippines?
My mother currently lives in Olongapo City.  I have visited her there twice recently.  My last visit was in March of this year and I got scuba certified while I was there - there isn't much to do in her town, so I was happy to have that experience there. 

I am sure you speak tagalog,  do you also speak another dialect?
I actually do not speak tagalog anymore.  I forgot it all while living in the United States.  My family here didn't really encourage foreign languages, but I developed a penchant for exactly that - so I ended up studying Japanese, German, Spanish, Mandarin, and my current language fascination is with French.  I don't speak any of those fluently, but I can get around well enough.

What is your favorite Filipino Food?
I like chicken adobo and I think it is called Nilaga(?).  The beef stew.  I like a good pansit, but not the type with the thick egg noodles.  And lechon.  Gotta love a good lechon!

What is your favorite Filipino Restaurant here in San Diego?
There are a lot of good ones.  Can't say I have a favorite yet!

Being a FilAm, what part of our culture or traits are you most proud of?
Filipinos are a proud people.  And Filipinos are a caring, open, and hospitable people.  I didn't really identify with being Filipino when I was living and being raised in New Orleans.  It was not until very recently, after living in San Diego for a few years that I could identify and really feel as a part of the community.  Their openness and friendliness is something I value.
Did you have anyone that you consider as the main reason you are where you are now?
There are any number of people who have been an influence on me that helped get me to where I am and to where I am going.  Too many people to mention and I don't want to forget anyone.  I'll just say there are many people who have been inspirational, influential, and motivational, and I appreciate them all.

Do you still visit Philippines?
I do.  I went for the first time in 20 years in 2009, and went again earlier this year.  I plan on going again sometime in 2012.

If there is one thing you want to say to our FilAm brothers and sisters who are trying to be successful here in America as well, what would it be?
Pursue an education.  Work hard.  Network with and learn from people who do what you want to do.   Don't let failure get you down.  And always do the right thing. --MaG

FilAm Fest 2011 Organizing Committee, photo courtesy of FilAm Fest

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