One local church brings the Filipino culture to Topeka

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- St. Matthew Catholic Church brought a little Filipino culture to Topeka Sunday afternoon with its annual Sinulog Festival.

"Celebrating Sinolog is one of the very important aspects of our tradition and we would like to bring it here, in Topeka," founding organizer, Sheila Sortonis, said.

Mother of one, Sheila Sortonis, was among about 200 other parents and people for the 6th annual Sinolog Festival.

The celebration started with a traditional catholic mass, which quickly turned into a Sinolog program complete with music and dancing.

"They know that it is a part of their own filipino culture and they participate in it," Sheila Sortonis.

"It's a religious festival and it's an event also to give thanks to the lord for all the blessings we receive," Program Queen, Penny Ascorageist, said.

Representing the program queen, Penny Ascorageist, said Children and Women dressed in festive outfits to praise the baby Jesus.

"We want them to grow in faith embrace our Filipino culture and values as well as American values," Sortonis said.

Organizers said the music and street dance is meant to resemble the one in the Philippines.

"Their celebration is bigger than this. They have street dancing, Mardi Gras, presentation of Sinolog dances and foot festivals. It's grand," Ascorageist, said.

After moving to the beat of the Filipino music it was time for the traditional Philippines inspired feast.

"We are sharing our Filipino spirit through our different Filipino recipes and dishes," Sortonis said.

"It's so much fun. It's a lot of preparation and you can see all the Filipinos here are united just for the celebration," Ascorageist said.

Sortonis said she's happy her child will be molded into a faithful Filipino-American.

"It's a very touching experience as parents that they will not forget their Filipino identity even though they are already here in the U.S," Sortonis said.

Sheila said her family is already looking forward to the Sinulog Festival next January and maybe one day they could visit the celebration in the Philippines.