Filipinos and Filipino-American students displayed their talents at the Students for Pilipino American History Month talent showcase on Oct. 21 in the University Student Union Performing Arts Center.
The overall message of the performance, which was organized by the CSUN Filipino American Student Association, was that Filipinos are present and have talent, and that the lack of visibility of Asian Americans in the media does not accurately reflect that, said Joe Gravina, senior Asian American Studies major and Pilipino Cultural Night coordinator for FASA, regarding the significance of the SPAHM showcase.
“We’re giving these (performers) a chance to perform for the community and show their talents because maybe (it will) open up doors for them,” he said.
For Earl Lagmay, junior business law major and president of FASA, the showcase was a success.
“I’m relieved,” Lagmay said. “I’m happy that it’s a success.”
Since the first historical record of Filipinos living in the United States, which was Oct. 18, 1587 in Morro Bay, California, Pilipinos have viewed October as Pilipino American History Month.
CSUN FASA first began its workshops in 1995 through SPAHM. The workshops were created to examine Filipino-American life, including its art, culture, dance history, immigration, myths and legends.
According to Gravina, other than FASA, the Filipino community at CSUN is not represented.
“I think that (with) FASA, we’re known,” Gravina said. “We’re being heard, we’re well known on campus, we (have) been around for over 20 years. As far as the Filipino community – and I’m talking about members who aren’t in FASA, just Filipinos that go here, old and young – I don’t think we’re being heard.”
“I don’t think we’re standing up for as many things, not like other clubs (and) organizations on campus that are visible in the political realm, the social realm, or when passing votes in (the) Associated Students (Senate),” he said.
The SPAHM showcase was funded by Associated Students and held at the Performing Arts Center.
In keeping with the tradition of Pilipino American History Month, both Philippine and American national anthems were sung at the start of the event. Dance troupes, music acts, and an excerpt from a one-person show were all performed at the showcase.
“I think the acts tonight are a good variety,” Gravina said. “I’m really happy with the performance tonight.”
The show started with a performance from the modern dance team, Fasmode. The group was created by several FASA members to give aspiring dancers within the organization a chance to display their talents. The group’s choreography during the event displayed intricate footwork and rhythm.
Also displaying choreography skills was the comedy dance troupe of Abalos Pros.
The group’s act included a parody of Filipino dance traditions, such as the Tinikling.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” said Jeff Abalos, one of the members of the group.
The troupe performed at the SPAHM event in previous years, so when they were invited to come back, they gladly accepted, he said.
For Abalos, being Filipino is important.
“The Filipino community is close knit,” Abalos said. “We try to explore our culture more.
The performance of the Clean Up Crew featured a percussion trio that used objects such as trashcans.
One of two rap music acts, Day One, turned the audience into a dance party, as people from the audience came up on stage to break dance right in front of the group.
To balance the rap acts on the bill, singer-songwriter Kyle Phelan played his brand of soul and R’B. He sang a cover song from John Mayer and a spin on the hit song “Don’t Cha” from the group The Pussycat Dolls. Phelan was able to engross the crowd with his musical styling.
Christian Moralde, writer and performer of the one-person show, “Don’t Call Me Walter,” also performed. He provided a detailed history of his childhood and growing up as a Filipino. During his performance, Moralde described how being Filipino is different.
Following Moralde’s performance, the audience rushed up to the front of the stage right before Inner Voice was set to take the stage. The show closed with Inner Voice, which performed a blend of pop music
Gravina said his group welcomes all ethnic groups to participate in FASA.
“We accept you for who you are, and we’ll teach you about our culture, and if you want to stay, then stay,” Gravina said.
John Barundia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.