Given every ounce of sweat, dedication and enthusiasm displayed by the members of the Filipino-American Student Association at each rehearsal, it is no surprise that their upcoming Filipino Culture Night will combine the effects of hard work, creativity and pure entertainment.
p. Tomorrow at 5:30 p.m., FASA will perform “Bayani: A Filipino Journey,” a play featuring the traditional and modern dance of Filipino culture. Written and directed by the Culture Night co-chairs, Rob Landicho ’08 and Tamara Peterson ’09, the play tells the story of a young black, half-African-American male who explores his Filipino culture in order to get a better sense of his own identity and cultural roots.
p. The story uses dance and traditions to express may aspects of the story. Anthony Elopre ’08, the co-president of FASA, discussed the significance of the play’s choreography, coordinated by the members. “We try to showcase traditional dances from the Philippines — a main way that people can appreciate Filipino culture,” he said. “Generally, from these cultural events, a lot can be conveyed through dance. There can be language barriers surrounding the culture, but anyone can appreciate dance.”
p. Elopre emphasized the cultural bearing of the play’s origins. “We made the play relevant to issues concerning both Filipinos in the Philippines and the U.S. Our play is inspired by both our co-chairs’ experiences,” he said.
p. Peterson came up with the play’s premise, while Landicho assisted with its direction. “Anyone who watches it will think it’s about my brother, since I’m half-Filipino, half-black,” she said. “I wanted to portray the fusion of both cultures helping to shape one’s identity. I take a lot from knowing about the Filipino culture, which is highly influenced by Spanish, Japanese and American cultures. The Philippines were colonized by these countries. Rob had a really big part in writing the play and the direction if it.”
p. The performance highlights traditional dance, using music, singing and tribal costumes. “One of our signature dances is the ‘Tinikling,’” Elopre said. This intricate routine involves nimble movements with bamboo sticks and fast-paced, highly coordinated footwork. “The tribal dances expose vast cultural influences that stem from Filipino history, including Muslim, Spanish, as well as modern and hip-hop influences.” The Spanish-influenced “Pandanggo,” another dance featured in the play, originated during Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.
p. “Arnis” will be another featured performance, which “involves two bamboo sticks and an intricate form of martial arts,” R.J. Gomez ’10, who coordinated the performance, said. “The performer uses bamboo sticks to take down his opponents. Seeing everyone come together and work together is remarkable. Everything flows together, so the end product is something that people will want to see. That’s why FASA is one of the few culture shows that people really anticipate.”
p. Tyler Hudgens ’09, who plays the title character of Bayani, seconded Gomez’s sentiment. “Everyone on the set had really good chemistry. I hope it all comes together, with all the three-hour practices,” he said.
p. Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach and willing palate, because Filipino cuisine, including pork, vegetarian food and rice, will be a mouth-watering draw for spectators interested in a tantalizing mix of culture and taste. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
p. “I just hope that people will come and enjoy themselves and get interested in learning more about our culture,” Elopre said. “And for those who aren’t familiar, they’ll learn something new.”
The cast hopes all their hard work will pay off. “Ultimately, we put this show on to educate people in an entertaining way. Hopefully the audience will appreciate that,” Carling Sitterley ’08, co-president of FASA, said.