Family photos and stories lined the hallway leading into Campion Ballroom last Friday for Seattle University’s United Filipino Club’s 23rd annual Barrio celebration. This year’s theme was “In Our Hearts: Sa Puso Namin.” The theme focused around the emotional distance o en felt between families in America and their family in their ancestral home.
The Barrio celebration included a skit which portrayed a family that had been split between America and the Philippines. The skit showed the struggle of a mother, father and their two kids to reconnect with their Filipino roots. The skit would pause and resume to showcase traditional and modern dances portraying different aspects of Filipino culture.
One of the dances was titled “Sugod Uno,” where the dancers portrayed Mountain People of the Bagobo-Tagabawa Tribe. The dancers gracefully moved around the stage wielding sticks, which they would rhythmically pound on the stage as they congregated in a circle.
The UFC girls danced with tambourines in the Panderetas at Barrio.
Second year student Victor Mansanarez acted in the skit and also performed in some of the dances. He has been a part of the United Filipino Club since his first year at Seattle University.
“The main goal of the Filipino Club is to enhance Filipino awareness and showcase community,” Mansanarez said. “Everybody feels a bit nervous of course, but we have practiced so much that it’s just second nature by now.”
Another dance performed at Barrio was titled “Pagapir.” It featured a group of women in vivid colors wielding gold fans. The fans caught the light from above and scattered it across the ceiling in golden luminance. The dancers created aesthetic shapes with the fans, exciting the crowd.
Not only was there dancing and acting, there was an abundance of food. The food was cooked in traditional Filipino style. Choices included rice, a pork dish called lumpia, a rice noodle dish called pancit bihon, a tofu and vegetable dish called pinakbet and a variety of other options such as chicken, eggplant, banana and bay leaves.
Guests enjoyed pancit, ube cupcakes, and lechon at UFC’s Barrio celebration.
There was also a sari-sari store that was selling some tasty treats in shades of purple and yellow. The purple color came from a traditional purple yam called ube, used in many Filipino desserts. All of the proceeds from the deserts went to students in the Philippines to study sustainable agriculture. The volunteers at the stand said that coconut is traditionally used in a lot of native dishes. One of the student performers milling around the Sari-Sari during the skit’s intermission was Catherine Peng, who performed in two dances.
Peng is from Taiwan, but she says that she feels at home in the United Filipino Club and has made many good friends there. She describes it as a fun and supportive community. She also can relate with the theme of the night’s event.
“Even though I’m not Filipino, I believe the theme connects with a lot of Asian Americans and their identities in the U.S.,” Peng said.
The skit touched on some emotional topics. It portrayed moments where the remaining family members in the Philippines were hostile towards their family members who had moved to America, saying that they had forgotten about and abandoned their traditional roots.
This is a theme that seemed to strike home for event participants and the audience members alike. The crowd reacted vocally to many of the emotional scenes of the skit.
While there were certainly tense moments between the family members in the skit, there were also many moments that portrayed familial love and care. They all bonded over food, and when the family who resided in America left, the family in the Philippines promised to send boxes of snacks.
The night ended with recognition of the senior members of UFC and closing remarks. The Barrio celebration ended on a cheerful note, with positive wishes for the future and messages about staying connected and celebrating Filipino ancestral roots.
“We are always together,” event organizer Patrick Cunanan said. “Su puso namin, in our hearts.”
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