United Filipino Club Celebrates 25 Years Of Barrio



From left to right, Justin Paeste and Huy Pham perform various pop songs during the dinner reception at the United Filipino’s Club annual Barrio.

The lobby of Campion hummed with a bustle of activity this past weekend as a large crowd of students, friends, families, and neighbors celebrated the United Filipino Club’s 25th annual Barrio Fiesta. The sizable gathering, made up of the diverse student body at Seattle U, went to celebrate this year’s theme “Magsaya: Ikaw ang Lahat— Rejoice: You are Everything.”

This year, the theme focused on self-acceptance, as well as the Filipino identity and the family groups that we are both born with and the ones that we choose. The co-chairs for organizing the event were Third-year Biology major Michelle Soledad and Third-year Pre-major Ethan John Canio who talked about how they came up with the theme.

“We started off knowing it would be the 25th year and we wanted to recognize the hard work that has gone into past years…we wanted to make this year about celebrating what we’ve did and recognizing the abundance of our culture,” Soledad said.

The event was also a gigantic milestone in the history of the club, as it is an event that has been on campus annually since 1994. Speakers from past events talked about the history of the club and what it meant to the people involved, not only in the past, but in the present as well, that the club and the event were still going on strong after all these years.

After dinner had concluded, the skits and dances that the students had been working on were showcased. The skits focused on the story of two children trying to honor their Filipino heritage with a performance. Through the play, the story of the children’s mother growing up in the Philippines was told, based on real experiences that club members were told by their parents.

The play utilized the main theme of the night through the stories, as the children’s mother finds acceptance in herself with the amount of money her family had, as well as knowing that she must be happy with the house and shoes she has. Another recurring theme of the play and the night was that of family. In the back of the ballroom were pictures of students with their families, including pictures of people from the club in the past. It was not just the biological family that the event showcased, but also the families that were created with their friends and peers.

Canio spoke about how the skit was planned to show the experiences that they tried to highlight through the play and the message about a Filipino identity in the skit.

“We wanted to connect the skit to the story of our mothers…this gave me a really good opportunity to get to know how [my mother] grew up, what struggles she’s gone through,”
Canio said.

In between scenes of the play, the club performed a series of dances that were a mix of traditional and modern. This mix showed that the club was not just trying to preserve the heritage of the Philippines in the past, but were also trying to make their own mark on the world.

The traditional dances included the Sayaw Sa Bangko, a dance where the two dancers are atop a thin wooden bench and constantly change places. In the finale of the dance, two dancers hopped between the two sides while three other benches were stacked below them. This feat of athleticism and skill won over the crowd and generated a massive roar of approval.

Elliot Van Steveninck, a second-year pre-major who attended the event, spoke to how wonderful the event was, especially how he was still able to connect with the theme of the night even though he wasn’t Filipino.

“I always find it so professional and how dedicated the people that do this event are,” Van Steveninck said. “I think that it’s a great theme, especially because Seattle U is an inclusive university, so the way that people can come here and connect to the event and the story and the theme is wonderful.”

The event included a silent auction and a sari-sari store where people could purchase traditional Filipino desserts and items. All of the money raised from the tickets, the silent auction, and the store went to the Foundation for Philippine Progress, an organization that helps with education, health, and human rights issues.

The night ended with the recognition of members of the club and emphasized the themes of the night with a recognition of the family that the club had created for itself and the fulfillment that staying true to yourself has.

Logan may be reached at
[email protected]