KP puts on ‘Pilipino’ week

    The UCSD Kaibigang Pilipino organization kicked off its annual Pilipino Awareness Week with a series of speakers, cultural activities and musical performances at Price Center Plaza on March 9. The organization will dedicate the week to highlighting Filipino culture and to raising awareness of issues affecting the Filipino community.

    Jennifer Downs
    Guardian

    In previous years, KP had organized a Pilipino Awareness Day, but since last year, the group has expanded its activities to cover a full week.

    “The goal of Pilipino Awareness Day and Week is to let people know that there is a Filipino community on campus and to make them aware of issues that are affecting … not just our community, but other communities of color as well,” KP social awareness chair Charlene Pena said.

    According to KP vice-chair external Jonathan Lego, Filipinos currently constitute about 5 percent of the UCSD student population.

    This year’s activities started with a speech from John Blanco, a UCSD literature professor, who addressed themes of cultural awareness and Filipino historical issues. Blanco emphasized investigating cultural questions and accepting personal differences.

    “We study and participate in the making of a community with the idea that it will teach us something about being Filipino or Filipino-American that we don’t already know, and that this knowledge is going to be useful … at least in finding new friends,” Blanco said. “But the more we get to know one another, the more we realize how different we are, and how impossible it is to say that the philosophy of one friend is anything like the philosophy of another, but that neither friend is either more or less ‘pinoy’ or ‘pinay’ because of this.”

    The professor concluded his talk with general remarks that transcended specific cultural groups.

    “Some of us wonder … whether the larger question isn’t how to be Filipino-American, but how to be human, in a world that, from the highest seat of the U.S. government on down, has gone quite mad,” Blanco said.

    After Blanco’s speech, KP academic director Noel Salunga presented his personal views on Filipino cultural awareness on campus.

    “Filipinos here at UCSD are visible right now through Kaibigang Pilipino, [but they’re] also visible as janitors cleaning up your dorms, cleaning up after you at Price Center after you eat [and] also visible around the world making the shirts you wear off your back … so Filipinos are contributing to our everyday lives, little do you know,” Salunga said.

    Musical performances for the day included Everything Is Andrew, a Mira Mesa-based punk band with mainly Filipino members, and Mabuhay Rondalla, a San Diego-based string ensemble. The Mabuhay Rondalla aims to promote Filipino culture through performing a variety of music ranging from traditional folk songs to contemporary tunes.

    “The musical performances were a good representation of our culture,” Revelle College sophomore Manuel Sequerra said.

    Daniel Gonzalez, Student Affirmative Action Committee representative to the A.S. Council, also gave a brief speech on university access, focusing specifically on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget cuts. According to Gonzales, the issues of student fee increases and reductions in financial aid affect all student groups.

    The day’s event concluded with a Filipino fashion show, in which KP members modeled traditional clothing and presented historical background on their attire.

    Overall, many members of KP felt that this first set of Filipino awareness activities went successfully.

    “I felt like [the day] went well because we were able to use the space we were given to express what we wanted and to share our culture,” Pena said.

    In addition, KP also ran a weeklong campaign to raise money for the Madapdap Therapy Fund, which was started by a group of students from different UC campuses who studied abroad in the Philippines last summer. The students helped children living in contaminated areas in the Philippines suffering from various health problems. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to transport children to physical therapy sessions.

    As a conclusion to its cultural awareness week, KP will be hosting a Pilipina Appreciation Dinner on March 12 at the Cross-Cultural Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., during which Filipinos throughout the San Diego community will be recognized.

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