On March 18, Tate Grand Hall was packed with hundreds of attendees at the University of Georgia Filipino Student Association’s 18th annual Filipino Culture Night. The event was titled “Kapamilya,”meaning “part of the family” in Tagalog.
The event celebrated Filipino culture and the organization’s close-knit and diverse community through food, including pork adobo, kalabasa and sisig, traditional and hip-hop dances, a ballad and a fashion show.
The event opened with a choir singing the national anthems of both the United States and the Philippines and was followed by Philippine folk dances including the traditional Cariñosa and Binatbatan.
Binatbatan is a dance originating in the Ilocos region of the Philippines in which dancers hold two sticks called “Batbat.” The sticks are clapped together and beaten on the ground, emulating the practice of farmers who beat cotton pods to separate the fibers from the seeds.
Dancers also performed a hip-hop dance with an original rap song titled “F.S.Anthem,” written and performed by Nate Sasapan, a junior computer science student at UGA. The song combines different influences to celebrate aspects of Filipino culture in Sasapan’s life and the family he has found in FSA.
The event also premiered a short film titled “As The Sun Sets,” directed and written by the FSA’s technical director, Justin Kim.
The film follows a freshman Filipino American student named Cassie who relies on her sister to avoid the struggle of finding herself in college. When her sister forces Cassie out of her apartment and takes away her key, Cassie must prove she can settle into college life to get the key back. Alongside her childhood friend AJ and her roommate Kimberly, Cassie confronts questions of purpose, identity and family.
Kim said the film included many personal elements.
“They say ‘write what you know’, and that’s what I tried to do. When I watch the film, I see little bits of myself all around it,” Kim said. “Whether you’re half Filipino, queer or a child of an immigrant, these things are very important to me and they’re included in the film.”
After 18 culture nights, FSA vice president Kiko Tumpalan is proud of the organization’s growth in active members over the years and FSA’s ability to put on bigger and better events.
Tumpalan hopes the culture nights and FSA can provide students a sanctuary away from home.
“We’re trying to create a place called home, a Kapamilya,” Tumpalan said.
Clarification: This story was updated to include more detail.