Students, family, friends and other Western clubs joined the Filipino-American Student Association in celebrating their 21st Annual Heritage Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 24. This year’s dinner brought a new focus on the culture and history of the Philippines.
The theme for the heritage dinner was ‘Perlas ng Silanganan,’ which means ‘Pearl of the Orient Seas.”
The club picked this for the theme because they wanted to highlight the beauty and rich resources of the Philippines, sophomore FASA President Erick Yanzon said.
More than 300 people attended the event held in the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room.
The dinner was funded through various groups including FASA, Western’s Ethnic Student Center and Leonard Jones and In-Kind Housing and other as well as from ticket sales, Yanzon said.
Typically, the dinner is just about eating and entertainment, but this year’s dinner was very different than in past years, Yanzon said.
“This year is more about culture. We wanted to have a purpose to our dinner and show the community what the Philippines is like,” Yanzon said.
The event told of the various people and different traditions found throughout the nation. The club wanted to raise awareness on some of the issues that are going on in the Philippines including the recent Typhoon Lando.
Although the Philippines is one nation, there are over 100 different ethnic groups and dialects spoken throughout the islands, Yanzon said. Not only has the dinner changed to be more culture-based, but the club structure has also changed, Yanzon said.
This year the club will be focusing on learning various aspects of Filipino culture, Yanzon said.
Fall quarter is focused on exposing their members and other students to the culture and history of the Philippines. Social activism within the Filipino community will be the focus of winter quarter, while spring will look at the upcoming presidential election in the Philippines and focus on preparing for the Northwest FASA Conference.
The dinner featured performances of traditional Filipino dances including Singkil and Sayaw sa Bangko. Some of the performers included the Port Angeles Filipino Folk Dance Group, Sayaw sa Western as well as Sini-GANG, a hip-hop dance group formed by former FASA Western students.
Junior Sean Teraoka is a part of the dance group Sini-GANG. He thinks FASA is a great community that brings everyone together.
“The heritage dinner is important because they bring history to the dinner. It brings people together. It brings a light to Filipino culture,” Teraoka said.
The dinner is not only a celebration, but is used as a fundraiser to help send the club to the Northwest FASA Conference in spring, which gives students the opportunity to participate in leadership, diversity and culture workshops, junior Christine Consolacion said.
“I have never been in a club like this. Especially something so close to my heritage,” Consolacion said. “It’s really interesting to see where everyone is coming from.”
The Ethnic Student Center is important because it is a place to turn if people don’t know much about their identity, Teraoka said.
Members from the other Western ESC clubs as well as members from FASA clubs in Oregon attended the dinner to support the Western FASA club.
“We are here as Filipinos,” Yanzon said. “We’ve got to be in solidarity and be together.”
FASA ended the dinner with a chant they say after every meeting, Consolacion said.
“Isang pamilya, isang dugo,” which translates to “One family, one blood.”