Pilipino Cultural Exchange/Courtesy Photo

Sayawan — a Pilipino term meaning “a dance” — entitles the 27th annual Pilipino Cultural Night. Hosted by Cal Poly’s Pilipino Cultural Exchange (PCE), the student-organized club has spent the year preparing songs, dances and a theatrical play to share Pilipino culture with the community.

Sayawan’s theater performance will go back in time to Stockton’s renowned Taxi Dance Halls of the 1920s — a prominent setting reflecting local Pilipino history. The Taxi Dance Halls were host to hired women who danced with the male patrons. Most of Stockton’s dance girls at the time were white, while the migrant farmworkers who attended were predominantly Pilipino men. This created a strong case for racial tensions.

With this backdrop, the narrative follows a young Pilipina orphan navigating her way as an immigrant in the U.S. Her coming-of-age journey touches on themes of interracial love, prejudice, culture and unity.

Addressing Sayawan’s relevance to the community, Pilipino Cultural Night coordinator Jasmine Mae Viera said, “We want the event to be very important to Cal Poly and the community here because as a cultural club, we are the minority. And that being said, we don’t want to flaunt our culture, we want to share it with people. PCN wants to show the Pilipino culture of hospitality and togetherness. We want people to learn about our culture and learn that racial tensions are still an issue today. But it’s something that if we work together on and address together, we can overcome.”

“PCE has this motto that we end our meetings with, and it’s called ‘isang baksa.’ It basically means: ‘If one falls, we all fall.’ We want to give that concept that we are a community and we are going to work together; if one of us is struggling, we will struggle with you, but help you up in the process. And that’s what we want the rest of Cal Poly to feel with us. Isang baksa.”

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at pacslo.org. The show begins at 7 p.m. on April 22 and 23 in Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre.

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