Traditional folk dancing, hip-hop and a capella choir pieces are just some of the performances to be featured in the 21st annual Pilipino Cultural Night (PCN). Held on April 24 and 25 at Spanos Theater by Pilipino Cultural Exchange (PCE), the production promotes the Filipino culture through singing, dancing and acting.
The production itself is a musical drama, following a story about a detective’s work on a mystery case. Yet the play also infuses the three performance groups in PCE — Kasayahan, the cultural dance group, Ating Himig, the a capella choir, and Modern, the hip-hop dance troupe. The three groups perform several pieces that are incorporated throughout the play.
Andreleto Bascos, a construction management senior, who is the lead role in the production, said the dances are incorporated to add a cultural flare.
“PCN is basically a script, and what they do is add in little inserts to incorporate the different performance groups. It could be a stand-alone play just by itself, but we like to have more diversity,” Bascos said.
Bascos, who participated in a minor role in last year’s PCN, wanted to take on a bigger role this year. And, with past acting experience going only as far as a high school drama class, Bascos said he is excited to take on the challenge and get a better understanding of the entire musical.
“Last year, I really felt left out of the entire script — I had no idea what was going on. I was always busy just going from one performance practice to another, so I didn’t really get to know what the whole script was about,” Bascos said.
Bascos confesses that the biggest hardship throughout the preparation has been the time commitment. Perhaps the most time put into the production can be attributed to this year’s PCN coordinators, architecture senior Simone Eve Bundang, computer science junior Patrick Casao and aerospace engineering junior Noel Las Pinas.
Together, the three have prepared almost everything for the show, from booking the venue to script writing. Head coordinator Bundang said the preparation began over summer with creating the story line. Although it took the most time, she said she found it the most exciting part.
“In the beginning of the summer, we were just discussing ideas, and one of my friends suggested something about a detective. And I was also taking a class in Contemporary Film Noir at the same time, and I thought that was really interesting. So we kind of just played off of that and started to build and build,” Bundang said.
The script calls for about 30 different speaking parts. Many of the actors are also participating in the performance groups. Civil engineering freshman Bryan Igarta, who has a minor role in the play with a few speaking parts and is also performing with Kasayahan, said he likes that the production encompasses all aspects of PCE.
“I thought it would be pretty fun to be part of the show. It kind of ties everything that PCE has all together, like our different performing groups,” Igarta said. “I definitely wanted to be a part of something big early on in my college years.”
Pilipino Cultural Exchange (PCE) is a large group on campus, with around 150 Filipino and non-Filipino members. The club’s mission is to not only spread and celebrate Pilipino culture, but also provide a close family of friends on campus. President Andrew Austin, an electrical engineering senior, joined the club his sophomore year hoping to find people to connect with.
“When I came in, I still couldn’t find that core group of friends that I always liked hanging out with,” Austin said. “So when I joined, there were just a few people that took me in. They didn’t really know me, but they thought they’d give me a chance. And that became the group of friends that I hang out with every day now.”
Being half-Japanese, half-Caucasian, Austin knew that race wasn’t a factor that affected his entry into the club. He said he hopes any student of any race will join and find the same group of friends he did.
“The reason why I became president was to make sure that the younger people get the same experience that I got — the same kind of respect or the same kind of acceptance that I got,” Austin said.
Austin as well as about 50 other members of the club are participating in PCN. Lorena Hernandez, an architecture sophomore, said PCN is an opportunity to participate in something that she wouldn’t necessarily do outside the club.
“I wanted to be more involved with the action portion because every day, you play the role of a college student — going to class and working on homework. But it’s not every day that you can be outside of yourself and perform for other people,” Hernandez said.
As the opening night approaches, Bundang is excited for the production to not only entertain the audience, but also to shed light on the Filipino culture, he said.
“It expresses what the club has to offer; it’s a testament to our culture. A lot of people don’t know about Filipino culture. We’re a fairly large group of people and we’re still relatively unknown in terms of media and theater, so it’s a just great way to get ourselves out there and show what we are,” Bundang said.
Hoping for a sold-out show, Bundang wants to open the event to everyone, not just Filipinos, he said.
“It’s going to be entertaining. It’s not just for Filipinos; it’s for everyone. We really don’t want to separate ourselves. We want to open up to other groups of people,” Bundang said.
Tickets are available at the door. Prices are $12 for students, children and seniors and $15 for general admission. The Saturday show begins at 6:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m., and the Sunday show begins at 2 p.m. with doors opening at 1:30 p.m.
*Editor’s note: ‘Pilipino’ is an alternate spelling of ‘Filipino’ used by the event organizers.