Celebrating Filipino American History Month with the UTA community

Second generation Filipinos raised in the U.S. are Americanized, so they aren’t as in touch with the culture and often can’t speak Tagalog, a major language in the Philippines, said Paolo Chiu, nursing senior and Filipino Student Association cultural chair.

In 2009, the U.S. Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month, which honors the his- tory and accomplishments of Filipinos. Filipino American History Month in October allows people to rediscover their roots and celebrate being Filipino.

Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American group in the nation and were the first documented Asians to arrive in the U.S., according to Filipino American National Historical Society.

Over 250,000 Filipino Americans are World War II veterans, according to The American Homefront Project.

This October the UTA community shared what being Filipino American means to them.

“Filipinos actually make up a good portion of the ethnic community in a lot of major cities,” Chiu said. “If you’re not surrounded by them all the time, you can forget that.”

In 2019, there were 4.2 million Filipinos living in the U.S., according to a report by Pew Research Center.

UTA’s Filipino Student Association highlights Filipino culture giving members a stronger understanding.

Filipino Student Association vice president Chayanne Cabrales said the club was broken down into different groups led by various coordinators such as culture (kultura), events and sports.

These coordinators create a familial aspect, Cabrales said. Family is a big part of Filipino culture. It is more important than any other bond; if a member is interested in a particular coordinator, that group forms its own community and they work toward common objectives, Cabrales said.

Family is emphasized in the association, Cabrales said.

One way a sense of family is created is placing members in a ‘kapamilya,’ she said.

Group members are as- signed to a family consist- ing of senior members and new members. New members are eased into life at UTA through these groups led by kuyas, meaning big brothers, and ates, meaning big sisters, Cabrales said.

In the organization, there are two main goals—to spread Filipino culture through workshops and to create a family on campus, Cabrales said.

The association isn’t just for Filipinos. There are members from a variety of ethnic back- grounds, Cabrales said.

“We encourage anyone to join,” she said. “No matter your race, no matter your ethnic background.”

Uyenni Tran, nursing sophomore and treasurer, and Lisa Knight, nursing sophomore and historian, are both on the association’s board, but Tran is Vietnamese and Knight is Japanese.

The club spreads culture through eating Filipino food and snacks commonly found in the Philippines, learn- ing about the history in the Philippines, going to social events and creating families, Cabrales said.

Part of the cultural aspect is their dance teams. In the past, they have had both a modern dance team and a cultural dance team. However, only the cultural team is active at this time.

An important event for the dance team is One Night in Asia. All the Asian organizations on campus come together and compete in dancing, singing and a talent show. In the end, it’s a way to share their culture, Cabrales said.

During the spring semester, the biggest event for dance and sports is GoodPhil, which is a three-day event for Filipino Student Associations in Texas and Oklahoma, competing in different categories of dance and sports.

For Filipino American History Month, the association is hosting movie nights every Wednesday to maintain a family and community. On Tuesday, they will also host a mock lunch market called Tanghalian Market where they will be selling snacks, food plates and desserts.

Danielle Torres, first-year member of Filipino Student Association and exercise science freshman, said she never had Filipino friends her age to hang out with, so she thought it would be nice to join a Filipino community.

“Filipinos in general are just super welcoming, and they love talking about their culture,” Torres said. “It’s just nice that other people are also passionate about Filipino culture.”

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