Conference gives youth first-hand experience in Philippine art and culture

SAN FRANCISCO — Filipina-American high school senior Kayla Soriano is getting hands-on experience in Filipino art.

As a 17-year-old growing up in the US, she made sure to make the most out of this rare opportunity.

“I feel a lot of times we are forced to assimilate to white culture, so I feel like being a part and really engraving yourself into issues makes you more grateful for your people and where you come from,” she shared.

Soriano is one of the over 300 students from all across the US who attended a three-day conference in San Francisco, the Kabataan Alliance.

“This conference that we’re here for is called the Kabataan Magkaisa conference, and it’s our second conference, so Kabataan Magkaisa 2,” said president Kenneth Crebillo. “Our theme is Kumilos Na, which means act now, history is in our hands.”

Filipino organizers said this conference aims to counter the major changes of the political climate in the US and in the Philippines.

Other than learning Filipino history and culture, organizers say that this represents an alliance against  President Donald Trump’s attacks on immigrants and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Congresswoman Sarah Elago — the youngest representative in the Philippine Congress, who is also representing for the youth — was the keynote speaker.

She reminded the youth that their struggles in the US are directly tied to the Philippines, and that unity is key in finding solutions.

“The youth as what we call them ‘ang pagasa ng bayan,’ or the hope of the motherland is a source of so much inspiration and hope. We want to use that hope to encourage more of our Filipino people who have somehow lost their faith in collective action.”

24 organizations ratified their constitution and will bring back more focused goals on how to improve their communities in their respective areas.

Soriano hopes to inspire more Filipino youth after being inspired at the conference.

“Me and my friend were just talking about how a lot of times we are classified as the minority,” she said. “But we’re really the majority and seeing that all of us are together, because we care about our people, because we love the work we are doing makes me really happy.”

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