Fil-Am students in Delaware honor their heritage, bring joy through traditional dance

BEAR, DELAWARE — It’s their way of sharing and showing who they are, both Filipino and American.
“We make it our own. It’s something the traditional that we embrace, but at the same time we try and encourage other people and other Filipino Americans in Delaware to join,” says Michelle Rana. “I think with this dance, it helps them to explore that.”


These young dancers are members of the Philippine American Youth Association of Delaware, or PAYAD.

For the past few years, they have been volunteering their time and effort performing for different organizations, including at senior centers — not only to expose others to the Filipino culture but to spread a little joy, they say.

Their dance routine is a combination of Philippine folk dances like the maglalatik and pamaypay, choreographed to some hip-hop or pop music.

And there’s one thing that always gets the crowd excited.

“Mainly when we do the tinikling dance there’s a shock factor, because mainly the loudness of the stick kind of shock people, so that really interests them and makes them curious to try it,” says Stephanie Garcia.

PAYAD has about 20 members. Numbers vary over the years. Rana says getting the teens to be part of something like this has been challenging, especially since there aren’t that many Filipinos in the small state of Delaware.

For these young Fil-Ams, it wasn’t a matter of choice.

“If we can explore our Filipino American roots and at the same time bring joy and entertain other people, it makes it even more meaningful and gratifying,” said Rana.
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