Fil-Am university students slam PNoy in annual cultural production

SAN FRANCISCO – “Kapit Kamay” is the title of the 43rd Annual Pilipino Cultural Night or PCN at San Francisco State University, and this year’s story is unique because it draws on what some are calling President Benigno Aquino III’s “disappointing” term in office.

PCN portrays the president of the Philippines as being influenced by corruption and his actions end up having terrible consequences for the country. The production uses the government’s so-called lack of action during Typhoon Haiyan and the failed Mamasapano incident as an examples.

The story was inspired by cast member and script writer Jordan Ilagan’s Philippine exposure trip last summer.

“Large portions of the script are very based on true-to-life things, such as corruptions in the government, the slow response of Typhoon Haiyan,” said Ilagan. “I was able to actually go to Tacloban and then see firsthand the relief efforts that were done and also the lack of the relief efforts as well.”

PCN director Nadine Ciara Macaraeg says she wants to make sure that her cast members are not just performing dances and lines but they are also aware of the on-going struggles that are happening in the Philippines.

“It’s through the dances, the songs, the acting that we can use as a tool to educate our community and even others that are not in our community because we all share the same background,” said Macaraeg. “We have the same struggle.”

The PCN was also a chance for its cast members to learn traditional Filipino dances and the people they represent from some Philippine folk dance companies in the Bay Area.

“We wouldn’t have a PCN without Lumad people or indigenous people,” said Ilagan.

“In the dances and the skits we represent those that came before us, our ancestors,” said Macaraeg. “When we perform those dances on stage it’s letting our people and those tribes know that they are not forgotten.”

These Fil-Am students say they participate in PCNs because it introduces them to their Filipino roots.

“PCN is a way to preserve our culture when the media and all these different things are telling us to do this, do that,” said Ilagan. “This is our way of saying no. We’re going to embrace Pilipino culture because Pilipino culture is great and it has a voice in America.”

Members of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns will also be at San Francisco State’s PCN this Saturday to take more donations toward relief efforts as well as to share information in other ways to help the Philippines through grassroots efforts.

Follow Rommel Conclara on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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