Young Fil-Ams take up folk arts to share history, traditions

SAN FRANCISCO – From traditional cultural dances to a blend of contemporary, along with time-honored instruments and harmonizing songs, young Filipino-Americans took pride in using their talents to showcase their culture at the annual celebration of Filipino American History Month at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

Former principal dancer of the Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company and current Artistic Director of the American Center for Philippine Arts (ACPA), master artist of Philippine dance Jay Loyola says it important that young Fil-Ams have an interest and legitimate passion for their culture.

“The Filipino folkloric dance is still relevant because it still connects the students to the motherland,” said Loyola. “Its movement is evolving so it’s in the science of time. Dance as a medium is always something that people can always connect with to the Philippines, to their culture.”

As a majority of second and third generation Fil-Ams, they say it’s their job to keep the culture alive.

“We perform all together,” said Riofa-Gean Fernandez of UC Santa Cruz’s Isang Himig A Capella. “We have a story to tell.”

Justin Ng, also of UCSC’s acapella group, adds, “The generation gap is pretty big. It’s a thing. So keep culture alive, making sure the culture is passed on to us so that we can someday pass it on to our children even our grandchildren and make sure that the Filipino culture lives on in America especially.”

UCSC was joined with Kasamahan of the University of San Francisco to perform for thei crowd.

Both groups agree that many kababayans experience a cultural awakening in college and they say they are doing what they can to share their experience with everyone.

Nicole Jocelyn Sanchez of Kasamahan said, “By being able to participate in this we ourselves get to immerse ourselves in the culture but we also get to encourage others, especially young ones, to be involved in the culture and explore because they don’t really get that exploration prior to a college experience.”

Jazlynn G. Eugenio Pastor, also at USF, adds, “The stereotype is that Filipinos dance, right? And it is true. But the reason is if you look deeper dance and just arts in general has been in Filipino culture and tradition for years and years even before colonization so what you see with this multi-generational and multi-racial organization is that we are a combination of different experiences and histories.”

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