Over 120 cast members from eight different performing arts groups gathered at UC Santa Cruz’s Main Stage Theater for a full evening of rehearsal. All of the performers had been practicing in smaller groups for months before they started piecing the show together two weeks before opening night. Squeezed together on the stage, the cast of the 24th annual Pilipino Cultural Celebration (PCC) is finally seeing its production come to life.
This year’s PCC is titled “Alon Ng Panahon,” which translates to “Waves of Time” and joins several groups, called aspects, which tell the story through different mediums like acting, singing and dancing. The performing aspects will take the stage to tell the story of Corazon Bautista — a woman who leaves her family to work as a seafarer. The cast tells her struggle and experiences in the male-dominated industry.
“In the Filipino culture, you don’t see a lot of women in the front and in charge all the time, so to have characters portray a woman who is in charge of everything and who can take control — it’s good to show that,” said PCC Co-chair Nicole Hayes.
After a summer of planning, 21 core members decided on a theme for the year during fall quarter. After brainstorming and deciding on a theme of seafaring, members of People Power Theatrical Troupe — a student organization that focuses on acting, scriptwriting, standup and improv — wrote the script and began rehearsals.
“As teams, they go to their own competitions, they put on their own shows, and then in April we fully come together,” said third-year and PCC Co-chair Percival Perlas. “It’s like a million puzzle pieces you’re trying to put together but when you see it come together, you can’t really explain it.”
The celebration joins performers from Alay Self-Expression, Haluan Hip-Hop Dance Troupe, Isang Himig Multi-Cultural A Capella, Kasama Ballroom Dance Troupe, Pagkakaisa Dance Troupe, People Power Theatrical Troupe, Tech Crew and the historian, administrative officer and media relations representative of the Filipino Student Association (FSA).
Many of the members were exposed to FSA and PCC through A Step Forward — a student-initiated outreach program that brings high school students to UCSC to increase diversity and encourage retention in higher education. While the performers put countless hours into preparing for the show, retention and academic success remains at the forefront of FSA’s mission.
“It’s always emphasized and repeated and reiterated that, no matter what, school comes first,” said PCC Co-chair Hayes. “You’re not doing this for your education, you’re doing this for yourself and you’re using this as a way to stay retained and to have a community. That’s what we’re here for.”
The same mission reaches beyond current students and cast members. Alumni return to watch PCC every year and during rehearsals, some alumni drop by to talk to cast members about their experiences working on the production. Jumbo Banaria, a former PCC chair and UCSC alumnus, sat in on one of PCC’s last rehearsals. By performing, he said the cast is paying a “tribute to the past” and “leaving its little thumbprint on UCSC and FSA history.”
After all the planning and anticipation, the cast members will finally get to reveal their thumbprints this weekend during the performances. While anxiety increases, the co-chairs are still excited to have family, friends and alumni watching as they continue the legacy of those who came before them.
“This is the last time we’re going to do this show, until next year but next year is going to be different. It’s going to be a different story, different people, different feelings, different coordinators,” Hayes said. “I’ve said it a lot this past week and a half that I’m very excited for this weekend but I don’t want it to be over yet because after Saturday, it’s going to be in the books forever.”
The Pilipino Cultural Celebration will take place on April 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for students and $12 for adults.