The 24th annual Pilipino Cultural Celebration (PCC) gathered a total of 583 students, alumni and community members to experience the original production “Alon ng Panahon” on April 24 and 25.
“Alon ng Panahon,” or Waves of Time, was written, produced and performed by the aspects housed under the Filipino Student Association (FSA), which all cater to different forms of self-expression. The plot of the production jumped between 2042 and 2012, when Corazon Bautista reflected on the struggles she faced as a woman of color in a male-dominated seafaring industry.
The PCC co-chairs wanted to ensure that Corazon’s story would speak to the audience about greater Filipino culture.
“Mission number one is cultural awareness, learning about the Filipino culture [and] the traditions it entails. The seafaring industry [is tied with] the struggles our fellow Filipinos abroad have to go through, not only being on a ship but also being so far away from their families,” said Percival Perlas, one of three PCC co-chairs.
The title of the story “[symbolizes] how the struggles and the spirit of the Filipino tradition and culture resonate now and how the history is still present today,” said Elise Giongco, another PCC co-chair.
Through its 24 years, PCC has used art and performance to provide education about the unique experiences within the Filipino and Filipino American communities to its audience.
“We do our very best to make sure that all the dancing, acting, singing and spoken word aren’t independent of what PCC is about,” Perlas said. “We try to interweave them — that’s what makes it special.”
Performances by Pagkakaisa Dance Troupe, Kasama Ballroom Dance, Haluan Hip-Hop Dance Troupe, Isang Himig A Cappella and Alay — the self-expression aspect — helped move along the storyline while providing traditional and contemporary dance, music and poetry.
Pagkakaisa Dance Troupe performed tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance involving a duo that taps, slides and beats bamboo poles in coordination with others who step over and in between the poles. The dancers performed more intricate dance steps as the pace quickened and the audience responded with enthusiastic cheers and thunderous applause.
“Our cast is diverse in the sense that not everyone is Filipino,” Perlas said. “That’s what makes it cool to work with because it allows them to learn about Filipino culture and helps them learn about their own culture and how to work with others.”
The performance confronted various issues including sexism, classism and racial discrimination. Corazon Bautista’s personal experiences with these issues served as a metaphor for the complex narrative of Filipino history.
“The main thing is awareness — not only of Filipino culture, tradition and history, but also of the culture, tradition and history around us and an appreciation for the privileges we have today,” Co-chair Giongco said.
PCC promotes cultural education and personal growth through self-expression. National history and individual identity were closely intertwined in the performance and in the yearlong planning process. The coordinators’ theme this year was “No history, no self. Know history, know self.”
Co-chair Nicole Hayes reflected on the empowerment and personal growth that PCC offers through creating a sense of community.
“PCC is a space for people to grow,” Hayes said. “You don’t just sing and act, you find that purpose within yourself and that’s how people grow within the space.”