The Filipino American experience is not one easily summed up in a single narrative. With multiethnic roots and a complex history, the Filipino American identity can come with a myriad of emotions — feelings of pride, joy and community, but also feelings of confusion or even frustration. Despite being the first documented Asian group to set foot on U.S. soil, the third-highest Asian American immigrant population today and contributing much to American history, economy and culture, Filipino Americans have been labeled as both an “invisible minority” and the “forgotten Asians.” However, even with the rich diversity of backgrounds, religions, languages and traditions that the Philippines holds, one common value shared by all Filipino Americans is the passion and ability to create and build community.
Filipino American History Month started in 1992, when the Filipino American National Historical Society proposed it and selected October to honor the arrival of the first Filipinos at what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587. This year, the Filipino American Student Association (FASA) at NC State celebrated Filipino American History Month with a whole slew of events.
Recap of Events
Filipino American Students Association (FASA) General Body Meeting: “Mumu Busters” (Oct. 2)
Starting out the month of October, FASA held a General Body Meeting (GBM) about Filipino mythology. Members got to eat some candy, play some spooky games and learn about pre-colonial mythology, told through the adventures of supernatural deities and heroes and passed along generations, even to today. There was also a photoshoot for the Kuya/Ate/Bunso (which translates to “big brother”, “big sister” and “youngest sibling”) pairings. Special guest Victor Betts, who represents the Special Collections Research Center at NC State Libraries, also came out and presented on the history of Filipinos at NC State, as well as the need to bring attention to underrepresented groups in archival data.
Farm and Garden Volunteering (Oct. 5-6)
During the first weekend of October, members of FASA volunteered to serve with the Hub Farm and the Soil Trotters Garden Club. Members had a great time working with others to transfer mulch, clear weeds and plant more than 100 flowering plants.
Pastilla Fundraiser (Oct. 7)
Pastillas are a popular, melt-in-your-mouth milk candy that originated in San Miguel, Philippines. They were traditionally made by farmers with carabao/water buffalo milk, but have since spread all over the country and now include a variety of flavors like jackfruit, chocolate, ube, coconut and mocha. On Monday, members of FASA sold spookily-decorated pastillas in Talley Student Union, giving other students a sugary boost to start off their week.
Filipinx American Professional Panel (Oct. 8)
In addition to on campus events, FASA at NC State also attended the Filipinx American Professional Panel, an event hosted by Kasama, the Filipinx organization of UNC-Chapel Hill. At the panel, students got to listen to Filipinx professionals from across different backgrounds (including academia, technology, medicine, sports and nonprofit work) discuss their experiences as Filipinx in their respective fields.
CUSA x FASA Springroll and Lumpia Eating Contest (Oct. 17)
FASA also collaborates with other Asian American-interest organizations on campus. This year, FASA colalborated with the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA) to host a spring roll and lumpia eating contest. Lumpia is a classic Filipino dish developed by Filipinos after Chinese sailors migrated to the Philippine islands and introduced spring rolls. At this event members paid to compete in a competition to see who could eat both lumpias and spring rolls the fastest. Members also learned about the history of interaction between China and the Philippines and how these resulted in cultural similarities and differences.
Barrio Fiesta (Oct. 19)
Members of FASA also came out to support the Philippine American Association of North Carolina, Inc., or PAANC, in their annual event, Barrio Fiesta. At this local event, families from all around the state joined together in an evening of fun, food and fellowship. Proceeds went to the 2021 Carolina Medical Mission, a humanitarian project that aims to provide free medical services to disadvantaged individuals in rural Philippines.
Social #2: Cocoa and Karaoke (Oct. 25)
To celebrate the cooler weather, FASA hosted a hot cocoa and karaoke social. Members were encouraged to bring their own mug and de-stress with a hot cup of cocoa. Since karaoke is one of the most common essentials in Filipino parties, members got to sing their hearts out to their favorite tunes.
Pera Para sa PUSO: Charity Ball (Oct. 26)
FASA at NC State also attended the Pera Para sa Puso Charity Ball, the first of its kind hosted by FASA at UNC-Greensboro. FASA members at NC State got to dress up and join FASA at UNC-G for an evening of guest performances, dancing and prizes. All proceeds went to the PUSO Foundation, a project that provides basic life necessities or facilitate extracurricular activities to inspire hope in others throughout the world.
FASA x VSA: Halo Halo and Che Social (Oct. 30)
Finally, FASA will end the month off with another collaborative event, this time with the Vietnamese Student Association. Halo halo, which literally translates to “mix mix,” is a popular dessert in the Philippines that combines different sweet ingredients to create a unique blend of sugary flavor. Come out if you want to learn more about these popular and sweet desserts of the Philippines and Vietnam.
Thoughts from FASA Members
Here are some thoughts from some of the e-board members of FASA at NC State.
“Filipinx American history month plays a very important role in my life. Growing up, I always wondered why the history books only had a paragraph of our history compared to the deep and complex stories my parents would tell me. It was really weird because I was always proud of my culture, but whenever I brought up any Filipinx-nuanced thing, I was often questioned by my peers as to why being filipino was important. They usually said something like “but the Philippines didn’t do anything.” So for me, Filipinx American history month is confirmation of my pride in my culture, it is learning about my history that I never got taught and it is the celebration and acknowledgement of those that have paved the way for Filipinx people in America.”
— Keith Amboya, first-year student and design chair
“The informative, insightful and welcoming aura of the first general board meeting, “Mumu Busters,” was a dazzlingly-lit firecracker of an introduction to Filipinx American History Month. In between the historical accounts of how the country came into being and recalling the first recorded student of Filipinx descent on NC State’s campus, the synthesis between history and modern-day implications on a local level acted as an amazing recollection of sorts in seeing how this group has evolved over the years. Hopefully, the future will yield even greater developments for both the Filipinx community as a whole, as well as NC State’s local FASA chapter.”
— Bryan Worters, senior, Latinx American, alumni advisor
“For me, Filipino American History Month is a time to celebrate the accomplishments and joys that come with being Filipino. But at the same time, it’s just as important, if not more, to educate ourselves and critically reflect on the various aspects of Filipino history that are complex or difficult to face. I believe that the Filipino identity is special in that it’s extremely dynamic. Yes, we are Asian, but due to years of colonization, we also have heavy influence from Spanish and U.S. culture, and even influence from African American communities as well. From our appearances, languages, foods, belief systems and even something as simple as our last names, Filipinos challenge most of the typical stereotypes that people have when they think about “Asians.” I think there’s a lot of confusion and emotional baggage that can come with that, even for Filipino Americans themselves, but I also think there’s a lot of beauty and uniqueness in it as well. And that’s something worth embracing.”
— Kyle Lorenzo, senior, president
This article was a collaboration of the FASA e-board under leadership of FASA President Kyle Lorenzo.