Home Featured Behind the Scenes: The Cast Prepares for Pilipino Cultural Night 32!

Behind the Scenes: The Cast Prepares for Pilipino Cultural Night 32!

Behind the Scenes: The Cast Prepares for Pilipino Cultural Night 32!
Photo courtesy of Justin Aquintey, Pilipino Cultural Night 32 Co-Promotional Coordinator

Alexis Crisostomo

Executive Content Co-Editor

This Saturday, May 20, UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) 32nd annual Pilipino Cultural Night (PCN) finally returns to Campbell Hall! Created in affiliation with Kapatirang Pilipino (KP), the Filipinx organization on campus, PCN 32 showcases Filipinx tradition and celebrates culture in an evening of dance, acting, spoken word, martial arts, and more. The Bottom Line (TBL) sat down with its cast to discuss their excitement and preparation, the challenges they faced, and how they want PCN to leave its mark on the UCSB community.

For the past 32 years, the mission of PCN has been to highlight Filipinx culture and community at UCSB. This year, the night’s theme is “Sino Ako?” (“Who am I?”) which focuses on navigating challenges of identity, culture, and imposter syndrome within the Filipinx diaspora. There will be over 10 types of performances, from cultural dances such as tinikling to modern dance and spoken word. These acts are set to take part in an ongoing play-like acting aspect about a family grappling with such themes at home in the Philippines.

Photo courtesy of Justin Aquintey, Pilipino Cultural Night 32 Co-Promotional Coordinator

Many cast members recalled their reactions to the theme and what motivated them to tell the story of “Sino Ako?” Many shared similar sentiments about imposter syndrome, especially coming from a diaspora of many first and second-generation immigrants, in which entering certain studies like the medical field are highly encouraged.

Kyle Guiang, the spoken word coordinator, talked about how the connection with this theme influenced both his and his fellow cast’s art on stage. 

“I think a lot of us suffer from first-generation trauma, like trying to navigate things by ourselves, high family expectations, and even sacrifices we have to make within our community and within ourselves,” Guiang told TBL.

These feelings resonate with many cast members, with mixed emotions guiding a variety of interpretations of imposter syndrome throughout. Through this process, the cast also reflected on the community they have built.

Jaylin Strong, a third-year transfer student, told TBL about how she has met many friends through KP and PCN. Strong described her intersectional identity as a Filipino, Black, and Korean, and recalled her own challenges with navigating identity growing up. She was excited to have an opportunity to show her love for singing and dancing while connecting with her Filipinx roots and the community at UCSB.

“PCN is the one thing that I think is such an outlet for people to get closer to each other because we’re seeing each other constantly through practices, and I just like all the hard work that gets put into it as well and the community it creates,” Strong said.

In the midst of community building and artistic expression, PCN 32 was faced with a number of challenges—the utmost one being how long it has been since the last cultural night. Many of the challenges were caused by this gap in passed-down knowledge due to the pandemic. Hannah Lacaste, PCN’s cultural executive, explained how this led to a lack of familiarity with the cultural aspects and dances, resulting in some acts being short-casted as well as issues in proper attire. As a result, Lacaste will perform as part of five aspects, serve as the co-coordinator for two, and more.

“It was definitely hard at first… Starting off PCN after four years of not having it, and a lot of [institutional] knowledge has been lost or not passed down by previous years. We’re all in a scramble here, we’re all learning and a lot of students here at UCSB don’t know about PCN.”

Having grown up in the Philippines, Lacaste shared her desire to showcase the richness and deepness of Filipino culture to the best of PCN’s ability. This passion to illuminate one’s culture is what pushes her and other cast members through these challenges.

As the marketing coordinator, third-year Kurt Lowell described his mission as helping spread the news of PCN and highlighting the hard work the cast has put in throughout the year. He expressed feeling some pressure coming into such a role, but ultimately tied it back to his motivation to become involved in the first place and help bring the night back to UCSB.

“Seeing so many passionate people come together in a collective effort to bring this back to life, I feel like it showcases the resilience that this community has,” Lowell told TBL. “Coming out of lockdown, you’re navigating a whole constantly changing world and we often ask ourselves, ‘Who are we?’ We struggle to find a place in this overall [world] because the [it] is constantly changing and it can be overwhelming, and I feel like that connects with what we’re doing for PCN.”

Finally, many cast members also gave a shout-out to Janelle Tadeo, the PCN 32 coordinator, for fostering such a welcoming and creative environment. From reaching out to the transfer students to emphasizing attentiveness and community during day-long “Super Sunday” practices, Tadeo is recognized by her team for her inspiring and passionate leadership throughout the year. PCN 32’s cast is excited to show off what they have been working on this year and invite everyone to buy tickets to their show Saturday, May 20 at 5 p.m.

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