March 15, 2004

Bringing Philippines Home

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The State Theatre was transformed into a small island in the South Pacific on Saturday as the Cornell Filipino Association hosted its annual Philippine Culture Night. Performing traditional and modern dances and leading national songs, members of CFA celebrated over 100 years of Filipino culture in Ithaca.

The event showcased a variety of performances, including an older dance that re-enacts the traditional tribal hunt, a dance that is typically performed upon a woman’s coming-of-age, the Philippines national dance “Tinikling,” and modern hip-hop routines. “Maglalatik”, a dance that audience members found particularly entertaining, was performed by men with coconut shells strapped to their bodies at various locations. With coconut shells in hand, they strike the shells attached to their body, performing a routine that, like tap dancing, combines dance and percussion.

While the CFA hosts a culture night every year, this particular evening was especially meaningful, as it marks the centennial celebration of the Ithaca-Filipino community,

“This is not just a show, but a celebration of over one hundred years of Cornell-Filipino relations,” said Edson Cabalfin grad, the show’s introductory announcer and marketing director for PCN.

To commemorate a century of Filipino-Ithaca relations, the performance combined the dance and musical performances with a skit that presented

important events in the history of Ithaca’s Filipino community. Using an imaginary time machine, characters in the skit chronicled the community’s history, from its beginnings in the early 1900s through the CFA’s founding in the 1950s, underscoring the establishment of a relationship between Cornell and the University of the Philippines. A portion of the skit was dedicated to the future of CFA.

CFA members were thrilled with the event and also enjoyed performing with each other in front of an audience.

“It was a blast,” said Kim Biason ’06, a performer and choreographer. “I was really, really happy with it. We had an amazing time.”

Jonathan De Guzman ’04, president of the CFA and director of the event, also expressed his satisfaction with the evening as he thanked the other managers and directors of the show.

“Filipinos are apparently pretty talented,” he said.

Audience members, who filled approximately half of the theater’s seats, were also impressed with the performance.

“It was fun,” said Gil Gellespie, Ph.D. ’87. “I have come for a number of years and it is always the kind of thing where people have a good time.”

Tara Wells ’06 agreed. “It was awesome!” she said.

The CFA identifies itself as a “small, but spicy organization [with] a unique culture that brings together residents of Ithaca, [and] graduate as

well as undergraduate students.”

In addition to performing, the association fosters appreciation for Filipino culture through venues such as discussion and cuisine. While the group is mainly comprised of Filipinos, members of other ethnicities also take part in the association.


Archived article by Ellen Miller