The Pilipino American Alliance (PAA) showcased its talents through various dances, including both traditional and modern numbers, all the while guiding the audience through the intense, yet enjoyable, process of hosting the fourth annual Pilipino Culture Night (PCN) on Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18 in the Lakireddy Auditorium.
First held in 2008 by PAA and UC Merced Alumnus Dean Santiago, PCN is one of PAA’s biggest events of the year and has been organized, directed, and hosted by members of PAA annually. PCN is usually held after the Barrio Fiesta, which is a preview of what attendees of PCN can expect.
The 2011-2012 PAA Executive and Vice Executive Chairpersons are Kei Takamura and Blaine Hartsock. Graduating seniors Krysta Mae Paalisbo and Fatima Panes directed this semester’s event.
“I was motivated by how the past directors of PCN put on this great show and seeing how all their hard work paid off,” said Co-director Fatima Panes.
Fellow Director Paalisbo owes her decision to run for the position to trusted mentor and PAA and UC Merced Alumnus Jamal Fedalizo.
“If it was not for his guidance and confidence in me, I would not have decided to run for this position. He was the one that told me to never give up no matter what and to show everyone that I deserve this job,” she said. “I wanted to give that same spirit and confidence to everyone who took part in PCN. Jamal was a great leader when he was Director of PCN and I wanted to emulate his leadership in my own way.”
The production was a success as a result of everyone’s energy, enthusiasm, participation and time, and flowed smoothly due to the effort and hard work of the event coordinators, directors and writers.
The first traditional dance was “Pandanggo Sa Llaw” (dance with lights), a colorful and unusual dance. Later on, audience members experienced the stern, action-packed Bontoc War Dance (Pattong) as a part of the headhunting and war ceremonials that use improvised movements.
The evening continued with performances by PAA Modern to popular contemporary music, followed by “Lumagen,” a dance symbolizing a celebration of Thanksgiving during a time of good harvest.
One of the more romantic numbers, “Cariñosa,” entertained all, as it is a flirtatious dance, whose name means one who is affectionate, loving, or amiable. Lastly, dancers performed “Janggay,” usually performed at celebrations such as birthdays and weddings whose true meaning and significance is best expressed through highly articulated form and strict facial gestures.
These cultural and modern routines were integrated into the evening’s program with many different scenes, much like a musical or play, which showed the audience how all the work and practice for PCN came together.
“When I wrote the script, I already chose dances that were from past PCN's we've done, as well as some research on other traditional dances, but it was the cultural dance coordinators that came up with the choreography and added an entirely new dance that we've never done before,” said Paalisbo.
Co-director Panes added that, “we try to touch base on different tribes or parts of the Philippines to pick from for the dances, which range from romantic traditional dances to the Philippines’ tribal core.”
At the heart of the evening is a group of individuals who love to spend time together, have fun, and dance. This is why PAA can be described as a group of friends who share their roots and have similar interests.
“PAA is a family of people coming together enjoying each other's company,” said Paalisbo. “Wherever you go, you'll often see a group of us together just hanging out.”
Any leadership position, whether it involves working with friends or not, brings challenges for everyone.
“Putting everything together was definitely challenging. We had separate practices for script, choir, modern, and cultural [dances], so when we did get together it was sort of difficult since the performers needed to know when they should be on stage,” said Paalisbo.
While her co-director felt challenged by the task of putting all the work and performances together, Panes felt that the array of personalities among fellow PAA members was, at times, difficult to deal with.
“Something that definitely challenged me was working with different people,” she said. “Since we all have different personalities sometimes they tend to clash with one another.”
All hard work and effort was appreciated much more when the show was a final product.
For Panes it was “seeing it all come together that made it the most enjoyable part of the event,” while Paalisbo believed that “every part of the process was enjoyable. Seeing members working together and finding many leaders within this group of talented people made me feel proud to work with them.”
Paalisbo expanded, “The end result was the best part as well. I was too proud of the performers and became overwhelmed with happiness.”
As Co-directors, both Paalisbo and Panes learned and gained important values from this experience, such as patience and professionalism. They can each agree that they will take away a better understanding of what it takes to work with individuals with different personalities.
“I have had a number of experiences working with a large group of people, but working with PAA was a lot different because of the close relationship I have with many of the participants,” said Paalisbo. “It was very difficult for me personally to have to put my foot down and sort of "gain control" of my friends, but the job needed to be done and everyone cooperated and worked with Fatima and I in the end, and the result was a great show,” she said. “I'm proud of all of them and I hope they all gained something from this experience as much as I have.”