“This is not just a show but our legacy:” A look into PCE’s 2023 Pilipino Cultural Night
One of Cal Poly’s largest cultural clubs, Pilipino Cultural Exchange (PCE), is hosting its 34th annual “Pilipino Cultural Night: Binibini” at 7 p.m. at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts this Friday and Saturday.
“Expect a night of laughs, cries and amazement,” a Pilipino Cultural Night (PCN) coordinator and senior Kelly Mok said. “I promise you that it will be a night to remember.”
PCE was started at Cal Poly in 1974 with the goal to “promote and relate with other ethnic organizations on campus” and “generate a cultural awareness of the Filipino heritage.”
PCN has helped bring this goal to life by showcasing Pilipinx heritage and culture through vivid storytelling. The event showcases student talents through acting, choral performance, modern and traditional dance and stage production.
This year’s theme, Binibini, translates to “beauty queen” in Tagalog, one of many dialects spoken throughout the Philippines.
Mok described the title as “reflective of our plot because it encompasses the coming-of-age stories of three sisters with creative backgrounds while tackling the way beauty and love is portrayed and organized in Filipino culture.”
The story follows three Filipino-American sisters as they navigate their identities and feelings of generational guilt from their parents while discovering their purpose and passion in the real world.
Mok said viewers can expect a two-and-a-half-hour show alternating between script and non-audition group performances.
The show will feature three dances from PCE’s Kasayahan (“celebration” in Tagalog), which is their non-audition traditional dance troupe. There will be two dances from the non-audition hip-hop and modern dance crew, Modern, and a range of songs from their non-audition choir group, Ating Himig, (“our melody” in Tagalog).
Students have been working tirelessly for the past two quarters on the production, perfecting their songs and dances, according to Mok.
“It’s truly surreal to see everyone coming together for this performance. Performers have been practicing night and day since fall quarter, staying at cold garages, dimly lit classrooms and dance studios just to make all of this happen,” Mok said. “It’s gratifying knowing that we are all in this together, despite the cold, the stress and just college life in general.”
PCN is not just a CalPoly tradition, but one celebrated in Pilipinx organizations throughout California. This year’s PCN is nearing a thirty-five-year streak. The play continues to play a large role in amplifying not only Filipinx-American voices but other underrepresented voices throughout the community.
“It’s about recognizing the history before us and uplifting those around us to be proud of our culture,” Mok said. “It’s about being unapologetically ourselves on stage for everyone to see and hear that we are Filipino, and we are here to stay.”
Junior Izzy Pascua, another PCN coordinator, reflected on the time leading up to the performance.
“Seeing my community come together and put an endless amount of hours, effort and hard work into this production is extraordinary,” Pascua said. “This is not just a show but our legacy … I’m proud to be a part of it.”
When asked to share what PCE means to her, Mok added, “There is a phrase that we end every PCE meeting with, and it’s called ‘Isang Bagsak,’ which translates to ‘when one falls, we all fall.’ This phrase is a great representation of this show and what it means to the members of PCE, Cal Poly and Filipino-Americans everywhere.”
Mok said through events like PCN that shed light on issues relevant to both Filipinx Americans and marginalized communities, PCE offers viewers and participants “a home away from home, not just for Filipinos, but for anyone.”
Tickets and more information can be found here.