Pilipino Cultural Celebration reflects on past, looks to future

Flier for the May 7 launch of the cultural celebration
The play, titled “Ano Ang Kwento Ko?” (“What is Your Story?” in Tagalog), follows four friends through the changes in their lives from 2015 to 2025.

The Pilipino Cultural Celebration is turning 30, and it’s marking the occasion with a digital play and interview video series featuring Bayanihan alumni.

The annual celebration is presented by Bayanihan, a UC Santa Cruz organization that promotes understanding of the Filipino and Filipino-American experience.

Because of the COVID–19 pandemic the event will be entirely online instead of the usual in-person play and collaborative performances held at the UCSC Mainstage Theater. Organizers are working hard to make it as fun and engaging as possible, including holding a release party on the online video-game inspired platform Kumospace.

The theme of the Pilipino Cultural Celebration is “Legacy,” and the goal is to honor those involved in the past as well as to inspire those who will come in the future. Kora Fortun, co-chair of the celebration, said she wants current Bayanihan members to think about the legacy they will leave for those who come after them.

“What work can we do now so people who will be in our shoes a year or five years from now will be able to do even more than we are able to do?” Fortun said.

The play, titled “Ano Ang Kwento Ko?” (“What is Your Story?” in Tagalog), follows four friends through the changes in their lives from 2015 to 2025. Profiles of the characters are up on the PCC’s Instagram page: there’s Kathleen, an art-business major who hates the business side and loves to party; pre-med student Jason who sings in the shower to Disney songs and K-pop; Olivia, a politically aware environmental science student; and David a computer engineering student who is trying to make money to support his two siblings and single mom.

“Basically, we learn who they are and who they become,” said Anfernee Lai, co-chair of the Pilipino Cultural Celebration.

The play was a group effort of all core members of Bayanihan, with all helping brainstorm the storyline and the scenes.

Lai said it has been a challenge to put together the play because the performers had to film their scenes separately at their homes. Also, the performers don’t have training in acting. “There was a lot of retakes,” Fortun added.

The first act of the play will debut at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 7, at the online community release party on Kumospace. Those who join will be able to move around a virtual room with chairs and tables to chat with different groups of people during the first hour, with the play presented at 8 p.m.

The remaining acts of the play will be released on May 14 and May 21.

The second part of the Pilipino Cultural Celebration involves the Alumni Project, a series of video interviews with more than 20 alumni, including those who helped with the first PCC in 1991.

It’s been quite a project with students spending time tracking down alumni and then recording-minute interviews. That footage is then being edited into 10 episodes arranged around different subjects. Each episode is 9–12 minutes long. “We want it to be a resource for anybody who might be able to find inspiration infor it,” Fortun said.

The introduction to the series is up now on the PCC YouTube channel.

Fortun and Lai have worked closely coordinating all the preparations for the Pilipino Cultural Celebration, sometimes meeting on Zoom up to four times a day with each other.

“The time and work is definitely worth it for the stories we want to tell,” Fortun said, adding that it is important to preserve a lot of the history and experiences of people in the organization.