By Micaela Itona
Step into FSA’s club meetings and you’ll be flashed with smiles and immersed in laughs of students engaging in Filipino-American culture and traditions, and just plain having fun. Filipino-Americans, even across the world, feel a deep connection to the motherland that shines through their everyday lifestyles. FSA is a place for Filipino students and anyone interested in Filipino culture to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to be a Filipino American student at NJIT.
The concept of cultural identity is explored through all of FSA’s activities. Recently, they hosted the 9th Annual Reign or Shine dance competition that brought together other Filipino student groups and dance troupes to compete and share their talents. FSA participates in the Battle of the Barrios, a skit-based performance reflecting on Filipino culture and values, and Aking Ugat, meaning “Our Roots”, a showcase of music and dance influenced by Filipino classic and pop culture. Representatives are also nominated each year to participate in the widely popular Mr. PI and Ms. PI pageants and the singing competition, Wanna Canta.
These events unite Filipino communities across the East Coast, and provide a ton of social networking experiences grounded in the Filipino-American diaspora.
Most Filipino-American students at FSA are second-generation, with their parents having emigrated from the Philippines through the 70’s and 80’s, during a time political and economic turmoil. New US immigration policies made the prospect of moving to the United States and looking for work preferable to living and working in the Philippines. Large communities of Filipinos established themselves in New Jersey and California, allowing Filipino and American cultural influence to organically influence the lives of our generation, mostly born in the United States.
This unique but common background instills values and leads to experiences that that Filipino-American students today can all relate to. To have a place in your community that you can share those experiences strengthens the connection to to other Filipinos, and to the Philippines.