Barkada joins friends and Filipino culture

Attending a Filipino family gathering leaves lasting memories not soon forgotten. Whether it’s trying the exotic food or participating in an intricate line dance, Filipino culture is rife with warm feelings.

Luckily for students at the College, they can experience the culture without ever leaving campus. Barkada, the Filipino culture club, has been bringing Filipino-American students together to celebrate their unique experiences and share their common values since 2007. Barkada, in Tagalog, means “a group of friends” according to the Facebook group TCNJ Barkada, and its meaning holds true to members of the club.

Founded by alum Jeff Mojica, class of 2008, and carried on by a burgeoning Filipino-American student population, Barkada hosts and participates in events that celebrate Filipino culture. Clarissa Gomez, sophomore English and Women and Gender Studies double major, and the current public relations chair of the club, joined in her first semester at the College.

“The point of Barkada is to unite Filipino students on campus,” Gomez said. “I was friends with Jeff Mojica and his girlfriend in high school. When I came to the College, I joined to hang out with them.”

Gomez is a first-generation Filipino-American whose parents immigrated in the early 1980s. She has since returned with them to the Philippines four times to meet her entire extended family. Despite her parents not being born here, Gomez feels she was brought up in optimal circumstances.

“I’ve never really felt discriminated against for being Filipino,” she said. “My parents raised me without thinking much of it.”

The Barkada organization has done much in its two-year history. Since its conception, Barkada participated in the Mystique of the East Asian culture show in 2007. Many of the members performed in a dance called Tinikling, the only Filipino dance act that year.

In addition, several members of the club joined with the Unión Latina organization to perform a salsa dance at Unión Latina’s 2007 Latin Explosion. Barkada participates in events off campus as well, with trips to Filipino programs in neighboring colleges. According to Gomez, these trips are paid for through fundraisers and Student Activity Fee (SAF).

Its next event, P.S. Mahal Kita, which will be held in the Cromwell Hall main lounge on March 20, will feature a variety of skits, dances and performances. “P.S. Mahal Kita,” when translated from the Filipino native language of Tagalog, means “P.S. I love You.” According to Barkada’s Web site, free Filipino food will also be available

For those interested, Barkada meets on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. inside the Pan-Asian room at the Student Center. Meetings consist of Filipino cultural and historical presentations, “social activities such as dinner at Penang, performance trips and other activities.”