Barkada brings Filipino culture to campus

Heather Haase
Correspondent

Male members of Barkada — one of the College’s Filipino culture organizations — stepped shirtless into the Decker Social Space on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The audience erupted as the men performed Maglalatik, a traditional Filipino war dance. Clad in coconut shells, over a dozen students danced to a meticulously rehearsed routine, smiling from ear to ear.

Maglalatik was just one of many performances at this year’s Barangay, the College’s annual showcase of Filipino culture. Hosted by Barkada, the event was co-sponsored by the Association of Students for Africa, Union Latina and the Japanese Student Association.

“This is our biggest cultural event of the year,” said Alexa Sia, a senior nursing major and the president of Barkada. “We just want to show America what Filipino’s have to offer.”

Students gathered around the tables to enjoy an abundance of signature dishes such as chicken adobo, lumpia and puto, catered by local Filipino restaurant Kusina Ni Inang.

The uproarious crowd fell silent as the sound of large wooden sticks beating together suddenly filled the air. Expertly weaving their steps between the sticks, student performers emerged from all sides of the room for another traditional Philippine folk dance — Tinikling.

Tinikling is considered to be the national dance of the Philippines, according to Barkada. Combining traditional routines with contemporary dances, 26 students came together to perform an original mix of choreography.

Barkada members perform Maglalatik, a traditional Filipino war dance. (Randell Carrido / Staff Photographer)

One of the performers was Alyssa Jackson, a junior communication studies major and Barkada’s publicity coordinator.

Jackson is not Filipino, but joined Barkada her freshman year after her roommate, who was vice president of the organization, convinced her to come to a meeting. Jackson has participated in Barangay every year since. Her favorite part of Barkada is spending time with fellow members.

“Everyone is so warm and friendly and loyal,” Jackson said. “I really found my family here.”

Ariel Toy, a senior economics major and member of Barkada, also discussed the welcoming culture of Barkada after she discovered the club through a mutual friend.

“Barangay gets better every year,” Toy said about the growing number of acts, the impressive student choreography and the variety of Filipino cuisine.

To begin the event, the Trentones sang an a capella version of the American national anthem. After the Trentones’ rendition, two members of Barkada, Joseph Ballesteros and Gino Pineda, performed the Philippine national anthem, Lupang Hinirang.

Some members in the audience quietly sang along with Ballesteros, a junior nursing major, while Pineda, a junior business management major, beatboxed in the background.

Sia was circulating around the event mingling with students in attendance. She discovered Barkada her freshman year at the Student Involvement Fair when Barkada members pulled her aside to see if she was interested in joining.

“I wasn’t too connected to my culture before college,” Sia said. “Barkada helped me get more in touch with my culture.”

More than three years later, Sia is deeply involved with Barkada.

“We pride ourselves in our sense of community,” Sia said, after she hugged several family members of a fellow Barkada member.

Performers from outside the College included students from the Princeton Academy of Martial Arts, local pop singer Katja, dancers from Strictly Funk at the University of Pennsylvania and performers from the Filipino Intercultural Society of Drexel University and local folk singer-songwriter aReJay Ella.

Barkada in Tagalog — a language spoken in the Philippines — translates to “a group of friends,” and Barangay’s cultural performances brought together a group both new and old.