(Photo courtesy of: Nate Coady) “The Filipino Club shined at Kamayan hosted by Northeastern University.”
On Sunday, Nov. 12, The Filipino Club (TFC) of UMass Lowell participated in Kamayan, an annual cultural performance featuring multiple Filipino clubs from around the New England area. Held in Northeastern University’s Blackman Auditorium, Filipino clubs from all around the Boston area come together and perform traditional folk dances. Some schools in attendance were Harvard, Berklee College, UMass Boston, Boston College and a few others.
The event is hosted by District One or D1, which is a section of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FINE). They have districts for multiple regions; the Boston area falls into District 1. They hold events and shows that promote culture and relations between Filipino-American students.
During the performance on Sunday night, members of TFC were dressed in their “signature orange,” as Treasurer Matt Antonio calls it. They performed the Lapay Bantigue, moving across the stage, mimicking the movement of birds in their choreography.
The show itself featured a traditional part, followed by a modern part. Each club went on stage and performed a unique dance based on traditional Filipino folk dances, like the Tinikling, where two people dance over and between two bamboo poles hit against the ground along with the beat. Another dance was the Binasuan, where dancers perform with filled drinking glasses resting on their heads.
TFC usually meets twice a week for general body meetings, but in preparation for Kamayan, Antonio says, “four days a week and that’s just for our general body to practice. I see our performance coordinators, they’re putting in so many hours… I definitely want to shout out our performance coordinators. They’re just always down in the studio.” The club began practicing at the beginning of October.
Kamayan began at 6:30 p.m. and went until about 9 p.m., but the participating clubs arrived early at 10 a.m. to do technical setups and icebreakers with other Filipino clubs. “It helps with [the performance]… like last year in the backstage we were all supporting each other and chanting for each other,” says TFC performance coordinator Kenny Nguyen. For practice, Nguyen says, “Oh man. For the regular dance practices, Wednesdays and Fridays it’s an hour and a half for both modern and traditional; but on Saturday it’s three hours of modern and three hours of traditional.”
TFC is open to everyone, which means some members have never danced on a stage before. Nguyen says, “Kamayan is for everyone who wants to dance and participate. Not everyone knows how to dance, so they can choose what song they want to do, except for our last song. It’s mandatory for everyone because we want everyone to experience the moment on stage.”
Kamayan, in Filipino, is to eat with your hands. It usually refers to a large feast where friends and family get together. D1 uses the word for that reason, it represents cultural bonding. Antonio says, “That’s why it was a little confusing at first because I didn’t know it was a dance performance, I thought we were just going to eat… I think it’s more playing into the whole developing close relationships.” Nguyen likes to think of it as “Everyone is eating up the choreography.”