The Filipino American Student Association at Portland State known as Kaibigan conveyed a message of unity, connection, and the importance of awareness and diversity during its 12th annual Filipino Cultural Night Celebration, Angkla.
PCN was held on Saturday, April 22 at PSU and included traditional Filipino foods, choreographed dancing, and performances highlighting personal narratives. The main theme from which the group’s message is derived is known as Angkla, meaning “Anchor” in Tagalog, one of the main spoken languages in the Philippines.
Anchors are traditionally used to hold docked boats in place or keep vessels from drifting too far off course during a storm. Building off the traditional meaning of anchor, the event explored the ways in which an anchor functions in the lives of the Filipino community.
Kaibigan organizers explained how Angkla relates to the Filipino American experience and symbolizes the connections and personal roots developed along the way—family, friends, values, culture, roots, heritage, and more.
“The message we wanted to give PSU students through the show is conveyed through the symbolism of an anchor and the idea that we all have anchors in our lives,” Kaibigan organizers said. “As we have quoted, ’Life’s roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors,’ meaning, there are connections that we have in our lives which keep us strong despite the struggles we may experience.”
A main theme explored within the personal narratives at PCN included immigration and general awareness of the displacement of indigenous and working class communities in the Philippines.
The performance, inspired by true events, portrayed the struggles of farmers and indigenous people in the Philippines and centered around the communities impacted by Bases Conversions and Development Authority to create Clark Green City, housing development projects meant to displace indigenous communities in the Philippines.
“Not only did we want to educate the audience about this issue,” Kaibigan organizers explained, “but we also wanted to convey that despite being an ocean away from a country with these issues and being students who seem powerless, our power united as we stand together can move mountains and can truly make a difference. The anchors that we have back in our motherland and with each other as a community empower us to create positive change.”
PCN also highlighted the importance of anchors not only in the direct community but in the larger context of the world. Kaibigan organizers spoke of the degree of division America is currently experiencing and explained how diversity is the answer—not the enemy—in mending the divide.
“The message we hope to send is that diversity itself is an anchor which brings us together,” Kaibigan organizers said. “Despite our struggles existing in diverse contexts, the root causes for them are the same, which anchors our communities to one another and can unite us to fight against the issues we face. It is our capability to stand united that will help us prevail.”
Through PCN, Kaibigan’s ultimate goal is to unite everyone, whether Filipino or not, to come together as a community to celebrate the anchors of our lives.