My FASA Story | Sunshine Camille Arcilla

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-04-46-pm (I rocked that bowl cut-white dress-tsinelas combo pretty good. Taken in front of the house I grew up in. Bamboo fence > White picket fence)

When I was twelve, I left my barrio (village) and everyone in it, including my dad, to start a new life in America. I’ve heard stories and seen balikbayans come back with so much more than they left with, so I should have been excited to leave. However, it didn’t sound as good as chasing dragonflies on an open field using a makeshift net made out of a stick and a plastic bag, nor was it comparable to the thrill of catching mangoes while my cousins dropped them from the tree, and it especially wasn’t worth leaving my dad behind.

But because I was only twelve, and I didn’t have a choice, here I am. Don’t get me wrong though; I am happy, and I recognize how privileged I am to be here, but there have been countless times when I wish I could go back home.

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[My sister and I went back home for the first time after 8 years in 2015. Here’s us at our childhood beach.]

Home. For the first 7 years of my life here, I lost the meaning of “home” until I joined FASA.

Physically– my family moved from one house to another almost every year, and there was event a point in time when I was only allowed one suitcase worth of belongings, because as my mom would say, “we have to be ready just in case.”

Culturally– I began to assimilate myself during my middle and high school years. I purposely altered my persona as to rid myself of everything that made me the “F.O.B” girl. I was a clay, completely moldable by the cruel hands of my bullies, insecurities, and desperation to belong.

“Am I really heading towards what I’ve been running away from for so long–my Filipino identity? How do you even begin to find your way back to the person you were? Is that even possible?” Hesitant about joining FASA, I asked myself these questions.

Little by little I learned about colonial mentality and it kept me coming back. It put my whole life into a new perspective. Suddenly all of the jokes about being the darker sister hurt more; every peso I paid for every Tagalog word I spoke in our “English Speaking Zone” at school was worth more; and every brush stroke for that perfect nose contour came with more regret than satisfaction.

I realized that turning away from my culture was like turning away from the people I left behind, and I simply could not allow myself to do that any further. And so I got more involved and I started to heal.

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(Last year when I had the chance to serve as Cultural Chair and Director of Filipino Night)

Alpas to me has been this constant process of decolonization so that I can find my “home” again. FASA continues to give me the tools and community I need to break free and break loose from the self-inflicted limits that I’ve been taught to internalize. Alpas is a reminder of my journey to self-empowerment and falling back in love with my culture. This theme can be applied to all of us in so many ways, but I personally hope that it can serve the same purpose to my fellow 1st/1.5 generation folks.

In a sea of people from different walks of life, it’s easy for us to lose our identity but thanks to FASA, I will always have a reminder of who I was and who I can become.  

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Find out more about Sunshine and her position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

 

 

My FASA Story | Shawntel Bali

I grew up in the small state of Hawai’i, on the small island of Kauai, in a small town called Kapa’a. The word “small” basically sums up my universe as a little girl. The world I knew consisted of palm trees and sunshine. People’s skin color ranged from tan, very tan, and brown. I was happy here. Really, really happy.

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[I don’t have any of my childhood photos right now, so Baby Moana will do]

After kindergarten, there were 5 words that shattered this small universe of mine:

“We’re moving to the mainland.”15327625_1342282505790345_1305578384_n

[Say what?]

To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what this meant. But all my little 6 year old self could do was pack my things, say goodbye to my island home, and say hello to this “mainland”- which was apparently synonymous with a place called Federal Way, Washington.

At that moment in time, this is what I knew:

  • It rained a lot here.
  • Skin color has faded far beyond familiar shades of tan and brown.
  • I speak differently around these people.

But at 6 years old, what I didn’t know was why. Why did my parents bring us here? Why did I suddenly feel so out of place?

For awhile, my questions remained unanswered and I naturally adapted to this new world. However, there were things my friends did, and standards others were held up to, that were just not reflected in my own life. I acted differently at school and at home, just to be accepted. I felt bounded by these unknown restrictions, and would often blame it on my “parents’ strict rules” or “family’s irrationality” in effort to make sense of this big, fat why.

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[I spy awkward middle school me – Lakota Middle School]

Then one day, in the midst of my teenage angst fury, my sister tells me this:

“It’s just our culture. That’s why.”

I was outraged. How is this a cultural thing? How does being Filipino have anything to do with this?

Fast forward to now, I realize that being Filipino American has everything to do with this.

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[FILIPIN-YAAAS – Filipino Night 2016]

If I were to tell you why I’m Cultural Chair, or a member of FASA at all, it would all trace back to the first Filipino Night I attended at 14 years old. It was a show directed by my own sister.

That night, something just clicked. I remember being in complete awe, feeling connected with the people in the room somehow, and leaving the show wanting to know more. It was the first moment I truly connected with my identity as a Filipina American and woman of color.

This was my “alpas” moment that has since flourished into a never-ending journey of searching, discovering, and reclaiming my Filipino American identity. I’m in this constant, glorious cycle of defining and re-defining what culture means to me.

I owe it to FASA for helping me respect and understand, my family, my friends, my history, myself, and my purpose in this enormous universe; a universe where I am happy- really, truly happy -in finding out why.

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[My everything.]

Find out more about Shawntel and her position here!

What’s your FASA Story? #alpas

My FASA Story | RJ Dumo

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What up tigga/ Obligatory baby pic

Before coming to UW, I was never one to think of myself in a reflective way.

Growing up in a neighborhood where everyone looked different than me, assimilating became second nature. Sometimes, I would throw away the red hot dog sandwiches my mom would pack me for lunch and happily starve myself. To be “funny”, I would squint my eyes, make ugly faces and talk in a harsh Filipino accent. I would rotate through nicknames like “Teriyaki”, “Enchilada”, “Fez”, yet gladly give those kinds of nicknames to myself too. It made me happy that I could make other people laugh so I saw nothing wrong.

High school was different for me. Everyone looked different. They all listened to different kinds of music. They ate weird foods. They dressed differently. They talked differently.

Diversity: it was something entirely new to me.

After spending nine years within a predominantly white private Catholic school, I was finally going to school with people that were colored just like me. Yet, I felt so lost. It felt like I had to start all over again. I had to relearn how to dress, how to walk, what to listen to, what to eat, how to talk. Once again, I assimilated but one thing I couldn’t find was my voice. I was so afraid of judgement fearing that I wouldn’t be able to make friends that I felt it would be better to remain quiet rather than expressing myself. Up until college, I truly didn’t have a sense of identity.

Or rather, it wasn’t until later that I realized that I’ve been rejecting it all my life.

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There’s something really mind blowing when you look at old photos of yourself from just a year ago and realize that the picture of the person that you’re looking at isn’t you.

It was the summer before coming into UW in which I felt like things really changed for me. It was a hot day sitting in my aunt’s stuffy apartment when we had a conversation. A conversation that I will always remember. From this conversation, she gave me two tips. Two ideas that I was skeptical about at first but slowly warmed up to me and took in full-heartedly.

  1. Focus on putting yourself in a self-growth mentality.
  2. Join FASA.

Alpas (v.): to break free, to break loose. For me, “alpas” means a lot to me. All my life, I’ve been weighed down by the expectation and the fear of judgement from everyone around me. Not only did I have expectations from many people but I placed self-destructive expectations for myself. If I wasn’t like everyone else, then I’m not acceptable.

The two pieces of advice that my aunt gave me were the key for me to break loose from the chains that weighed me down. Realizing how I want to move forward and what direction to take is honestly one of my proudest accomplishments in my college career.

I’m not completely free from those chains quite yet but remember this: patience, gratitude, and trust. Breaking free isn’t going to come right away but we’ll get there eventually.

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Find out more about RJ and his position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

My FASA Story | Saralyn Santos

When I was two years old, my family packed up and moved from New York City back to the Philippines.

I remembered nothing of my life in America; my first memories were of humidity and heat, summer storms and floods, trips to Jollibee and meals around the wooden table in our kitchen. In my mind, despite the fact that I was born in America, and couldn’t speak a word of Tagalog, I was as Filipino as they came.

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Young me in the Philippines, circa 2001.

When we moved back to the United States, I went through a pretty extreme state of culture shock. I went from classes where everyone looked like me to classes where I was more often than not the odd one out. I went from a beaming, outgoing kid to a shy, quiet kid. I hardly ate; I barely talked; I cried a lot. My brother, three years old at the time, confided in my mother, “I think Ate’s dispressed.”

Being five years old and “dispressed”, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time, but I felt this acute sense of not belonging. My classmates squinted suspiciously at the sinigang and monggo I brought for lunch. And although by my birth I was just as American as the next kid in the class, the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes continued to prompt questions from other kids and well-meaning adults:

“Are you Mexican? Chinese? Japanese?”

When we traveled back to the Philippines over the following years, I started to feel a needing but particular sense of not belonging there, either. When my family joked with each other in Tagalog or Bisaya, I was only able to nod along, unable to understand what they’d said. I felt too awkward and American to truly fit in. When we went back to America, suntanned and jet-lagged, I’d lie awake wondering if things would have been different if my parents had never left the Philippines. Would I be Filipino enough if I had been born there, raised there, and stayed there? On other days, I’d wonder: would I be American enough if my family had simply stayed here, without ever returning to the Philippines?
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My family in the Philippines, all reunited for my grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2011! I had hardly any idea what anyone was saying for this entire trip.

The years went by and I continued to ponder these questions, until I made it to college and encountered FASA for the first time.I actually didn’t come into UW intending to join FASA; I had had my heart set on the Husky Marching Band. After I failed the audition and got rejected from HMB, it took a coincidental stroll through the RSO Fair, a friendly face asking “Hey, are you Filipino?”, and the promise of free ice cream to bring me into my first FASA event, the 2014 New Member Social.

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Me at my very first FASA general meeting!

Even then, I still didn’t feel like I belonged right away. I was an ice-cream sundae of shyness and awkwardness, with a heaping scoop of social anxiety on top. But despite all of that, FASA welcomed me in anyway. Every time I wandered through the door, a friendly face would greet me by name and ask me how I was doing. Slowly, I made friends, and was delighted to discover that we shared so many commonalities. It was amazing to talk to other people who had shared the same experiences I had had. Little by little, I finally started to get the feeling that I belonged.

At the end of freshman year, I became FASA’s historian. The year that followed was honestly one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever had. Suddenly, I was a leader, someone who not only belonged to a group but constantly worked to make that group even better. Although I had a new position, deep down I was still the same old socially awkward me — at the beginning of the year, I lurked at the edges of meetings with my camera, taking candid shot after candid shot. I challenged myself to do better, and bit by bit, I broke free of the introverted, quiet shell I had been developing since the age of five. I did things I had never even dreamed of doing before. I researched Filipino American history and presented it every other week to fifty or more people. I joined Sayaw and performed in front of hundreds of people.

I became proud to be Filipino American in a way that I’d never been before.

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Presenting a historian corner at a general meeting! I pioneered these presentations during my year as historian.

The story doesn’t end here. I still worry about what to do or say whenever I talk to someone, I’m still someone who hovers around the edges of a group at first, I’m still someone who wonders from time to time, “Am I Filipino enough?”.

But that’s the beauty in alpas, I think — it’s a verb, not a noun. You don’t just break free once and then never again. Little by little, bit by bit, you continue to break free of the way you used to be, spread your wings, and soar ever higher.

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Find out more about Saralyn and her position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

My FASA Story | Leanna Tri

“If it doesn’t really affect me, I don’t really care.”

I wish I can remember who it was that told me that because those ten words have had a huge effect on me.

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Growing up, I don’t remember a time in my life where I liked to share important details about myself…where I voiced my opinion regarding the things that mattered. I was never the kid in class to volunteer to speak up or have the loud voice in a large group conversation. I didn’t think that being completely open and vulnerable with people or sharing my thoughts were all that important. I was just the type of person that went through the motions. I was just the type of person in high school that had a small group of close friends, focused on school, and participated in just a few extra-curricular activities here and there. I did what I had to do and that was really it.

In one of my last few English classes during my senior year of high school, my teacher asked us all to come up with a six-word memoir that described us. This made me really reflect on my high school experience.

Nothing really stuck out to me though and that’s when it hit me: Don’t want to be another face.

Coming into the University of Washington, I knew I wanted to have a different experience than I did in high school. But UW was just so hugeeeeee, I didn’t even know where to start. I just I knew I wanted to meet new people, make new friends, and know more about the things going on around me.

I wanted to care. I wanted to be more than just another face.

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Alpas (v): to break free, to break loose

When we were choosing the theme for this year, this stood out to me. It’s a verb. It’s dynamic. I feel like it’s so cliché, but I can honestly say that being a member of FASA last year has changed me: how I see myself and how I see and understand the things that happen around me.

The people I met through FASA made UW feel so much smaller; in a good way, of course. I had a struggle going to the meetings  because they were so late, and I commuted to school, but I remember last year I kept coming back because of the people (: I remember that one officer that called me out because we had a class together (hint: it was the academics chair last year ;)); and that one time someone in the FASA Frosh Squad chat on Facebook approached me at a meeting and said “Hey, you’re in the chat but I don’t think I know you. I’m ____”.

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The events and corners and conversations that were always going on in FASA meetings made me want to be more aware of issues and things going on and educate myself (mostly because I didn’t want to be the only one not knowing what the conversation was about, but it worked!)

My experience has made me more open, more woke, more conscious. I feel more comfortable participating in larger conversations and just talking to people in general. I feel more aware and more of the important things going on and more willing to educate myself even if they don’t affect me personally. I feel more conscious of my actions and the importance of the things I have to share.

Now here I am, one of the officer for one of the oldest, largest cultural rso’s on campus. Haha whatttt?! I broke free from my comfort zone and broke loose from just going through the motions. Although that’s true, there’s still a long way for me to go. So, I hope that y’all will continue to alpas with me <3

 

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Find out more about Leanna and her position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

My FASA Story | Kent Mangubat Sucgang

What does it mean to be American? To be Filipino? These are questions that I’ve been struggling with for a while now.

 

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[Visited home this past summer, and this was one of the last things I did. I love to look at it sometimes to remind me of home.]

I come from an incredibly diverse community that is the island Guam. A community where it’s hard to say that you’re “this” or you’re “that”. Everything is interconnected in ways that are hard to comprehend at times. The melting pot of identities and cultures are the center of my story.

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[A little glimpse of Guam]

I attended a private christian school for most of life. It was a school where the majority of the faculty and staff were from the mainland. In addition to that, a lot of classmates came from different backgrounds. My school was really good at accepting all kinds of cultures and creating a safe environment for all its students. However, there was one instance where I felt completely embarrassed. One day, I brought some adobo to school, and one of my classmates made a comment about my delicious home-lunch.

“Why does it look like that? It looks gross.”

This comment bothered me the rest of the school year, and in some ways, beyond that. I never brought another home-made lunch again for fear of being teased. I completely shunned that aspect of my culture in order to fit in better with my peers, and for awhile, it seemed to work, for the most part.

Now I’m at UW as a freshman. It was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t even have family here, and the closest family member was all the way in California! For all intents and purposes, I was alone in a new state. I longed for something familiar. That’s when I found FASA. The first thing I noticed about FASA was how inviting the officers were. They were friendly and enjoyable to talk to, and on top of all that, when they did talk to me, they seemed incredibly genuine. They cared. After leaving that first general meeting, I couldn’t wait for the next.

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[FASA’s 1st general meeting, Fall 2016, Spoken Word]

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend any of the meetings during fall quarter due to my schedule, but I attended many of the winter ones. With every meeting, I learned something new. Whether it was the different corners or the many workshops and speakers, I left every FASA meeting with new knowledge of my culture and, in turn, myself. I began to have this feeling of involvement and investment.

I began to break out of the shell of my shame of being Filipino. I learned to embrace this part of me, and once I learned to do that, everything, more or less, fell into place. I was happy and comfortable with my newfound friends at FASA, and I started to take part in events that, a year ago, I never saw myself in. It’s amazing how much can change in a span of year; all you need encouraging, genuine friends and a common interest. In my case, the common love of Filipino culture was the factor that bound us together.

I want to encourage to all those reading this to dive in. Don’t be afraid to just jump into the craziness that is FASA. This wonderful organization helped break free of my political and cultural ignorance, and I am better person because of it. It is my sincerest belief that ignorance is a major chain that the world needs to break in order to be a better place.

In order to break that chain, you start with cracks. Each educated person is a crack in that chain.

Be a crack.

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Find out more about Kent and his position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

My FASA Story | John Buenavista

Now that I think about it more, there were a lot of things I didn’t understand when I immigrated to the U.S.

Like, why we decided to move to the U.S. in the first place. Why it took my dad 10 whole years to petition me and my family into the U.S. Why we had to temporarily live in the basement of someone else’s house. And why I had to take ESL classes in elementary school.

However, there was one and only one thing that I understood: Here in the U.S., I get to spend more time with my dad and finally have my whole family together indefinitely.

I have realized a lot of things since then.

I’ve realized that my mom doesn’t cook as often anymore – I miss her cooking, especially when she cooked Filipino food.

I’ve realized that I can’t speak my native tongue anymore, and I have a difficult time speaking English.

I’ve realized that my family back in the islands are disconnected from me and way out of my reach – their names are even unknown to me.

I’ve realized that I wasn’t taught much about the history of where I used to live, and I always play catch up on the history of the place where I live now.

And I’ve realized that my biggest struggle in life here in the U.S. was trying to figure out who I was, and where I fit in all of this.

But here in FASA, I’ve realized that I wasn’t alone – that I no longer have to face my experiences and struggles alone.

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[Sayaw, when I was Sayaw Coordinator! :)]

I remember when I first learned my first dance in Sayaw – it’s called

Binasuan. I was so frustrated with it because I had to balance a glass filled with water on certain parts of my body. For example, there is a part of the dance where I have to roll and whirl on the ground while maintaining the glass on top of my head. It was challenging, it was difficult and I just couldn’t get it right. Then, I was asked to perform. I wasn’t sure if I was quite ready, but I still performed.

And I’m so glad I did.

Whenever I look back at this moment, I realized that I wasn’t the only one struggling how to balance the glass on top of my head – everyone else was trying to learn how to do it as well. But the beauty of this moment wasn’t only due to the fact that I wasn’t the only one trying to learn it, it could be traced back to the fact that the people around me were helping me how to learn it.

And this is how I feel about FASA.

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[If you are wondering why there’s a beer pong table on the stage of Kane Hall, you can come find and ask me lol]

I feel like whenever I realize or learn something new about my culture, my history, or whatever it is that pertains to me as a Filipino American – here in FASA – I find myself surrounded by the same people trying to learn the same things, who also went through the same experiences and adversities that I did. But again, the beauty of it all was not only knowing that I wasn’t alone, but also having people there to encourage, support, and empower me in the entire process.

To those that are reading this, y’all are probably the same ones that have helped me break free from my biggest struggle in life. I am proud to say that I have found who I am, and where I fit in all of this, and I can only thank you all for that. For the rest of time here in FASA, I can only hope to pay forward all the love you all have shown me to those that were just like me.

So until I graduate, let’s break free, let’s break loose, together.

#alpas

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[#tbt to my freshman year, good times!]

Find out more about John and his position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

 

My FASA Story | Christian Carmen

Growing up I had no intention for change, I was always comfortable.

I mean I had all of the necessities needed to live, why change?

That was the problem, I was afraid of change.

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[FASA’s First General Meeting, Spoken Word, 2016]

Inevitably it happened, my dad cheated on my mom and my world turned upside down. We had to sell our house that we had for 12 years, budget our savings so we can have food on the table, and our relationship as a family shifted downhill.

My brother barely came home, my sister shut herself in her room, and lastly my mom would cry herself to sleep every night. I was only 12 years old when this happened and I didn’t know what to do but to hate. I started skipping school and soon I saw my grades starting to decline.

To be transparent, I felt like I had nothing to contribute to this world, so why change that mindset?

There it is, “change” again.

I started to learn how to not fear change, but be the change I want to see today. I believe I can change my destiny, my dreams, and make them a reality.

For the next couple months I started to see changes.

My brother decided to stay home and apologized to our family, saying that he just wanted to run away from his problems and to distract himself. As for my sister, she began gaining her confidence again and started to converse with the family. Lastly, my mom realized how important we are to her and was able to adapt to our financial crisis. Overall, I was happy to see where we had started and the amount of adversaries that we pushed through.

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[My family and I!]

This is why Alpas is so important to me. It reminds me of obstacles that I faced throughout my life and how I was able to get passed through them. It reminds me of my purpose to keep on fighting until this day, which is that I want to break free from grudges that I had set on my father, but to break loose and understand that I have a purpose on this earth.

Alpas means: To become free, to break loose. And I am a testimony of that.

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My FASA Story | Ann Samson

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[Me with terrible bangs, Age ~5 ish?, San Diego, CA]

To be honest, I was suppose to go first in this whole “My FASA Story” series, but I thought my story would be too much for first impressions. It might be too much for people to swallow.

Too much.

What does it mean to be too much?

Well — ever since I was little with terrible bangs, I always thought of myself to be too much. I’d ask too many questions, I’d sing too much in public, I’d get in to too much trouble with my Kuya. But as a 5 year old, you don’t immediately see yourself as being “too much” – you’re just having a good time being you.

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[My amazing mom and my sometimes cool Kuya]

I knew that I was too much at an early age when I was often silenced. I wasn’t the only one silenced. Kuya and mom were also silenced.

Naturally, growing up in this environment made me feel like a burden. It was best to be quiet. It was best to stop asking questions. It was best to stop being “too much”.

So that 5 year old girl with terrible bangs who was completely and proudly herself?…She was forgotten for the rest of her life till her sophomore year of college.

I met this little girl during my second Sayaw performance. I remember her coming into our dressing room and was like, “Hey guys!! I learned how to break dance!!” She was 3 years old.

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[TWINSSSS!]

Seeing her dance around all over the place with no care in the world, being herself, and speaking her mind – made me wish I was like her. She would ask us countless questions of our Sayaw costumes, our props, and our dances. She reminded me of myself when I was little. It felt like I was looking into the past. That night after meeting her, I promised myself I would try to be that girl who dared to ask a lot of questions. Funny, huh? A 19 year old wanting to be a 3 year old?

Amazing things have happened to me after meeting that girl. She always has been on the back of my mind moving forward. I’ve become more aware of my community: how freely my community speaks up when they see injustice and how sometimes our voices are forcefully silenced.

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[Martin Luther King Jr. March – Jan 2016 – Downtown Seattle]

I remember feeling so empowered when I was with FASA, MIC, and PSA to stand up for our protected seats during that ASUW Senate meeting. I remember the first time I spoke up for something bigger than myself. I remember the first time I spoke up to violence on campus and finally the  violence at home. I remember the first time I felt truly, genuinely, out-of-my-mind, happy.

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[My favorite dance, Sayaw sa Bangko (Super version!) – Pista Sa Nayon 2016]

To this day, I still have to train myself to NOT believe I am a burden to the world. I still have to train myself to believe that my experiences and feelings are valid. And this is why the word alpas resonated with me so much. The word itself is a verb. It’s an action: to break free, to break loose. It’s an ongoing process.

I’m not free yet and I don’t have all of the answers.

I’m still learning. And I can’t wait to learn with all of you.

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Find out more about Ann and her position here!

What’s your FASA story? #alpas

My FASA Story | Bryttnii Cariaso

“The Spirit of an Islander” was the title of my UW admissions essay –  a tale of a heroine who knew her place in the world. But her story was written by a wandering spirit with a wavering heart, with “where are you from?” being such a difficult question.

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In 2014, the year I graduated high school, my father was given PCS (Permanent change of station) orders for the family to move to Fort Bliss, Texas. By then, it was my second year in Washington state. My parents encouraged me to wait for college and move with the family.

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[ Summer 2012 – fam bam in Idaho during our road trip to our next base: JBLM, Washington! ]

Instead, I wanted to escape this path – this cycle – of moving and moving and starting over and over again. I knew that if I stayed with my family, I would only be holding myself back from opportunities. If I am ever going to find my place in this world, I need to challenge myself and grow as an individual.

 

This small town girl has never lived in such a big city up until now. It was also hard for me not having my parents or sister nearby. I was stranded in a sea of busy streets and crowded halls. How can I be an adult when I feel like a lost child in search of a home?

 

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Five years of my childhood were spent in Oahu. This is where I grew up with hula as a traditional art. Dancing hula was my way of convincing myself that Hawai’i was a place in my heart to call home, and hula brothers and sisters were people in my life to call family.

 

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[ March 2006 – me and my sister, Venus, before a performance at the Mililani Town Center ]

Hula is what strengthens my Hawaiian roots. I don’t have Hawaiian blood, but I don’t question my dance lessons and appreciation for Hawaiian culture in my life. Through traditional dance, I learned how to feel comfortable in  celebrating a culture I wanted to love.

 

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“Are you Filipina?” There were times when I didn’t like to answer this question either. My mom is “half” and my dad is “full”. Because of insecurity, I wasn’t comfortable back then to talk about having Filipina blood. I would ask myself, “do I have a right to talk about my roots when I don’t even know what they mean to me?”

 

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[ October, 2014 – my first meeting was FASA’s 2nd general meeting (pictured center, with a hair flower) ]

 

By the start of college, I had such a deep appreciation for dancing in my life, I knew it needed to be in my UW experience. I wanted to love Filipino culture the way I loved Hawaiian culture. So through this understanding, I turned my attention to FASA’s dance troupe, “Sayaw”.

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[ April 25, 2015 – Performing (pictured right) with Sayaw at FilNight: “Finding my Pin@y” ]

I promise you, in all my life of dancing anything, I have never felt so confident about my place in this world until I stood proud and beaming in a Maria Clara dress at the end of Sayaw’s performance at my first Filipino Night. That 20-minute set was the first time I ever felt I had every right to be celebrating Filipino culture alongside other Filipino Americans.

 

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I have been blessed since my first year of college to find another family now dear to my heart. I am thankful for FASA being in my life and helping me understand and take pride in my Filipina roots. My desire to be in my position as Sayaw Coordinator is so I can support Sayaw and ensure that its name and its mission are recognized for keeping the Philippine traditions alive for college students and giving wandering spirits like me a sense of home in the greater Seattle area.

 

14642630_1809486922603288_758953842_n[ April 9, 2016 – “Sayaw is…” Showcase. Like an Umbrella Girl to her princess, I am honored to be the Sayaw Coordinator for her dance troupe <3 ]

Find more about Bryttnii and her position here!

What your FASA story? #alpas

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