Month: October 2016

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

My FASA Story | Catherina Ed

HELLO friends! Here’s a little about me and my experience with FASA.

When I first arrived at the UW I was ecstatic, confident, and ready to take the school by storm that freshmen year.

And wow.. I can’t believe how fast it took for that mindset to change.

I graduated as Valedictorian and did pretty well in high school, so naturally, I thought I was set for college. (I’m cringing right now as I’m typing this to be honest but I’m sure many can relate!)

11391288_1632613726955239_9152532449873826427_nBUT, after taking my first midterms, receiving my first “average” and receiving a “below average” grade, I saw the earth crumble beneath my feet and I was absolutely devastated. It may seem like an exaggeration, which it was, but that’s how I felt. I lost my confidence halfway through Autumn quarter  and when winter break came along, I contemplated about transferring schools. At that point, I didn’t even believe in myself anymore. But…I hated the thought of giving up.

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I joined FASA because my sister, who goes to Gonzaga, was a part of their FASU and she told me all about the fun and friends she made. I didn’t really connect with anyone that Autumn, but Winter quarter I wanted to try! It was a brand new start. It was a brand new year. And as cheesy as it sounds, it was a brand new me. I WANTED to change myself. When FASA retreat came along, I signed up immediately. I wanted to meet and get closer to new people. I tried REALLY hard to lose the anxiety I had over being judged and I just tried to be myself and have a good time. I wanted to break free from my comfort zone to show people the real me. Loud (*cough cough* obnoxious), competitive (shown through Uno), and I don’t know, nice I guess?

 

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12513540_954861791246658_5476916096088962511_o(me being forced to present a new FASA idea for a FASA retreat workshop. LOL)

I had an epiphany during retreat.I needed to stop holding back.

I needed to just go for it and do me. So I did and I actually made friends who make my college experience worthwhile and help me gain my confidence back. They are now my support, my encouragement, and my motivation in this overwhelming school. I wouldn’t have found them without FASA. Not only that, but through the cultural, political, and historical corners, Sayaw, and through cultural commonalities amongst friends, I finally understood the importance of our culture and how it strengthens my relationships with the new friends I had made. I learned to love and appreciate it.

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(SOME of the friends I’ve made through FASA aka “the FASA Frosh Squad”…)

So now here I am, the activities chair for the Filipino American Student Association at the UW. Someone as socially awkward as me, to have been able to run for a position that is a part of the social pillar, really shows how FASA has helped me grow. It allowed me to break free from my old timid, nervous, self conscious self to a person willing to put myself out there to improve and work to better my wavering social skills, while allowing me to help others find the friends and family they’re looking for at the UW also.  And honestly, I’m so excited for this new school year.

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(Me and my predecessor, Adrian DelaCruz!)

Find out more about Catherina and her position here.

What’s your FASA story? #alpas