The sold-out Presentation Theater audience screamed and cheered in excitement as the dancers balanced glasses full of water on their heads, elbows and hands, gracefully dancing to fast-paced music without spilling a single drop. This dance, Binasuan, originating from the Pangasinan province of the Philippines, featured about a dozen dancers maneuvering the glasses around their bodies throughout the dance, creating a feeling of amazement akin to the wonder of a magician’s trick. It was just one of many cultural, dance, choral and skit performances featured at Kasamahan’s annual Barrio Fiesta performances last weekend, which showcased the efforts of over 130 students.
Barrio Fiesta is Kasamahan’s Filipino Cultural Night (PCN), an evening to showcase, celebrate and share Filipino community, heritage and culture. PCN is an event common to Filipino clubs along the West Coast.
The theme for this year’s show was Pakikisama, which can be translated as camaraderie and coming together. “We did that was recognizing how it’s our 45th Barrio Fiesta, and we really wanted to commemorate our past, present and future generations of Kasamahan that have come through this organization and continue to come back,” said senior Jazlynn Pastor, nicknamed “Mama Barrio” for her role as cultural director in Kasamahan.
The theme was strongly exemplified throughout the show, as the cast exuded their closeness and friendship in their performances. For example, the audience was welcomed back from the intermission with an acoustic song, during which one girl played guitar and was accompanied by the show’s choir. The group stood and sat on the stage and swayed together as they harmonized, with smiles on their faces as they moved their bodies to the rhythm and had fun with their friends.
The focus of the show was the numerous cultural dances, which drew from traditions all throughout the Philippines. Some were move lively, like Binasuan (the water glass dance), while Binaylan, the ritual dance from a province in Mindanao, had dancers with stoic expressions, holding their heads high with pride as their stomps and the live music accented their stomps. The dance imitated the movements of a mother hen, her children and a predatory hawk.
A large component of Barrio was skits, which occurred between suites of dances. Each vignette featured a smaller narrative – the vandalism of a community center (based off a real-life event), a high school DJ’s dilemma, LGBTQ+ accceptance in the family, a teenage girl’s debutante – and concluded with all the parts tying together into a larger story. “I really liked the skit throughout the performance,” said Mallory Lesaca, an audience member from San Jose who came to see her boyfriend. “It really portrayed what kids, teens and young adults go through with growing up in a Filipino family and in a changing and evolving generation in today’s society.”
Over 130 students from Kasamahan came together to produce Barrio, with most performers only learning their dances in the eight weeks of the spring semester. “It wasn’t the most pleasant process at the time, preparing for it, but I think the moment that made it all pay off was seeing my mom in the audience the second day,” said sophomore James Dumlao, who performed for his second show and acts as Kasamahan’s public relations and political affairs co-director. “I saw her in the audience with my family and that was the moment I knew it was all worth it, because my mom had surgery earlier this year and I’m just really glad she was there to see that.”
The audience was filled with the friends and families of the performers, as well as students from other Filipino organizations throughout California. Students from California Polytechnic State University, the University of California, Los Angeles and as far south as Long Beach came to watch and support USF’s Kasamahan.
Featured Photo: (From left to right) Kristian Fadrigon ‘20, James Dumlao ‘20, Mark Gravado ‘21, and Brandon Ragasa ‘21 balance glasses of water in the Filipino folk dance, Binasuan. Photos: Sophia Deeb/FOGHORN