Cultural club encourages diverse particpation

The Filipino American Association of Sonoma State University, or FAASSU, has been an organization at Sonoma State since 1995 and initially was created strictly for students of Filipino descent to speak on issues affecting Filipino-Americans everywhere. This initial goal is exercised today however, FAASSU has grown into something much larger than the original founders could have ever imagined.

Accepting everyone and anyone from different cultures, FAASSU strives to not only educate and celebrate their own Filipino heritage, but those of other cultures as well. The club has about 60 to 70 members consisting of students from Filipino, European, African and Latin American backgrounds. Each member is encouraged to take part in the learning of Filipino heritage and culture.

“We always hear from people ‘I can’t join the club because I’m not Filipino’ but actually, FAASSU is currently the largest multicultural club on campus because the majority of our members aren’t even Filipino,” said junior Jessica Amen, president of FAASSU. 

FAASSU offers space for anyone looking to join and there are absolutely no requirements.

The most recent celebration FAASSU took part in was for Filipino history month which occurred the weekend of Oct. 21 at California State University Fullerton. This event is held annually and is titled Friendship Games. 

The purpose of Friendship Games is friendly competition amongst over 40 Filipino American Organizations from college campuses all over Arizona, California and Nevada. The event consists of picnic style games and performances, as well as to celebrate spirit, pride, unity and friendship. 

“This was my first year attending Friendship Games and I loved it. My experience was great and overall it was something I didn’t expect,” said sophomore and FAASSU member Monica Gutierrez. 

Members of FAASSU use this event as an opportunity to bond with one another as well as make connections and friendships with other students in the Filipino American Organization from other campuses.

The next biggest FAASSU event is their annual Pacific Culture Night. This event is a production hosted by FAASSU to celebrate their culture through performances of dance and song. Members come together, choreographing and participating in many different cultural dances emerging from the Philippines, Hawaii, Tahiti and New Zealand. 

Pacific Culture Night is an event that all Filipino American Organizations host at their own schools however, FAASSU’s production is slightly different. Not only do the members perform their cultural dances but they invite other multicultural organizations to participate in the show as well. This year marks the eighth annual event at Sonoma State and it will be held on May 6 - 7 in Person Theater.

The members of the club continue to gain different experiences. Some find themselves to be greatly affected by this organization and are thankful that they joined FAASSU.

“Growing up in Hawaii, Filipinos were always negatively stereotyped and I was very ashamed to be Filipino American,” sophomore Jano Duldulao said. “But as I got older I found a sense of pride in being Filipino and joining FAASSU has allowed me to learn so much about my culture, allowed me to meet inspirational people and made me the better person I am today.” 

Joining a club on campus is one of the easiest ways to socialize and make friends, but with FAASSU one gets more than just that. The organization offers other events that makes the bond of members stronger than just friendship. These events include food and clothing donation drives, free bowling nights, Halloween and Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas in San Francisco consisting of gift exchanges, shopping and ice skating.

The bond that members of FAASSU share is strong and continuously growing. The love and support each member shows toward one another is immense. 

“FAASSU is simply a family,” Amen said.