This past weekend, Sonoma State’s very own organization, Filipino American Association took a trip to CSU Fullerton, to compete in the annual Friendship Games. The Filipino-American cultural club was established in 1995 and has since grown from a small group to a large organization of over 80 members who take pride in their family oriented environment.
Additionally, the association hosts the annual Pacific Cultural Night, one of the largest multi-cultural events at Sonoma State, every April.
The Friendship Games is an annual competition hosted by CSU Fullerton’s Filipino-American Association, a tradition dating back to 1985. Over 50 student -run Filipino-American organizations from California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii make the journey to compete in a series of four major games: Alpine Green, The Nasty, Big Groundhog and Conveyer Belt.
“FAASSU has been participating in the Friendship Games for the past 10 years and have always been seen as the underdogs,” said FAASSU treasurer and Friendship Games Co-Coordinator Kirsten Laforga. “This year we were able to show how much heart and dedication FAASSU puts into Friendship Games.”
When asked if there was any preparation involved in Friendship Games, president of the Filipino American Association and Friendship Games co-coordinator, Paolo Ochoa, emphasized that the organization fully utilizes all eight weeks leading up to the event.
“The preparation process is very tedious and something we try to make sure our members are dedicated to.”
The association practices three or four nights a week to prepare for the games, which are very physically strenuous and technique oriented.
“Our blood, sweat and tears goes into practicing for the games. Even though the games are played at Friendship Games look quite ‘silly’ they are actually very physically demanding and one wouldn’t know how much work it takes to perfect the technique and concept of the games until they have fully practiced and even competed in the games,” said Ochoa.
Once the organization’s executive board is sorted, a smaller board is created specifically for Friendship Games consisting of two coordinators, two SPUF (spirit, pride, unity, friendship) coordinators, and two Friendship Games’ game captains.
The coordinators are responsible for the technicalities surrounding Friendship Games such as means of transportation to and from the event, where the club is staying, and the registration for Friendship Games.
“This may be one of the hardest positions to take,” said Ochoa, “For it has to do a lot with finance and organization of the whole event to ensure that everyone is committed to coming down to Friendship Games with us.”
The SPUF team works and organizes the visual aspect of the event. The association’s SPUF team is very closely involved with crafting for the event, and creating cheers for the team as a whole to chant at Friendship Games. Additionally a Roll Call Dance Choreographer makes a one-minute dance to be performed during roll call at the event.
The dance and crafts are always made relevant to the association’s theme, which this year was “FAASSU in Ancient Greece.” The organization attended the event in togas and battle armor with props to match.
Lastly there are two Friendship Games’ captains who are the captains of the four main events previously mentioned. Reporting to those two captains, are an additional eight captains, two for each major game. Their positions require working as team motivators, referee responsibilities and keeping track of the games. Underdogs no more, Sonoma’s Filipino American Association took home a trophy this year.
“This was the first year FAASSU was able to make it into Final Rampage, the top three teams overall in games, and actually took home a trophy,” said Laforga, “we took first place in all four games in the heats we competed in.”