Every year in the spring semester, FAASSU, or the Filipino American Association of Sonoma State, puts on Pacific Cultural Night, which is the largest student-run multicultural dance show at SSU.
PCN consists of Filipino traditional folk dances, Polynesian dances, and modern hip hop dances, which are taught and danced by student members of FAASSU, the largest multicultural organization on campus.
The national dance of the Philippines, known as Tinikling, is the finishing piece of the show every year. The folk dance originated during the Spanish colonial era and involves two people beating and clapping bamboo sticks, while dancers move through the bamboo sticks in coordination, almost like jump rope.
Sayaw sa Bangko is another popular dance, where dancers jump, flip, and perform choreography on top of narrow benches, and even stack the benches up to four levels. This dance comes from the Pangapisan, Lingayen, and Pangasinan areas of the Philippines.
This year, it will be FAASSU’s tenth year putting on Pacific Cultural Night at SSU. Many other schools, such as UCLA or SFSU, have had many more years of experience with PCN due to their diversity and large Filipino organizations.
However, FAASSU’s goal with putting PCN on is to promote diversity and cultural awareness on SSU’s campus, to give multicultural students a home away from home, and to eventually grow as large as other Filipino organizations on other California college campuses.
Brandon Leong is a second year Theatre Arts and Dance student at SSU and the co-coordinator of PCN. “I joined FAASSU in fall of 2017 as a freshman, and I was an intern for PCN board so I did little jobs for the coordinators and also danced in eight out of 10 dances,” he said. “I got so involved with PCN because I am also a dance major and really interested in learning Filipino dances.”
Many of FAASSU’s members come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, not just Filipino. The show brings together many different people to celebrate one culture while also embracing their own backgrounds, building a larger diverse community every year. Rehearsals are student-run and they go every week night from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., from February to May.
“PCN means family to me, we spend so much time together in rehearsals and build such good memories that we look back upon,” said Leong. “PCN has brought me closer to people that mean so much to me and without this show, I would not know the people I do today; I’m able to choreograph and dance in styles I have never thought I would be able to perform.”
FAASSU also invites guest performers to perform in the show to showcase what they do in their clubs and organizations, adding on to the goal of creating and more diverse community. Ballet Folklorico, Blue Baronz, and Sapphires work with FAASSU every year to participate in PCN.
Justine Oliva, a current SSU senior, joined FAASSU in the fall of 2015. As a freshman, she participated in every PCN dance that she could, leading her to become the coordinator of the show for two years.
“PCN allows me to celebrate my culture in a way that catches everyone’s eye,” said Oliva. “It helped me build connections with the multicultural community, allowed me to practice and gain leadership skills, and put on a show that’s completely student-run. It warms my heart to see all the hard work that pays off every year.”
Pacific Cultural Night tickets will go on sale starting on Monday, April 7, at $5 for students and faculty, and $10 for non-students. The show will take place on May 4 at Person Theatre, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the show starting at 7:30 p.m.