“Our Story in Our Hands:” Asian Cultural Night at Saint Mary’s

By Aubrie Mckeever and Adriana Avila | Collegian Staff Writer and News Reporter

The 21st annual Asian Cultural Night (ACN) featured spoken word, dance, and song that highlighted the essence of Asian culture.

The night started in the Claeys Lounge where people socialized and snacked on appetizers such as egg rolls and dumplings. Around 6pm, the doors opened to the Moraga Room where the student performances took place.

Before the performances commenced, the Asian Cultural Night Executive Team dedicated the show to the late Brother Dominic. A framed photo was placed on an empty chair in remembrance of him.

The first performance was a spoken word by Abigayle Haguisan ‘18. My spoken word piece is about Filipino history and how it isn’t just handed to us,” she said. “We must actively dig through other histories to get to our own.” The theme of ACN this year was “Our Story in Our Hands.” She reflected on the absence of her culture’s history in the American school system. She described having to do her own research and ask her family members in order to learn the history of her culture. She found the stories of her ancestors in the hands of her family members.

After this act was a Japanese dance titled Sakura that used kimonos and fans. “Sakura is a traditional Japanese song which is about the cherry blossoms blooming in spring. The fans represents the cherry blossoms and the falling from the trees” said Hana Harrel ‘19, the choreographer of the dance.

Next was a Filipino medley choreographed by Yliza Yngayo ‘18, Brevin Domingo ‘19, and Mylee Suarez ‘20. Dancers used coconut shells as drums to keep rhythm.

Serena DeTorres ‘18 choreographed a traditional Filipino folk dance called Tinikling. It was a fast paced dance where participants jumped in between bamboo sticks. “Because I did not learn about my culture growing up,” said Detorres, “I learned to take my passion for dancing and use that to learn about my background and story as a Filipina.” When asked what she has learned about herself and being a Filipina through ACN she states “Asian Cultural Night taught me not to be afraid of who I am and where I come from. Being a Filipina American, I was raised learning about my American side. Instead of trying to silence and not tap into my roots from the Philippines, ACN reminds me that it’s okay to be something other than American and that the Saint Mary’s community needs to learn about that if we want to create bridges between all races and ethnicities.”

The chair of ACN, Brevin Domingo ‘18, stated, “Our theme was ‘Our-Story, In Our Hands.’ This title was a wordplay on Filipino revolutionary José Rizal’s quote, “Know History, Know Self. No History. No Self.” Without acknowledging our history, whether personal or historical, we cannot understand ourselves today, or why we face the situations we face. These personal narratives represent how our past has shaped us, and how we use the past to shape both our present and future.” He said “Expressing our stories is such an incredible opportunity. ACN is the one night at Saint Mary’s [where] our Asian-American community gets to voice our stories and experiences on such a large platform. I look forward to the conversations and change that will begin as a result of our questions posed.”

“As the Chair of ACN, there were definitely moments where I felt the pressure of being one of the leaders of representing the Asian American identity. The accompanied pressure is a great responsibility, as well as incredibly rewarding and a call for celebration,” he said.

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