Kaibigan, Northwestern’s Philippine Student Association, celebrated Filipino culture through food and dance with “Filipinx Fiesta” on Nov. 3 at Parkes Hall.
Kaibigan leaders welcomed members of the Northwestern community, emphasizing that the celebration was in honor of Filipino American History Month, the month of October, coming to a close. Attendees were invited to indulge in unlimited Filipino food that Kaibigan had ordered during the first hour. As someone who had never tried Filipino food before, I was excited to eat as much as I could.
My favorite dishes were the pancit malabon and the barbequed chicken. Pancit malabon is a stir-fried noodle dish made of thick rice noodles topped with shrimp and hard-boiled egg and covered in a sauce made of shrimp broth, fish sauce and crab. The barbequed chicken reminded me of my parents’ cooking because it was marinated in soy sauce, a staple in Southeast and East Asian cooking. I piled mounds of steamed white rice that were fully cooked (Northwestern dining halls can’t relate) onto my plate. For dessert, I ate ube (purple yam) and mango cake. I had missed good Asian food, and all the Filipino food Kaibigan ordered was delicious. If you have never tried Filipino food before, go out and try it right now; there’s a Jollibee in Skokie!
After dinner, the night’s festivities opened with Afrothunda, an African dance group that blends traditional and modern African-themed dance and music. They performed a mash-up of several African pop songs, and their confidence and sharp moves were incredible to watch.
Kaibigan members performed Tinikling following Afrothunda’s performance. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine folk dance in which two people tap bamboo poles on the ground and against each other to set the beat. Dancers have to step between and over the poles in time with the tapping to avoid tripping or falling. Unsurprisingly, none of the Kaibigan members fell while performing. Their elegance and coordination was enviable, and I hope I can channel their graceful energy into passing all my midterms in one piece.
Audience members were invited to try Tinikling after the performances ended. Laughter filled the room as everyone tried their best to stay on their feet. It was heartwarming to see students from so many different backgrounds come together to appreciate Filipino culture through dance. The joy in the room was palpable and much needed, not just because we’re all stressed from midterms, but also to acknowledge the beauty, complexity and vibrancy of Filipino culture.
McCormick freshman and Kaibigan member Crestal Ligo said that the Kaibigan dancers had been preparing for their performance for the past two weeks. For her, “Filipinx Fiesta” and Kaibigan as a whole are more than just a celebration of her culture; they are spaces of solidarity and pride.
“I think it’s always nice to have clubs that give people a sense of belonging,” she said. “For me, because I’m Filipino American, it’s very reassuring for me to know that there other people who share the same culture as me.”