FASOU celebrates culture and community with Philippine Culture Night

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Photo courtesy of the Filipino-American Students Of Oakland University

The Executive Board of the Filipino American Students of Oakland University.

Grace Lovins, Senior Reporter

The Filipino-American Students of Oakland University (FASOU) hosted their third annual Philippine Culture Night on March 12 to recognize and celebrate Filipino culture with the OU community. The celebration was open to all members of the campus community and took place in the Founders Ballrooms of the Oakland Center.

While this was the third annual Philippine Culture Night at OU, co-presidents of FASOU, Jermaine Juarez and Zachary Rosario, state the inspiration to establish the event came from other university organizations in Michigan.

“We got started by other Filipino organizations within the state of Michigan — there’s some at University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Dearborn, Wayne State University, Michigan State University — we were inspired by them,” Rosario said. “They also hold these annual events for people to come and attend, for the school to put on to showcase the students, their talents, their culture really and so we thought that would be our next step too, to do one ourselves and follow in their footsteps but also make it our own.”

The theme of this year’s Philippine Culture Night was “Pagdiriwang ng mga Pagdiriwang” or Festival of Festivals. Juarez notes this idea was inspired by several festivals celebrated in the Philippines like Masskara, Sinulog, Ati-Atihan and Dinagyang.

Festival of Festivals featured performances like singing, dancing and acting, highlighting Filipino culture. The sold-out celebration included performances from FASOU, FASOU executive board members Lynne Abelgas and Zoé Rosario, Wayne State University’s FILSOC, University of Michigan Dearborn’s SAFA, as well as multiple other speakers and performers.

The event additionally aimed to raise donations for The P.U.S.O. Foundation, the acronym meaning the Purposeful Unconditional Service to Others. The international non-profit organization aims to empower individuals to get involved with service work through the gift of giving back.

FASOU officially became a member of The P.U.S.O. Foundation’s College Outreach Program in 2020. Rosario states that FASOU has hosted many events to generate donations for the foundation such as a volleyball tournament, sending care packages to the Philippines, and through past Philippine Culture Night celebrations.

Juarez and Roasrio reflect on the importance of exploring diversity and culture, one of the goals of hosting Philippine Culture Night. They cite their own experiences exploring Filipino culture with other organizations at different universities in the state as well as various culture-oriented groups on OU’s campus.

“I think in the present day where things are kind of evolving more and people are realizing more, diversity is very important. Especially growing up in a white-dominated community and culture, I didn’t get exposed to even my own culture, nonetheless other cultures,” Juarez said.

“Joining this organization and experiencing those events, I have learned that other people from different backgrounds and different histories offer you a lot of different perspectives that can change your way of thinking and can introduce you to things that might benefit you even more than before.”

The co-presidents also note that Philippine Culture Night is not only centered around exposing the community to Filipino culture, but bringing people together in an environment that makes you feel like you’re participating in a festival just like in the Philippines.

Juarez credits Rosario, FASOU’s executive board and general members for helping to organize the event. He additionally expresses his appreciation for the community members who came to support the organization and experience Filipino culture.

For more information about FASOU and to hear about future events, visit their GrizzOrgs page, Instagram or website.