Philippine culture night


Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Noelle Rivard (center) serves white rice during the Phillipines international night on Thursday evening at the Loading Dock.

Stephanie Hollman, Staff Writer

Students, faculty and members of the community packed the loading dock to watch performances, expand their knowledge of the Southeast Asian archipelago, and of course, get a taste of traditional cuisine at the University of North Dakota’s annual Philippine Cultural Night this past Thursday night.

The loading dock was transformed with hints of the colorful Asian paradise, including festive banners reminiscent of the ones used in traditional barrio fiestas, or street parties and a booth full of hand-woven trinkets brought from the country, and glossy brochures and catalogues displaying the enticing white sand beaches and the geographical and cultural diversity among the 7,700 islands.

Emy Miller, a longtime Fargo resident who leads and participates in numerous Filipino culture organizations in the area including the FilAmMinDak Association and the annual Feast of Nations at the University of North Dakota, began the night by singing the national anthem of the Philippines. Shae Bonifacio, President of the Filipino-American Student Organization (FASO), accompanied Miller by marching the colorful philippine flag onstage.

The program emphasized the importance of music and dance in the Philippine culture. A hip-hop dance routine featuring music from Silentó (“Watch Me Work”), Zendaya (“Something New”), and Jason Derulo (“Trumpets”) represented music of the modern Filipino-American, while the rest of the songs showcased the traditional Filipino dances along with the sounds of the islands and colorful traditional costumes.

Agnes Carlson and Rachel Villaflores of the FilAmMinDak Association drove from Fargo to perform the Filipino folk dance Janggay, which refers to the metal fingernail extensions worn by women during special occasions.

For the next traditional dance, Pandango Sa Ilaw, the lights on the loading dock were dimmed and the crowd began to hush. Translated to “Dance with Candlelight,” this dance featured three couples who danced while masterfully balancing three candles with one on their head.

Along with these dance performances, the group educated the crowd about everything from Philippine climate to the Jeepneys and tricycles, which are eccentric modes of transportation used within the islands. Erika Ettl, member of FASO and a host of the night, noted the importance of putting this together for the community.

“It’s important because for a night, people immerse themselves in a culture that’s completely foreign to them and not their own,” Ettl said. “They are able to see things from a different perspective, and we need that because we live in such a diverse world.”

As with the other culture nights at the University of North Dakota, the crowd was looking forward to one thing in particular: the authentic and deliciously home cooked free food.

The offerings were very traditional and seemed to more than satisfy everyone in the crowd as it ran out quickly, and people did not hesitate to return to the long line for seconds.

The main courses for the dinner included beef caldereta, a hearty beef stew cooked with potatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and tomato sauce served over white rice, and pancit, a soft-fried noodle dish with plenty of vegetables and flavor. These were followed by a delightful purple dessert called ube, which is purple taro root that has been softened and cooked slowly with condensed milk and sugar.

FASO President Shae Bonifacio concluded the night with thanks to the many people who made this year’s Philippine Culture Night a success and for her, it’s become a culmination of four years worth of experience in being part of the Filipino community at the University.

“This year’s Philippine Culture Night is my favorite because the UND Filipino-American Student Organization have grown a lot since I lead the group,” she said, smiling as she watched everyone laugh, take pictures and enjoy the food that her auntie, Emelie Grant, prepared.

“This is my last year at UND and I am grateful that I get to share my culture to Grand Forks and UND community,” Bonifacio said.

Stephanie Hollman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]