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A taste of the Philippines

By Russell Axon
On February 2, 2012

Justin Paat is covered in coconut shells - half-shells strapped around his chest, back, hips, thighs and the palms of his hands to be exact. And the reason is simple - he's doing it for dance.

"It's called ‘Magalatik,' a Filipino war dance," he said. "I clap the coconuts on my hands against the ones on my body. It's pretty intense."

Magalatik and several other traditional Filipino dances will be featured at the UT Filipino-American Association's Philippine Culture Night in the Student Union Building Ingman Room tomorrow.

Other dances at the event include "binasuan," a graceful dance performed with glasses of water or wine balanced on the dancer's head and hands; and "tinikling," where dancers move between clapping bamboo poles.

The event will also showcase hip-hop dance routines, singing and acting. A special, surprise performance is planned for the event's finale.

"With the performances, it was a group effort on what everyone wanted to see," said Brent Sahagun, president of UTFAA and a senior majoring in nursing. "We also have a lot of talented musicians and singers, so we kind of put them all together for this event."

Performers include FAA members and students from the University of Michigan's and Michigan State University's Filipino groups.

"As far as the other schools, they're all friends of ours and we've been there to support their events," Paat, co-emcee for the event and a senior majoring in art, said. "We told them about our event and asked them if they wanted to come perform and support us."

The FAA also found support from the Filipino Association of Toledo, a local group of which several FAA members' families are a part.

"The Toledo Filipino community is going to show their support by attending the event," Sahagun said. "We reached out to [them] ... to help us out."

Paat said the elder Filipinos were instrumental to the event's success.

"We wouldn't know any of the traditional folk dances without their help," he said.

Sahagun said FAA and FAT members will also cook a variety of Filipino dishes to be served at the event.

"We want people to know what our food tastes like compared to your typical American home-cooked meal," he said. "Or to show how our cultural dances are compared to maybe an Irish dance or something like that."

According to the event's Facebook group, the event was inspired by similar celebrations that take place in the Philippines. Each province celebrates their "fiestas" in a unique manner, an aspect which FAA wants to maintain, Paat said.

"We've always wanted a big event to bring other Filipino communities and culture to Toledo," he said. "We're going all-out. The practices have been crazy."

Paat said they were inspired by events and conferences FAA attended at other colleges, including The Ohio State University and U of M.

Sahagun and Paat hope both Filipinos and non-Filipinos will find the event informative and entertaining.

"We want to show people how we do things ... to let everyone know what being Filipino's all about." Sahagun said.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets can be bought at the door; general tickets are $10, tickets for students and members of the Filipino community are $7 and tickets for FAA members are $5.

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