Last Saturday was the Student Association for Filipino Americans (SAFA) second annual Philippine Culture Night (PCN). PCN is a student-run event that has traditional music, dance, food and more to display the culture of the Philippines of and Filipinx-Americans.

SAFA was founded at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2018. They want to cultivate the Filipinx within the community here at UM-Dearborn through cultural workshops, conferences, discussions, and social events. Being of Filipinx descent isn’t a requisite for being a part of the student organization. SAFA is for anyone that is interested in learning more about their culture. They welcomed me into their club with open arms, and they’ve treated me like family ever since.

SAFA’s Co-Cultural Chair Camille Lagman described the term “filipinx” by saying, “Filipinx is a more inclusive term when referring to someone who is from the Philippines. In the Tagalog language, there are many words that have a gender associated with them using, Filipinx instead, allows us to be more diverse when referring to the community.”

This event takes months to plan and is their biggest event of the entire school year. With colleges and families from all over Michigan and the Midwest, they were able to show everyone what it means to be Filipinx. 

This year’s theme was “Puno ng Buhay,” which means “Tree of Life ” in their national language of Tagalog. The phrase “Tree of Life ” is a reminder of the lineage that connects them to their Filipinx roots; no matter where in the world they are. They said, “No two leaves are the same; similarly, we are diverse in our individuality and experiences. We all have different journeys in life. Our individuality, rooted, in our family and culture.” 

With Ms. Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, a journalist that focuses on issues of race, justice, culture and the arts was a keynote speaker at the event. She announced performances from The Filipino American Student Association (FASA) from UM-Ann Arbor’s Christian Magno, Elyssa Dolar, The San Lorenzo Dance Group, Kapamilya (KAPAS) from Eastern Michigan University’s the native dance Tiklos, FASOU from Oakland University’s Isabella Javier, The Philippine Arts & Culture Ensemble of Michigan (PACE MI), our very own JJ Sergio Cante and Collin Almario, and to close the event, they had SAFA perform the traditional dance of Pandanggo Oasiwas and then a modern dance. 

All donation proceeds went to The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) towards Taal relief in effort for those affected by the Volcanic eruption that recently happened in the Philippines. The CDCR is a non-government organization that pioneered and continues to promote community-based disaster management in the Philippines.

SAFA wanted to give a big thank you to their sponsors: The Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield, MI, The Filipino American Community Council of Michigan (FILAMCCO) in Southfield, MI, SOAC, and Student Government. PACCM is a cultural center that focuses on preserving and promoting the Filipinx culture, traditions, values, and heritage by providing different programs and services for the community. FILAMCCO is a local organization that helps all member organizations within the Filipinx community in activities, advocacy, projects, etc., while initiating and providing means for the advancement of civic, cultural and professional interests of Filipinx Americans here in Michigan.