Students signed up at booths to be involved with Bayanihan for the rest of the year.

“Ube or mango?” shouted Mikki Lim, interrupting the buzz of about a hundred students orbiting the ground floor of Porter College’s Dining Hall. 

With co-chairs Deanne Presas and Louisa Ou, Lim organizes Bayanihan’s Pilipino Cultural Celebration (PCC). Together, they called on the sea of attendees to cluster in the middle of the room and participate in a “Where do you stand?” category game. 

The crowd split into two camps, with one representing the juicy, yellow-fleshed fruit and the other, the rich, purple yam. In the middle, a number of stragglers flip-flopped between the two sides.  

“You gotta pick a side,” Ou jokingly announced into her mic. 

More than 170 students gathered Oct. 26 to learn about Bayanihan at its annual start of the year kick-off, “Fall Reception.”

Bayanihan is UC Santa Cruz’s largest Pilipinx organization on campus. Its 14 subdivisions, or “aspects,” focus on different interests like creative writing or high school outreach programs to serve the organization’s mission of creating an inclusive community beyond UCSC’s Pilipinx student body. 

“I wanted to engage with the Pilipino community, and so I came out to the mixer, and I had a lot of fun,” said second-year Vivienne Dimalanta, who attended Bayanihan’s pre-event “Halo-Halo Mixer.” “A lot of the returning members were talking about the different aspects of the club, so I wanted to check it out.”

Ballroom dance aspect Kasama performed a playful Lindy hop partner dance.

Every 15 minutes, Bayanihan’s Activities co- coordinators, Michael Sim and Julius Abad, announced a raffle with prizes like T-shirts and chicharrónes — fried pork rind chips. In between, aspects sang and danced, introducing their craft. The gathering was like a circus: lively, with the constant buzz of conversation between attendees.

Attendees carried “passports” to keep track of what tables they visited and commemorate their experience. The passport’s held schedule of events, including an a cappella performance by Isang Himig (IH) at 4 p.m.

“Let’s go, Andre!” cheered one attendee as IH member Andre Santiago sang Shawn Mendes’ “Lost in Japan” — a crowd favorite, according to Jonathan Codina, one of IH’s two co-coordinators. 

Outside Porter College Dining Hall, before their 5 p.m. performance, dancers from Bayanihan’s hip-hop dance team, Haluan, practiced the team’s performance, which was choreographed by team coordinators Monce “Mo” Camacho, Kaitlyn Liao and Kora Fortun.*  

For two-thirds of Haluan’s members, “Fall Reception” was their debut Haluan performance, Camacho and Liao estimated. But you wouldn’t have been able to tell. The 28 performers strutted to Lizzo’s “Tempo” and then Soulja Boy’s 2007 bop “Donk.” 

“It’s a song that you would hear at a party,” said Camacho. “It just makes you want to have fun.” 

The 14 Bayanihan aspects attracted newcomers to their booths with fun games like “Just Dance” and Bayanihan-related trivia.

For many of the current Bayanihan coordinators, dance was their introduction to Bayanihan, irrespective of experience. 

Louisa Ou, a co-chair for PCC, remembers former Bayanihan member Jenes Macatlang as a key figure in connecting her to the art form and organization. As a Bayanihan aspect, PCC produces an annual show in celebration of Pilipinx culture. 

Ou, who was a first-time dancer and the only freshman when she joined Bayanihan’s ballroom dance team Kasama in 2016, felt intimidated by the large organization. Macatlang made it more welcoming for Ou. 

“When I first went to college I didn’t really expect to make these kind of bonds [that] you heard about in movies or from older relatives,” Macatlang said. “I was like, ‘I’ll just go through college and do my classes or whatever.’ But then I met all these amazing people.” 

Macatlang stopped by the end of “Fall Reception” to see friends who are current Bayanihan members, like Teri Habacon.

“Bayanihan as a whole is a family away from your family,” Habacon said. This year was her last “Fall Reception” as a Bayanihan member. “It’s a home away from home, and it’s a place where you belong.”