The audience rose from their seats as the lights came up on Mainstage. Onstage, a sea of students dressed in white and black with their right hands on their hearts began singing “Lupang Hinirang,” the national anthem of the Philippines.
For the first time since 2019, Bayanihan held their annual Pilipino Cultural Celebration (PCC) in person. The 31st PCC title was Subaybayan, which translates “to look closely” in Tagalog. The title encapsulates the show’s exploration of Pilipino college students’ identity through personal and cultural history.
“It’s truly through history that we can learn about ourselves,” said Older Adonis, a character in the performance.
The performance was structured around an interview with Older Adonis and Alunsina, played by Benjamin Nguyen and Louisa Ou, about their college years. They delved into how they embraced and came to understand their Filipino identity, through flashbacks of their early years which featured different performances by Bayanihan groups including Haluan and Isang Himig.
“It’s been a few days since the closing night of PCC, but even now I’m still hearing everyone talk about how good it was,” said fourth-year Ryan Nachor. “For our seniors and alumni, it brought back the nostalgia of PCC, but I personally think PCC has affected our juniors, sophomores, and frosh a whole lot more seeing as they never got to experience an in-person PCC until now.”
Nachor was one of the production coordinators and script editors for this year’s PCC. He said that he hoped the students, family members, and alumni in the crowd left the event thinking about what the organization has in store for future years.
After the show ended, the audience and performers gathered in the courtyard. Shirley Baniaga and her family waited outside for her daughter, Kristen Baniaga, a graduating Bayanihan fourth-year. Shirley shared the importance of this celebration to her, her daughter, her freshman son, and Kristen’s aunt, who had been a part of PCC during her time at UCSC.
“You don’t know who you are without knowing your country’s history,” Shirley said. “And you’re always from there, that’s what I love about [PCC]. They talked about the history of it, because we wouldn’t be where we were without those before us.”
Shirley pointed to PCC being part of the answer of how to teach future generations about Filipino culture, when there are people who are trying to erase history.
Shirley described a sense of community which Bayanihan cultivates for students at UCSC, both through PCC and in the organization in general.
The performance concluded with the all-important dictum of Pilipino revolutionary and national hero José Rizal, “Know history, know self. No history, no self.”
This article was part of a CHP backlog, it was originally written during the week of May 1.