Inside GMU FCA’s Oldest Tradition with Ray Dominguez

The Filipino Cultural Association (FCA) of George Mason University is one of the university’s oldest registered student organizations that is still active today. Founded in 1995 by a small group of Filipinx-American students, the organization has grown significantly since then with more than 50 active members to date. Although GMU FCA has adopted a myriad of traditions over the years, any seasoned member will know that none are as important as Philippine Culture Night (known as PCN for short). Enter from stage left, Ray Dominguez. 

This year marks Ray Dominguez’ second year as a Philippine Culture Night director. They are a senior pursuing a major in Creative Writing. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview them about their experiences with PCN. 

But first, what is Philippine Culture Night? It’s an original play entirely produced by students of GMU FCA. “Every script is an exploration of one facet of the Filipinx/Fil-Am experience,” says Ray on Philippine Culture Night. Each year it’s the responsibility of the PCN directors to write an entirely new script. GMU FCA has been producing PCN for more than twenty years. In that time the organization has told a myriad of stories; some modern, some fantasy, but they always tie back to Filipinx/Filipinx-American experiences. 

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“Everyone who has ever had a leadership position in the organization has had some level of involvement in the process,” explains Ray and since PCN is entirely produced by GMU FCA there are many ways to be involved--from stage crew, makeup, costuming or even starring in the show itself. Even alumni return to campus every year to critique practices in the final weeks leading up to the show. Outside of when I interviewed them, I’ve heard Ray call Philippine Culture Night the heart of FCA. 

“The great part about PCN is that it’s an opportunity for Filipino-Americans to discuss Fil-Am issues and learn more about a culture the majority of us have been separated from since before birth,” continues Ray, pointing to the fact that many of the Filipinx members of FCA are American born and struggle with connecting to their homeland’s culture. As an American born Filipinx, Ray sometimes struggles with the Filipinx stories they want to tell onstage, and has worried that they aren’t sufficiently informed in the culture. However, that hasn’t stopped them: “This uncertainty has pushed me to research as much as I can, and I’ve found that the more I learn, the more connected I feel to my roots.”

This year’s Philippine Culture Night is slated for April, so Ray--along with their fellow directors, Katelynn Gomez and Martin Trompeta--still have a long road ahead of them. But, keep your eyes peeled for this year’s PCN! I promise you won’t regret it. Whether you identify as Filipinx or not, you’ll learn something new.