Last weekend, I attended my very first Friendship Games, an event held at Cal State Fullerton where Filipino organizations from several colleges in California come together and compete in team-oriented games. Although one of our goals was to win, the main purpose of the event was to bond with each other, to meet people from other schools with similar backgrounds and to have a good time. I can gratefully say that this is exactly what happened.
The day started out with us leaving UCLA in separate cars around 6:45 in the morning. It was early for a Saturday morning, but luckily the people in my car made up for it. We spent the drive singing songs and practicing our S.P.U.F. for the day. S.P.U.F. stands for Spirit, Pride, Unity and Friendship, and it consists of engaging, themed chants that each school performs in front of each other. Before arriving at CSUF, we met up with everyone else at a nearby Starbucks, which ended up being a great bonding experience where I got to meet people that I had not seen at practice. I did not realize it at first, but with midterms in full swing, this was also the first time I had seen some of my friends in a while. Meeting with everyone again made me even more excited for the event.
When we arrived at CSUF, we all gathered in the parking garage and talked amongst each other while we blasted pump-up music from a speaker. A little while later, we walked onto the event field, set up our tent, blankets and snacks and received a pep talk. We were reminded to have fun because after all, that is what we were there for. To kick off the event, schools performed their roll calls, short hip-hop dances that set the mood for the rest of the day. When UCLA came onto the stage, those of us not in roll call made sure to cheer on our dancers loud and proud from the audience.
Soon enough, the games began, which consisted of relay races called Alpine Green, Up and Under, Big Groundhog, Conveyer Belt and The Nasty, which I participated in. In this game, we had to individually run across a field with a baton in between our legs and pass it onto our teammate, all without using our hands. We did not place top three in every game, but we never got down on ourselves. Instead, we made sure to cheer on and congratulate each other for our hard work. Even if we did not win, we knew how to improve our techniques for years to come.
In between the games was the half-time show, where the main act was Filipino-American artist Jeremy Passion. The openers were dance organizations from multiple schools as well as Mikaela Bautista, Nylan Dones and Ceraadi. During the entire show, everyone in the audience danced and sang along while my friends and I put our arms around each other and swayed. It was such a simple and peaceful time where we could just enjoy each other’s company and listen to good music.
We also met with other schools and performed our S.P.U.F.’s for each other throughout the day. It was a really great experience to see what kind of chants and themes other organizations created. Through these chants, we were able to make new friends and interact with multiple schools, which was also a reminder of the true meaning of Friendship Games.
When the event ended, we all gathered together and congratulated ourselves and committee for working so hard to bring everything together. We took group pictures and left the event in our separate cars. Since it was a long day of activities, some of us decided to get dinner at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, which was the perfect way to relax and spend more quality time with each other. After dinner, we drove back to school, and this ended up being one of my favorite parts of the day. We ended the night blasting showtunes in the car and singing our hearts out. And to me, there is no better feeling than night drives with some of your closest friends after a long but rewarding day.
Overall, my first Friendship Games was a success. Although we did not win the trophy, we got what we wanted out of the event. I felt closer to people within UCLA’s Samahang Pilipino organization as well as people from other schools. It was the ideal de-stressor from the craziness of midterm season and most importantly, it made me proud to be part of the Filipinx-American community. I have a feeling that Friendship Games 2020 will be even better.