Kristen Villamor: On PCN & Fil Grad

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Name: Kristen Marie Villamor

Year: 4th year

Major: Language, Culture, and Society

 

When and why did you start getting involved with KP?

I started getting involved with Kapatirang Pilipino (KP) four years ago during Winter quarter of my first year in UCSB.  I wanted to get involved in KP because I wanted to surround myself with Pilipinos my age who might also be seeking the same means that encourage Pilipino pride. Growing up in a predominantly Latinx community made me feel isolated because, unlike my Latinx peers, I couldn’t culturally relate to anyone let alone even understand what it meant to be Filipina American; I can’t even remember a time when I felt significantly prideful of my heritage beyond Manny Pacquiao's boxing legacy. And despite my family’s heavy involvement in the Catholic community, which has a large Pilipino community, I still felt disconnected because I couldn’t interact with Pilipinos my age. So, joining KP was a means of fulfilling my desire to experience what it feels like to engage in a Pilipino community on a daily basis.

 

What are some of the things you do in KP?

Last year I held the position known as Cultural Chair. As cultural chair, you convey historical/current information on Pilipino history and events that affect the Pilipino community. As an entire organization, KP participates in CSUF’s annual Friendship Games, host an annual benefit showcase, and host annual PCN’s. Smaller activities include engaging in general meetings where members of KP participate in the activities that KP’s Board (CORE) has planned out. Activities may include things such as short ice-breaker games, discussions regarding recent events, learning Tagalog phrases or words, etc. KP also has a mentor/mentee program called Ate-Kuya-Ading  (AKA) where the Academic Chair pairs groups of people together as their respective (and strategically randomized) mentor/mentee. The AKA program is the reason why KP has “family trees.” With all these activities combined, KP becomes and continues to be a large ever-growing community that focuses on Pilipino culture. I say “focuses on Pilipino culture” because KP doesn’t restrict prospective members from joining the organization if they don’t identify as Pilipino - we welcome anyone who is interested in learning and being part of our community.

    

Tell me about PCN, what is it?

PCN is essentially a Pilipino-American student-run production that celebrates Pilipino culture through theatrical performance art. The heart of PCN is the script which is drafted by the coordinator/director (and others). The script offers a single narrative (because we are all not confined by one narrative) that represents Pilipino-American, Filipinx American (biracial/multiracial), or Pilipino (full) experiences. Included in PCN are modern aspects such as choir and Modern dance. Modern dance reflects the emergence of hip-hop in Pilipino-American culture.

Additionally, traditional Pilipino dances are featured in PCN which serve to represent different regions of the Philippines. Traditional dances are divided into several suites; traditionally, PCN includes the Moro Suite, Barrio Suite, Maria Clara Suite, and TFC (Tribal, Filipino Martial Arts, and Cordilliera) Suite.

PCN is a team effort that also incorporates opportunities for members to learn and practice media skills such as graphic design, videography, photography, photoshop, etc. We also offer committee positions for other aspects such as the finance committee.

Most importantly, beyond the structure of PCN itself, PCN is part of Pilipino American culture. There are no PCN’s in the Philippines; only here. Why? There is no need to “be Pilipino” in the Philippines, as there is a need here. Here, we are driven by the need, desire, and justice to be recognized.  

What is it like being the assistant coordinator for PCN? What are the duties that consist of that role?

As the assistant coordinator, I am basically the Vice President. Holding this position is admittedly challenging and exhausting, but it’s definitely rewarding! This position for me personally is different from other chair positions I’ve upheld before because it requires more organization, communication, diligence, urgency, preciseness, and attention. This position has been an opportunity for me to gain first-hand experience in event planning - the amount of work my Co and I have put into PCN is nothing like I’ve experienced before.

Notably, as Vice Coordinator, I acknowledge and appreciate the visibility that has been offered to me this year. This position has cleared a platform for me to use my voice while also allowing me to share it with others so that they can use their voices too. It has been my intention to voice out the significance of PCN’s throughout the nation not only to audience members, but also to our cast members. I’ve been able to encourage critical thinking through PCN in hopes that the cast members, and audience members, understand the importance of being aware of how they exist and navigate in our world. So despite many obvious reasons for why being the Vice Coordinator of PCN is exhausting, the lessons I’ve learned and hopefully taught, and the experiences I’ve gained thus far is what makes being a coordinator rewarding for me.    

As for duties, I personally take on maybe half the duties that the PCN Coordinator does. For the most part, I stand by the PCN Coordinator throughout the entire planning process once elected. Generally, together, we oversee the entire production unfold throughout the year while also doing most of our work behind the scenes. Our most important job is to write the script to showcase for the upcoming PCN, book the date and venue that will host PCN, and make sure all the required documents and bills issued by the campus are filled out and paid on time. Given that PCN is a large production to oversee, we hand-pick people we feel would be most capable in helping us accomplish certain tasks, specifically: logistics, finance, and cultural and modern aspects - we call this team of people/friends our Executive Board members. Then, together, we pick our general Board members who help PCN come to life by creating choreography, directing a choir, graphic designing, etc.

What’s the most difficult part about coordinating PCN? And what is your favorite part about PCN?

The most difficult part of coordinating PCN is remaining diligent as a coordinator, as a student, as a friend, and even as a human being. PCN is a large production and requires a full year of planning so you can imagine the amount of urgency needed to successfully pull it off. But, while PCN keeps us on our toes, eventually our feet would give out once in awhile. Mental and physical health are sometimes hanging by a string because PCN requires a lot of our attention, but so do our classes, our stomachs, our minds, and our friends. We are either forced to sacrifice things or blindsighted to our bodily health. My Co and I are working students who have friends that we hardly spend time with, and who are about to graduate all while providing the needs of PCN. In knowing this, my Co and I thought it best that our Executive Board members have two heads each so that the stress that I just stated are accounted for; and luckily, it has.

I would normally say that my favorite part about PCN is that it brings KP back together because upperclassmen tend to focus on their own lives since they get more busy, and it has been a time when lowerclassmen get to meet everyone. The energy that flows throughout PCN season is quite different from other events that KP hosts throughout the year. I find this energy more whole, homey, and happy. I still believe that this reunifying tendency that PCN encourages is one of my favorite things about PCN, but this year is different - this year, my favorite thing about PCN was taking the PCN Class. This passed Winter quarter, we launched our first PCN Seminar class and offered it again this Spring quarter. In this class, Dr. Ben Zulueta - a lecturer of the Department of Asian American Studies in UCSB - has taught us how to critically think about PCN which spilled over to other discussion topics such as understanding PCN’s role in a Pilipino, Pilipino-American, Filipinx American student’s life; multiraciality; cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation; the history of PCN; the history of Pilipino traditional dances; the invisibility narrative; the existence of PCN; etc. Dr. Zulueta and the other students/PCN members have challenged me to think in a unique way which has personally aided and encouraged me to think more critically about how I exist and navigate in our world. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity most especially for that class.

As an upcoming Filipinx graduate, what does being that mean to you?

Being a Fil Grad conveys a strong correlation to what it means to be successful in Pilipino culture, but to me, it represents an act of honor. Graduating from college is me honoring my family’s sacrifices because it’s what has gotten me as far as I have; I am where I am now because of them. Being a Fil Grad is also a mark of pride I have for myself because it wasn’t easy for me to remain on track for graduation mostly because I wasn’t taught how to navigate through college, nor did I feel prepared for it. Despite my good record throughout high school, I was highly unprepared for the intensity of college education. I wasn’t equipped with the tools to help myself navigate throughout the school to seek out help from campus services that aid struggling students. It has been a long tough climb to the top, but I’m about to make it out alive. I am proud of myself for making it this far despite all the challenges I’ve faced. My family deserves this moment. I deserve this moment.  

Photos by: John Sampang

 

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Kyrene is a third year Global Studies major. She is an Editorial Intern and a PR Intern for UCSB Her Campus. Kyrene is from the southern Californian city of Covina. She enjoys meeting people, exploring new places, and taking roadtrips with friends. On her spare time, you can find her playing guitar, experimenting with outfits, relaxing with music, or catching up with shows on her "to watch" list.