Fil-Am youths cap summer program with Filipino cultural night
LONG BEACH, California – A seven-week summer program aimed at honing Filipino American youths’ leadership skills through original theatrical skits, poetry, music, traditional Filipino and modern dances culminated in cultural night presentation August 15 with the theme “Lakas ng Pagkakaisa: Strength in Unity.”
Sama Sama, the youth program of the community services non-profit Filipino Migrant Center, celebrated its 3rd Annual Cultural Night at Westside Christian Church on Willow Street.
The more than 20 youth who participated in the summer program came from Cabrillo High School’s Sama Sama Club, Carson High School’s Maharlika club, Long Beach Polytechnic High School and Torrance High School.
“We want to highlight the many struggles and issues faced by Filipinos, but the resiliency and victories that can be achieved through building unity and power as a community,” said a statement by the organization.
“Programs like Sama Sama, in partnership with schools with large Filipino populations, can have a positive impact on young people, especially first-generation Filipino youth who are learning to navigate the American school system and adjust to a new country,” Sama Sama Facilitator Theresa Jaranilla explained.
According to the organization’s goal, “The Sama Sama Youth Program of the Filipino Migrant Center (FMC) aims to engage Filipino youth through theater, art and music to teach them about Philippine history and culture and strengthen their leadership to become active in their communities.”
“It’s important because we have to pass down the traditions that have been taught to us, and it’s important because culture is who you are,” stated Caroline Padilla, a Carson High School student.
Eric Tandoc, Filipino Migrant Center Youth Programs coordinator, added, “We also aim to instill leadership skills in the youth and develop the next generation of Filipino community leaders. We engage them to address issues affecting the greater community, such as gang violence,” specifies.
Mentors involved in the program come from California State University Long Beach’s Pilipino American Coalition (PAC) and Filipino youth organization Anakbayan Long Beach.
“As a new facilitator, the biggest thing I’ve learned from the youth is really a lot about teamwork. They helped each other through difficult skit scenes and tough dance moves for more than just the final product, they wanted to see their friends succeed and feel good about themselves,” stated Anakbayan Long Beach and Sama Sama Facilitator Joses Magno.
“Instead of trying to change things on your own, it’s better to come together and talk about it with other people and find what you guys are willing to fight for together. And when you guys are together, it makes you more powerful and have a stronger voice,” stated Kassandra Gomez, a senior at Cabrillo High School.
“I joined Sama Sama because I wanted to meet new friends, and to learn what it means to be Filipino,” explained Portia Nebria, a recent graduate of Cabrillo High School in a recent video for the youth program.
Students from the Pilipino American Coalition at Cal State Long Beach also expressed their interest in supporting the Sama Sama high school students through continued mentorship, focusing on college access for Filipino students, reported Jaranilla.
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