Students rushed around Loeb Playhouse backstage in various costumes in preparation for the eighth annual Philippine Culture Night on Saturday night.
Zach Fernandez, a junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences and the president of Purdue Filipino Association, said over 100 students had been working on the show “Pamilya Pa Rin” since last fall, though the script was written three years ago by now -Purdue alumni.
A crowd waited outside as the echoes from rehearsal could be heard from inside Loeb Playhouse. The whole first floor of Loeb was nearly full as the play began.
Two years ago, Philippine Culture Night was canceled because of the pandemic. It was only after restrictions were lifted that the show was finally able to go on.
“We worked so hard and we kind of didn’t see the fruits of our labor, and now seeing this all come together, it means a lot,” Fernandez said.
The show followed the story of Honey and Brando, a couple about to get married. Honey’s grandmother, Jingle, comes to visit Honey and her mother, and both of them struggle to come to terms with the effects of Jingle’s dementia.
“There’s a big taboo in Filipino culture of getting elderly people help for mental health,” Kayla Devia, a junior in the College of Engineering and one of the directors of PCN, said.
It is especially important to talk about the topic to close the generational gap between Filipino Americans and older Filipinos from the mainland, Devia said.
Devia has been in PFA since her freshman year. The association typically puts on socials and cultural events, including roundtables on Filipino culture, but also hosts dance workshops and even has a basketball team. PFA merchandise such as stickers and t-shirts were sold outside the show.
“I have never really been that involved in Filipino culture growing up,” she said. “I’m half Filipino and half Colombian, and one of the seniors in PFA reached out when I was a freshman and they were like ‘oh check out this club,’ and honestly they’re kind of my family now.”
Several dance scenes were interspersed throughout the play, ranging from modern dances for songs like “Smokin Out The Window” by Silk Sonic and “Blue World” by Mac Miller to more traditional dances, such as Tinikling, a dance performed with bamboo poles and Kappa Malong Malong, a folk dance performed with a tubular garment.
Katrina Vurgos, who was there to watch her brother perform, said her brother was in one of the modern and traditional dances, some of which she used to do herself in college.
“It’s cool to see new generations doing it and learning it,” she said, “(and) seeing that they did a really good job staying authentic.”