Anjelica Kempis was rustling in her seat with excitement as the annual Pilipino Culture Night (PCN) show began at Santa Clara in 2006.
The house lights dimmed and the crowd erupted with clapping, cheering, and whistles. The lights slowly returned and cast members began to file into the theatre, filling the aisles. The crowd went quiet as the members of Santa Clara’s Barkada club began to sing the U.S. National Anthem, followed by the Philippine National Anthem.
“I’ve been watching SCU’s show ever since, and ’06 is still my favorite. It was my first time in the audience as an excited middle school student, but it was just an all-around amazing PCN that year.”
Kempis is now a college senior, but she has never lost the excitement she felt as a middle school student watching her first show. Over the years, she has seen her friends and cousins perform in this celebration of Filipino pride and heritage. Now it is her turn to take center stage and make it all happen as the director of the event.
More than 100 student cast members will perform this year. The show includes skits, traditional music and singing, and fourteen cultural dances complete with costumes and props representing different geographic regions of the Philippines. Kempis has the assistance of several alumni members and friends from Bay Area schools who will all be involved in putting on a spectacular display. Many of the main actors and teachers when Kempis watched her first show back in 2006 have come back to mentor and teach this year.
“Our vision this year is to make everything magical,” she said. “We gave a lot of attention to each part of the skit and dances for this show so that we wouldn’t have a dull moment.”
The annual show has been popular and well-received on campus and on the national level. Many other Filipino student organizations use Santa Clara’s YouTube videos for inspiration for their own shows. This show is unique in that it includes not only Filipino students on campus but welcomes students of any racial/ethnic background to participate.
“Filipino culture is all about hospitality and mixing with other cultures,” Kempis said. “We love every opportunity we have to show pride in and teach about our culture to cast and audience members who aren’t of Filipino descent.”
Kempis joined Barkada, the Filipino cultural club on campus, and PCN freshman year, and she knew it was time to be more connected with her culture and follow in her family’s footsteps. The Kempis family has a history with the show. Last year Anjelica’s cousin, Ariana, was co-director, and several other cousins have been involved with dancing, acting, and creating the show’s programs. Because this year is the 25th show, as director, Kempis wanted to up-the-ante in every aspect and continue to improve on the legacy her family and friends have left.
There have been many long days and nights of preparation for the big show but Kempis smiled and said she likes to think about a quote from this year’s Miss Philippines pageant representative for Miss Universe, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”
– Kathryn Luna