Showcasing Filipino Culture by Kathryn Luna


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.”

548890_10201669936689314_1990435224_nKempis 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.10245562_10152092302997196_2324994795745893901_n

“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


My Two Moms by Grace Gilman

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.28.54 PM

Early on in our friendship, Ryan told me, “I have two mommies.”

Sophomore Ryan Quakenbush grew up with a mom and a stepmom, but he’s no stranger to the concept of a nuclear family. His mom and dad were together until he was about five, when they amicably split. Soon after, Ryan’s mother brought home KK, his now-stepmom. He remembers KK bringing him to his first day of kindergarten.

“I felt like it was pretty normal when I was really little, just because I didn’t know anything different,” Ryan recalls, “But when I was in third grade, I learned that we were the minority family.”

Ryan maintains that he didn’t feel lesser than any of his friends who had “normal families,” but that he was nervous when his moms would come to school events together or hold hands. He outgrew this discomfort fairly quickly.

Now, Ryan, a sophomore here at Santa Clara, is openly gay. He is part of the LGBTQ alliance groups on campus and strives to educate people about different gender identities and sexual orientations Ryan initially joined the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), in high school to help LGBTQ youth and be part of a supportive community.

“My motivation for being a part of LGBTQ clubs is the way that I relate to my moms and how important my growth has been to them in the face of their own struggles.10710870_749553615117977_4638501592446452670_n Ryan believes that SCU is fairly open-minded about LGBTQ people, but that the conversation isn’t over. He thinks a lot of the reason that people don’t talk about gender or sexual orientation is because it’s a very complicated topic, and there are so many “other letters” (besides LGBTQ) that people don’t understand or even know about. It’s also a potentially offensive topic, and curiosity can be seen as blatant ignorance. Ryan believes it’s healthy to be able to ask yourself questions about who you are and who you are comfortable being.

Ryan loves reflecting back on times with his mom and stepmom. This past summer, all three of them took a trip to New York City when an unexpected, fitting, and exciting event was taking place: the Pride Parade. They were pleasantly surprised and Ryan remembers all three of them screaming “Sparkles!” at the top of their lungs.

On a more serious note, Ryan looks back on something he just recently learned about his mother. When she first started her relationship with her wife, KK, her parents were not accepting and very against it. Ryan recalls not seeing his grandparents for years at a time, but he only recently realized this. “I guess my mom just sort of told her parents that until they were okay with who she was, she wouldn’t allow them to see me or my brother,” he remembers. “I’m glad I didn’t know this when I was young, I think it would have made me uneasy.” Now, he understands why his mom wanted to protect him from her parents’ negative views, and Ryan thinks it’s only helped his ability to grow.

“I love talking about my family and my moms and myself, I think it’s healthy. I really hope others can be comfortable doing the same.”

– Grace Gilman