Kapamilya Celebrates Filipino American History Month

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To celebrate Filipino-American History Month, the Kapamilya Club of Dominican University of California organized a series of activities in October to connect members and build a sense of community.

Normally that includes competing in the annual Friendship Games at Cal State Fullerton, the largest student-run Pilipinx-American event in the nation. The Friendship Games began in 1985 and features over 40 Pilipinx-American student organizations from college campuses representing California, Nevada, and Arizona that participate in a day of friendly yet competitive picnic games, performances and to celebrate “S.P.U.F” – Spirit, Pride, Unity, and Friendship.

However, because of COVID-19, the Friendship Games have been held online the past two years. Dominican’s Kapamilya Club, a perennial contender for the college team championship, participated online last year, but this October club members created their own intramural version of the Friendship Games on campus.

“It was basically like a rec sport and it was really cool. We got a good group of freshmen who were really interested,” says Samantha Romero, Kapamilya’s president. “We wanted to give our freshmen and sophomores a sense of what the Friendship Games are about because they haven’t had an experience yet, or know what it takes to compete physically. We wanted to give them that because when they go next year they'll know how to continue the tradition.”

Competing in the annual Friendship Games – along with the Pilipino Cultural Night (PCN) in Angelico Concert Hall this coming April – are yearly highlights for Kapamilya Club members. In 2019, Kapamilya sent 96 of its members to the Friendship Games.

“It’s what keeps us running,” says Samantha, a nursing major with minors in business and leadership. “I remember my freshman year I was scared to come out and participate. But once I met my Ate and she encouraged me before I knew it I was practicing.

“The connections you make are incredible. There are people I know who graduated who are bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and godmothers and godfathers for each other’s children. They all stay connected.”

COVID-19 put a damper on that as Kapamilya was not able to hold in-person meetings and partake in their usual activities. Prior to the pandemic, the club’s membership reached 150 students.

However, with COVID restrictions easing, Kapamilya is starting to gain back its momentum. Last month, the club hosted its annual AKA event – Ate-Kuya-Ading – in Guzman Lecture Hall. The annual peer mentoring program unites new members (Adings, Filipino for little siblings) with existing members (Ate for older sister and Kuya for older brother) in a gift-giving ceremony capped by a reveal when the new member meets his/her peer mentor face-to-face for the first time.

“It’s a special moment,” Samantha says.

About 50 new members participated in AKA Night and the in-person ceremony rejuvenated the club’s spirit. Events such as last Friday’s tinikling dance demonstration (see photo above) and Kapamilya workshops at Penguin Field to celebrate Filipino American History Month provide awareness and education about the Filipino community on campus.

“It is like a refresher,” Samantha says. “Kapamilya is not what it was our freshman and sophomore years, but it has the potential to become something different and a little better. It’s definitely a different culture and we are all adjusting.”

To learn more about Dominican’s Kapamilya Club, email kapamilyaduc@gmail.com. or visit its Instagram @kapamilyaduc.

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