The history of Samahang Pilipino’s Cultural Nights (SPCN) originates from the Pilipino Far West Conventions held throughout the West Coast during the early 70s and 80s. On the UCLA campus, Samahang Pilipino adopted the educational cultural drama of these Far West Conventions and created cultural presentations that highlighted various community issues and historical events. For the past three decades, these cultural presentations developed into the SPCN that we know today, setting the breeding ground of a number of different components to rise and flourish such as Tinig ng Samahang and Samahang Modern.
SPCNs have provided a space where students can learn about themselves, their histories, and their communities, as well as express that growing knowledge to a larger community beyond campus. It is a space where non-Pilipin@s and other communities of color can come to understand Pilipin@ experience and culture, perhaps connecting our issues with those within their own communities. And it is a space that connects generations of students, families, friends, and alumni to one another, reminding all that the making and remaking of culture, together, is important and sustaining. Ensuring that our stories live on is rooted in the purpose of SPCN. Because even as Samahang’s Theme Song exhorts us to “remember all the manongs, they came here all alone,” so, too, does it remind us “that we are all one big family, we’re working together, for tomorrow is here.”
To quote the Samahang Pilipino’s theme song, “we are all one big family, we’re working together, for tomorrow is here.” SPCN embodies the ideals of connection through culture. Students work with other students to learn about their culture, history, identities, and communities. To non-Pilipin@s and other communities of color, SPCN showcases the Pilipin@ experience and culture, hopefully creating common grounds of understanding between cultures. Finally, SPCN provides continuity between students, families, friends, and alumni who have shared in the experience of honoring our culture and keeping it alive through re-invention.
SPCN is headed by a committee charged with creating a production with elements from ten different suites: Moro, Igorot/Kordilyera, Rural, Traditional, Maria Clara, Kali, Choral, Script, and Cast Modern. Visit this site often for more information on committee and suites as well as keeping up-to-date on SPCN-related events and announcements.
Dances in Rural all contain a sense of partnership and trust. Partners share an intimate connection, showing both coordination and faith in one another and illustrating the traditional value of family and community. Nevertheless, the dances of Rural embody the lively and vivid side of the Filipino spirit and celebrate the simplest, yet happiest moments in life.
Maria Clara presents a high sense of class and a well-mannered character. Ultimately, the Maria Clara suite embodies the grace and the virtue of the mestiza Filipina as well as the boldness and the masculinity of the mestizo Filipino, bringing attention to their courtship as well as celebrating the richness and the charm of the Filipino culture.
The dances in this suite often portray religious rituals, war dances, and stories of royalty. The dancers are adorned in rich, vivid colors along with jewels, swords, and shields. These colors, along with the rhythmic movements, show influence from Arabian and Indo-Malaysian cultures. The dancers carry themselves with a regal pride befitting the Moros’ surviving culture.
Dances in this suite celebrate life, commemorate death, and herald war. Courtship dances imitate the graceful movements of birds, while funerary dances evoke “anitos”, or ancestral spirits. Community dances might be performed at a wedding or a birth and involve male and female, young and old. In all, the traditional “gangsa” are played, providing percussion counterpoints to the voices and footsteps of the people. Men wear bahags, women wear tapis, brightly colored headbands, and bead necklaces.
This weapon-based martial art utilizes wooden or rattan sticks, bladed weapons, and open-hand techniques, as the fluidity and finesse of Filipino martial arts is seen by the precise geometrical movements that emphasize footwork, body positioning, and range and angles of attack.
The Modern suite over the years has evolved into Samahang Modern and Cast Modern. SPCN was the breeding ground for Samahang Modern, and the team is now a notable competitive dance team at UCLA dedicated to dance, professionalism, family, and cultural roots. In addition, Cast Modern allows those participating in SPCN to perform hip-hop and other modern dance styles. The Modern suite’s goal is to explore hip-hop culture and share our passion for it to the Pilipin@-American community.
Actors perform an original script which highlights the SPCN theme for the year, work to seamlessly transition the dances to fit within the story, and showcase the SP campaigns. Script aims to emphasize the issues faced within the Pilipin@/Pilipin@-American community as well as celebrate the community’s numerous achievements.