UI Filipino organization is the first of its kind


The aroma of beef, vegetables, and banana sauce encompassed the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center on Monday night and brought with it three University of Iowa students with a vision for a new student organization on campus.

“There was no kind of [Filipino] group of influence like this in this center before today,” said center manager Moo Kyong Jeon. “I think it’s a good sign — it’s a chance for them to think about their identity, and it’s nice for the UI community to learn about their culture.”

Erica Wilson, a co-president of the Filipino American Student Association, said the group hopes to involve more culturally diverse students and raise more awareness of Filipino culture. The association held its very first meeting on Monday night. Originally brainstormed in November by Co-President Erin Bovid for a business class, the group has growing expectations for the future.

“We want to bring more of a multicultural community to Iowa,” Bovid said. “But for us, specifically us as an organization, like I said we want to spread culture so as far as events we want to do different … food workshops [and] traditional dance workshops.”

While this is the first UI organization of this cultural identity, Iowa State University has had a similar organization since 1990. ISU Professor if Spanish Eugenio Matibag, the president of the organization, said he was excited to hear that the UI was beginning an organization with similar goals.

“Sometimes these student organizations give the members a way to keep connected with the culture of their ancestral homeland and keep it alive with the languages and the food; it’s really comforting to us to be able to [connect with those roots],”  Matibag said. “I’m glad to hear that students at the UI are putting together their association, and I wish them well.”

The first meeting was preliminary — consisting of introductions by the three executive members in attendance, icebreakers amomng the eight other members in attendance, and open-floor conversations about desired programming for the year.

So far, the organization has planned to continue to make foods such as Pancit and Lumpia for meetings, host workshops for Filipino dance styles such as Tiniklin, a dance using bamboo sticks, as well as raising money for the Typhoon Haiyan survivors. Ultimately, the group wants to enrich the cultural experience of the members.

Not all of the members are Filipino by heritage. Bovid, who is Hawaiian, and Wilson, who is half-Filipino, are both part of the club.

The club will meet every Monday night from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center.

Club Secretary and UI senior Sam Cosner said she is excited about the club’s potential and stressed the importance of cultural diversity in the university community.

“I feel like it’s important to have cultural diversity,” Cosner said. “[I’m excited] to get people to learn about Filipino culture, because it’s awesome.”

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