Mabuhay performance enchants Trinity community

Last Friday, October 23, the Filipino Student Association hosted Mabuhay, the annual cultural event including dance performances and food in Laurie Auditorium.

Joy Tan, the co-president of FSA and a senior biochemistry and molecular biology major, has been dancing in Mabuhay for four years.

“Mabuhay features a variety of traditional Filipino dances. We have one called the “˜Coconut Dance’ and it’s guys dancing with coconut shells. It’s a comedic performance. I am also co-coreographing a dance called “˜Tinikling,’ which is a dance between clapping bamboo sticks,” Tan said.

There were nine performances during Mabuhay including performances from Looney Crew, the Prowlers Dance Team and the Indian Student Association. After the Mabuhay performances, Filipino foods were available for guests.

“We have a lot of comfort Filipino foods like chicken adobo, menudo and traditional Filipino desserts. So if people don’t know what Filipino food is, it’s a good way to get introduced to our staple foods,” Tan said.

Lawrence Pasaoa, a senior biology and sociology major, has been dancing, choreographing and producing dances in Mabuhay for six years. Pasaoa has also been credited with bringing the “Coconut Dance” to Trinity.  

“When I was a kid, the Coconut Dance was a traditional dance. When I brought it to Trinity, I wanted to make it more modern by adding Snoop Dogg,” Pasaoa said.

In the Philippines, “mabuhay” is often used to welcome others or as a greeting, meaning “to live” or “to thrive.” The goal of Mabuhay is to welcome the Trinity community to Filipino culture.   

“Every year when people come up to you and thank you for sharing your culture, that’s one of the most meaningful moments. Especially because your culture is something you grow up with, so it’s very dear to you,” Pasaoa said.

Dzung Vu, a junior and accounting major, has danced in Mabuhay for two years. This year she performed in the “Umbrella Dance” featuring women dancing with umbrellas.

“The best part is the audience’s response. They were so well received and excited for each performance. It really gave the performers motivation,” Vu said.  

Dancers have been practicing since the beginning of the fall semester. Many of the dancers who participate in Mabuhay have no dance background.

“I didn’t have any experience with dance my freshman year. A lot of people come in not knowing how to dance. We teach them. You don’t need any dance experience to learn,” Tan said.

When Mabuhay first began, it was a much smaller event, according to Pasaoa.

“The first time I ever did it, it was still on the Esplanade. It wasn’t a huge event at all. There were no more than 30 people, including the dancers.”

In 2012, the FSA moved Mabuhay to Laurie Auditorium. Tan notes that the turnout for the event has increased.

“Every year we’ve been getting more of a turnout. My freshman year was the first year we had it in Laurie and it’s been growing every year. Last year we’ve had about 150 people which is about how many we expect every year,” Tan said.

The most memorable aspect of the annual festivity is sharing Filipino culture with others, according to Pasaoa.

“Seeing people you know have fun dancing in the dance of your culture is probably the most rewarding part,” Pasaoa said.