Courtesy of @ucsbpcn on Instagram

On May 25, UC Santa Barbara’s Kapatirang Pilipino hosted their 33rd Pilipino Cultural Night “Bahala Na!” at Campbell Hall. With lively cultural dances and performances strategically interspersed throughout the heartfelt play’s storyline, the Pilipino Cultural Night (PCN) cast spared no expense in creating a showstopping evening of laughter and celebration.

Bahala na” is a Pilipino expression of “resilience and optimism” in giving one’s all before yielding the ultimate outcome to fate. As cast members dove into high-energy and expressive routines, “bahala na” shined through all aspects of performance: choir, acting, Sakuting, PCN modern dances (masc, femme and lyrical), Pamaypay Ng Maynila, spoken word, Sala Ti Mais, Bulaklakan, Filipino martial arts, Pasikat Na Baso and Tinikling.

A second theme presented throughout the production and complementary to “bahala na” was the idea of culture as a spectrum. This took shape most explicitly through the show’s play. Narrative director and fourth-year sociology major Daniel Cuasay shared that his creative vision for the production was driven by his experience at Kapatirang Pilipino (KP). 

“There are just a lot of perspectives and different stories that I wanted to share within PCN as a whole. I wanted to really share something that meant something to my actors and to the audience, and that felt like it was truly our own lived experience,” Cuasay said.

The play “Bahala Na” centers on two characters, Jericho and Kara, who act as character foils to each other — Jericho, unfamiliar with his cultural heritage, and Kara, who has grown up accustomed to her family’s culture all her life. Their worlds couldn’t be any more different until they are brought together by a cultural summer camp, forced to face the extent to which they claim culture as part of their identity and the uncertainty that comes with a budding romance.

The coming-of-age rom-com touch is something that set this production apart from previous years’, which mainly focused on the topic of family. “I really wanted to challenge what a PCN could be by really focusing and emphasizing how culture and community doesn’t spark just community or just friendship. It could also spark something more emotionally resonant,” Cuasay said.

This year’s scriptwriting team also wanted to create a production that highlighted communal character growth and reflection. Cuasay pointed out, “Cultural nights usually focus on one-person specific narratives, and the ebbs and flows of that, but our characters go through so many different rises and falls in their own pace and in their own time.”

Script team member and fourth-year communication major Kurt Evangelista described the scriptwriting process as fun and incredibly collaborative. “When we were first meeting together in [the] fall, a lot of those first meetings were lots of exploring what each character represents and who they are, creating the settings for these characters to interact and bouncing off of each other.”

The intensity of the cultural performances also revealed the months of practice invested into putting each piece together. The performances were enthusiastically received by the audience. Guests gasped as Filipino martial artists launched into an action-packed sequence, clapped in rhythm to the tapping of bamboo poles used in Tinikling, cheered as performers showed off elegant hand fans during the graceful choreography of Pamaypay Ng Maynila and were tearfully moved when female choir members sang a tender cover of Laufey’s “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self” while a slideshow of their baby pictures played in the background — to name a few of the audience’s many reactions.

More tears were shed when the show wrapped up and fourth-year communication majors Randell Ramos and Kristen Fernandez, PCN33 executive coordinator and associate coordinator respectively, took to the stage to present their final speeches. “It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting in my bedroom alone, having Zoom meetings with Randell over the summer about the beginning stages of PCN. And now here we are at the end, closing out the show,” Fernandez remarked.

Of PCN and KP as a whole, Ramos shared, “They say home is where your heart is, and even though my heart is in LA and definitely in the Philippines, the Filipinx community at UCSB has helped me make this my second home.”

Ramos and Fernandez revealed that the next PCN34 executive coordinator will be upcoming fourth-year global studies major Zoe Phan. After an evening of bated breath, emotional rollercoasters and dynamic performances, the successful PCN33 came to a close!