The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

FACT prepares to unite Filipino community, celebrate culture

Founded in 1992, FACT — which stands for Filipino Americans Coming Together — has been a beacon for the Asian American community for decades. This year’s FACT kicks off Friday night, as it plans to condense various events throughout the weekend.

As the largest Filipino-interest event in the Midwest, the Philippine Student Association hosts the annual conference in November or December. This event always features cultural programming, such as workshops, panels, performances and business markets.

Established in 1919, PSA is one of the oldest registered student associations at the University. It has celebrated Filipino culture and fostered connections within the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

FACT began as a small gathering with 20 people in the early 1990s, but has consistently grown with time and engaged over 1,300 attendees last year.

“The conference works to empower young, rising professionals while simultaneously educating delegates about Filipino culture, identity, and issues,” reads FACT’s website.

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According to PSA organizers, the conference is not limited to individuals who identify as Filipino, but it also welcomes people from various diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Over 1,000 FACT attendees will gather on campus during the weekend-long conference, with many coming from the Chicago area and even out of state.

“There’s a long history for FACT, but it’s constantly ever-changing,” said Matthew Panopio, senior in Grainger Engineering and PSA board member.

PSA invites different guest speakers and performers each year to align with evolving themes, hosting various lectures and showcases.

This year, the theme of the 31st FACT conference is “Kaalaman: Knowledge is Power,” which aims to inspire the young to find enrichment in their personal and professional journeys.

“In the Filipino American community, we wanted to recognize that the more informed you are, the more you learn,” Panopio said. “The more education you have about specific issues, the more empowered you can be when you go back to your community.”

One innovation PSA brings to campus this year is Palengke Market, which is aimed to assemble Midwest Filipino businesses on campus. A variety of Filipino products, including outfits, artwork and food, will be showcased.

According to Panopio, many sellers are from Chicago, where a large Filipino American community resides.

“We really want to give them a platform, especially with the large audience that comes here,” he said.

FACT concludes with three sessions on Saturday, each inviting multiple facilitators to campus. The first two sessions provide various workshops for attendees, sharing arts, science, history and activist knowledge.

The last session features a series of career panels categorized into academic disciplines, each including several panelists from professional domains.

Panelists from Google, Apple, Tesla and different organizations will speak to attendees about their experiences in career exploration.

Many alumni of the University and ex-members of PSA will return to campus as panelists to offer their perspectives.

Saturday night, Foellinger Auditorium will be lit up by the Variety Show, showcasing a spectrum of Filipino-related performances ranging from traditional to modern.

Besides campus registered student organizations and the PSA Barkada dancing crew, the Variety Show has also invited performing organizations from Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

One of the workshop facilitators and adjunct professors from the University of San Francisco, Eric Solano, will bring Philippine folkloric dance to the stage.

Filipino Australian singer Ylona Garcia headlines the Variety Show this year. She is active in the international music industry and is affiliated with 88 Rising now.

With over four million followers on social media, Garcia is known for promoting Filipino music, language and culture to a global audience.

After being immersed in the Filipino entertainment industry for five years, Garcia decided to bring the incredible talent she saw to the global stage, according to PSA.

“By helping to lead a way, she hopes to inspire others to follow and take pride in who they are,” read the post from FACT Instagram.

According to PSA, registration for sessions and the Variety Show will continue until Saturday morning, and other events are welcome for walk-ins.

Details of all the events will be posted on FACT’s website and Instagram.


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