Cultural conference to focus on taking action

By Jonie Seo

More than 500 hundred Filipino American college students from over 20 colleges and universities are to gather at Lincoln Hall this weekend for the 13th annual Filipino Americans Coming Together Conference, the largest Filipino American conference held in the Midwest.

The three-day event, sponsored by the Philippine Student Association, the University YMCA and several other University organizations, began in 1992 by 20 Filipino Americans passionate about exploring their identity and opening up dialogue on what it meant to be Filipino American, said Stephanie Gonzales, co-head conference coordinator and senior in Business.

Gonzales said this year’s conference already has reached a record high of 560 people through online registration and more are expected to register on site.

“It’s free to attend the workshops, and is a great way to learn about the Filipino culture,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales, along with fellow coordinator and junior in LAS Erwin Paderanga, said the event is open to everyone, and people can still register at the conference.

“Though it has a Filipino American interest, it can be enjoyed and appreciated by all,” Gonzales said.

She said this year’s conference would offer attendees not only the chance to network with students from different campuses, but also to gain knowledge through workshops and speakers. The goal of this year’s conference is to do more than just spread knowledge and awareness, but to also encourage attendees to take a path of action.

Conference attendees have the opportunity to attend three of nine workshops on a wide spectrum of topics.

“The FACT Conference provides workshops dealing with issues such as politics, culture, history and unity,” Gonzales said.

Topics include: faith as a path to action in the Filipino culture, Filipino-Americans in today’s media and pop culture, examining what it means to be Filipino, and bridging the gap between Queer/Filipino American worlds, according to the conference’s Web site.

“Seminar topics are chosen based upon what the conference goals are,” Gonzales said. “We try to bring new workshops every year.”

Workshops are not the only thing Gonzales and attendees are looking forward to.

“You learn something new every year, and it’s a lot of fun meeting Filipinos from across the Midwest,” said Jed Hernandez, junior in LAS and third-time conference attendee.

This year’s conference variety show will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. in Lincoln Hall Theater and is open to the public. The night will include a lecture from keynote speaker and University alumna Emily Ignacio, musical performances, cultural scenes, dance groups from various campuses and more.