Conference promotes Filipino culture, unity

Over 1,000 students will be gathering in Gregory Hall on Friday night for the opening ceremony of an event hosted by the Philippine Student Association, or PSA.

The 19th annual Filipino Americans Coming Together, or FACT, Conference is kicking off this weekend, serving to strengthen the ties between the Asian-American community and other groups and to empower students to make their presences known on their campuses. This year’s theme is “From Ako to Tayo: Connecting With Our Communities.”

“’Ako’ in Tagalog means ‘me’ and ‘Tayo’ means ‘us,’ so it’s transforming from me to us,” said Stephanie Camba, senior in ACES and co-coordinator of FACT. “For this year, it’s a huge initiative for us as students to open up our culture and reach out to the communities here on campus.”

Tiffany Tse, junior in LAS and committee member of FACT, said she has a different view of the conference now that she’s working behind the scenes.

“FACT may not just impact Filipino-American students, but other nationalities on campus,” Tse said. “It shows to them that the Philippines is an amazing country and its culture is truly outstanding. For Filipino-Americans, it helps us learn our culture and become more united.”

Workshops will be held throughout Saturday with topics ranging from possessing different identities, building communities and being civically engaged. Some of them revolve around being biracial and figuring out how to merge two different identities. A workshop on child labor will also be held, covering the impact of human trafficking.

Camba said this year’s development of FACT has become much more transparent in terms of planning. The delegates, including those from other campuses, pushed hard and made more of an effort to be engaged in this year’s conference, she said. Camba believes it’s because of the “Ako to Tayo” theme that delegates have responded so well in helping out and arranging tasks for the conference.

One example of how the delegates took charge is the main stage entertainment of this year’s variety show, hip-hop group The ArchiTEKS. They are making their way to Champaign from Houston, Texas, due to the popular demand of students requesting their presence at FACT.

“Students from all over the country sent personal emails, tweeted at them and constantly badgered these people to come and then they finally responded to us. We had emailed them months prior and once they heard the uproar of students, it actually happened,” Camba said.

The ArchiTEKS will be performing at the Variety Show on Saturday and will be holding a dance workshop on Sunday.

Adam Pena, junior in AHS and committee member of FACT, said in his past experiences at FACT, he realized that everyone can come together as a community, no matter what walks of life they’ve been living or where they came from. He said he knows that in the end, they all leave with a common goal and the motivation to inspire others. Pena expects this conference to be even more of a success than prior years.

“Because of all the work the FACT committees have put into organizing this event, in addition to the fact that we are expecting a groundbreaking turnout this year, I am expecting an exceptional opportunity to network, share ideas and learn,” Pena said.

The conference is free of charge and students are still able to register at the Asian American Cultural Center, located on 1210 W. Nevada St. on Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. as well as on Saturday, Nov. 5, for late registration, at 9:15 a.m. to noon, on the second floor of the Student Dining and Residential Programs, 301 E. Gregory Dr.