Act 1, Scene 2: Come On, Eileen

Disclaimer: This is an account of my own experience. I am currently working on trying to make the next posts in the coming weeks pertaining to PACN/PCN’s personal but general enough. It’s a process, thank you in advance for taking the time to read :’)

The first time I attended PACN Orientation, I was super overwhelmed.

The first quarter of my first year in 2014, I definitely was not as involved with Barkada as I hoped to be. I had dabbled in a few things such as tinikling workshops, the JFAV (Justice for Filipino American Veterans) march, and a bit of Project Obvious (the modern dance group). I had a few friends from the dorms and knew some people from architecture (shoutout to Brandon & Kevin), but I didn’t feel completely ‘in’. I was still very much new, trying to navigate this crowd of Filipinos and people who appreciated the Filipino culture while figuring out my own identity.

My big, my kuya, told me to attend PACN Orientation to 1. Find out if I made it on the tinikling team and 2. To make me sign up for all of the dance suites and committees.

There definitely was a lot going on. Walking in, people were greeting me left and right, groups of people coming together and then dispersing to create other groups, and people screaming at each other to find out that their friend or their ading (little) has decided to do PACN (yes, it’s a thing. Some people will hibernate for a year and then come back for one last hurrah). When Juli and Cody (the PACN directors – Culture Chair and Barkada Entertainment Coordinator – for the year) came in, everyone fell silent and all the eyes in the room focused on the our leaders for the next three/four months.

It’s been about five years and my memory is a bit fuzzy, but the memory I do clearly remember was this:

At the end of orientation in my first year, when all the descriptions were said, the actors and roles were revealed, and the coordinators stopped their pitches, people started filling out forms and putting their names down for different dances and committees. Then a song came on and all at once, people started dancing. First it started out with two people, then it grew to four, then it grew to a good size of ten and a little more doing a line dance that I have never seen before. Line dancing excites me, but what was even more exciting was the fact that I felt a sense of unity and belonging in the room. Those of us who were first years and new to it all were thrown into the foreign style, and after a good two minutes everything just… made sense. It’s so hard to explain at the moment this feeling I had, but I knew one thing for sure: I found home and where I belonged.

Oh, and that’s where I found out I got on the tinikling team. That was the icing on the cake.

Just recently, I attended my sixth PACN Orientation, and I wanted to cry (disclaimer: I did cry, but not for the reason you think).

Walking in, I saw old and new faces with their eyes fixated on the projector screen waiting to hear what the story line was, who would get what parts in the play, and who were the new coordinators for the 2019 season. The room was filled, and so was my heart.

There were first years that I just met this past semester and people I have yet to meet with their full attention to the screen. I saw the change in their facial expressions when a dance or committee or even a role was introduced and they took interest in. There was a thrill, a rush. It was the face of, “I can’t wait to do that!” or “That looks so cool!” or even the classic Kords response, “WOAH” (mixed in with hoots and hollers of encouragement, if you know then you know).

It was beautiful to see people that I have gotten to know over the past few years become coordinators in acting or dance suites, or even take a leap of faith on roles they, initially, were hesitant to pursue. Taking on the role of a director or coordinator is a huge responsibility and honor. The only thought running through my head when each person I knew went up to talk about their area was, “I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring to the table” with the fattest smile on my face and giggle of excitement.

There were even a couple Dream-E’s (people who I joined Barkada with) that came back to witness the sense of wonder in the first year’s eyes and reminisce and become nostalgic in our legacy back in the day when we first started our PACN journey. This is us, this is our family, and this is Barkada. It warms my heart to know we always come back to support our friends, our adings, and our home when it’s that time of year.

Everyone dives into the fray their own way, head or feet first. Some people just don’t care and throw their whole body in, as they should when it is their first time. If this is your first time joining PACN, there will be some pressure in the first few weeks of the season: coordinators will come up to you and ask if you would like to try it out or friends bringing other friends to just ‘check it out’. However, veterans, coordinators, e-board alike completely understand if someone is hesitant or wants to try it out. If they don’t want to do something, they won’t be forced. We’re just really passionate and see the value of being part of the experience. We’re really big advocates of “you don’t know till you try”, and it’s true. You may start out really wanting to do something, try it, and find out it’s not for you. Or the reverse may happen where you aren’t sure about something, and then find out you want to take on the lead role.

Do what feels right for you and trust your gut.

This week starting Monday, January 28 at 6 PM, is the beginning of the road to PACN XXIX or PACN 29. At 6 PM, the first suite to practice will begin and someone, whoever it may be, is going to shine.

Whether you are partaking in this journey in Pomona, or someone who is part of another Filipino club at another campus, I wish you all the best in what’s to come in the next few months.

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