Written by: Aditi Nambiar; Editor-in-Chief
The UW Bothell Filipino American Student Association (FASA)’s focus is “to celebrate our heritage, educate each other and our members about our culture, history, and politics, as well as [create] networking opportunities both within the club and beyond,” shares Secretary, Jadyn de Jesus.
Founded in 2016 by UW Bothell alumni, Richiel Sta Maria and Angelo OCampo, who both served as presidents in the first year, FASA sa UWB strives to bring cultural awareness and Filipino representation to the community. The “sa” in FASA’s name is the Tagalog word for “at” and is a way for the club to make a connection with their cultural identity. The club hosts regular bi-weekly meetings and social events/gatherings for members to make connections. FASA welcomes any and all students to get involved with their mission and learn more about Filipino culture. De Jesus states, “Our President this year is Vietnamese, not even Filipino, so we do welcome everyone who is willing to learn about our culture and network with us and be part of our family!”
This year’s President of FASA is Elijah Phan, a senior majoring in Biology, who will be graduating by the end of this quarter. Phan was initially introduced to the club through his friend from high school, Isaiah Ferrer, in his freshman year at UWB. Phan says he did not know too many people on campus and was not involved within the community yet. In the spring quarter of that year, Ferrer persuaded him to attend FASA’s upcoming general meeting as he had been involved in the club.
Phan recalls his initial hesitation, stating, “I was never involved like that, and I’m also not Filipino, so I felt like, ‘… ell, wouldn’t that be weird?’” From then, Phan started attending more FASA meetings in his second year at UWB, where his peers were on the officer board. He continues, “As I got to know them a little bit more, I started going to the general meetings more and got to know everybody there, made friends and relationships. I started going to their hangouts here and there.”
Towards the end of his sophomore year, Phan ended up running for Vice President as he was nominated for the position. He states, “I was like… I might as well take the opportunity to kind of, you know, take charge and step up and get involved for once. So I did, and I guess it kind of started from there.”
In the past quarter, FASA was involved in/hosted two major events, Heritage Night and FASAP. Heritage Night is an annual cultural showcase event hosted by the UWB Black Student Union (BSU) in collaboration with other cultural clubs on campus, which aims to celebrate the students’ identities and the cultural diversity of UWB through traditional food, dance, fashion, and more. This year, FASA joined BSU to host the celebration in May along with the Arab Student Association (ASA), the Indian Student Association (ISA), and the UWB Student Association For Immigrants & Refugees (SAFIR).
FASA’s Sayaw Chair, Jimwell Dumaguing, a UWB junior, was the club’s main point of contact and was responsible for coordinating the organization process in collaboration with the other cultural clubs. The Sayaw Chair is responsible for leading the club’s dance lessons, coordinating performances, and educating the community about traditional Filipino cultural dances and their history. Heritage Night featured performances of traditional Philippine dances, Tinikling and Cotillion, by the FASA Sayaw crew.
President, Phan shares how putting together the event was a new experience as it was the club’s first time co-hosting such a big event since the pandemic. He states, “We were kind of playing by ear [for] most of the fall and winter quarter and then once we got to spring quarter after the peak of winter quarter with COVID cases, we were thinking like, ‘Okay, things are letting up a little bit, so now that we can go back in person, we’re going to try to do that to the best of our abilities.’”
The club was awarded Best Collaboration at the 2022 Club Council Recognition Banquet for their efforts in putting together the event with BSU, ISA, ASA, and SAFIR. They also received the Top Dawg Award for their dedicated work at UWB.
Along with Heritage Night, FASA has been simultaneously preparing for their own club event, FASAP, which was held in May. FASAP is inspired by the Philippine TV Show “ASAP!,” which is produced by ABS-CBN entertainment. The club added their own twist to the name and wanted to host the event to showcase numerous talents and present the Filipino culture through presentations, performances, and food. FASA Vice President, Andrew Cornel states, “It was a really long process. We worked with Club Council and a lot of other partners on campus. This event was previously in the stages of planning during 2020 February, but due to COVID, those officers who graduated weren’t able to complete it, so we wanted to continue their legacy and bring on this event to campus. So this is hopefully our first annual FASAP.”
FASA had around 70 total members this year. To become listed as an official member of FASA, students must attend at least two of their biweekly general meetings in the academic year, and the club holds four to five of them every quarter. The gatherings are typically open, casual “hangouts” which provide an opportunity for the club together and enjoy each other’s company. De Jesus explains, “They’re pretty chill. Like, ‘Oh, let’s go hang out at Bellevue Square together!’ or ‘Let’s organize a dinner’ or ‘Hey! Let’s go bowling- or maybe karaoke!’ It could honestly be anything. It just depends on which officer plans it.”
FASA gives a special Member of the Month recognition to members who are particularly active in general meetings and attend/participate in the club’s gatherings regularly. The FASA Member of the Month is highlighted on the club’s Instagram page, where they are appreciated for their dedicated and consistent involvement.
Anjah Fawcett, Senior Advisor at FASA, recalls one of FASA’s most awaited events, Getaway. FASA’s Getaway is an overnight trip where club members and officers are invited to stay at a house and enjoy spending time with each other for two nights. She states, “There were games that we could play and also times to literally just talk to each other and have a safe space for a conversation. So I would say the group that goes [is] always very tight-knit afterward just because you really get to know people when you’re with them all day for a few days… That would be my favorite memory.”
Cornel, Vice President, found Friendsgiving to be one of his most memorable events of this year. He shares, “We had like a FASA dinner potluck together. I think it was our first event, like our first bigger event I guess, where we kind of like bonded together in a space and just enjoyed each other’s company through food… It was just [about] being thankful for each other’s company.”
Phan particularly enjoyed FASA’s Pumpkin Patch event at Stalker Farms during the Halloween season. He states, “It was super fun. We had a turnout of around 30 people, which is great. We even had group pictures together, which now, we cherish [as] one of our favorite memories [of] the year. And then, prior to that, we had a pretty nice dinner. It was just a lot of inside jokes that we were able to make, and then it was great for our relationships. It was a great bonding experience for everybody.”
Cornel and Fawcett started as interns with FASA in their first year at UWB. Fawcett was introduced to the club by her orientation leader and Cornel knew he wanted to be involved from the start of his undergraduate journey as had experience as part of his high school’s Filipino club. He shares, “I was like ‘Okay, let me kind of see what they’re all about cause I don’t really know anybody and I’m kind of nervous to meet new people.’ I went to the booth at Club Fair and was like, ‘Oh! They’re very energetic and welcoming so I’ll go to their first meeting’, so I went [to the meeting] with one of my friends. Ever since then, I became an intern and just stayed involved.”
De Jesus got introduced to the club through her friends from one of her courses in winter of 2020. She states, “We were just like ‘Oh, you’re Filipino? I’m Filipino! You want to just check out FASA’?… we befriended people there and they were very welcoming, they were all very personable, funny people to be around. And [for] me personally, I wanted to learn more about Filipino culture cause I didn’t have cultural clubs like that in high school and I grew up very ‘Americanized’ to be honest. So I kind of wanted to learn more about that and go back to the roots.”
During the pandemic, FASA had to creatively overcome the challenges of lockdown and going virtual together. One way in which they worked to bring the community together was through FASA Fams, which was a club tradition that aimed to connect the community like a family. Cornel explains, “Two officers would lead each family, and you kind of bond with those members in that family. I think that helped [as]it was a good social time because I didn’t really go out during that time and it was really hard to socialize with other people.”
He reflects on the overall experience stating, “I think this year it was really interesting and I’m super proud of our board of how we really adapted… and everybody just understood and we really adapted to any change that we needed to throughout the whole year.” FASA got to hold their first in-person meeting in October of this academic year.
As Vice President, Cornel has also been in charge of the FASA internship program, through which many of the board members first get started. The board decides on having one or two interns join the team every quarter, who get to build their involvement with the club. “Biweekly, the interns get to choose an officer to shadow. Each of them get to choose an officer that maybe they would like to run for their position next year, or just get some more leadership experience, which is also a great opportunity, as well as to connect with our NWFASA organization, which FASA sa UWB is a part of,” says Cornel.
NWFASA is an alliance between Washington and Oregon universities, including Western Washington, Pacific Oregon, and Gonzaga Universities, as well as the FASA clubs at UW Bothell and UW Seattle. Each school takes turns hosting a monthly NWFASA meeting, where the clubs can come together for bonding and voting on certain decisions. The first in-person meeting since the pandemic will be held this month.
As for this year’s President, Elijah Phan, being the President of FASA was not exactly the plan as the year prior was challenging due to the all-virtual experience. He felt that being completely online was quite draining and there wasn’t much satisfaction that came with that, so he wasn’t sure if he would have wanted to return as an officer there was a chance UWB would be a hundred percent virtual the next year. But his ultimate decision came from wanting to send a message of encouraging diversity within the club. Phan states, “Just because this is a club that’s based on Filipino culture and foundation doesn’t mean that just because you’re not Filipino, you can’t be a part of this community and family. So I decided to take that platform as President and kind of send that message.”
For all the officers, getting involved with FASA opened up the chance to strengthen valuable skills in leadership and professionalism. Senior Advisor, Anjah Fawcett, shares that FASA was an opportunity for her to learn what kind of a leader she is. She states, “FASA is known to be friendly [and] welcoming, and a lot of people are extroverts, so at first that was very intimidating for me… I’ve learned that we all have different leadership styles so I guess I realized that you don’t need to be super extroverted to be a leader. A lot of my work [over] the past two years has been behind the scenes and so I think it’s important to know that there’s not one type of leader. Like you don’t have to fit a certain model to be a good or respected leader.”
Cornel is particularly proud of having successfully pulled off FASA’s Online Silent Auction last year. He states, “Because we were in a virtual environment it was really hard for us to find ways to fundraise to where we can really reach our members and our community. So through that our committee was able to raise almost $4,000 for our club.” The club outsourced through various local businesses and the community and was grateful to see everyone come together to support their work.
FASA has been going through the process of electing new officers for the 2022-2023 year and recently conducted their cross-over meeting to officially introduce the upcoming year’s officers to the rest of the club.
As President, Phan looks forward to graduating along with his peer senior officers this week, he reflects on his time with FASA and the rest of the team stating, “This year, it speaks volumes, now that I look back into what happened [and] the people that were able to come to our community and join this community. We actually have a lot more people and individuals from other backgrounds that are now a part of our general membership and involved… So I feel like I do not regret a single bit of my decision to become President this year, seeing the effect that I was able to leave behind for everybody.”