September 18, 2020

Culture explored with variety

Verse One, a dance troupe from Rutgers, performed at the Filipino Variety Show. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

The fourth annual Filipino Variety Show proved to be a night of comedy, music and an intimate look into the Filipino culture. Sponsored by TCNJ Barkada, Phi Sigma Sigma and the Pan Asian Alliance, the Filipino Variety Show took place in the Brower Student Center on Friday, Nov. 19.

The night started off with the singing of the Filipino and American national anthems, both performed by sophomore elementary education major Karisse Bendijo. She and Melissa Belgira, senior English secondary education major, acted as masters of ceremonies for the night.

The show began with a performance by senior interactive multimedia major and slam poetry enthusiast Estaban Martinez. Martinez began performing slam poetry in 2008, and was a member of the New Jersey National Slam Team in 2009.

“I do slam poetry, people equate it to screaming,” he joked. His poems focused on love, video games and procrastination, among other topics, and his high energy performance was punctuated by laughs from the audience.

Following Martinez was Pat Catalano, junior math secondary education major. Catalano represented the College’s juggling club.

“I don’t have a lot to say, so I’ll let my balls do the talking,” he said by way of an introduction. His routine, which became steadily more complex, drew cheers from the audience.

Other campus groups that performed included Black Out, the College’s step team, Taiko, the Japanese percussion group, and the Mixed Signals, the College’s improvisational comedy troupe.

A number of outside groups were brought in as well, including Verse One, a dance troupe from Rutgers University. Marq Romero, a self described “musical superhero” from New Jersey, attempted to complete his set, but was only able to perform one number due to a broken guitar. He did, however, join Triangle Offense, a hip-tronic group based in Jersey City, for a few numbers, filling in for an absent member of the trio.

In keeping with the spirit of the night, there were a number of traditional Filipino acts as well. TCNJ Barkada performed Tinikling, or “the Bamboo Dance,” a traditional Filipino dance where the dancers dodge bamboo poles and imitate tinikling birds. Members began by dancing to traditional Filipino music, but later modernized the dance by incorporating Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” into the performance.

Audience members were also introduced to games typically found on Filipino game shows such as “Hip Hip Hurray,” which required volunteers from the audience to compete for prizes. Traditional Filipino food was served during intermission, and a video was played from the abolitionist group “Love 146,” which works to fight against human trafficking and the child sex trade.

The night ended with the male members of Barkada performing Maglalatik, a traditional war dance. Also known as the coconut dance, the dancers performed bare-chested with coconuts strung around their bodies, which they then used as percussion instruments.

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