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A closer community for Filipino students

By Mackenzie Cutruzzula

The Filipino word for “group of friends” is “barkada,” so naturally this word would become the name of the only organization representing the Filipino community on campus. Student Government approved Barkada in 2007, and that same year, the group joined the Pan-Asian Alliance. 

TCNJ Barkada aims to build a stronger on-campus community among the College’s Filipino students, as well as increase representation and leadership on campus.  (Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Cutruzzula)
TCNJ Barkada aims to build a stronger on-campus community among the College’s Filipino students, as well as increase representation and leadership on campus. (Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Cutruzzula)

Barkada was created to let the small Filipino population on campus find one another and create a sense of community. The group is seen as a joining force that forms a bond over culture and upbringing. 

Barkada’s reputation and numbers have steadily increased the past few semesters. According to Barkada president and senior international studies major Lauren Lalicon, the group is far from done growing. This year, the group is determined to have a more predominant on-campus presence. 

“We have more events planned than any other year,” Lalicon said. “We’re trying to have a fundraising event every month just to keep up.” 

Barkada is not working alone to raise awareness about the group. Working the Pan-Asian Alliance and its partnership with the Asian American Alliance, events Barkada participates in highlight many cultures. Events for this semester include the first Asian Culture Night and the Multi-Cultural Buffet. 

Events specifically designated for the group include the annual Halo-Halloween and a proposed Barkada Alumni Night. The group’s mission of putting a Filipino twist on American traditions is an important part of Halo-Halloween. Dressed up in costumes, the group eats Halo Halo – a traditional Filipino dessert of shaved ice. The night’s festivities conclude with the “Ate-Kuya”, or big-brother-big-sister reveal. Each older member takes on an “ading,” which translates to “little,” to create a sense of family. 

The group stresses that this family is open to more than just those with Filipino roots. The group welcomes all cultures to come and find a place in the group of friends. 

“It’s always really nice to have people of other cultures interested in Barkada,” member and sophomore psychology major Arianne Ramos said. “We encourage everyone to check out the group.”

The Filipino Intercollegiate Network Dialogue, FIND, has been a way for Barkada to seek a community on a national level. FIND’s mission is to connect all the Filipino groups on the East Coast to one another. 

“We want to develop our community on a larger scale,” Lalicon said. “We want to bring representation and build leadership amongst Filipinos across the country. Filipinos haven’t had a call to settle together in one area of the country and this organization helps bring us together.” 

Developing the organization takes dedication and funding for the group. Barkada held its annual yard sale on Sunday, Sept. 14. Unlike previous years, the yard sale was not held on Pennington Road, so the group was left with a lower turnout as a result. However, the funding from selling stuffed animals, clothing, posters and housewares has the same mission – to buy new props for its Tinkling act. Tinkling is a Filipino dance that involves jumping between bamboo sticks. Barkada has been saving up to buy new bamboo sticks to continue this act at the Asian American Alliance’s Mystique of the East – a cultural show highlighting Asian acts. 

Clothing not sold at the yard sale will be used for the club’s annual thrift shop later in the semester. The thrift shop is held for two days in the Brower Student Center and has been one of the biggest fundraisers for the group. 

“It’s okay that the clothes haven’t been selling today,” said member and junior psychology major Alicia Lalicon. “It means the students will have a bigger selection at our thrift shop and that will bring a bigger turn out.”

Barkada announces its numerous upcoming events on its website and emphasizes students of all backgrounds to check out the community. 


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