Fil Am sophomores start first Filipino Barkada Culture Club at So. California high school

Chaminade College Preparatory high school’s first ever Filipino Barkada Culture Club with founders, seated: President Jacob Marc P. Pascasio (left), and Vice President Zach Angeles. Behind them: Treasurer Emily Barkes and Secretary Bianca Baguio.
Club Fair Recruiting Day: Filipino Barkada Culture Club during its first-ever membership drive with, seated: Emily, Zach, and Jacob. Potential new members are non-Filipinos but interested in the culture of the Philippines.

WEST HILLS, CA – “Sampu! Sampu!” yells Bianca Baguio as her high school classmates quickly group themselves together in pods of ten (sampu in Tagalog). “OK, anim! Anim!” she shouts again, as the teens laugh and scramble to now form groups of six (anim in Tagalog).

Sophomore founders made the sign, with the colors of the Philippine flag, inside Ms. Louinn Lota’s classroom.

Bianca is secretary of the Filipino Barkada Culture Club, the first of its kind at Chaminade College Preparatory high school, a nearly-70-year-old Roman Catholic secondary school, in the West Hills area of Los Angeles’ sprawling San Fernando Valley. The Number Call Game vigorously was played during the club’s first meeting Sept. 24, where two large trays of lumpia and a bottle of banana ketchup were devoured by nearly 50-plus new club members crammed into an air-conditioned classroom.

The Filipino Barkada, founded by sophomores Bianca Baguio, secretary; Jacob Marc P. Pascasio, president; Zach Angeles, vice president; and Emily Barkes, treasurer, is one of about 85 academic, social, service and cultural clubs on the 25-acre Chaminade campus. The teenagers wrote a proposal late last year and chose the Filipino organizations Bantay Bata (Guarding Our Children) and PeDRO (Philippine Disaster Relief Organization) as fundraising charities. The students researched various charitable agencies and picked those two groups themselves.

“Yeah, Barkada could mean a gang,” laughed Zach, explaining to new members the club’s name. “But we’re just a group of friends who like to hang out together.”

“And learn about the Filipino culture,” added Jacob, who, along with Emily, put together an impressive pamphlet that led to the new club’s approval.

The four founders made the first club sign using markers and poster paper in anticipation of the Aug. 30 school-wide, all-grades lunch in which 85 service, academic, social and cultural clubs recruited new members to join. Barkada recruited some 50 or so members. At their booth, Barkada officers handed out Filipino lychee-jelly snacks and had recruits guess how many gumballs were in a plastic jar. It is their hope that they can get a more permanent, professional banner for other school activities where the club booth can raise funds for Bantay Bata and PeDRO.

On Sept. 26, during Chaminade’s Homecoming Week, with club booths selling desserts, the Filipino Barkada sold turon (caramelized fried bananas) for $1 each and puto, which the club called “fluffy white rice cake,” just to be on the safe side of what it means in other languages, two for $3. As of this printing, a total for their first fundraiser wasn’t immediately available, but my daughter, Louinn Lota, one of only two Filipino American full-time faculty or administrators, said she bought five turon for herself! She is the club’s moderator and teaches Theology, Journalism, and English.

Jacob’s grandfather, Armando Garcia Pascasio, born in San Antonio, Zambales, brought the food Sept. 26. Jacob’s parents, Mary and Joey, both were born in Manila, and his grandmother, Violeta Labso Pascasio, was born in Calauag, Quezon Province. Zach’s dad was born in Cebu and Emily’s parents, Juan and Nenita Domingo, were born on the main island of Luzon.

The Barkada’s founders are pleasantly surprised at the popularity of the new club and are already gearing up for the International Culture Festival in Spring 2019 when, ambitiously, they’d like to present a native dance during the festival rally, like the tinikling, with many of the club members participating.

“We’re going to need to raise some funds to get our own club tinikling bamboo poles,” my daughter said during the Sept. 24 meeting. “And we’re going to need to start rehearsing now, so our ankles don’t get caught!”

Anyone interested in supporting the Filipino Barkada Club at Chaminade College Preparatory may contact President Jacob Marc P. Pascasio at [email protected]