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Fiestang mixes modern, traditional in entertaining way

Tae Andrews | Monday, February 27, 2006

Taking a cue from the comedic film “Dude, Where’s My Car?,” Notre Dame’s Filipino American Student Organization put on the 12th performance of its annual Fiestang show this past Saturday. Dubbed “Hoy! Where’s My Jeepney?,” Fiestang XII featured a highly entertaining program including song, dance and comedy, all with a delicious traditional Filipino dinner.

The plot of “Hoy! Where’s My Jeepney?” revolves around Alexis (played by Marissa Buck), who just broke up with her boyfriend Ryan (Jon Robinson). After encountering Dante (Vinh Nguyen), a smooth customer with less-than-reputable interests, Alexis is completely oblivious to the affections of Justin (Angelo Gacad), a genuinely good guy who is not-so-secretly in love with her. Camille Gabriel takes a great turn as Theresa, Alexis’ best friend. In addition, Jon Park rounds out the cast as Quentin, Dante’s best friend. Huyen Nguyen plays Eva, Quentin’s girlfriend.

As the play progresses, Justin and Dante both vie for Alexis’ heart. In the vein of “Dude, Where’s My Car?,” the two of them clown as a slapstick duo rivaling that of Ashton Kutcher and Seann William-Scott.

After a heated exchange, the two face off in an epic round of fisticuffs matched only by the Bengal Bouts held across campus in the JACC. Although Justin loses the fight – in hilarious fashion – Dante is the one who gets “punk’d,” as Justin gets the girl and disproves the age-old saying that “nice guys finish last.”

The evening wasn’t all fun and games, however. As FASO club president Johanna Sioson said, “the purpose of Fiestang is to create interest in Filipino culture and share different aspects that you can’t get from a book.” To this extent, the show did a great deal to introduce the audience to all things Filipino, from the onstage performance to the decadent cuisine, catered by the Sari Sari Corporation.

As is its custom, Fiestang balances a combination of traditional dance routines with some more modern numbers. Through the show’s mix of dances, Fiestang addresses the social dynamic of Filipino-American students who struggle to balance their cultural roots with their lives as contemporary American teenagers.

The first act of the two-hour show featured three traditional performances. The Ballet Folklorico performance was a prime example of the strong Spanish influence on Filipino culture, as the dance featured three ladies decked out in flowing traditional dresses in addition to their sombrero-sporting partners.

Next on the program was a sakuting performance, choreographed by Covington Doan. Sakuting is an all-male dance mimicking the heroic feats of Ilokano warriors from the province of Abra. The signature clashing sticks of sakuting are based on an ancient combat training technique.

Following sakuting was singkil, a dance influenced by Muslim culture, which acts out the epic tale of a princess caught in a forest during an earthquake. Followed by her loyal maid, the princess (Sioson) is eventually rescued by a prince. Choreographed by Sioson and Gacad, with musical accompaniment by Elizabeth Sullivan and Josh Stagni, the singkil dance was a tremendous success.

The show’s intermission featured a stirring inaugural rendition of the FASO Anthem. Performed by David Ladao on the guitar, Jane Lee, Zyra Cortez and Sharon Lam, the song is an acoustic tribute to the friendship and sense of family shared by the many members of FASO.

Combining lyrics such as, “What club knows how to put on a show/FASO, FASO/What club can melt, South Bend snow/FASO, FASO” with a brief rap interlude, the only thing missing from the heartwarming performance was lighters being waved by the multitudes occupying the darkened Stepan Center. As the song gains increased recognition, the performing of the FASO Anthem figures to become a perennial staple of the annual Fiestang show.

The second act warmed up with a traditional tinikling performance, choreographed by Davin Costa. Literally meaning “bamboo dance,” tinikling involves long bamboo poles being clapped together in rhythm. Inspired by the natural movement of tikling birds as they pick their way over rough terrain, tinikling dancers skillfully navigate between the booming cadence of the bamboo poles. The traditional tinikling was followed by a modern tinikling sequence, jointly choreographed by Sioson and Gacad.

After the conclusion of the traditional segment, the show took a turn for the modern Рand became more risqu̩ Рwith a modern couples dance. Choreographed by Nguyen, Park, and Lam, the performance was scintillating enough to steam up even the normally drafty Stepan Center.

Much to the delight of the many ladies in the audience, the couples sequence was followed by a guys’ dance, choreographed by Chris Ulad. The show concluded with a modern girls dance, choreographed by Ashley Congjuico and performed to the Cassie song, “You and Me”.

With over 350 people in attendance, Fiestang XII was a smashing success. For those who didn’t make it out to the Stepan Center, there’s always a chance to catch next year’s Fiestang.