A Brief History of USF Kasamahan

As Historian, one of my assignments was to research the history of Kasamahan. So I e-mailed one of its founders, Professor Anthony Villegas asking him about the who, what, when, where, and especially why about USF Kasamahan. Here is what he had to say:

"Regarding the History of Kasamahan, I had it published in the USF Philippine-American Assocation Barrio Fiesta (1989-1990), USF FAX (Filipino American eXchange newsletter, 1995), and the various USF Barrio Fiesta souvenir programs up to 2010. Unfortunately, it was not included in this years's PCN souvenir program.

Briefly, I started the Filipino Club during my freshman year (1973) after befriending and recruiting fellow Filipino students at USF. I served as its club Vice-President (1973-1974) while we elected a graduating senior student as our President who has returned to the Philippines. Since there has been numerous instances of a Filipino Club being started and then dying, my friends and I had a brainstorming session to figure out an annual event which will insure the existence of our Filipino club. We thought of having a fun, exciting Barrio Fiesta every year. So we launched our first of many Barrio Fiesta in March of 1974 with "yours truly" serving as the first Barrio Fiesta Chairperson.

During our first Barrio, we got a Bayanihan dancer to teach us folk songs and dances. We also recruited some volunteers to help us how to prepare Filipino food including pancit bihon, lumpiang sariwa, chicken adobo, pork adobo, steamed rice, and biko (sticky rice for dessert). We prepared our tickets and souvenir programs using stencils, calligraphy pens, cardboard papers, scissors, glue, and typewriters. There were no personal computers then.

We also solicited donors and sponsors including Philippine Air Lines, travel agencies, insurance agencies, banks and retail stores to advertise in our souvenir program. We sold $5 ticket to the show and $8 for show and dinner. We held the event at UC Commons which is now the World Fair dining area. We were able to raise $500 for scholarship when tuition then was only $56 per unit or about $840 per semester.

During our first Barrio Fiesta in 1974, we did all the soliciting, selling, typesetting, cooking, singing, dancing, staging, and even cleaning up. We were in our tuxedos, barongs, and Filipinianas while we were busting trays of dishes and washing and drying all of them in the kitchen. That was absolutely fun and launched the start of the oldest continuous PCN throughout USA with nearly 40 years.

The place was packed with over 500 guests, a lot were standing room only, and we got complaints from elderlies who cannot find chairs to sit on. We were warned to decrease our size the following year as it violated the fire marshall regulation. Despite that, it was a big success and boosted all our confidence ... for we were able to accomplish what people thought to be impossible ... but we did not know it was impossible ... since we were like bumble bees with wings so short but still manage to fly.

During my second year in 1974-1975, I won by a landslide and served as club President. Like the prior year, my club Vice-President Mit Maurille served as our Barrio Fiesta Chair. Mit owns and operates a coffee bar lounge in San Francisco. We replicated and improved our previous feat and raised $1800 in scholarship with ticket prices set at $10 for dinner/show for 400 guests. The theme for our 1st Barrio was "Bayanihan" while our theme for 2nd Barrio was "Kalinangan" which means Culture.

During my third year in 1975-76, I became International Students Association (ISA) Chair and served as club member and advisor. Our club President was Joseph Tan who is now a succesful attorney in the Philippines. Following with tradition, our club Vice-President Odette Cabuslay served as the Barrio Fiesta Chairperson.

During my fourth year in 1976-77, I serve as representative to the President's University Action Board. Due to some minor conflict between Filipinos who come from wealthy families in the Philippines and Filipino-Americans who were born and raised in USA from hard-working families, we decided to expand our membership and rename our club. I rewrote the Constitution and ByLaws of the club which renamed unchained until 1993. We called our club ... Philippine American Association (PAA) of USF. We adopted the rotating club meeting Chairperson which I learned from Rotaract (college equivalent of Rotary) while having a permanent set of officers including President (Pat Ergina).

After graduation in 1977, the members of the Philippine American Association gave me a plaque as Head Founder of the organization. The Barrio Fiesta tradition continues to this year with dinner and show moving from UC to Memorial Gym to McLaren to Lone Mountain to its current location, when dinner was no longer included and show only is presented at Gerschwin Theater at the Education (Presentation) Building on Turk Street.

TODAY, USF Kasamahan Barrio Fiesta is considered to be the longest continous running annual show of all colleges and universities throughout USA and North America. In fact, I was even featured as its club founder at the former SPEAK-OUT show hosted by ABS-CBN TFC Program.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq80SPioBXw entitled Pilipino Cultural Night: Tradition or Revision

SIDE NOTE:

When I returned to teach MBA (Decision and Information Systems) at USF School of Business in 1993, the members of Philippine American Association decided to changed the club name to KASAMAHAN which became effective the following school year (1994-1995). Marlon Villa was club advisor then even though James Catiggay was already part of USF and later became club advisor. In 1996, I met Prof. Jay Gonzales who was working for Heald College in Concord, CA. He inquired about teaching opportunities and I encouraged him to apply at USF. He eventually did and took a significant role in starting the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program in 1999.

When the first set of 15 USF students were sent during May-June to study about the Philippines at Ateneo de Manila (my other alma mater), the head student organizer and nine other Kasamahan students were my former business students. In April of 2001, we had the opportunity of hosting Fr. Ben Nebres, SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila at USF and Kasamahan was part of it. I still have pictures of it somewhere. In fact, Fr, Nebres was seminary roommate and good friend of our USF President Fr. Stephen Privett, SJ. Great to see the close ties of Kasamahan to USF and to Ateneo. Kasamahan helped our Ateneo Bay Area Alumni (which I served as its President in 2005) in hosting a lot of our significant events ... including USF Honorary Doctorate degree conferment on Philippine President Gloria Macapagal, Philippine Ambassador & Philanthropist Al Yuchengco, and Fr. Ben Nebres SJ.

Interesting to see how USF Kasamahan has grown to be the biggest student organization at USF from the 23 students I recruited back in 1973.

On behalf of my fellow founding club members, we congratulate and thank all of you for your efforts in continuing the Bayanihan spirit of camaraderie. Mabuhay ang USF Kasamahan!"

Professor Villegas is very friendly, so if anyone has any questions for him or just wants to chat with him, his email is:

prof.villegas@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading guys!

- Edwin Sanchez

  USF Kasamahan Historian 2011-2012