Barrio Biesta XXIII Explores Family, Feminism and Financial

“Kung may kahirapan, may katatagan” means “Where there is hardship, there is resilience.” This phrase is the overarching theme for this year’s iteration of UFC’s cornerstone event, Barrio.


Performers during Barrio 2016.

Performing arts has the ability to place us in a different reality from our own and make us see life from a different perspective. On Saturday March 4, Seattle University’s United Filipino Club will embody this exact philosophy during their 23rd annual Barrio Fiesta.

Barrio will feature a range of Filipino foods and dances from multiple disciplines as well as an original skit written and performed by members of the club. Though each of these elements has taken a tremendous amount of planning and preparation, it is undoubtedly the skit that speaks the loudest to the theme of this year’s event.

The skits performed as part of Barrio have long served as a a mirror for Filipino culture, both in the Philippines and other parts of the world, as well as the challenges present in this community. The narrative of this year’s skit is centered around Joy and Janelle, two sisters facing poverty in Angeles City, Philippines. Their effort to support themselves in the absence of their parents serves as a window to a variety of issues present in the Philippines, while also presenting themes such as the importance of family and coming of age.

“We wanted to focus on the struggle and resiliency of Filipina women and the sacrifices they make in order to provide for their families,” said Kristen Howard, a junior social work major and one of the co-chairs for this year’s skit. “The story of Joy and Janelle is often not one that is portrayed, but it is familiar to a lot of people because the struggle of families being separated due to economic hardship is so prevalent and pervasive in the Philippines.”

Where Barrio XXIII was centered on Filipino migrant workers and the struggles they face in other countries, the story of this year’s Barrio will have more of a focus on the Philippines as a country and the socioeconomic issues it faces.

“To reconnect with our Filipino identity, we are focusing on societal issues on our homeland and present a story of struggle and strength.” said Nadine Guyo, junior criminal justice and psychology double major and co-chair for Barrio. “By attending Barrio, students are getting more than entertainment and delicious food, but education on persisting issues in the Philippines.”


Performers during Barrio 2016.

One of Barrio’s other goals in addition to raising awareness is connecting the Filipino community on our campus to Filipino communities in our city and around the world. The name Barrio, which means “neighborhood celebration” in Tagalog, is the perfect title given the nature of the event, which brings together family and friends from many different places to share an experience.

“I’m excited to be able to perform to showcase parts of my culture through dance,” said Ethan John Canio, a first-year premajor and one of the performers in Barrio’s dances. “Being my first Barrio, I didn’t know what to expect, but the whole experience has been amazing.”

UFC has created this year’s Barrio as a space for community and learning, but equally important is the event’s emphasis on philanthropy and supporting others. These values have been highlighted in Barrio’s previous iterations, but not to the degree of 2016-2017 school year. They have stressed the importance of philanthropy both in the planning of Barrio and beyond it in the club’s other programming. With this goal in mind, UFC has worked to make its proceeds from the event reach people through the most effective routes possible.

“Buying a ticket is also a way for attendees to stand in solidarity with children who are in need of education.” Guyo said “For every ticket, we are donating $2 towards a scholarship funds for children in the Philippines. We are working with a non-governmental organization to ensure that the money is going directly to the people.”

To get more information on this year’s Barrio, the UFC members involved and buy tickets for the event, visit

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