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The Mass Media

Hoy! Pinoy! shares the vibrant culture of the Philippines

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Members of Hoy! Pinoy! show club pride. Photo sent in by Hoy! Pinoy!

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon at UMass Boston, a screen projected the words “Kumusta Ka?” meaning “How are you?” in Tagalog. The words were in stylish white font contrasted against a lively green background. Just like their Instagram posts and event posters, the slides presentation was meticulously made to show the vibrant culture of Hoy! Pinoy! 

Hoy! Pinoy! is a cultural club that focuses on creating a fun and welcoming space where members celebrate and appreciate Filipino and Filipino-American culture, as a branch of the Asian Student Center. 

That day, co-president Harvey Apale, a fourth-year student, held a special event for the club where he taught the basics of Tagalog, which is the national language of the Philippines, alongside English. Although it is not Apale’s first language, he was driven by an urgency to share it with the members of Hoy! Pinoy! 

A few minutes before hosting the event, Apale, alongside co-president Fasha Banson, a third-year student, shared that they have focused their leadership since Fall of 2023 on directing the club to bring educational events for its members. 

They centered their leadership this way because they recognize the Philippines as a multifaceted nation composed of a variety of cultures and languages, standing in a history that includes two waves of colonializations, first by Spain and then by the United States, being an independent nation for only 77 years. 

Such unique history and customs, coupled with living in the United States, drives many Filipino-Americans to have a vibrant desire to learn more about their heritage. 

During the meeting members learned basic terms like “Oo,” which means yes. They then used these to introduce themselves and have simple conversations with each other. 

As well as learning Tagalog, the club has two major Filipino cultural events: Kamayan and Luzon Visayas Mindanao. These are cultural dance shows that display traditional Filipino dances in tandem with modern choreographies and take place at the end of every semester.  

Kamayan takes place in the fall. During the showcase, Hoy! Pinoy! performs alongside Filipino clubs from universities in the greater Boston area, including Harvard, Northeastern and Tufts. The event is organized by the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue—a non-profit, student-led organization that promotes and preserves Filipino culture. The lively event brings a feeling of being immersed in the Filipino community. 

“[Kamayan] is my favorite thing about Hoy Pinoy,” said first-year student Matthew Edward Perez. “The outreach is huge, and you meet other Filipinos from the whole Boston area.” 

LVM takes place at the end of the spring and showcases Hoy! Pinoy!’s wonderful choreography for the UMass Boston community. This semester, LVM will take place April 21, and more details can be found at Hoy! Pinoy!’s Instagram @umbhoypinoy

Alongside being co-president, Banson has been the performance coordinator since the spring of 2021. She shared that before joining Hoy! Pinoy! she hadn’t explored her Filipino heritage; however, she had a background in dance, so being part of the performance crew flowed easily.

“[Dancing] was a way for me to connect in a way I already knew, with my own culture,” she said. 

Beyond the cultural events, Hoy! Pinoy! also hosts fun social events. For instance, at the beginning of Fall 2023 they hosted the “Halo-Halo Mixer,” where they served the traditional Philippine sweet Halo-Halo in custom Hoy! Pinoy! cups. Afterwards, they made a video showcasing the special moments of the event, which they posted on their Instagram. The custom cups and the joyful video showed the thoughtful care and dedication of the executive board in making this event special. 

Other events they host are a karaoke night during Halloween, a Christmas celebration—given that the Philippines is largely Catholic—and an open mic night for Valentine’s Day. Members also organize get-togethers to enjoy the basketball courts or ice skating rink when the spaces are open for recreational use. Students usually can find available times themselves by going to the informal recreation schedule on UMass Boston’s website. Apale and Banson reiterated that everyone is welcome in Hoy! Pinoy!, regardless of their affiliation with the Philippines.

“We try to have events that showcase our culture in different ways, whether it’s through food, entertainment or getting together,” said Apale. 

Hoy! Pinoy!’s impact on the UMass Boston community has left a significant mark. Third-year student Naomi Layon shared that the support the club gave them as a third-year transfer student was tremendous, and some of their best memories at UMass Boston are those they participated in with Hoy! Pinoy!  

“My favorite memory overall was the Harvard Festival last October,” said Layon. “Not only was I taking awesome photos for the club, but I was also submerged within my culture through the entire event, which I hadn’t been this immersed in for a very long time. […] Hoy! Pinoy! holds a special place in my heart, and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for an experience like this.” 

The club is going strong because of Apale, Banson and the entire executive board’s determination. Apale joined Hoy! Pinoy! during COVID-19, a time when the club was in a fragile state. There were only virtual meetings with low attendance, yet he recognized the desire members had to meet and learn more about their culture. 

“I realized I want to keep this going because I found a place where I belong,” he said. 

About the Contributor
Valentina Valderrama Perez, Features Writer