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Students advocate for Pilipino studies

By Daily Bruin Staff

Oct. 27, 1994 9:00 p.m.

Students advocate for Pilipino studies

Rally highlights curricular reform, cultural history and ethnic

By Allison Lefkowitz

Daily Bruin Staff

Continuing their fight for a Pilipino Studies program and to
save Tagalog courses, almost 100 students gathered Thursday in
Schoenberg Plaza to voice their desire for recognition of their
culture and history.

The rally was the final event of Pilipino American History
Month, which organizers said they will bring back next October.

Pilipino American students, many in traditional dress, began the
rally in Westwood Plaza with an "ati-atihan" march, which students
described as "a mardi gras of the Philippines."

The march honors an annual celebration held on the island of
Panay in the Philippines, said Dawn Mabalon, director of the
Samahang Pilipino Education and Retention program.

"Students painted their faces black to symbolize the unity of
the Malay culture with the indigenous people of the island,"
Mabalon said. "They also chanted ‘Hala bira’, which means ‘Let’s

Loralei Olaes, a Pilipino American councilwoman in Carson,
congratulated the students on their organization and spirit.

"You must work with the administration to keep the dialogue open
and give the system our knowledge, our support and our
understanding of our community," said Olaes, who is also a UCLA

Olaes told the students, "What you are doing is important
because as more and more people of ethnic communities come into
play, we have to respond and help."

Los Angeles Unified School District board member Warren Furutani
told the crowd, "The rally also takes place when you leave here and
talk to people who don’t know the struggle of our people.

"We are at a defining point in time," he said, "(a time) which
will determine what path we will take as a nation and we need to
look at the reality that we are a nation of immigrants," he

Representatives of groups including the Asian Pacific Coalition,
Justice for Janitors and the New Patriotic Alliance spoke to
students about issues including raising the living conditions of
the Pilipino American and other ethnic communities.

Pilipino student leaders said the rally went well, but
improvements can still be made and they will use it as a learning

"We got the important people here in order to get people to
continue the struggle for Pilipino Studies," said Jay Mendoza, a
fifth-year Ethnomusicology student and coordinator of the Committee
for Pilipino Studies. "The University of California must know that
there is a core group following up on getting Pilipino Studies
implemented at UCLA."

Students in the crowd said they believe the university should
recognize the demand for Pilipino Studies classes.

"UCLA is a public school and it should reflect the needs of the
people of the state," said Mark Soriano, a first-year law student.
"And the Pilipino American community is the largest Asian American
population in California."

Other attendees pointed to the Pilipino American community’s
fight as one of many in the movement for curricular reform.

"Samahang Pilipino’s and other communities’ struggle for
relevant education is probably the most important issue to these
students," said York Chang, undergraduate student government
external vice president.

"It is because of their efforts that the administration can make
claims that there is diverse education and a diverse community on
this campus," Chang added.

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