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MabuFest 2024: UCLA’s Filipino community celebrates cultural dance, music

(Photo by Megan Cai/Photo editor. Photo illustration by Ingrid Leng/Daily Bruin)

“Mabuhay Benefit Festival”

Pilipino Council of the Mabuhay Collective

Ackerman Grand Ballroom

March 15

5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

By Isabella Appell

March 15, 2024 12:16 p.m.

UCLA’s Pilipino Council of the Mabuhay Collective is celebrating culture and community through the Mabuhay Benefit Festival.

The 15th annual benefit festival will take place Friday in Ackerman Grand Ballroom. The event will feature student performances, raffle prizes and celebrity headliner, Filipino Australian singer-songwriter Ylona Garcia. In support of initiatives in the Philippines, MabuFest will raise money for Liter of Light, an organization that provides sustainable light solutions to those without access. PCMC’s chief of projects, Kaela De Guzman, said MabuFest is an extension of the value in Filipino culture to support causes beyond yourself.

“It’s (Liter of Light is) giving back to the people who came here, to help support our education and upbringing,” said De Guzman, a second-year public affairs student. “Liter of Light was something that I was interested in pushing for because finding sustainable light solutions, especially in a place so heavily populated, is really difficult.”

[Related: Ebb & Flow festival dances for environmental action at Ballona Creek]

In addition to raising money, the main goal of MabuFest is to unite everyone within the same community, said Adrian Dumaguin, a second-year mechanical engineering student and PCMC’s internal chairperson. The event will extend past UCLA students, aiming to expand this celebration of Filipino culture into other parts of Los Angeles, Dumaguin said. In addition to student organizations, the festival will feature around 30 bands from different parts of the Filipino community, De Guzman said. When auditioning, they looked for bands who shared a passion for music, Dumaguin said.

“We really valued having Pilipino artists,” Dumaguin said. “Just going towards that idea of uniting everyone within the same community, making sure that everyone is able to get their own sense of enjoyment throughout the different genres.”

MabuFest will also serve as a space for artists to share the history of their culture with others on campus, said the director of Tinig Choral and graduate student Josh Valerio. As an a cappella group, Tinig Choral views the artform as a means to embrace culture, Valerio said. Valerio added that performing at the festival is an opportunity to strengthen and re-emphasize its Filipino roots.

“MabuFest has been a really good opportunity for us to share our history and our expression to the greater UCLA community,” Valerio said. “Being a part of the greater Filipino community through MabuFest shows how welcoming the community is and how well we support each other.”

[Related: Head in the Clouds 2023: Stellar performances thrill crowds despite summer heat]

MabuFest will also showcase Filipino dance performances, said director of Alab Ng Puso and fourth-year physiological science student Ethan Laureano. The Filipino dance troupe, which is a subsect of Samahang Pilipino Cultural Night, works to preserve these histories and ensure they are being presented in an accurate way, Laureano added.

Looking forward, De Guzman said she hopes MabuFest will continue to be spearheaded by passionate individuals. Ultimately, the festival will provide a space for students to learn about the culture through dance and is a way to support a larger cause, Laureano said.

“Being a part of that, being there to show accurate representations of our dance forms is really an honor,” Laureano said. “It’s not just teaching about the dances and giving awareness to them, but it’s also giving back to our mainland community and the struggles that they have there and knowing that we are all a part of this diaspora.”

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Isabella Appell
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