The basement cafe, also known as the undercaf, in the University Center is not often filled with screaming cheers, singalongs, and waving phone flashlights, but this is what students encountered on the night of Nov. 4. Kasamahan, the University’s Filipinx-American student organization, hosted GBM Jam, their annual Glioblastoma (GBM) research fundraiser talent show, and the talent showed up. The performances ran the gamut, from karate to spoken poetry. Raffle tickets were sold, and prizes included a variety of gift baskets, filled with everything from snacks to a cast iron skillet and Kasamahan merch.
The undercaf overflowed with Kasamahan members, far too many to be accommodated by the chairs that were set up. Every single performance electrified the audience, and those who could not snag a seat danced nearly the whole night. However, performing artists weren’t the only ones who showed up. Three tables were papered with drawings, paintings, prints, and collages from USF students Andre Canta, Madeline Morales, Brynn Bangit, and Adrian Silagan. Kesem and Hui O’Hawai’i, two related clubs at USF, made appearances as well. Kesem, a support system for children of people with cancer, was represented at a table manned by Kesem representative Megan Fabriquer. Kesem holds a week-long summer camp, where, according to Fabriquer, kids have the “space to relate to each other and just be kids.” Hui O’Hawai’i, USF’s Hawaiian culture organization, had a table that included information about their upcoming events like their annual lu’au.
In 2016, Kasamahan member Chris “Benjo” Carandang lost his life to a glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Kasamahan rallied around him and his family, hosting a talent show to raise money to help with the medical bills. The show became an annual tradition, and the money raised from the event now goes to GBM research.
For performer Angelene Carranceja, a USF senior and karate black belt, all the chairs had to be pushed to the back. Carranceja soared around the room, expertly performing aerial moves complete with swinging nunchucks. Though she has not practiced much in the past few years, Carranceja said she grew up practicing in her uncle’s dojo alongside her siblings and later taught at that same dojo. She has competed on both the national and international level, and earned a spot on the U.S. Team for the World Karate Commission in 2019. The GBM Jam has always held a lot of meaning for Carranceja. “Everybody still comes together,” Carranceja said. “Even though he passed away, we still remember [him], not just to mourn but to do good.”
Poets at the event shared stories of immigration in prose. Senior Brynn Bangit kicked off the night with a reading of her poem, “A letter to my immigrant parents.” Junior Jewel Yee used the spoken word to pay tribute to her ancestors and highlight the experiences of children of immigrants in the United States. She finished with the line, “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams and their dream was to rest, so I will rest.”
Musicians prompted the crowd to light up the room with waving phone flashlights and sing along, their voices echoing throughout the undercaf. Kiara Dioquino brought tears to attendees eyes as she performed an emotional rendition of her grandparents’ favorite Tagalog song about everlasting love, “Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin ” by Ariel Rivera. Other musicians went with more lighthearted performances, such as Keren Oczon, who sang a hilarious original song on ukulele. Following Oczon, Kasamahan’s Cultural Director Sly Pellas, a senior communications major, led the Kasamahan dance troupe to the floor.
The barefoot troupe entered the space dressed in maxi skirts that flowed with their movements. They performed two traditional dances: Pandango Oasiwas (Pandanggo translates to “Fandango with the Light” in English, as the dance is traditionally performed with oil lamps), a celebratory folk dance originating in Lingayen, the capital of Pangasinan. After a wardrobe change, they transitioned to the dance Itik Itik (Itik in Tagalog means “duck”), which the group choreographed themselves but is based off of a dance that originated in Surigao del Norte.
The talent show boasted one common thread that tied the evening together: community. Each performer spoke at one point or another about how meaningful it was to have the Kasamahan community supporting them.