Jul 09, 2020

Cultural club sees surge in membership

One of California State University, Fresno’s oldest cultural club is experiencing a revival with 50 potential new members upholding the club’s tradition of celebrating the Filipino culture for the last 35 years.

The group, MagkaIsa, had an opening meeting Aug. 30 that was attended by 70 people, 50 of which have just recently joined the club prior to the meeting.

MagkaIsa president Charmaine Abasta said the cause of the recent surge in new members were because of their promotions on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The club’s booth with the iconic Philippine symbol painted on it is located at the Free Speech Area, also helped in recruiting new members.

“People recognize the Philippine flag painted in our booth so they would approach us and ask what our organization is about,” Abasta said. “That’s how most of the members came to join us.”

The club was founded at Fresno State in June 1974 by Filipino-American Fresno State students to build connections among people that share the same Filipino background.

Public relations officer Janelle Mayo said that current members joined their organization to make friends, but other members joined because they want to learn more about their Filipino heritage.

Alex Rodriguez originally joined the MagkaIsa club a year ago in hopes of making new friends on campus, but what he didn’t expect is that he would be more connected to his own Filipino background.

“I learned a lot about my culture in this club,” Rodriguez said. “I grew up in the Bay Area so I didn’t know a lot about the Philippines until I joined this club.”

The club celebrates the art of the Philippine’s in their Pilipino Culture Night (PCN), where the members perform traditional Filipino folk dances, songs and poetry.

The folk dances serve dual purpose in the club, since those are not only used for entertainment, they’re also the source for fundraising.

MagkaIsa doesn’t receive any monetary contribution from the school. Abasta said that in previous years, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) would contribute to their PCN funds but due to the recent budget cuts, MagkaIsa might not get any contribution from ASI.

The club mostly gets its funds from performing folk dances around the Fresno community. Other means to get funds are from car wash events and club dues. Members pay $15 a semester for participating in the clubs meetings and social gatherings.

Abasta said that MagkaIsa is open to anybody who wants to join the organization. Those who are not Filipino or Fresno State students can also feel free to attend their social events. Currently, Abasta said there are 60 active members of the club with students from Fresno State and Fresno City College.

One of the club’s goals this semester is to recruit more people willing to join their club and prepare the new recruits for their well-renowned “friendship games” in October which takes place in California State University, Fullerton.

“Every year, we just want to make it better than the last,” Abasta said. “The goal of our organization is to bring everybody together.”

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