“I can’t see my college career ever starting ‘til I joined TUPAC,” says Aielle Reyna, senior nursing major at Temple University and current President of the Temple University Philippine American Council (TUPAC), which is a student organization of non Filipinos and Filipinos who practice, discuss, and educate themselves about Filipino cultural traditions and current events.
“I found out about TUPAC in my freshman year but I wasn’t really interested,” Reyna adds. “I was a commuter so joining clubs and stuff would be extra time for me to stay on campus when I would rather just be home.”
After being convinced to attend a TUPAC Easter egg hunt by her friend, Reyna got involved with the student organization in her junior year.
“Eventually I got the position as secretary and I got more involved in the club,” says Reyna. “It really became like my second family, my second home here.”
A typical TUPAC meeting begins with announcements, and then the club will play a game relating to Filipino culture, such as a Filipino street game, have a language lesson, or hold a discussion exploring identity.
“We’re just trying to educate ourselves about the Philippines, what we’re about,” says Reyna. “For this year we’re really looking towards self-identity in one’s culture. Especially since a lot of us are first or second generation Filipino Americans where we’re so Westernized we kind of forget our culture back home.”
This year, TUPAC hosted Mr. District 5, also known as Mr. D-5, in late February, one of their largest annual events.
TUPAC is a part of District 5 of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, a national organization which works to unite Filipino students in higher education and has 9 districts around the United States of America. District 5 also includes the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Delaware, and other schools in the area.
“Mr. D-5 [ . . .] was a male pageant between all the district schools,” says Reyna. “But they would showcase different talents with their Filipino culture so some people would dance traditional Filipino dances, some people would have like a dialogue in Tagalog, which is one of our native languages, and some people would just talk about how being Filipino really affected them.”
TUPAC hosts general body meetings from 5 PM to 7 PM on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The club donates to charities which help the Philippines. Depending on the season, the meeting can be holiday themed and celebrated with Filipino traditions.
To celebrate Valentine’s day, TUPAC hosted one meeting in which they discussed courtship in the Philippines. In the past, to celebrate Christmas the club members have made star lanterns and put candles inside of them to light them which are commonly made in the Philippines around the holiday season.
“I went to the first meeting and obviously the first meeting you’re just meeting everybody so you don’t have a friend there,” says Mia Garcia, freshman Legal Studies major at Temple University. “But like as the second meeting rolled around we were all comfortable with each other and it’s kind of like the feeling where you meet someone for the first time and you guys are just–you instantly hit it off and it’s just like you’ve known each other for years.”
“It’s only my first year of college but I feel like I definitely found the people that I’m going to keep in my life forever,” Garcia adds.
Students looking to get involved with TUPAC can find more information here.