A far-east movement was made during Museum Night, Jam Asia’s second installment of its weeklong cultural celebration on Tuesday, April 29. The event reinforced the celebrated ethnicity with decorative flags and relevant music.
The club’s main focus of the year is planning their annual Jam Asia Show, which highlights Asian fashion, dance and students’ general talent. The club hosts a series of preview events to provide a glimpse into the featured culture leading up to the culminating event, according to third-year finance and marketing double-major and Jam Asia President Daisy Wen.
Museum Night’s stations included Asian snacks, photo sessions with a panda mascot, mask painting, henna applications and a performance by traditional Filipino dance troupe Kinding Sindaw.
Third-year Spanish education major and Jam Asia’s Secretary Mayra Romero said the club planned Museum Night in order to spread awareness about Asian culture across campus and to give attendees the oportunity to experience the creative side of these traditions.
“In comparison to our other events, Museum Night is educational in a more direct manner,” she said. “It is more interactive and hands on, so attendees will have the chance to learn about different Asian cultures through the many stations we have set up.”
Potri Ranka Manis, founder and artistic director of Kinding Sindaw, kicked off the performance by teaching the audience about the cultural background of the group.
She said their art is representative of not only the indigenous tribes who once inhabited the Philipines, like the Maranao and Maguindanao people, but also about the preservation of their traditions.
“Our main mission is to preserve the unwritten history of the Filipinos that are facing cultural extinction,” Manis said.
Manis performed traditional tribal dances representative of different aspects of Filipino nature including the sea, rain, birds and turtles. The crowd was invited to join in and follow her dance lead as her husband played the kulintang, an ancient Filipino gong-style instrument made of brass that dates back from the 15th century. The next dance featured Manis using an ornate cloak as a narrative of a woman’s daily duties throughout her lifetime.
The crowd applauded at the end of the performance, but Manis interrupted to share that in her culture, they chant instead of clap at the end of shows. Her husband then performed an acoustic song on guitar dedicated to their daughter, Malaika Queaño, who is a fourth-year electrical engineering major at SUNY New Paltz.
According to Manis, Kinding Sindaw is made up of approximately 26 members who perform at venues including The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La Mama where they held their most recent show.
Manis said the group typically incorporates numerous aspects of traditional Filipino culture by including dancing, music, martial arts, mystical storytelling, cultural workshops and lecture forums into their performances.
Over the years, Manis said she blended her family life into the group by having her daughter perform an Indonesian-style dance and her son perform martial arts.
Kinding Sindaw’s main focus is on teaching others to be aware of the risk of extinction their Filipino culture faces. Manis said the club aims to inform people why their culture is fading away from history, being that only about five percent of ancient southern Filipino tribal population are culturally present.
Manis said any preservation of their culture becomes difficult because of Filipinos’ displacement due to the frequent typhoons and flooding the country faces.
“We want to preserve this tribal culture by informing the world that this [displacement] is happening and hope for solidarity in protecting it through our performances,” Manis said. “We always connect this theme into our performances to show the knowledge of our limited culture.”
Wen said this event is extremely important, as it spreads cultural awareness on campus. According to Wen, by choosing unique ways to spread culture among students and entertain them while doing so, the club’s goal is accomplished.
“It is important to teach people about the many traditional Asian cultures because Asians are a small minority here on campus,” Wen said. “We want to be represented and inform our peers about our cultures. That way we can help others learn more and express ourselves the way we want to at the same time. Museum night [is] a major part of spreading our traditional culture because it is one of our more educational events.”