The Organization of Young Filipino Americans was founded in 1988 in order to heighten awareness and appreciation of the Filipino/Filipino American culture to its members and the greater UVA and Charlottesville communities. It also serves as the liaison to the University of Virginia students as part of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, consisting of universities along the East Coast.
“In 1988 Cyn Romero, Brod Bello, and a few other Filipino students wanted to form an organization that stood out from the other ones that already existed. They wanted one that would be more inclusive, not one that isolated itself from outsiders. This new organization was never meant to be exclusive at all. Its members fully welcomed anyone, Filipino or not, who wanted to hang out with them and who could tolerate − or even contribute to − their quirkiness. To say ‘I can′t join OYFA; I′m not Filipino’ was not a good enough reason not to join; we′d reply, ‘So?’ Moreover, they wanted to be more involved in other parts of the University, not just their own members. Primarily, they wanted the members to have fun, while at the same time learning to get along, work, and have fun. Most important of all, the organization′s members would learn something about their own culture and would share it with others. Why? To truly understand Filipinos − and therefore ourselves − we really need to know where we have come from. So, OYFA was born…” −− OYFA alumni Dr. Ron Labuguen
Q: Do you have to be Filipino to be in OYFA?
A: Of course not! OYFA may be a Filipino cultural interest group, but that doesn′t mean that you have to be Filipino to join. In fact, anyone can. Some of our most dedicated leaders aren′t Filipino. So come on out and don′t be scared!
Q: What do you do in OYFA?
A: As a Filipino cultural interest group, it is our goal to heighten awareness and appreciation of Filipino/Filipino-American culture and to provide a cultural, social, service, and academic network for our members. And how do we do this? We hold an annual culture show, Barrio Fiesta, highlighting traditional and modern Filipino dances and customs. The Advocacy committee helps spread the awareness of many issues that affect the Filipino community and everyone in general. The F.I.N.D D7 committee serves as your liaison to other Filipinos not only within the state, but nationwide.
Q: Aren′t you guys just an organization that does dances?
A: We definitely like to get down and boogie, but we′re not just a bunch of dancers. Our annual symposium serves as an open forum for members to discuss issues relevant to Filipino-Americans. In addition to that we host bi-monthly Intercourse sessions, or mini-dialogues. We also sympathize that college can be a burden on your parents′ wallet and to help alleviate this, an OYFA Excellence Scholarship Fund was created and is awarded annually to a well-deserving first-year OYFAn. And if that isn′t enough for you, our community committee will warm your hearts, the social committee will throw potlucks to fill your stomachs, and the membership committee will make sure you feel right at home here at the University.
Barrio Fiesta is our yearly Filipino cultural show which showcases a skit, cultural dances, and modern dances. We know what you′re thinking, "Whats the big deal about Barrio?". It′s only one of the best cultural shows around the campus, showcasing ~100 performers. It's only the culmination of months of skit and dance practice and bonding with your best friends everyday. You don't have to be Filipino to participate! Many (actually probably most) of our choreographers, dancers, and actors/actresses aren't Filipino at all! Don't regret not doing Barrio; it's the single most important event in our organization. You don't have to know how to dance, many of us don't! ( the webmaster would like to point out that he has messed up at least once dance on video every year for three years) Doing Barrio will be something that you'll remember even after you leave college. Just hear the cheering from the front row of UVa alumni that come every year.