Nadia Dolor is a senior animation major and former president of the Pilipino American Student Association (PASA) Kaibigan, a prominent and diverse cultural club at CSUF.
As the face of the club, Dolor’s personhood and leadership style epitomize what PASA represents for the Filipinx community: family, friendship, and an open heart.
Tusk sat down with Dolor to discuss PASA and representing Filipinx culture.
Q) How do you identify within the community?
A) I’ve always said mixed. I’m Filipino, Guamanian, and Mexican. I was brought up mixed. I wasn’t one or the other; I was always all of it as one. What my parents really instilled in me was that I was Nadia.
Q) PASA is one of the biggest cultural clubs at CSUF. Do you have other members besides Filipinos?
A) We have over 200 members who are from different types of backgrounds. We’re inclusive of all genders and all cultural identities. We’re a good mix. I think going into PASA, I was kind of already home, not just because of the Filipino aspect, but also the other cultures that are coming in and blending.
Q) What is it about Filipinos that draw so many people outside of the ethnicity who connect with the culture?
A) I think they just connect because we’re so welcoming. We’re always smiling. We’ll come up to you and ask how you’re doing. The infectious energy and family aspect as well. And we’re just really fun to be around.
Q) Filipinos are very family-oriented. How did you bring that sense of family into your leadership of the club?
A) When it came to leadership, it was taking care of business, but also taking care of family. Our board is 25 people, and that’s about as many cousins I have. It’s about keeping everything open heart and open mind.
Q) As president, did you feel like the ate? (pronounced ah-teh)
A) I did kind of feel like an ate (older sister) at times, just to get everybody in line. Some people call me ate cause in our club we have a big/little system, but ours is ate, kuya (older brother), and ading (younger sibling).
Q) What is this big/little system in PASA?
A) When you join PASA, you can sign up for our AKA program, which is Ate, Kuya, Ading. You fill out an application, we’ll do a reveal at a meeting, and then you get put into a family. We pair based on how each person is going to better each other. There’s a lot of pairings that have gone on past graduation.
Q) What are the Friendship Games?
A) Friendship Games is the biggest student-run event on the West Coast that we do in fall semester. We have 4,000 attendees come to CSUF from all over the West. We come together as a Filipino community and play picnic games. Our club’s name is PASA Kaibigan, which translates to friend. Friendship and community is what we’re here for.
Q) You’re preparing for PCN (Pilipinx Cultural Night) this semester, what does that entail?
A) PCN consists of dancing, singing, and an actual play. It’s a showcase of our culture and a story for us—by us. A lot of times in history books, you don’t hear our story. So, it’s kind of who we are right now and how we’re representing ourselves as a filipinx community. We’re putting on the show, teaching the dances, getting the costumes, and doing all the hair and makeup. It’s all on us to tell our story.
Q) What are some of the dances?
A) Tinikling, that’s always our closer cause we’re famous for having a really good tinikling set. It’s the national dance of the Philippines. The two sticks represent traps that rice farmers set to keep tikling birds from eating the crops. The dancing mimics the movement of the birds dodging the bamboo traps.
Q) Why do Filipinos love to perform?
A) I think it’s because it’s being shared and it makes everyone happy. You do your talent show for your parents and you see how happy it makes them. It’s in that spirit of openness, family, and sharing your personality.
Q) What are you going to take from PASA when you graduate?
A) Oh gosh, everything. It’s helped me in numerous ways. When I joined, and then got on board and kind of did a 1-2 punch to president, I never saw myself in that position. All the confidence I got was from my friends within PASA who saw it in me. Then I started to see it for myself.