posted 2011-04-06 13:00:40

Pilipinos of Hunter Win at their first Battle of the Barrios

Already Striking Gold

Pilipinos of Hunter Win at their first Battle of the Barrios

Caitlin Ramiro

Staff Writer

As a first-time competitor at the Battle of the Barrios, Pilipinos of Hunter (POH) exceeded expectations by winning awards for Best Overall Show and Best Cultural Dance. The English translation of the word barrio is “neighborhood,” but in this case, barrio refers to a Filipino cultural show consisting of song and dance. Valuing performance and visual art, barrios serve to highlight these important traditions.

POH decided to recreate elements from Up for its first barrio. The storyline focused on a Filipino-American, Russell, who has lost touch with his Filipino culture despite his grandfather’s attempt to reacquaint him with his native roots. After a minor altercation over cultural differences, the grandfather returns to the Philippines and transforms his native home into a flying device. In doing so, the grandfather hopes to show Russell the beauty of Filipino culture.

The story illuminates the issue of second-generation Americans needing to retain traditions from their original heritage. Americans tend to drift away from their roots as media and ever-advancing technology consume much of their time. POH functions as a cultural club trying to revitalize Filipino culture among its members.

Impressing both the judges and competing schools, POH produced an incredibly relatable and enjoyable barrio. Beautiful dance sets were also incorporated into the simple, cohesive narrative.

POH’s well-received barrio came at the expense of much time and effort during midterm season. The strenuous preparation process leading up to Battle of the Barrios involved days of script-writing, revising, prop-designing, choreographing, and excruciatingly long rehearsal sessions. Members even spent their Friday nights practicing for the event. The members of POH were not only intent on competing for a title, but also on paying respect to Filipino tradition by putting on an outstanding barrio.

Freshman Patrick Joseph Dimalanta, leader of POH’s barrio, admitted, “Barrio was stressful, and sometimes we butted heads. But we eventually came together, and all the work paid off.” He continued, “I honestly didn’t think we’d get Best Overall Show.”

Like Dimalanta, the majority of POH’s members were not expecting to win the competition’s ultimate prize, Best Overall Show. The achievement left POH’s members in their seats looking totally dumbfounded.

“We were already happy when we won Best Cultural Dance. We were still celebrating the first trophy,” said senior J.P. Dimalanta. “Winning Best Overall Show and another trophy was surreal.”

At Battle of the Barrios, Hunter College battled against neighboring schools, including State University of New York Stony Brook, Baruch College, and former champion, New York University. Nonetheless, Hunter’s POH members proved themselves as worthy competitors and expect to repeat their success for years to come. In addition, POH wishes to share their cultural show with Hunter students and will showcase their handcrafted barrio at their annual POH show in May.