Kaibigan, Northwestern’s Philippine Student Association, put on its annual Pinoy Show on Saturday, May 11. The show is a celebration of Filipino culture and features skits, cultural dances and parody videos. This year’s show, Kaivengers, was based on the real lives of student activists during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos combined with Marvel's Avengers.
Marcos ruled the Philippines as a dictator, declaring martial law and killing thousands of citizens. Kaivengers tells the story of student activists Edgar Jopson, Lorena Barros, Emmanuel Lacaba and Lily Hilao through the plot of Avengers: Infinity War. The activists fight Marcos, or Thanos, and organize protests with the hope of restoring democracy. The show also touched on themes of freedom in the face of tyranny and the lingering effects of colonialism.
The show's themes and the experiences of Filipinos under the Marcos regime also draw parallels with the current administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a hardline conservative who has spearheaded the ongoing extrajudicial executions of drug users.
“The Philippines is still in a time of uproar, so we felt like it was very fitting,” said SESP senior Christian Reyes, one of the show's three co-producers along with Weinberg senior Christina Shehata and graduate student Joy Sales, who just received her doctorate from Northwestern.
Between the live skits, members of Kaibigan performed dances including pangalay, aray, sakuting, tinikling and banga. Tinikling is the national dance of the Philippines and shows birds dodging the traps set out by rice farmers. Some performers tap bamboo sticks while others dance in and out of them.
“It’s really important to include dialogue about what’s happening within the Philippines," Weinberg sophomore and Kaibigan dancer Marcianni Morillo said. "Especially considering our current administration and everything else that has been happening.”
Another component of Pinoy Show is parody videos inspired by pop culture. This year, many were based on Netflix shows. Instead of tidying up with Marie Kondo, Kaibigan featured Tita Marie in their video. Another featured the mascot of Jollibee, the iconic Filipino fast food restaurant which serves fried chicken and spaghetti, on trial in a case similar to the plot of Bee Movie.
Despite the show’s sense of humor, many Kaibigan members recognize the importance of these types of cultural performances on campus.
“They’re an opportunity for a continually silenced and oppressed voice to have the stage — literally,” Joanna Ko, an alum and former president of Kaibigan who came from New York to see the show, said. “These people are my family. When I found out I had the opportunity to come and watch, I had to.”