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Filipino Minnesotans celebrate rich and vibrant culture

Minnesota has 20-25,000 people who identify as Filipino. One of them is Mary Ann Quiroz, co-director of the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center in St. Paul. October is Filipino history month, and so Quiroz decided to host an event to bring Filipinos together to celebrate their rich culture.

“We are hosting an event called Basa Kanta At Sayaw. Basa Means Read and Kanta means Sing and At Sayaw means dance, so we're doing exactly that,” said Quiroz.

The event featured readings in both Tagalog and English by local authors, singing by “Lolas” or Filipino grandmothers, and a dance workshop.

Antoinette Burkhart is a board member of the Cultural Society of Filipino Americans and one of the lead dancers. She says it’s important to hold events like this one.

“We want to introduce different cultures and we want people to be aware that there’s diversity, in the Twin Cities especially and we want them to embrace everybody and welcome everybody, that we all come from different cultures but we want to be as one.”

Burkhart is from the Philippines - her husband is American.

“And we have two kids and I really wanted to introduce my kids to the culture. And actually, my kids started dancing Filipino folk dancing since they were six. And up to now they're 14, they're still dancing. And I just wanted to share with them part of my culture and I'm really glad that they are embracing the culture.”

The event also highlighted an exhibit that is currently on display at Indigenous roots. It’s a collection of illustrations depicting the regional dances of the Philippines. Indigenous Roots co-founder Mary Ann Quiroz says the exhibit celebrates the diversity of pre-colonized Philippines:

“The Philippines is actually a very mixed, mixed group,” she explained. “We have over 100 indigenous nations, over 100 languages spoken in the Philippines currently. And so for me, it's just really important to shed light on the richness and the vibrancy and the diversity of Filipino culture.”

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