Filipino American Student Association Reaches its 40th Anniversary

  • Founding members of FASA sit on a staircase and other huddle around, smiling for the photo.

    The original founding members of FASA gathered for a reunion, Oct. 16, 2021. Larry Macapagal was the group's first president (seated, center, third row from top.) Bob Ortego was also a founding member (standing, far right.) Photo courtesy of Bob Ortego.

A club devoted to its heritage, camaraderie and having fun is celebrating a milestone anniversary. CSUN’s Filipino American Student Association (FASA) marks its 40th anniversary this year, and it’s still going strong.

The students in this club are passionate about their cultural heritage and are eager to spread the word. The club focuses on “C.L.A.S.S.”, Culture, Leadership, Academics, Social and Sports. Their events include fundraisers, picnics, karaoke nights and dance practices for their performances.

Larry Macapagal became the group’s first president when the club was chartered in September, 1982. He and two friends, Ruben Mauricio and Angelo “Bembe” Cruz recruited members all over campus, including the University Library and different academic departments to gather the minimum 15 students required to start a new club.

“I had a piece of paper and I go, ‘Please! Please sign up right here!'” Macapagal said.

Bob Ortego, one of the first members of FASA, arrived in the United States from the Philippines when he was 15. When he later enrolled at CSUN, he was part of the Asian Pacific Student Association club which eventually disbanded. Ortego joined the efforts to create FASA, where Ortego eventually met his wife, Joji, and long-term friends.

“The main purpose really is just so we can reconnect with our heritage, know all the traditions, the food, the dances or stories, our own personal stories and our own family stories. Each one of us, even though we came from the Philippines, all have different backgrounds,” Ortego said.

The club with around 20 members; now there are more than 100.

The current FASA treasurer, Kendra Gellekanao, spoke about what the club has meant to her.

“Joining FASA is undoubtedly the best decision that I’ve made as a freshman. As a now senior, looking back at all the people I’ve met, the memories I’ve made, the connections I’ve made involving my career path, and the cultural aspects I’ve learned, those all wouldn’t be there if I decided not to join the club,” she said.

The club celebrates Filipino American History Month in October with a special talent showcase, Students for Pilipino American History Month. They plan to end the year with a special celebration to honor all the generations that have kept FASA together.

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