The Filipino League at Seton Hall (FLASH) is an organization that seeks “to educate, increase awareness, and share Filipino culture and heritage with others,” according to its Facebook page.
Janel Labra, a senior nursing major who serves as the club’s president, explained that FLASH is under an umbrella nonprofit government organization called the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND), which is comprised of various Filipino groups along the east coast.
Recently, the club participated in Mr. Philippines, a male pageant that showcases the unique features of male Filipino culture and talent, the event ended with a question and answer session. Labra said the talent show “gets pretty competitive.”
“It’s awesome having an event like this,” Labra said. “There were about 800 collegiate students who were cheering on their representatives, with about 40 members from FLASH who went to support. It was a good time.”
A Ms. Philippines competition for female contestants will be hosted in January.
“It’s crazy that a club like FLASH, something on our campus, lets us meet people from Long Island, Maine, Florida—that’s how far the network is,” Labra said. “It’s amazing how joining this club can expand your networking so much.”
Amanda Giang, a sophomore diplomacy and economics major, said she joined FLASH because she “wanted something close to home, and this felt right.” She added that she would like to see the club spread more of the Filipino culture and be more open to others.
Labra said that the club has received criticism that it does not actively instill Filipino culture on campus, which is what she wants to change. She said this year, the club ran a table at the Green that showcased traditional Filipino dances and taught them to the crowd. Every semester, the club attends the FIND conference, where they grow as students and leaders through Filipino culture, she said.
FLASH also has their own dance troupe on campus, which has performed at events like Seton Hall Weekend. Next, they will be performing at the Martin Luther King Scholars Expo. Lizbeth Irizarry, a freshman diplomacy major, is part of the dance troupe. “I joined FLASH because they are involved in activities that bring so many other students together, just by being Filipino,” Irizarry said. “I’m not even Filipino, but I’m still treated like family.”
Labra said FLASH hosts its general body meetings every other Wednesday, which typically begins with a news segment featuring issues and topics that occur back in the Philippines.
“As a freshman, I used to think joining a Filipino organization was a little corny,” Labra said. “What brought me in was being able to deepen my roots with FLASH students – it gave me so much love for a family because they instantly welcomed me in – it was so rewarding. Now, as a senior that’s something I want to do – give back to my underclassmen the same way that my upperclassmen gave to me.”
Elise Kerim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.