Director of Planning & Community Affairs
I started learning Filipino folk dance during my sophomore year of high school. I was sought by Fresno State’s Filipino Club members, who were desperate for more dancers for their Pilipino Cultural Night performance, or PCN. My parents were very open to this new opportunity because I went to the same church as the club’s advisor and dance director. (Shout out to Tita Florisse Raypon!) I was also excited to take on this activity because I was obsessed with filling my resume with things that would impress the pants off of college admission panels, and this rounded out the year after my school’s cross country and soccer seasons.
For the first time, I made so many Filipino friends. Fresno is a very diverse town, but I had very few Filipino classmates. And while I have a large Filipino family of 20+ first cousins, my immediate family is still my only family living in California. Being adopted by so many awesome honorary Kuyas and Ates at Fresno State was an added benefit since I didn’t grow up around other Filipino youth. Before my high school graduation, I participated in three of their PCN shows and gained a cultural outlet in my hometown that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.
I then moved to the City to attend the University of San Francisco, where I was immediately interested in continuing my education in Philippine history and arts. I was happy to find another close community there where I met Eric Solano, among other cultural practitioners, who would later establish Parangal. Unlike in high school, at USF, I became more involved in planning the ‘Barrio Fiesta’ PCN performances and felt the pressure of filling theater seats as well as covering production costs. I remember the struggles of sourcing accurate dance movements and cultural attires with our meager budget. The students were so eager to learn, but we lacked the resources to portray Indigenous stories. Like so many college groups, we did the best we could.
When we formed Parangal in May 2008, every weekend was dedicated to rehearsals and back to back performances. We relied on the generosity of other dance groups to lend us their attires so that we could perform in front of small crowds (mostly pro bono), and we loved it. It has been an honor to see how much the group has grown in size. And the long list of prominent stages on which Parangal has shared its gift of performance makes my heart burst with pride.
This community has taught me to use my platform, personally and professionally, to give a voice to underrepresented populations and has helped me tap into areas that require unlearning to advance. Our work to help connect folx with Philippine culture inspires me. And I’m proud that we continue to be a resource for collegiate groups who want to deepen their cultural education. I’m excited to witness how the next generation of leaders will further this body of work.
Parangal, Director of Planning and Community Affairs
Marissa Macayan received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality Industry Management at the University of San Francisco. As Parangal’s Director of Planning and Community Affairs, she works side by side with the Directors of Operations and Technology as part of the Operations Team. She serves as the main point of contact for external affairs, focusing on performance planning and logistics. Her relationship building and outreach efforts cultivate and preserve community ties, furthering fundraising opportunities.