Culture illuminated at Filipino dinner

By Jackie Nevarez

A Filipino typhoon relief dinner Sunday night was more than just a fundraiser — it was an immersion into the Filipino culture.

The fundraising dinner, held at the Oak Crest Retirement Center, 2944 Greenwood Acres Drive, was arranged by the Filipino American Association of Northern Illinois. Evelina Cichy, an organizer of the event, said the organization’s goal is to raise $10,000 for relief efforts.

The event opened with a prayer for the victims of the typhoon. The prayer was followed by a small, authentic Filipino meal. The meal included pancit, lumpia and leche flan. Volunteers served the meals and collected donations.

The meal was a great way to make a connection to the Filipino people and culture. Instead of just giving a donation, attendees were given a chance to experience the culture of the Filipino people.

Cichy said the Filipino American Association of Northern Illinois has been around for less than a decade, but has done many fundraising events for the Philippines. Many of the volunteers were students and members of NIU’s Philippine Student Association.

Melissa Cardella, freshman communication and journalism major, is a member of the Philippine Student Association and volunteered at the dinner.

“My cousin went to the Philippines before the storm in order to help out during the storm,” Cardella said. “She almost got her arm cut off when she was trying to help someone.”

Cardella’s story shows just how close to home this tragedy can be. The local Filipino community has many ties to the Philippines, giving all of us a reason to help out.

“It will take years to rebuild the areas destroyed by the typhoon,” Cichy said. “This is a long-term process.”

This dinner was an example of what the Philippines has to offer. With our support the Philippines can sooner return to the rich culture shown at Sunday’s fundraiser.