Singgalot Emphasizes the Importance of Filipinos in America

By Michael Cusanelli


This Thursday, the Smithsonian Institution and the Charles B. Wang Center held the public opening ceremony for Singgalot – The Ties That Bind, an exhibit dedicated to showing the importance of Filipino-Americans in U.S. history.

“We feel very honored because we are the only venue in New York State that’s doing this,” said Dr. Sunita Mukhi, the Director of Asian/American Programs for the Wang Center. “People at least will have an idea of the history of Filipinos in America, and how important they are to American culture.”

Dr. Mukhi was born in the Philippines to Indian parents, and considers herself to be “Indipina” due to her upbringing, which she says contained a fusion of Filipino and Indian traditions. Her bright green shawl could be seen from across the exhibit as she smiled and joked with attendees as they waited for the opening festivities to begin.

The exhibit features 30 panels with photographs and text describing the history of Filipinos in North America, dating back to the 1600s. Works by contemporary Filipino authors as well as prominent musical artists like Bruno Mars were also showcased, showing the influence that Filipinos have had on American culture.

“It’s eye-opening” said Simramn Kaur, a student who is studying the Filopino Disaspora in her AAS 391 class. “It shows you a whole side of the culture you didn’t know about.”

Asian and Asian American students make up about 30% of the population of Stony Brook University.  Dr. Mukhi estimates that there are over 3,000 Filipino students on Stony Brook’s West Campus.

The opening ceremonies featured talks from noted academics and school officials such as Dr. Tonjanita Johnson, the Chief Deputy to the President of Stony Brook University and Ambassador Harsh Bhasin, the Chair of Stony Brook’s Department of Asian and Asian American Studies. Student groups like the Philippine United Students Organization (PUSO) and hip-hop artist Koba performed for the crowd of over 100 guests.

“This is an important event because it is an opportunity to learn about a community that Long Islanders don’t know about,” said Nerissa Balce, a professor of Asian and Asian American Studies. “We [Filipinos] come from a poor country, but we have a rich culture.”

The exhibit will be open to the public until April 22nd.