PAC Club continues to thrive in online environment

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Photo by Jordan Maralit ’21

Members of the PAC Club have been meeting regularly on Zoom and have welcomed guest speakers such as journalist Rommel Conclara ’03.

Jordan Maralit ’21, Editor-in-Chief

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and most students attending online learning, numerous social clubs at Riordan are struggling to find ways to be productive. However, the PAC Club (known as the Philipino American Coalition), has a multitude of plans for its club members to socialize and interact with one another while at home.

In December, students participated in a Parol Workshop. A Parol is a traditional Filipino Star, a Christmas Lantern, which represents the three wise men who followed the star in Bethlehem, signifying the birth of Christ. This holiday decoration is ubiquitous to all Filipinos who celebrate Christmas.

Instead of it being just a workshop, PAC Club moderators Melanie Aguas, Mary Ann Datoc, Melissa Nagar, Raquel Oliva Gomez and student leaders JP Cayabyab ’21, Jameson Datoc ’23, Christian Jared Cabanero ’21, Matthew Hernadez ’21, Aysaiah Radoc Manrique ’21, and JT Torrea ’21 wanted to spice it up. They decided that the top three contestants who created the best Parol would receive a free revamped hoodie.

Around late January and early February, PAC club moderators and officers introduced an idea to have the club members create group presentations on a topic that celebrates Filipino culture. The topics ranged from: Filipino desserts, athletes, famous celebrity couples, TV shows, language, and food.

Some key presentations focused on native Filipino delicacies such as Halo Halo and Turon, athletes like Manny Pacquiao and Jordan Clarkson, the primary language and slang, and yummy food like Lechon (pig).

The PAC Club hosted two guest speakers: Amanda Del Castillo ’08 Mercy SF and Rommel Conclara ’03. Del Castillo is an Emmy award winning broadcast journalist. After Del Castillo graduated from SJSU (San Jose State University) in 2012, her impressive journalist skills took her to Wyoming, Texas, and Colorado, prior to returning home in 2018.

Currently, she is a general assignment reporter with ABC7 News, while focusing on the region of South San Francisco. She is a storyteller who believes in the power of a story to build communities and facilitate important conversations.

When the news broke that Mercy SF was closing down, she was saddened and dispirited. She felt relieved knowing the fact that Riordan now accepts female students, as Riordan gives up the tradition of it being an all boys institution.

While Del Castillo went to Mercy SF, her brothers, Andrew and Adam, went to and graduated from Riordan in 2007 and 2011.

I feel like we prioritized building a community, including students who aren’t Filipino, and having a sense of inclusivity. It is a tradition that has occurred at Riordan for many years and will continue for many years to come.”

— JP Cayabyab ’21

Rommel Conclara ’03 is a Balitang America Correspondent and Riordan grad. He was once president of PAC Club, a member of The Crusader Newspaper, and LIFE team member. During the meeting, Conclara talked about his life at Riordan, how he developed an interest in journalism, and the experiences and lessons he learned while being a member of the PAC Club.

Conclara offered advice to those who consider journalism as their dream job. He said, “The values that stand out to me the most are the ability to adapt and overcome. There are many things to be confident about including being able to push, work, and the ability to step up. In social media, we only see our highlights. However, we don’t see the come up, the struggle, and the grind.”

He added, “It’s a thankless job, if you’re in this for clout and likes, don’t do it. You have to write. You will write and rewrite. You will love it and hate it. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Be prepared to write; you need to have tough skin. People will criticize you and give you hate mail, which means that you made it.”

Conclara talked about how the PAC club now is significantly different from the club he experienced back at Riordan many years ago. He recalled,“PAC meetings were once a month. Before everything went digital, we would make flyers and draw it. We talked about our history, performed traditional dances like tinikling, and learned how to be empathetic to our lolos (grandpas) and lolas (grandmas) by showing some manners.”

JP Cayabyab ’21 compared, “PAC meetings are now once a week. Moderators and Student Officers on Zoom meet after debriefing the weekly meetings. We recently asked current club members to present topics about Filipino Culture.”

Cayabyab added, “I feel like we prioritized building a community, including students who aren’t Filipino, and having a sense of inclusivity. It is a tradition that has occurred at Riordan for many years and will continue for many years to come.”