Members of the Filipino American Association of Alexander City and Neighboring Counties performed a traditional Filipino dance, the “Dayang-Dayang” during the event. | David D. Goodwin
Members of the Filipino American Association of Alexander City and Neighboring Counties performed a traditional Filipino dance, the “Dayang-Dayang” during the event. | David D. Goodwin

Archived Story

FAAACNC marks first anniversary with dinner, dance

Published 8:20pm Monday, November 25, 2013

The Filipino American Association of Alexander City and Neighboring Counties was formed a year ago to give those with roots in the Philippines an extended local family and help newcomers adjust to the way of life here.

“Since we don’t have our own families here, we wanted to form our own big family,” said FAAACNC president Che Harris. “We wanted to spread cultural awareness and especially to reach out to other Filipinos, especially those who are new in the area.”

The FAAACNC celebrated its one-year anniversary Saturday night with a big gathering at the Alexander City Elks Lodge. More than 100 area residents attended, including Mayor Charles Shaw of Alexander City, Probate Judge Leon Archer and Horseshoe Bend School Principal Casey Davis.

Though it was a celebration of the group’s first full year, there was an overarching sadness, as members reflected on the hardships their families in the Philippines faced in the recovery from Typhoon Haiyan.

“They lost everything they had; many lost their lives and more lost their livelihoods,” Harris said. “Our biggest challenge as an organization is to help these people rebuild their homes.”

Harris said many group members had families affected by the storm, which struck the island nation as one of the largest tropical storms in recorded history.

Many of the members, Harris said, have family who are living in evacuation centers. Harris said one of her cousins was missing for a number of days. Proceeds from the first-anniversary celebration were added to the group’s existing service project to help 500 Filipino children who were in need even before the devastating storm.

The event raised more than $800.

After a welcome from Harris and a delicious meal, the group members opened with a traditional dance, Dayang-Dayang.

“We want to share with you a few dances and songs to reflect our culture and showcase who we are as human beings,” Harris said in her opening remarks Saturday night.

Soloist Claire Peppers of the Filipino American Association of Greater Birmingham sang at the event, and there was dancing throughout the evening. The FAAACNC chorale group also sang the national anthem of the Philippines and a medley of Filipino folk songs.

Harris said the group has focused on finding ways to contribute in the Tallapoosa County community, such as a regular performance at Brown Nursing Home in Alexander City and retirement and assisted living homes in Sylacauga.