Our Cultural Tree
About the Artist
The artist representing the Filipino culture this year is Charity Bagatsing Doyl. She claims that she has always been creative and loves the arts in all its forms, whether is be visual, performing or literature!
When asked about her inspiration for this tree, Charity says “I did my best to follow and respect the concept of the original artist Remelisa Cullitan’s vision of the Star Lantern ‘Parol;’ which is the quintessential must-have decoration for a Filipino Christmas.” Charity explains that Filipinos love everything “in-your face,” gawdy, and bright; hence the outrageous color scheme and pattern. She adds a personal touch in the trunk which represents her roots tying it in with her Ifugao Tribe’s distinct cloth pattern to honor her ancestors as the only people that were not colonized by Spain for 360 years. Part of Charity’s great-great grandfather, Chief Gambuk’s, prized possessions is the helmet of an unfortunate conquistador whose head ended up on a spike as a dire warning to the colonizers to stay away from his territory!
Further, Merry Christmas greeting “Maligayang Pasko,” is written in the baybayin script that was used by ancient Filipinos before the Spaniards arrived. Charity also added Emily Bozzi’s name as a tribute to her first Filipina friend when she arrived in Spokane almost 30 years ago on December 18th.
The Philippines is a melting pot of many cultures. Other symbols include popular flora, fauna, topography, icons from the past – Vinta outrigger boats to the jeepney which is painted with bright colors and adorned with kitschy accessories, a cultural symbol, and the undisputed “King of the Road”. Leave it to the Filipinos to up-cycle the leftover U.S. Willy Jeeps and Japanese surplus vehicles used during World War II and use them to provide cheap public transportation.
The top tier pays homage to Charity’s great grandmother Victoria who was a Spaniard. She had an array of Flamenco fans that was the ultimate fashion symbol back in her day. Along with her pearl rosary and beaded shawl – going to mass. The top symbolizes Mother Spain who introduced Christianity to the Philippines during the 1500s. The tree topper is the star of Bethlehem that led the three wise men to baby Jesus. Other traditional Filipino Christmas symbol is the Belen or a Crèche representing the Christ’s Nativity scene on Dec 16th before the first Mass. It depicts the infant Jesus Christ in the manger, surrounded by his parents, shepherds and their flock. Christmas officially ends on January 6th with the Feast of the Three Kings (Tres Reyes or Tatlong Hari), also known as the Feast of the Epiphany.
Many Filipino’s start decorating for Christmas starting September and celebrate the holiday until January. As a Filipino, Charity claims that she is obsessed and excited with all things Christmas! Hence, being the co-chair and organizing Northwest Winterfest is a dream come true!
Charity considers her projects in the literary arts as her favorite works. She explains “I handprinted the furniture for my son’s bedroom and also my office. I like painting furniture, pots, and items deemed as trash and calling them re-purposed functional art.”
About the Filipino Culture
The Filipino culture is represented in Northwest Winterfest by the Gonzaga university Filipino American Student Union! GU FASU was founded in 2002, today the organization has 25 members.
GU FASU typically hosts a Christmas party towards the end of the year, typically following Gonzaga University’s Thanksgiving break. The celebration is a potluck where people bring a variety of Filipino foods! Among the most traditional of the foods is a variation of pancit, or noodles with canton, bihon, or palabok. Pancit is usually gifted as a present!
Holiday traditions and decorations depend on different group members and how they celebrate the holidays!
As far as traditional clothing goes, at GU FASU’s yearly Christmas party, they usually pick a theme that they would want to wear for Christmas parties! Sometimes its a blue theme, but a more popular one is ugly sweaters instead.