Google Is Not Everything…

From Islands to Island

Jhanessty Vaye Bautista | Maui High School, Class of 2024

What was supposed to be the sweetest 16th birthday became a day of mourning. Not the mourning that comes with death but one of life. I mourned the life I could not live, the life I did not know about, the life I did not have.

Being Filipino means many things; it includes many different cultural practices and traditions. As a second-generation Filipino American, those cultural practices washed away over time. While adopting American traditions, beliefs and ideals, I did not realize the sacrifice I made of losing the touch I had with my Filipino Culture. That sacrifice became apparent on the night of my 16th birthday.

Filipinos celebrate the transition from girl to woman in the form of a debut. It is similar to a quinceanera, but instead of fifteen, on the girl’s 18th birthday. In my family, they would mark it on the girl’s 16th birthday.

I didn’t know what a debut was. I was lost. Hearing about the experiences and wishes of my family and friends as they celebrated or planned to celebrate their debut, I could never help but wish I had experienced my own. I could never help but wish I had been more educated.

That wish became a reality as, later that year, my classmate and close friend, Roxelle Trisha Mae Magliba, and I founded a Filipino Cultural Club at our school. We wanted to bring some of its familiarity back to the islands. We were the bridge connecting those five thousand something miles.

Roxelle Trisha Mae Magliba

Roxelle Trisha Mae Magliba is the President of Maui High School’s Filipino Cultural Club. Seeing a yearbook in the 2000s revealed to her the existence of the old Maui High Filipino Club. “I’ve grown to see that some of my friends who are Filipino, are not familiar with their culture. Remembering that, I made it my goal to work with my friends to re-start the club with hopes of helping the students and staff be more familiar about Filipino culture,” she explains. Now entering her second and final year as President, she reminisces on the club’s beginnings, “Seeing so many people signing up and getting excited for the club made all the work worth it. I felt their pride in their culture and their excitement at being a part of something so special to them. It was at that moment when I knew that I made the right choice of re-starting the club.”

Lhizelle Banchiran

Her efforts inspired many of her members, one being Lhizelle Banchiran, a committed member turned into one of the most passionate and hard-working secretaries. Inspired by the founding of the Maui High Filipino Cultural Club, Lhizelle desired to put herself out there. “I wanted to leave a legacy but I also wanted to learn more about the Filipino culture. I took this opportunity to gain more knowledge about my culture as someone born and raised here on Maui,” she explains. One of the moments that solidified the love she had for the club was at a Karaoke Social, “It was a moment where it felt like I belonged and that I had found my family inside the school.”

Jeremiah Jacinto

Such efforts and education travels just a few miles further from Maui High School. Jeremiah Jacinto is the President and one of the few founders of Baldwin’s Bayanihan Club. “Growing up in a Filipino household inspired me to share with others in the community the beautiful art and traditions that the Philippines has to offer,” he explains. Although they are a newly founded club, they have been busy with a bunch of different events. “One of my most memorable moments is staying after school to practice a folk dance we presented during our school culture day,” he recalls.

Rylie-Evin Riglos

Another founder of Baldwin’s Bayanihan club is Rylie-Evin Riglos. Rylie explains “I helped start the club to help people connect to their heritage because while a lot were identifying as Filipino, they didn’t know what being Filipino meant and where it all originated.” Inspired to do the culture justice, Rylie has been hard at work in the club, “We came together to make traditional Filipino clothing and performed a traditional folkdance called Tiklos for our school. All while students learned about what Filipino folk dance looks like and the type of stories it told.” Tiklos is the native peasant dance of Leyte. It’s equivalent to the Bayanihan, a community of giving with no expectation for anything in return.

All Filipino clubs on Maui work on that base idea. We have built this community in our schools where we give students the opportunity to learn about a culture from the many islands of the Philippines to the island of Maui. Even as officers, we never stop learning about our culture. We all have become more in touch with our culture because of our positions. The best way to learn is by teaching and as we continue, we hope we will build more knowledge and experience every time.

Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Jhanessty Vaye Bautista, a Senior at Maui High School. She is a President of Maui High’s Key Club, Vice-President of Maui High’s Filipino Cultural Club, Executive Secretary of Maui High’s Student Government, a member of Blue Thunder, Maui High’s Robotics club, and member of the National Honor Society. Jhanessty is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, focusing on graphic design and entrepreneurship. In her free time, she reads books of any and all genres, sketches out designs for her new graphics project, sings karaoke alone or with a group of her close family and friends and loves anything with the popular videogame’s Minecraft Bee. She is the daughter of Vanessa and Jhon Boy Bautista.