During the 1980s, leftist and progressive organizations were developing in the Philippines as a result of the Marcos regime. The effects of this trickled into the United States, particularly in Southern California, where political activism was brewing in the Filipino-American community. Upon the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. in 1983, these organizations rose to a critical mass of action that perpetuated the need for apolitical groups.
That was when the idea was born. In 1983, Filipino and Filipino-American students from CSULA, UCLA, USC, CSUN, and other schools first chartered the Southern California Pilipino American Student Association (SCPASA) as a means of taking a neutral stance amidst the prevalent radicalism that existed in both the Philippine and Southern California Filipino communities.
As time went on and political activism started to dissipate, SCPASA served as a way for Filipino and Filipino-American student organizations to develop and interact with each other socially. Further, instead of politics, the SCPASA of the mid-1980s and early 1990s was driven by friendly competition. Sports tournaments were held across Southern California, the effects of which can be seen to this day: Friendship Games (now hosted by CSUF PASA), SCPASA Sportsfest (now known as CPP Barkada’s Sportsfest), and the Northridge Invitational Tournament (now hosted by CSUN FASA), among others. Collaborative Pilipino Cultural Nights (PCN/PACNs) also emerged.
By the late 1990s, Filipino and Filipino-American student and cultural organizations were fully developed, so much so that there was less need for an overall organization. SCPASA leadership grew sparingly, and by 1998, the Association fell through.
In 2006, SCPASA was revived, plainly and simply, through the power of friendship. After SCPASA disbanded, an event existed known as “Board Games.” All executive boards of each of the Filipino-American organizations in Southern California would meet, mix, play games, and update each other on the goings-on of each organization. During the 2006 Board Games in Manhattan Beach powerful friendships clicked, helpful information and ideas was shared across the organizations, and a simple mission was born: to hang out with each other more often, not only because it was fun, but it was useful and important for all organizations to learn from each other.
The newly formed relationships and communal environment born from Board Games was conducive for a smaller leadership group to be formed. Close friends Mike Pedro (CPP Barkada), Erik Esguerra (CSUF PASA), and Erika Lim (USC Troy Phi), who happened to also be on the executive boards for their own organizations, spearheaded this team. The group met several times during the Summer and Fall of 2006 to discuss the idea of SCPASA, and by September, the very first “SCPASA” meeting took place at Cal Poly Pomona. During this meeting, the old SCPASA constitution was reviewed and it was decided to bring back the organization based on that constitution and its mission.
Jokingly called QUESO (Quickly Uniting Every (Filipino-American) Student Organization), SCPASA, now called Southern California Pilipino American Student Alliance, was founded and comprised of USC Troy Philippines, UCR Katipunan, CSULB PAC, CSUF PASA, and CPP Barkada.
The consistent exchange of ideas, events, and information that year (’06-07) between the core organizations saw dramatic improvement in cross-organization attendance at events, growth of individual organization programming, and overall, a streamlined way to learn and grow from each other in order to have a larger effect on the larger Filipino-American community.
To this day, SCPASA serves as a resource to share, network, and support each other in the common goals of each organization that were essential in sustaining and growing the Filipino-American community in the past, present, and the future.