Growing up in the Philippines, junior Liyanna Baloca said she never labeled herself as “Asian.”
“I grew up around Filipinos my whole life,” she recalled. “Being Asian wasn’t something I felt I had to label myself as because it was just normal.”
Then, she said, she arrived at Notre Dame and was suddenly no longer part of the majority.
As a freshman, Baloca attended Campus Ministry’s Asian first-year retreat. There, she said she met some of her closest friends and was first introduced to Notre Dame’s Asian community — a community, she said, has profoundly shaped her Notre Dame experience.
Now, Baloca is the marketing director of the Filipino-American Student Organization, a member of the Asian American Association (AAA) and the director of this year’s annual “Asian Allure” cultural showcase.
“Asian Allure” showcases traditional and modern cultural dance, music and art performances from AAA members and members of other student clubs including the Korean Student Association, South Asian Student Association, Filipino-American Student Organization, Japan Club and Chinese Culture Society.
Performances this year include KPop music, a “Bollywood Medley,” a traditional Chinese fan dance, a Japanese flute performance, a fashion show and more.
“There are also a lot of like solo acts where people are performing or singing songs from their respective cultures,” said sophomore Luke Gil, event coordinator for AAA and “Asian Allure.”
“Asian Allure” takes place Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 at the LaFortune Student Center box office or for $7 at the door.
Founded in 1996 (and taking a year off during the 2020 pandemic), “Asian Allure” is now in its 25th year. Baloca said she selected this year’s theme, “Home Coming,” to reflect her personal experience finding community, an experience she feels much of the Asian community shares.
"So it’s basically the idea that if I hadn’t gone to the Asian first-year retreat in my freshman year, I wouldn’t be where I am now — directing the ‘Asian Allure’ cultural showcase,” Baloca said. “It’s kind of about how this one choice I made in my freshman year put me into this community... that’s so ingrained in my Notre Dame experience.”
In between performances, Baloca said, “Asian Allure” will follow a storyline where older students try to get freshmen to join in on the showcase and bring them into the community.
Gil said the showcase is not only about bringing together the different Asian clubs on campus, but also the Notre Dame community as a whole.
“Personally, I never came to Notre Dame expecting anything like this to even be possible, so when I first got involved with ‘Asian Allure’ last year as a freshman, it truly was amazing to see all this diverse culture represented at Notre Dame,” Gil said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who haven’t really experienced... cultures outside of their own to just come and watch people work together and put on a show.”
Contact Claire Reid at email@example.com.