Samahan Club hosts guest speaker and author Kenneth Tan


Stephanie Lomeli

On Feb. 8 Samahan club had a zoom presentation with guest speaker Kenneth Tan. Tan is a Filipino author that spoke about his most recent book, Crecensiana, with the club.

On Feb. 8 in room 203, Samahan club had a zoom call with Filipino author Kenneth Tan, who spoke to the club about his most recent book, Crescenciana. The book was dedicated to Tan’s Lola (grandma) after her passing. Samahan club is a space for the Filipino community as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about Filipino culture to meet on the Bonita Vista High (BVH) campus.

“I need this book. I know that I want her to feel seen and feel heard. That’s why I made it,” Tan said.

Tan began the presentation with background information on the book and how it all came together along with telling his own story. The book itself consists of watercolor art his Lola made. He wrote the story that accompanies the art and wanted his Lola’s work to shine, so she could paint to tell her story. 

“I read in the paper that seniors were doing art therapy, and I said ‘we could do that.’ So I brought some watercolor paint and we [Tan and his Lola] would make watercolor paintings,” Tan said. 

His Lola would express her life experiences through watercolor paintings. During these times, Tan felt like he was learning about his Lola. He wanted to remember all the stories that she would tell him as well as create a narrative behind the art.

“I felt like I have learned so much about my Lola and I wanted to remember it somehow. So I started drawing stories on top of her watercolors,” Tan said.

Tan also explains he and his Lola’s collaboration, and how he wanted to give her a voice. He cherishes his cultural and familial values. Tan made a promise to his Lola that held a lot of  significance to him because of what his Lola had to go through.

“When my Lola and I first began to paint I made a promise that Lola would make the paintings and that I would finish everything she started,” Tan said.

Samahan club Advisor Edwin Lim believes Tan’s book is a crucial story and relevant for students as it correlates with Filipino culture and the Samahan club. Tan’s book blends art with an important story that can resonate with many in the Filipino community.

“He’s a member of the community. He wrote a book, he did something amazing. So I want to inspire my students. Like ‘hey, it’s possible.’ You just gotta have the will to do it,” Lim said.

Lim encourages his club members to express themselves and do what they’re passionate about, similar to Tan. He was passionate about his Lola and her story, and found a way to make it come to life. Lim gives advice to those who want to publish work in a similar way to Tan.

“I think Kenneth was influential in showing the students that if they have a passion project, for example his book about his grandmother and the artwork, you just have to do it. Don’t refer to a publisher. Print it yourself and then do your own social media publicity,” Lim said.

Samahan Co-President and senior Jenna Broas connected to Tan’s story. Hearing another Filipino be passionate about his connection with his grandmother is touching.

“It was really heartwarming and touching as our guest speaker spoke about his grandmother. He’s Filipino as well and just to hear his story about the connection he had with her and what he had to say was just really inspiring,” Broas said.

The book really lets people know how to appreciate their grandparents. To appreciate who you have and the time you have with them.

— Samahan Co-President and senior Jenna Broas

Both the book and the presentation made Broas very emotional. She feels that the book, Crescenciana, made her appreciate her grandparents more.

“The book really lets people know how to appreciate their grandparents. To appreciate who you have and the time you have with them,” Broas said.

This was the first opportunity that the Sammahan club had to feature a guest speaker. Broas thinks that in doing this the Samahan club will be able to grow and continue to welcome more members. 

“The opportunity being brought to us [is] that we can have someone speak about Filipino culture. We have some members who aren’t even Filipino, they’re just here to learn. As a president I want to teach them about the culture,” Broas said.