Maunawaan | Understand Your Roots

Theme Description

Battle of the Bamboo is a cultural dance showcase hosted by Filipinos in Alliance at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 2003. Performers have portrayed stories that have been passed down for generations, retold through our rich cultural history and diverse collection of dances in the Philippines. In 2023, Filipinos in Alliance will be hosting our 20th annual Battle of the Bamboo. This event has grown to attract thousands of spectators to watch dance groups from both high schools and collegiate institutions. Filipinos in Alliance and the 2023 Battle Council are proud to present this year’s theme: “Maunawaan | Understand Your Roots.”


“Sometimes it pays not to be interested in what happened but in what did not happen.”

– Jose Rizal

The Philippines is a nation comprising thousands of islands and hundreds of different cultures. Yet, as Filipino-Americans we pride ourselves in being Filipino, unaware of our culture’s true diversity and our history’s rich complexity. Rarely do we look past karaoke, adobo, and Tinikling to see the nuances of the different languages and traditions spoken and practiced across the countless regions of our home. Thus, as Jose Rizal said, we must delve deeper into our collective roots, history, and culture to understand what did happen, what did not, and how that has led us to today. This year, Battle of the Bamboo hopes to shed light on greater and lesser told stories of our culture and history as we come together to understand our roots.


Maunawaan – Tagalog (v.) to be able to understand something; to be able to realize something


Maunawaan promotes the idea of educating oneself of their past and roots to evolve it into something better. With this being the twentieth anniversary of Battle of the Bamboo, we have learned that talents can be used as a way to portray what being Filipino is all about; learning a cultural dance, creating a community through modern dancing, or even singing “Original Pinoy Music” medleys. It is time to reflect on the true meaning of what the event is all about and why we do what we do. This event has captured so many Filipinos all over the midwest because it is a reminder that even though life is vigorous, we have our community and culture to help us understand that we all stand in this adversity, together. Battle of the Bamboo isn’t just a competition, it is a class. This event has always been a time that has brought so much unity within the Filipino Americans all over the midwest, but now, we strive to do better. As we continue reaching for tomorrow, we must look back and see that we have lived under one sky and have chosen our destiny. We have started a new era and now it is time to understand where we come from and our roots. A time to reflect, learn, and appreciate. This is Maunawaan.