“My goal for the Philippine Cultural Organization was … to unite the Filipinos on campus and to celebrate the Philippine culture,” said Jacques “Jappy” Philip Izon Reyes, 20, a business major, an international student from Manila, and founder of the Philippine Cultural Organization.
“He’s one of the friendliest people I know,” said Victor Santos, 21, ASGCC Senator of Finance. “He’s always there to help you in any situation. He has a lot of things to do, but always gets it done and does it really well.”
Santos described Reyes as a great student, very intelligent, a young man of integrity, commitment and dedication; he says that when Reyes puts something in his mind he sees it through and does it right. Santos also says that one of Reyes’ goals was to start the Philippine Cultural Organization; and he did. “He’s taking a lot of classes,” said Santos. “[He] wants to get the best grade that he can and to transfer to a very good school.”
Earlier this year, the two met during the campus Club Rush Week at Vaquero Plaza where all clubs lined up to recruit new members. Since then, Reyes often sought Santos’s advice and guidance for such things as the organization of the first club geared toward Filipino students. Soon after, Reyes applied to establish the Philippine Cultural Organization, which ASGCC approved and funded.
Reyes is the organization’s president, and because of his leadership skills, the Filipino Cultural Organization with approximately 40 to 60 members, won the “Best New Organization Award.”
“[Leadership on campus is a] great learning experience you will not find in the classroom…but you can take it home with you,” said Dr. Philip S. Kamara-Kay, International Student Counselor.
Like a lot of other international students on campus who contributed great talents, hard work, responsibilities and courage by stepping into American adventures and challenges, Reyes did not shy away from leading the way and contributing something beneficial to his fellow students with Filipino heritage.
Reyes graduated from International School, an elite school in Makati, Philippines. “My classmates were mostly children of parents who were able to afford $10,000 plus a year of tuition for a child’s education from kindergarten to high school,” Reyes said. “My other classmates were children of the ambassadors and embassy staffs who were in the Philippines from all over the world.”
Reyes and his five siblings attended the same school, yet he humbly calls himself “just an ordinary guy next door shy guy, with no extra ordinary skill unlike my older brothers. But I really work hard for whatever I like to achieve,” he said.
One of Reyes’ role models are: his father Gerardo Medina, who own an import-export car business in Tokyo, Japan, and his mother Daisy Marie, who managed their car business in Manila.
“My parents are really hardworking people,” he said. “And they told us children that the best gift they could provide to us is the best education they could afford. They gave me the opportunity to be the best I could be at the best places I go to. I am so grateful for my parents.”
Reyes wants to go back to the Philippines after his American college graduation and make a difference for his people and his country. “No politics,” he said of his career endeavors. “Not an office in New York City. I just feel that I owe so much to my people and my country…I just have that main dream of a top-floor window office … in Makati [Philippine’s business center], with glass windows and great views around it, leather furnishing and a secretary to respond to my calls.”
When Reyes first arrived in America as an international student, he attended Woodbury University in Burbank with his sister, Margeaux, now a junior at Woodbury. He was a writer-associate for the Learning Center and Vocation for the Woodbury Business Association, a public relations officer for the International Students Club and a staff writer for the campus newspaper, The Pulse. He also received the President’s Award as a best first-year student of Woodbury. “Perhaps, they [the university] just want me to stay at Woodbury,” he said. “I feel honored.”
Theater brought Reyes to Glendale College in fall, last year. He has his fondest memories auditioning for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on his second day on campus; he was the only Asian among the cast. “I did not know anyone, but I auditioned for my favorite character, Puck, a mischievous fairy,” he said.
“I got the role of Starveling and in the play within a play, I was also Moonshine,” He was nominated for the Irene Ryan Award, an acting competition.
Reyes was no rookie to the stage; he performed in “King Lear,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Spring Awakening,” “The Noh Play” and “Damask Drum” in high school.
“Theater will always be a part of my life,” Reyes said. “[But] my goal is really to become a big business executive in the Philippines…my choices of transfer are USC, Loyolla Marymount College, or Cal State Northridge.”
Last weekend, Reyes was one of the dance performers at the campus theater, directed by Lynn McMurrey, chair of the dance department.
“I’m only in one dance scene with Jappy, the “School Daze,” said Kei Tsuruharatan, 19, dance major, an international student from Japan. “But Jappy is in a lot of dance scenes. He’s good.”
“Dance, like all art forms, is a means of communication, and that’s I love about it,” said Reyes. “I love the sweat, passion and intensity that radiate through your skin as body becomes language and motion become words.”
“Between this club and his grades, he’s doing a great job,” said Santos.
“When I was growing up, my mom always said to me ‘there will be opportunities, grab it and try your best,'” Reyes said. “‘If you’re not going to give your 110 percent, why do it at all?'”