While we’re still in the month of August…
August in Manila is commonly known as Buwan ng Wika. It’s the month we Filipinos pay tribute to our native language and formally celebrate the culture and heritage of our country — at least in the school setting.
Sam’s school had it as an inherent part of their curriculum since Kinder. And it was only up until last summer when she really began to like and love the little things that were taught to her. And it was something she wanted to “bring” with us as we moved back to the states. So I had to figure out how.
Speaking the Language. Last summer Sam attended Filipino classes at the Learning Library. They had just opened a center near us in Makati and we were looking for something for Sam to do in the morning while Jamie was in summer school. Thankfully, Sam loves learning and considers it an adventure. So there was no struggle in getting her to complete the Basic Filipino sessions held over the course of a month.
According to founder Vanie (who once upon a time interviewed me for a corporate post!), the children are assessed as to their comfort-level with using Filipino. Sometimes even when it’s taught in school, it’s not reinforced as much at home because it’s not used as much as it used to be. That’s why the goal of their Basic Filipino classes is to simply get the kids used to using common Filipino words and define them properly. The teachers accept responses in English but try to teach the kids still in Filipino by continuously using it during the class. The class is set up to start with a story, and it incorporates Filipino songs as well (music as we know is a great way to teach kids!). Sometimes, there are guessing games of matching the Filipino word with its matching picture. After which, the kids do their individual work that is based on their learning levels, still on the same topic.
At the end of 12 sessions, The Learning Library had Sam more confident in using specific words and phrases in her everyday sentences. I was quite pleased. She was bringing home books in Filipino too that we would read to try to learn more. In fact I really think it helped her in the few weeks that she was at school, because she would always come home with some recognition from her 1st grade teacher.
Most importantly though, we still continue to speak the language at home. Sometimes I purposely point out what specific items are in the three languages she knows (English, Filipino and Spanish), and we teach Jamie as well. Sometimes it’s a natural occurrence. I’ll say something in Filipino to her and help her pick up the context clues so she can give me a practical response. And we really wouldn’t have been able to jump-start this interest without the help of Learning Library.
Don’t forget to like them on Facebook: The Learning Library
Reading the Books. Before moving back to Manila, I started off Sam with some simple Filipino books. My friend Frances works at Tahanan Books, and happily gives the girls some of the new books for them to review. The books that we have are so wonderfully drawn! And Sam even has the Bugtong Bugtong books signed by the author himself. Jamie loves their Ay Naku! that even if we got it for Ate, she’s the one that pulls it out and asks to read it before bedtime.
One of their more recent titles is an interesting take on Filipino ghosts and folklore.
From the standpoint of someone who’s never heard of any of these ghoulish creatures before (ie Sam), she actually thought it was amusing. But the minute she talked to the older generation about it and mentioned the word Tikbalang for instance, she’d get gasps and shocked stares, as if she said something wrong. My sister rationalized it’s because we were all taught about them in such a scary way (because really the history of Filipino folklore creatures is very dark), that seeing it in a child-friendly format will throw anyone off. But at the very least, there’s a new way of learning about them in their purity, without having to instill the fear in them first. Quite an interesting point of view, but most probably true. After all, we brought the book along with us (along with other Filipino books) and occasionally inject it into our story time moments. But I will admit I’m only brave enough to read it when the sun is up.
Don’t forget to like them on Facebook: Tahanan Books
Wearing the Clothes. Every year for school, the girls have to come in some traditional Filipiniana costume.
And Sam would wear this more often, even to school here if she could. I find though that the material and fabric may not hold up in a boisterous playground around active kids. Plus, the safety pins I need to attach worry me. The thing is, before Anthill and Mothering Earthlings came along, these Kultura finds seemed to be the only available options!
I learned more about Anya and the social enterprise behind Anthill when I met her for a separate project. I must say, I love everything about Anthill. It’s a modern take on woven indigenous fabrics, and it’s all for a worthwhile cause. When I visited their pop-up a few weeks ago, I bought some unique fashion pieces as gifts for family here. And of course, I got a little something for myself too! ;) After all, who says only the kids need to wear Philippine-made clothes?
You can also find Anthill on Facebook: Anthill Fabric Gallery
Loving everything Filipino-made. It’s not hard really — to love everything that’s made in the Philippines by Filipinos. A lot of the items are of good quality. And the girls see it first hand because of Two Tots. At Two Tots, we source Filipino materials (like solid Philippine Mahogany wood, and rattan crates) for all our furniture and accessories. Our hand painted range of items are done by local artists. It may not look indigenous, but they’re all built and made to last. That’s why we made sure to bring all our Two Tots furniture pieces here to our new home.
Of course, Two Tots is also on Facebook: Two Tots Home Accessories Inc.
Sam takes great pride in being a Filipino. She talks and acts like a little American kid (with her unmistakable American accent), but she loves that other side to her that she can share with all her other friends. A lot of her new friends are multicultural too . So we continue these little lessons informally to enriches her contribution to the class. More importantly, it instills a deeper appreciation for her heritage and our roots. I hope this helps ground her no matter where life takes us.