Living a distance away from large Filipino communities, it’s a challenge sharing my Philippine heritage fully with our children. And though many have encouraged my efforts to do so, none have been able to provide achievable and easily accessible means to this end . It was only after our children came home from a Spanish camp without learning anything (having already learned the same Spanish-derived words in Tagalog) that I realized I could and should provide something more useful and infinitely more meaningful at home – and essentially for free.
Unearthing some materials I had brought from the Philippines and stashed away, and armed with a few resources from the internet, I was able to create a simple curriculum to fill five days of our very first Filipino summer camp. Our children loved it.
In one short week, I was able to impart to them happy memories of being immersed in our Filipino culture. (I hope to share some of these materials with you.) It was by no means the same as being surrounded by Filipinos or living in the Philippines, but a good beginning nonetheless.
But why even bother? For most of us transplanted Filipinos or part-Filipinos, being Filipino is more often just a matter of fact, not of living it. We may act a certain way as Filipinos do, but not really understand or appreciate it. Or perhaps we remain Filipino only by name, thinking and acting no differently than the non-Filipino next door.
Why bother learning about one’s Filipino roots now?
As I’ve alluded to in my other posts, discovering or re-discovering one’s roots helps one know more about himself, who he is and where he came from. It sheds light on the beauty of customs one may have forsaken, forgotten, or merely taken for granted. In so doing, one becomes more sure of the why’s of one’s actions and customs, the who’s of one’s family, and the what’s of one’s heritage. And perhaps it also eventually leads one to the where’s of one’s journey through life.
One of our national heroes, Dr. Jose Rizal, once said:
“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan
ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”
“He who does not learn to look back at his beginnings will never reach his destination.” In short, one who knows his roots is more able to reach his goals.
But what do roots have to do with one’s goals?
One who has no roots essentially answers to no one but himself. He has no qualms about changing his name, likeness, or location, his relationships and occupations, how many times he wishes, whenever he pleases. He is, in essence, a drifter, flitting here and there from one person or place to another, without commitments to anyone or anything, without depth to his existence.
On the other hand, one who knows and treasures his roots is well-grounded. Bound by common roots, he is able to build deep and strong relationships with family members, and is then able to build strong relationships outside the family as well. He looks back at the past, not so much for sentimental reasons, but to appreciate the legacy of his forefathers and bring it forward into the future. He is fully aware of his own abilities and is able to commit himself to developing them, but at the same time is not shy to recognize the heritage (be it looks, talents, material or intellectual gifts, even faith) belonging to his forefathers and handed down to him. He is proud of this legacy, and at the same time is able to appreciate the legacy of other cultures. In short, his deep roots enable him to develop himself fully emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
So it is with our rich Filipino heritage. Once studied and appreciated, we can bring to the fore what is beautiful and apply what can be used today with reverence, grateful for the legacy entrusted to us by our ancestors. Then, like an old tarnished silver teapot whose beauty and function is only realized once washed and polished, so too our heritage will shine and hopefully aid us, securely rooted, in achieving our life’s goals.
Mabuhay ang ugat Pinoy!
Long live Filipino roots!