14 May 2008

perspective from a bridge...

i always wonder if i'm "properly" educating our children re: their filipino heritage. do i know enough? do i even possess the vocabulary? is what i know enough to urge their curiosity further? how am i supposed to build this bridge or even BE a bridge with such a rocky foundation? my own knowledge of what it "is" or "means" to be filipino is wide in some places, narrow in others... and there are the undulating gaps inbetween the rickety planks... planks that were damaged by the fire that ripped thru my mother's childhood home and ravaged by my numerous and indefinite absences from the philippines.

most of the time i try to relate something that the paloma or the porkchop are learning about (in school or out) to being filipino or the philippines. and often, i find that i start doing the research for my children and end up learning something new myself.

when the paloma became seriously interested in dinosaurs. i began to wonder if any dinosaurs had been discovered in the philippines. and i learned that the phillipines was still underwater when dinos roamed the earth. as soon as the paloma started getting into the disney princesses, i checked around to see if there were counterparts in filipino folklore and found a fairytale (and it's neo-ethnic rock film adaptation) with a strong heroine and a real filipino princess.

when we were watching the pixar ratatouille movie recently, i wondered if there were any structures like the eiffel tower in the philippines and randomly googled "eiffel philippines"... and found that san sebastian church and quezon bridge (a bridge i've actually crossed many times and never really noticed) were possibly pre-fabricated by direction via gustave eiffel himself.

lately, the porkchop is only interested in vehicles of transportation... especially cars and trains. the pixar cars movie is on continuous loop, matchbox cars litter our floors like leaves on a lawn in the fullness of autumn... so, i asked my sister in manila to send over a matchbox sized version of a jeepney. and she did. and he quickly broke it. he'll be getting a new one soon... but he knows what a jeepney is - there's just NO mistaking a jeepney.

my visionary sister also sent miniature versions of horses and kalesas when she was roped into accompanying the paloma on two rides during our last trip to manila. whenever the paloma sees horse driven carriages on michigan ave, she always calls out "mommy! look! kalesas!"

anyhoo... asian pacific american heritage month is already half over and for those of you who are looking for a way to get from heritage point A to heritage point B... i thought i would share a project that i did last october, for my daughter's preschool montessori class to celebrate filipino american history month. maybe you'll find something helpful... maybe i'll help spur some creative process.... maybe you'll just get a good laugh at my weirdness...

it all started when i contacted her teacher beforehand to let her know that the month was coming up and that i'd wanted to send some things to school for the paloma to share with her classmates. her teacher was very supportive and basically said send us everything you have and we'll do our best to help her share with the class. i don't know what came over me, but i kinda went overboard (for me, the professional slacker)....

first, i made a flip book (no pun or derogatory word intended). some of them were just simple info cards with a picture on one side and then info on the other side (hello wikipedia + cut + paste + lamination machine + shower curtain ring) - philippines climate, politics, longitude, latitude, religions, industries, the flag, the national bird, the national flower, etc... i added two cards about filipinos in the philippines (population, culture, heroes, language) and its counterpart about filipinos in america. i especially loved typing in that filipinos arrived in chicago in the early 1900s after remembering all the quizzical looks we get when someone asks where we are from and we respond that we're from chicago. the last of the cards are tagalog cards - how to count from one to ten, colors, basic phrases, pronunciation and days of the week.

i sent along fran ng's "500 words & pictures bilingual visual dictionary" published by Tahanan Books for them to peruse. then, i made the whole class photocopies of paper dolls in filipino national costume from "damit, atbp. an alphabet coloring book on filipino costumes and accessories" published by marren publishing house.

lastly, i added two HUGE bags of mango chips (not pictured because we ate all the bags we had in the house) and florante aguilar's cd the art of harana.

and the result? for those four weeks, the look on the paloma's face was like she was on a permanent vacation on big rock candy mountain. every bit of time she was allotted to share her bounty, she would come home relating the experience and the giggles and the questions. the teachers sent home very positive notes like "the mango chips are all gone. the children inhaled them". i've never seen her SO excited to learn about being filipino and to be so proud of being filipino. at one point, she told me that she told one of her classmates, very matter-of-factly, that "it's ok if you're NOT filipino. you can come see our parades even if you're not filipino. i like you anyways."

so, i guess in the end (and after a very long winded post), even a little knowledge of one's heritage is enough knowledge for a legacy... heck, my mom (who i love love love and to whom i owe so much) never made me a flip book - so, i think my family is getting better and better at the whole heritage thing with every generation.


Asianmommy said...

Wow--I love your flip book. You are an awesome mom! What a great thing to do for your child.

mj tam aka sugarmama said...

Ok --- can you be my Mom??? That is just about the most awesome thing I've ever heard. I have to copy you now!

SoccerNanay said...

I will give you my home address so you can send me the flip book and other stuff when my preschooler starts asking why dad looks different from mom, or why lola is a lot smaller than grandma (and what the heck is lola saying?). I love the idea of mini jeepneys, I should ask my mother to send me some.

bokumbop said...

This is so wonderful! Even I feel proud to be Filipino! Oh wait, I'm not. But I'm proud that you guys are! Truly, I'm inspired.

Anonymous said...

Mamazilla... the flip-book was a fantastic idea! You might want to consider marketing it! As a former classroom teacher, I could have used something like that to explain my own heritage - in very simplified terms. It would fit perfectly as a center-type activity in the primary grades. Then the students can create their own flip books of their own culture and heritage.

If you do market your product, please keep us posted. I would certainly purchase one of your flip books! Why reinvent the wheel when you've already created an exceptional product!

Take care,
Pam in Phoenix, AZ

Yvie said...

Hi there! I'm Yvie and I am glad to stumble into your nice blog.

You're doing a great job in introducing Paloma in our heritage! I especially love the Paperdolls and of course the mangoes. It may not be known to many but Philippine mangoes are the most delicious mangoes around!

Thanks for sharing this wonderful entry. I hope all Filipinos would follow your example! :)