Since the early waves of migration to the United States in the 20th century, Filipinos have contributed to the rich diversity of the country by building businesses, raising families, and serving as dedicated professionals in the workforce. However, as families settled in communities, many young Filipino-Americans (Fil-Ams) grew up not learning about their culture and history in school. As a result, recent generations have grown up unaware of their roots and identity. This has caused the community to become disconnected from their heritage, with many next generation Fil-Ams not knowing what it means to be Filipino. The Filipino School was built to address this gap; to teach our culture and history, and to teach the spirit of Bayanihan.
The Filipino-American Diaspora and Language Classes
In the past, there were already attempts to address this issue when Filipino classes in California were started back in 1975 at Montgomery High School in Chula Vista to address the increasing Filipino-American population in the State. However, due to the decreasing number of enrollees, the classes were canceled in 1987, resulting in a whole generation of Fil-Am youth not speaking their ancestral tongue.
But in 1988, Evangeline Lopez-Delute opened the opportunity for teaching Filipino classes. From then on, class offerings started at Bell Junior High (Bell Middle School) and extended to San Diego County schools. Today, over 17 schools in California offer Filipino classes.
The Turning Point
Seeing an opportunity and growing interest in language, The Filipino School was founded in 2015 by a few committed individuals who believed in educating, awakening, and empowering the next generation of Fil-Ams. The School opened its doors to an eager community, offering classes in Filipino language and history.
Subsequently, the School provided scholarships to develop new Filipino culture and language teachers in the San Diego public school system, and created partnerships with public schools to initiate the Fil-Am Community Survey, an initiative that has allowed the School to assess the needs and wants of the community.
In 2016, the School also launched its flagship program, The Filgrimage, to connect Fil-Ams directly to the Philippines. Since then, The Filipino School has served as a key partner in the community, seeking to incube talent for students, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
With the growing use of technology among youth, The Filipino School has pivoted towards an online future where programs and classes will be accessible to Filipinos all over the world. This includes a digital series that captures the journey of eight Fil-Am who connect to their Motherland, and an online animated series that highlights the history and origins of the Filipino people. The online programs will teach two central messages: the spirit of Bayanihan, and the core value of Kapwa. Viewers will learn about the pride in being Filipino, and the responsibility that comes with being one.