Pinoy scholars share holiday spirit with 'Kopino' kids

By Rigoberto Banta Jr., Pinoy Iskolars sa Korea

Posted at Jan 04 2013 09:38 AM | Updated as of Jan 04 2013 07:05 PM

SEOUL, South Korea—Filipino-Korean children felt what is it to spend a Philippine-style Christmas through an event held by a group of Filipino scholars in South Korea.

Pinoy Iskolars sa Korea, Inc. (PIKO), a group of Filipino scholars studying in South Korea, held "Paskong PIKO Style" - a Filipino-themed Christmas party celebration last December 17 at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul.

Filipino scholars hold a Christmas party for Filipino-Korean children in Seoul. Photo by Monica Dulos from PIKO

PIKO, the official student organization recognized by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, focuses on the exchange between Filipino scholars to promote academic and personal growth, as well as instill Filipino values among its members. As the Filipino population in South Korea increases, the number of Filipino scholars in the country has been increasing through the years as well.

“We would like to extend the warmth of Filipino culture to the children with this event,” said Ron Laranjo, Public Relations Officer of PIKO.

PIKO, together with Seongbuk Migrant Center, invited Filipina mothers and their children for the occasion.

One of the mothers felt that this kind of event should be increased in the future as it becomes an avenue for the children to understand more about their Filipino roots.

The event, which lasted from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m,, included games and gift giving.

Korean-Filipino children are seen having fun at the Kopino Christmas party in Quezon City. Photo by Michelle Alvarez from PIKO

Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Luis Cruz said there is an increasing number of Filipino-Korean children, and there is need for them to have a strong bond with their roots not only for Korea but for the Philippines as well.

Cruz recognized the role of PIKO in helping to promote Filipino culture to the children and is looking forward to other activities by the organization.

In the Philippines, PIKO held a Christmas party together with the Filipino-Korean children in Quezon City.

Together with Kopino Children Association (KCA), PIKO members and alumni based in the Philippines joined together to give joy to Kopino children, abandoned children of Koreans to Filipino mothers.

Bringing simple gifts from Korea and facilitating party games, PIKO extended the warmth of the season to the children all whom are taken care of at the shelter of the foundation.

After the Christmas party in Quezon City, Kopino mothers were also gathered to have a dialogue with lawmakers from South Korea.

Five lawmakers from South Korea, including Philippine-born Jasmine Lee, visited the Kopino Children Association last December 21 and vowed to help the children.

Further talks will be held to discuss what assistance the Korean government can give to the abandoned Kopino children, said Lee Joo-young, the president of the Korean Parliamentarian League on Children, Population and Environment. There are reportedly 10,000 Kopinos in the Philippines, illegitimate sons and daughters of Korean men to Filipina women.

PIKO is extending its scope to help Kopino children. As an international student group, PIKO is dedicated to education and the academic welfare of its members. This is in line of the main vision of the Kopino Children Association.

"We believe that the status of the Kopino children will be raised through education,” said Normi Son, co-founder of the Kopino Children Association together with her Korean husband Cedric.

PIKO plans to collaborate in providing volunteers to teach the Kopino children.

By teaching Filipino culture to those in Korea and strengthening the educational program for Kopino children in the Philippines, PIKO aims to uplift welfare of the children through education.

"PIKO will be committing for the welfare of these Filipino-Korean children to bridge the gap between the two different cultures and promote welfare through education,” says Eva Marie Wang, PIKO President.

The organization is advocating more collaboration between the Philippines and Korea.