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Community leaders laud approval of Filipino language and culture course in Vancouver

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Mar 06 2023 11:36 AM

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The Filipino Canadian community in Vancouver has long been advocating for the teaching of the Filipino language and culture in Vancouver schools.

They finally got their wish when on January 30, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) unanimously approved a proposal submitted by two Filipino Canadian educators, multicultural liaison worker Joy Jose and Charles Tupper Secondary School teacher Maria Ramirez.

"Nag-celebrate kami. I had 30 students come with me, attend the board meeting just to witness. Everyone was quiet kasi hindi namin alam kung iboboto ba o hindi. Pero it was unanimously approved kaya naku talagang tuwang-tuwa kami," Jose shared.

(We celebrated it. I had 30 students come with me, attend the board meeting just to witness. Everyone was quiet because we didn't know if they will vote for it or not. But it was unanimously approved, that's why we're really happy.)

Jose, who has been with the VSB for 16 years, said she discovered that the process to get the ball rolling was simple enough. She only needed to recommend what is called a 'board authority/authorized course' that will respond to the local needs of the school.

"Ang kailangan mo lang, merong isang teacher na magtuturo, merong course framework na susundan. there's a school that will start it and administrative approval. So ang ginawa ko, dahil meron nang teacher sa Tupper Secondary na Tagalog-speaking, in-approach ko siya and she was willing to do it."

(You only need to have a teacher who will teach, a course framework to follow, a school that will start it and administrative approval. So what I did, because there's already a teacher at Tupper Secondary who is Tagalog-speaking, I approached her and she was willing to do it.)

Jose credits ramirez for quickly drafting the framework for the course and they were able to submit their proposal in September 2022.

"She took on the task of spearheading this. Then with the support of our administrator and district staff, and myself, she single-handedly came up with a course framework.kaya talagang tuwang-tuwa ako sa kanya," Jose said.

(She single-handedly came up with a course framework that's why I'm really happy about her.)

Jose explained that the Filipino language and culture course will be a beginner level course. There will also be lessons on the country’s history and traditions, its people, and the culture.

Filipino Canadian community leader Lina Vargas praised Jose for pursuing and realizing this dream.

"I’m very proud of Ate Joy Jose na sa wakas meron na tayong Tagalog language course. Napakahalaga po na ituro pa rin sa ating younger generation para hindi nila makalimutan. Pilipino po tayo kahit saan tayo makarating, huwag nating kalimutan yung ating mother tongue," Vargas said.

(Finally, we now have a Tagalog language course. It is really important that this is taught to our younger generation so that they won't forget. We are FIlipinos wherever we go so let us not forget our mother tongue.)

First and second generation Filipino Canadians also expressed their support for the pilot course.

"Ito ay napakagandang simula. It’s a first step para makita't ma-integrate sila, not only our language but our culture," community organizer Maria Fe Infante said.

(This is a very beautiful start. It's a first step so they will be seen and will be able to integrate.)

Meanwhile, Bayan Canada Secretary General Danelle Ortiz said, "seeing that is really, really inspiring just because it shows that Filipino students are starting to advocate for what they actually want to see in their educational curriculum."

According to Jose, she and Ramirez pursued this dream, not for glory, but because they want to leave behind a legacy for the future generation.

"Yun ang pinaka-importante sakin na makita ko yung mga estudyanteng, masaya sila dahil pinag-uusapan yung kanilang language and it's really important for their integration, too na kilala nila yung sarili nila," she said.

(That's what's most important to me, to see the students happy because their language is being discussed, and it's really important for their integration, too, that they know who they are.)

Jose added that the course framework that they have adopted can also be used as a template for other interested school districts.