Filipino Cultural Immersion

By Ana Segovia

The UP Alumni Association of San Francisco (UPAASF) held its 4th Filipino Cultural Summer Camp at St. Justin’s School in Santa Clara, CA from July 17 to July 28, 2017.

The program was very successful. The class of 33 kids, ages 6 to 13 years old, started each day by greeting each adult in the room with “Mano po”, and learned to address everyone as Auntie or Uncle and Ate or Kuya. At 9 am they would all stand up and sing Lupang Hinirang. During the first few days, they had difficulty pronouncing the words and needed to read the lyrics. But by the second week, after learning Philippine history and all the struggles the Filipinos went through to gain independence, they sang the national anthem from the heart! The last verse, “Ang mamatay ng dahil sa yo!” was sung with so much passion, Jose Rizal would have been proud. They also had Filipino (language) lessons in sync with the history lessons. For example, while discussing the Filipino flag and its meaning, they learned how to say the colors in Filipino, such as pula, dilaw, and asul.


Subject matter experts came in to talk about different aspects of Filipino culture:

  • Filipino Hilot and Wellness with Dr. Jas
  • Filipino Martial Arts (Eskabo Daan) with Master Joseph Bautista
  • Filipino Games with Dr. Sheryll
  • Filipino Arts and Fabrics with Auntie Mariluz
  • Filipino Songs and Dances with Auntie Evelie
  • Filipino Children’s Stories with Auntie Neni
  • Filipino Cuisine with Chef PJ

In addition to the subject matter experts, Filipino community leaders shared how Filipinos contribute to the improvement of their surroundings. The Mayor of Milpitas, and the Principal of Reed Elementary in San Jose, encouraged the students to study well and get a good education.


There were daily taste tests. The first was something very tame – barquillos! After class, many parents asked where they could buy barquillos because the kids wanted more than one piece. In the following days it became increasingly daring with crispy dilis, spicy pusit and balut! Each child was given freshly hard boiled balut. Ana’s brother demonstrated how to crack the balut, suck the juice, sprinkle some salt and slowly peel the egg. Half of the class actually liked it but the other half decided to bring theirs home. And yes, they knew it was a duck embryo.

But probably the most exciting taste test was Magnolia ice cream. The lesson for the day was Filipino fruit and the President of Ramar Foods, Susie Quesada, brought 4 flavors, ube, langka, mango, and lychee. The kids were asked to rate the 4 flavors according to taste, smell, looks, and texture. To their quiet disappointment, each flavor only came in very tiny cups. But after their rating experiment, to their surprise, each child was given a large scoop of their favorite flavor.

Field Trip

The field trip to the Asian Art Museum (picture, left) and the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco (picture, right) was another fun day. The kids were excited to see the exhibit on Philippine Art. They were proud to be part of that history. The Philippine Consulate surprised the class with lunch from Jollibee which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. They also liked telling everyone they visited the Philippines that day.


After two weeks of Filipino cultural immersion, the students dressed in barongs and sayas, went up on stage one by one, and introduced themselves in Tagalog. “Ako si Lilith Fuhr, Labing isang gulang po. Ang Lola ko ay taga Bacolod Negros. Salamat po.” They sang Lupang Hinirang and danced the tinikling! They ended the program with their most favorite song, Pen pen de sarapen! The day ended with a sumptuous potluck of lumpia, Filipino spaghetti, pancit, adobo, and leche flan.


The first Camp was held at the Bessie Carmichael School in San Francisco. It was the brainchild of 3 women, Letty Quizon and Sonia Delen from UPAASF (pictured below), and Susie Quesada representing their company Ramar Foods International. Susie taught history and developed the original curriculum. Ana Segovia was involved with both the second and third Camp held in Daly City. She made changes to the curriculum and added other activities. Susie got busier running her family business so Ana became the home room teacher (in class everyday with the students from 8 am – 4:30 pm), the history teacher, and the substitute Filipino (language) teacher. It was a full time job not just for two weeks of class but also for the months prior, preparing visual aids and lesson plans. In 2016, the Camp was cancelled due to low enrollment. This year, Ana had help from Myke Gonzales. Myke helped Ana put together a new and improved curriculum and also helped teach history and Tagalog for 2 weeks.


UPAASF plans to hold Filipino Immersion classes on a more regular basis, especially for those students who already graduated from the Basic Camp. There is a growing need in the Filipino community for these classes. The annual 2-week Camp is a big project that will continue to grow.

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