An August 28, 2012, press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs
Broadening its cultural outreach, the Philippine Embassy in Canada opened its doors to Filipino-Canadian children in a fun-filled day of learning at the Ambassador’s official residence in Ottawa last August 18.
Over 20 children of Filipino descent as well as dependents of Filipino immigrants and diplomats enjoyed a day-long introduction to the Filipino language, songs, history, food, dances, traditional games, and children’s stories.
Philippine Ambassador to Canada and Mrs. Leslie B. Gatan personally welcomed the children and taught each of them the customary mano, a distinctly Filipino form of greeting one’s elders. The children saluted the Philippine flag as the animated children’s version of Lupang Hinirang played.
Upon the initiative of Mrs. Lydia Debbie M. Gatan, the Philippine Embassy launched A Ba Ka Da Atbp. as a pilot program leading to a summer school for Filipino children in 2013. “We are pleased to offer our children the opportunity to experience timeless aspects of our native culture in order to enrich their lives in their adoptive country and to make them proud of their roots,” Mrs. Gatan said in her opening remarks.
Selected presenters took turns in acquainting the children with their Filipino heritage. First Secretary and Consul Flerida Ann Camille P. Mayo introduced the A Ba Ka Da and coached the children in basic Filipino greetings and phrases. Deputy Chief of Mission Abraham R. Estavillo talked about Filipino heroes while Mr. Miguel Luis N. Moreno taught them the beloved Filipino folk song Bahay Kubo.
Learning the Tinikling and Itik-Itik was a thrilling feat for the children as they gleefully followed the animated instructions of Ms. Vanessa Gomez, the folk dance teacher for the day.
Filipino lunch consisted of tinolang manok, inihaw na baboy, laing, halabos na hipon, pritong bangus and ensaladang talong. For merienda, the children enjoyed Filipino street food such as banana cue, fishballs, turon, empanada, and gulaman at sago.
Posing as Lola Basyang, Mrs. Nora Arriola entertained the children with the story of Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing as inspired by the national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
Traditional Filipino games such as patintero, luksong tinik, habulan, and taguan followed to the children’s delight.
At the end of the day, the children introduced themselves in Pilipino and performed the Bahay Kubo, Itik-Itik, and Tinikling to their proud parents.
“Our little guests clearly enjoyed their Filipino childhood experience.
Next year, the Embassy hopes to roll out a full summer program for children that will deepen their appreciation of Filipino culture,” Ambassador Gatan said.