Saturday School Tagalog sessions showcase Filipinx heritage

Students+participated+in+games+at+the+APIDA+Center+for+Tagalog+Saturday+School.

Christian Houser

Students participated in games at the APIDA Center for Tagalog Saturday School.

by Christian Houser , Contributor

The Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Resource Center held their fourth Tagalog Saturday School session on Oct. 23.

As October is Filipinx American History Month, the APIDA Resource Center celebrated the language and culture of the Philippines by educating students and faculty on Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines.

The event was held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the second floor of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union where students and faculty gathered inside and outside to learn Tagalog and play traditional Filipino games.

Virginia Loh-Hagan Ph.D., director of the APIDA Resource Center, said she created these Saturday school events due to her experience of losing her ability to speak Chinese. Loh-Hagan attended a Chinese Saturday School as a child but stopped attending after a couple of years.

“I call myself a Chinese school dropout and, at the time, I thought it was a real win. After looking back, I regret not knowing my language,” Loh-Hagan said. “And I know that knowing Chinese would be so beneficial right now.”

Loh-Hagan said the idea was inspired by her times at Saturday school and wants students and faculty to learn about their roots. 

“I wish I would’ve continued Saturday school,” Loh-Hagan said. 

The APIDA Resource Center tailors the Tagalog events to educate and inform students and faculty of their language, culture and history. 

Paolo Ramos, Language Instructor at the APIDA Resource Center, said he thinks language and culture go hand-in-hand.

“For me, language is such a big part of culture,”  Ramos said. “You can learn about the culture, but if you can’t understand or communicate it in their language, you don’t have that connection.”

Throughout the event, Ramos incorporated Tagalog into many games that were played, offering students the chance to immerse in Filipinx culture. 

First-year graduate, Cassie Doyle, and fourth-year Jonathan Hall were two attendees that had been to all four Tagalog Saturday school events.

“A lot of Filipino-Americans struggle to find our identities when we were born here and our parents were born elsewhere,” Doyle said. “Coming here made me feel whole. Learning about things in my childhood and how I can still continue to embrace my identity and my culture has been really powerful for me.”

The Saturday School not only aims to teach strictly Tagalog but attempts to encompass Filipinx culture altogether.

Doyle said Ramos wasn’t only teaching phrases but “representing the culture and listing out restaurants to go to.” 

“He even opened up the Filipino side of YouTube to us,” Hall said. 

Loh-Hagan said she thinks unity is important to the APIDA Resource Center as there are a large number of languages and cultures that the APIDA Resource Center represents.

“Having the opportunity to immerse yourself and learn new things reminds you that we are all similar in a lot of ways,” Hall said.

Saturday School students and faculty learned Tagalog proverbs, idioms and curse words and took part in various traditional Filipino children’s games. 

The APIDA Resource Center continues to offer events surrounding Filipinx American History Month for the rest of October.

“One Filipino scholar had a quote that I really like and it is ‘Know history, know self, no history no self,’” Ramos said. “If you know your history you know yourself, but if you don’t know your history you don’t know yourself.”

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