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Young Filipino-Swedes Learn About Pinoy Culture, Heritage

Young Filipino-Swedes Learn About Pinoy Culture, Heritage
Photo from the Philippine embassy in Sweden shows Philippine ambassador Maria Lumen Isleta and Philippine Education Society in Stockholm chairperson Noli Buhay addressing the parents and participants of the 'Silid-Aralan sa Embahada' initiative during its launch on March 11, 2023.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Thousands of miles from where they trace their roots, about two dozen children living in this Scandinavian nation are learning more about their heritage and culture.

The Philippine embassy in Sweden recently partnered with the Philippine Education Society (PES) in Stockholm to launch the “Silid-Aralan sa Embahada” initiative, a series of sessions that aims to introduce the Philippines to second and third generation Filipinos and mixed children.

“Some half Filipinos, when they come of age, they want to know more about their roots…They try to rediscover their roots. What we’re offering is for them to learn it early on,” Philippine ambassador to Sweden Maria Lumen Isleta said in an interview with a group of Filipino journalists attending a media self-regulation fellowship here.

“They get connected, they get rooted also so they don’t get lost here,” she added.

According to Isleta, the project is meant to complement what the students learn of the Philippines, their Filipino identity and language from attending mother tongue classes in their schools here in Sweden.

Twenty-two students ranging from ages four to 14 attended the first session held last March 11, where they learned about the basics of the Filipino language.

“We had a very successful launch. The kids were of course kind of feeling uncomfortable, they don’t know anyone. But after a while, they were already playing with each other and they ended the session singing ‘Bahay Kubo,’” Isleta said.

“It’s not meant to be a structured classroom… We’re integrating fun stuff like drawing, singing, performing. There will be one session where they will be taught Filipino dances. We’ll tap them to perform for the National Day (in June),” she added.

Isleta said she was also able to meet with the parents to discuss the challenges and the importance of introducing Philippine heritage and culture to their children.

“They were so thankful that there is this initiative from the embassy, because sometimes they also do not have the time,” she said, noting that many Filipinos who moved here are also trying to learn the Swedish language and adjust to the culture.

Five more Saturday sessions will be held in the next three months, with the topics covering Philippine language, history, culture and traditions, values and heritage.

During the launch, PES chairperson Noli Buhay said the organization’s vision “is to make education readily available to children to equip them with the knowledge and character traits that will help them be the next generation of leaders and positively contribute to society.”

PES is a non-profit that aims to promote college and vocational education for needy and deserving Filipinos. It also supports Filipinos who are now residents in Sweden.

Two PES member, Filipino mother tongue teachers Rofiletta Larsson and Elrica Uy, volunteered to hold the sessions for the young Filipinos and Filipino-Swedes.