It’s February! There are several celebrations this month. One of the main holidays associated with February is Valentine’s Day on February 14. Following this holiday on February 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. So, this month we are focusing on love and kindness.
One way to show someone you love them is to say, “I love you” or “mahal kita” in Tagalog. To say, “I love you very much” in Tagalog, you would say, “mahal na mahal kita.”
In honor of these celebrations, we have created a Tagalog/English Valentine’s card for your kids or you to share with someone special.
There are four different creatures included in the printable to choose from: a penguin, giraffe, turtle, and dinosaur.
There is space to write a thoughtful message and an area to draw a picture to show the recipient how much you care about him/her.
(A helpful hint for printing is to print on cardstock so it is durable OR if printing on printer paper, print the cover and inside on separate papers instead of double-sided. Then glue the two pages together to add thickness. This prevents the picture on the back being seen through the thin page).
One of the early basic concepts we teach children is colors. No matter what language your family speaks, color is such a universal concept because our world is surrounded by color. From the food we eat, to the toys they play with, to the color of their hair and clothes, colors are something that children interact with daily.
Because colors are easily found around us, it can easily be applied in daily conversation and apply the Tagalog vocabulary frequently.
Our featured Filipino children’s book is:
Oh My Kulay! is a vibrant, well-composed concept book that teaches Tagalog words for colors, fruits, and vegetables.
This adorable book was written by Dr. Jocelyn Francisco and illustrated by Jamie Lee Ortiz. The pages have easy-to-read and clear font for kids and bright pictures of fruits and vegetables. It is a wonderful concept book for little ones!
Caroline’s Color Dreams (written by Tanner Call and Joshua Timothy) is a bilingual book about a girl named Caroline who has a colorful dream and learns about the color wheel.
Here are some other suggested activities to teach and reinforce colors:
Sing songs about the colors in Tagalog
Here is a video that teaches colors and other educational concepts in Tagalog.
Below are two Fil-Am Learners original songs for individual colors.
More songs to come in the future …
Sort items by color
(e.g. sorting laundry, sorting toys, food, things out in nature, or anything that interests your child).
Here is a 14-page lesson activity reinforcing colors in Tagalog. It is geared for preschool through elementary age children and can be used to practice in class or at home. Click the image to get your printables.
Playing with playdough is an engaging sensory activity for kids. There are so many ways to use playdough to learn and use your creativity. Sign up below to get printables for each color that you can transform into playdough playmats. A tip is to print on cardstock and to laminate each page for multiple uses. On the playmats, the kids will be able to:
Shape the playdough to spell the color word in Tagalog.
Create an object of that color using the playdough.
Use their creativity to make their own playdough creation with the same color.
There are so many interactive ways to teach colors and a new language! What are some ways you incorporate teaching your children colors? Please share more ideas not included in this post or let us know if you’ve implemented any of the ones we shared.
Follow along her day to see how she celebrates it with opposite manners and actions.
The book includes both English and Tagalog so children can gain literacy skills in both languages.
The character is inspired by the author’s daughter, Sophia. His daughter’s birthday is April 24, so Jomike Tejido decided that April 24 would be the “Day of Opposites.”
He encourages Filipino children around the world to join in on the celebration and have a “day of opposites” or “araw ng kabaligtaran” on April 24.
Themed activities to go with this book
Play “Eye Spy Opposites” – As you’re reading along, have an “opposites hunt” and ask your child to look for opposites. Discuss the vocabulary. It is the perfect time to teach the words and see them used in the context of the story.
Have your own opposite day – Do opposite things during your daily routine. (Of course, make sure they are safe and responsible choices). Some examples include:
Eating dinner before dessert
Wearing your shirt backwards
Walking backwards a few steps to another room
Saying “Good morning” when it is night time and “Goodnight” when it is morning.
Tagalog “Opposites” Audio Glossary (to go with the Opposites flash cards)
Eat Tapsilog –
Although this isn’t an opposite activity, the book does show Sophia eating tapsilog, a popular Filipino breakfast composed of tapa (beef), sinangag (garlic rice), and itlog (egg). The word tapsilog combines a few letters from each element to form the full word. It would be a delicious pairing to share tapsilog with the family, whether you decide to go out for breakfast or cook it yourself. Here is a recipe from Panlasang Pinoy if you’re looking for one way to cook it.
We hope you enjoy Opposite Day (Araw ng kabaligtaran)! Feel free to comment below to share how you celebrate it.
We are excited to launch a blog series, “Featured Fil-Am,” in which we will highlight a Filipino/Filipina-American who is making an impact on our community. We will share our “interview” with each person in hopes to bring awareness of his/her amazing work.
Our first featured Fil-Am is blogger and writer, Deborah Francisco Douglas. She is widely known for her lifestyle blog, “Halo-Halo, Mix Mix” and has recently launched her own memoir, “Somewhere in the Middle.”
Let’s learn more about Deborah:
Q: Where do you currently live? Where are you from?
A: I currently live in San Diego, but grew up in Washington State.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your cultural background.
A: I’m half Filipino but was raised in a typical American/white household. My dad is Filipino and is from Iloilo City, Philippines. My mom is part Slovenian, Irish and French(?) and grew up in California. It definitely makes me a very unique mix of different cultures.
Growing up I had always longed to know more about my Filipino side and oftentimes had this feeling like I was missing out on the “Filipino American experience,” not even sure what that meant.
“My identity as a Filipino American had always felt ambiguous. It was definitely not something I felt I could claim as my own. Sure, I knew what lumpia—the Filipino version of an egg roll—tasted like. I had learned tinikling, a traditional Philippine dance, and I remembered loud parties at my relative’s house where singing karaoke was just as important as the overflowing pot of white rice. But what did it mean to be Filipino? I couldn’t answer that question.”
– Somewhere in the Middle
A few years after college I was coincidentally assigned to the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer and found myself on a journey of self-discovery with a unique opportunity to learn more about my roots and identity as a Filipino. Living in the Philippines for three years as a volunteer was such a transformational experience that I wrote a memoir about it called Somewhere in the Middle: A journey to the Philippines in search of roots, belonging, and identity. In the book, I reflect on my struggle to identify with both cultures at the same time, feeling caught in the middle between two very different worlds.
Q: What do you want others to know about the Fil-Am/Filipino culture?
A: Filipinos are one of the most hospitable people I have ever encountered. In the Philippines, I’d get invited to random people’s houses for coffee or to share a meal, or a random stranger would volunteer to accompany me to my destination if I was lost. Everyone would go out of their way to welcome me into their homes and share whatever they had. And I loved the smiles of the people on the street as I passed by. They’d give you a big smile, wave, and say hi and I always marveled at how easy it was for them to be so friendly to strangers.
In terms of Filipino American culture, I have come to realize that Filipino American identity is actually a much more diverse experience than people realize – and that’s a good thing! I grew up thinking there was only one type of Filipino American and that if you didn’t experience the same things or weren’t able to relate to that one type, it meant you weren’t really Filipino American. But my experience of living in the Philippines, as well as reading/writing about Filipino American identity over the past few years, has taught me that the term “Filipino American” can mean a lot of different things. One’s perspective of Filipino American identity can be shaped by various factors such as where you grew up, the friends and family you were surrounded with, your economic background, the demographics of your hometown, or even how you saw yourself in relation to others. Even depending on whether you’re a 1st generation immigrant, a 2nd or 3rd generation, or even what some now define themselves as a millennial Filipino American can affect how you identify yourself and how you view Filipino American culture. Some feel much more connected to their Filipino side and some much more connected to their American side, and most are somewhere in-between. It’s important to recognize that we all have diverse experiences and that each is valid and at the same time we can still be connected through our common Filipino roots.
Q: What do you currently do or have you been doing in hopes to contribute to the Fil-Am/Filipino community?
A: One of my passion projects is running a Filipino American lifestyle blog called Halo-Halo, Mix-Mix: Discovering the Filipino American Identity. I chose the subtitle to include the word “discovering” because I have come to understand that my identity of being Filipino American is an ongoing learning experience and I wanted to reflect that fluidity in the title. The original purpose of the blog was to share more about Filipino culture for those who want to connect more with their roots and heritage. But in the last year or so I have come across so many Filipino entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things and I love helping to promote these businesses and improve their visibility. The best part about this has been developing an awesome community of friends all over the world from Australia to Canada to the Philippines and all across the U.S.
Having now published my memoir, I hope to be able to inspire others who are searching for their roots to seek out their own journey of discovery and hopefully write and share their stories. Each of our stories matters and if we don’t tell our own stories, the world will be missing out on something great. In the future, I would love to be able to host memoir writing workshops to help others craft their story in a creative and fun environment.
Q: What or who is your inspiration behind what you do?
A: I feel very inspired by the Entrepinay community which is a group of Filipina entrepreneurs who connect with one another for networking, collaboration, and sisterhood. Just seeing all the amazing things they have accomplished inspires me to keep on pursuing my own dreams.
Q: Tell us anything else about where to find samples of your work.
A. Be sure to check out my book Somewhere in the Middle, and let me know what you think about it! It’s available on Amazon in both the paperback and Kindle version. You can also purchase it at any major online retailers such as Barnes and Noble or Apple Books.
Feel free to also check out my blog for posts on Filipino culture, food, travel, books, and identity. You can also read about my journey in the article “What are You?” featured on the Filipino American Voices series.
Next week you can enter the giveaway of an autographed copy of Somewhere in the Middle, hosted by This Filipino American Life Podcast on April 10-14. Check out the Instagram accounts @tfalpodcast and @halohalo_mixmix for details.
In June, Deborah will be speaking at an author event hosted at Philippine Expressions Bookshop in San Pedro, CA on June 29 from 3-6pm. Please come say hi if you are in the area!
Deborah Francisco Douglas is a writer, blogger, dreamer, and adventurer. She served three years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer (2011-2014) working on community development and youth outreach programs. As a Filipino American, Deborah’s volunteer experience abroad connected her to a culture she had long desired to understand. When she returned to the United States, Deborah created the blog Halo-Halo, Mix-Mix – Discovering the Filipino American Identity, as a way to share her love of Filipino culture.
Deborah lives in sunny San Diego and loves hiking, reading, walks on the bay, and lazy mornings drinking coffee. Somewhere in the Middle is her debut memoir.
Another year has gone. For most, it is filled with many successes and challenges alike. For sure, many memories have been shared throughout the past 12 months. New Year’s Eve is a way to commemorate the year, to celebrate with loved ones, to reflect, and to wish for a prosperous new year.
New Year’s celebrations tend to be festive, joyful, and filled with unique traditions. Growing up, my Filipino family’s New Year’s festivities included the following traditions:
Family-centered: It was a tradition that the family stays together on New Year’s Eve. Whether with immediate or extended, our New Year’s Eve celebrations are traditionally centered around family.
Having a Clean Home: We necessarily don’t like to keep a dirty home generally but for New Year’s it is imperative to do a more thorough clean of the home and start the new year fresh. Sweeping, mopping, decluttering and having fresh towels and linens.
12 lucky round fruits: My mom emphasized the importance of displaying 12 fruits (especially round fruits) on our table. She explained to me that for New Year’s, the round shape is good luck and represents good wealth and fortune. The number 12 represents the 12 months of the year.
Jingle coins in your pocket: During the last minute counting down to midnight, each person would jingle piggy banks or put coins in their pockets to jingle. When the clock strikes midnight, coins would be tossed to the ground for others to gather.
Jump at the stroke of midnight to get taller: Another tradition at midnight is to jump as high as possible. It was said that jumping as high as we can help us grow taller. (Being that I’ve been 5 foot tall since I reached adolescence, I know jumping has not realistically been helping me grow, but we still continue this fun tradition to jump for joy at midnight.
Noisemakers: With our voices as noisemakers, party horns, pots and spoons, and jingling piggy banks our family gets loud! We cheer for the new year and the family’s volume sure is contagious.
Food: For all Filipino celebrations in general, food is one of the main highlights. For New Year’s Eve there are several circular foods offered. Some of the ones our family would serve are:
Ginataang bilo bilo- a sweet coconut milk stew of sticky rice balls, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, and plantains).
Puto- a Filipino steamed sweet cake)
Arroz caldo- a gingery rice soup with chicken and hardboiled eggs.
Sopas – a milky chicken macaroni noodle soup with quail eggs
Pansit or sotanghon- Not a round food dish, but the Filipino noodles represent long life. (Pansit is also traditionally served on birthdays)
Wearing polka dots: As mentioned, circles mean good fortune, so with that, Filipinos will wear clothes with polka-dots to wish for prosperity in the new year.
These traditions are some of the greatest memories I have with my family during this holiday. I hope to continue sharing many of them with our younger generations and to make new traditions as well.
What does New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day look like for your family? Feel free to share your traditions in our comment section or on social media.
We have also created a printable activity for your child to do. It teaches how to say Happy New Year in Tagalog and to practice writing it. It also includes a second page for your child to illustrate and color what New Year’s looks like for your family.
It is a great activity to have a discussion on your family’s traditions and also a wonderful keepsake to save for the future and look back on what the New Year’s celebration looked like through the eyes of your child/children during that year. The pages can be printed in the future years too if you want to date it and see the progression of the illustrations and memories.
Christmas in the Philippines is known to be one of the most festive and grand celebrations. Between the assortment of delicious food, bright and colorful decorations, large family gatherings, and Simbang Gabi, Pasko (which is Tagalog for Christmas), is such a special celebration that carries on through the month and even longer.
Filipinos all over the world celebrate this wondrous holiday in ways that both have commonalities and that also include traditions unique to each family. This post is a round-up of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who each are taking a moment to share their special traditions.
If you’ve never been to the Philippines during Christmas, the following posts give us a taste of “Paskong Pinoy.”
Ria Pretekin of Urban Ohana recounts her interfaith family’s celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah in her post, “Latkes and Lumpia.” Much of their tradition is decorating the tree with Filipino decorations including mini parols, attending Christmas mass, and taking pictures with Santa.
For the holidays, Chef Rafi enjoys many kinds of Filipino foods including morcon, embutido, adobo, and hamonado, and take their New Year’s fruit picture. Chef Rafi’s YouTube channel has videos in multiple Philippine languages showing how to make these foods, such as their traditional pork adobo. In addition, they share another popular Christmas tradition of making the sweet, nutty dessert known as Food for the Gods (Head over here to see their video in Cebuano, Bisaya, and English)
Crafts and Activities
Are you or your kids into those surprise balls? This Surprise queso de bola activity (created by Albert @Filipeanut) is the perfect blend of the widely-known surprise ball with a Filipino twist. It is a Filipino Christmas tradition to serve queso de bola (ball of cheese) during Noche Buena. Learn how to make this fun craft here.
Maligayang Pasko! A Filipino Christmas unit: If you have children from Kindergarten through third grade, this printable unit on Filipino Christmas (from Teachers Pay Teachers) might be for you. It includes writing activities, a booklist, vocabulary cards, a mini-booklet, a parol craft, and more.
Last, but certainly not least, we musttalk about the parol when we bring up Filipino Christmas traditions! The parol is a brightly colored star-shaped lantern that is displayed magnificently lighting up our homes and streets during the holiday season. When seen, the parol symbolizes Christmas at its best.
So let’s hear from you. What are your favorite Filipino Christmas traditions? Comment below to share. Our community loves to hear and share cultural stories with each other.
Related post: Managing the Stress of the Holidays
Although Christmas is such a joyous time of year, it can also be hectic at times with the preparations and planning. Roanne of Kalamansi Juice shares her tips to help minimize the stress in her post, “A Filipina Mom’s Mini Survival Guide to a Stress-Free Holiday.”
Books About Christmas & Other Celebrations in the Philippines
Do you know someone who loves to read? These books make great reads for this holiday season and teaches so much more about Filipino heritage and their many celebrations.
Shopping for someone with style? Get exquisite handcrafted products made by Filipino artisans at Cambio & Co.
With Thanksgiving on its way, it is the perfect time to stop and reflect on what we are thankful for. In another one of our posts, “Showing Respect in the Filipino Culture,” we mention the Tagalog phrase, “salamatpo,” which means “thank you” as a way to show respect to others. To express that we are thankful for someone or something, we use the phrase, “nagpapasalamat ako” (translated “I’m thankful”). For example, if we wanted to say, “I am thankful for my family,” we would say in Tagalog, “Nagpapasalamat ako sa aking pamilya.”
We have created a craft activity for you and/or your child to make a beautiful gratitude banner. It can be hung this month (or any time of the year) as a visual reminder of all of the wonderful things you are thankful for.
The printable templates and labels for the banner are FREE and are available in our Free Tagalog Printables Resource library.. Once you download and print them out, pictures can be pasted on or drawings may be illustrated and colored to go with each Tagalog/English label.
Blank labels are also included for you to customize and fill in your own response of what you are thankful for.
It’s October! That means it’s time to celebrate Filipino American month. There is so much to be told and shared from the history of Filipino Americans. When did Filipino first migrate to the United States? How were their lives like? How did they establish themselves in this country?
The Filipino American story, that is not published and shared enough in history books, in our country, is out there to be uncovered by more people and passed along so that our current and future generations can see the hardship and beauty of this culture.
This month we will be sharing resources and facts from Filipino American history. Keep reading on to find a list of resources.
While learning more about the history of our culture, we have created a printable fact sheet graphic organizer for you or your kids to fill in some facts that resonated with you.
Resources to Learn About Filipino American History
FAHNS (Filipino American History National Society) – A national organization, founded by Dr. Dorothy and Dr. Fred Cordova in 1982 with a mission to preserve and document Filipino American history. Their site is filled with extensive resources, a gallery, information about the museum, events, educational activities, and more.
Salamat Po! was written by Adriana Allen, a mother who wanted to teach her Filipino American children about the Filipino culture, but couldn’t find many books on it, so she decided to write her own book to share. It is an adorable picture book teaching children how to show respect in the Filipino culture, which is a very important value. (To learn more about showing respect in the Filipino culture, see related post here).
America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan, tells the story of growing up in the Philippines, migrating to America, and the struggles as a first-generation Filipino-American.
We’re just getting started! So stay tuned because we will continue to post resources, activities, and books to delve in Filipino culture, to commemorate our heritage month. Check back throughout the month for more cultural goodies. If you know of any resources that you’d love to share, feel free to comment below and we can add them to our list.
Respect is a very important part of the Filipino culture. We show respect to our elders, parents, grandparents, older siblings, relatives, friends, and teachers. Some examples of respect are:
Addressing elders with “po” at the end of sentences
Answering, “opo” to reply “yes” respectfully
Calling your older sister, “Ate” or your older brother, “Kuya.”
Listening respectfully to your parents and teachers
Using “mano po” to request for blessings from your elder relatives
We read the book, Salamat Po! by Adriana Allen, a Filipina who moved to the U.S. as a young child. It is an adorable picture book showing many ways to show respect in the Filipino culture.
It is a great overview to teach children or to reflect on and discuss ways we show our respect to others.
Showing Respect Activity
We were inspired by the book and wanted to create a follow-up activity to pair with our reading. So, we created a printable booklet for children to illustrate ways they show respect or ways they can show respect. It is a nice culminating activity to reinforce what was read in the story.