Hawaii lawmakers back effort to bring Filipino curriculum to public schools

Students from public and private schools developed the lesson plans to address a lack of Filipino content in the curriculum.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 2:17 PM HST|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 4:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers recognized the Filipino Curriculum Project on Thursday, saying it helps to bolster understanding about people who make up a quarter of Hawaii’s population.

Students from public and private schools developed the lesson plans to address a lack of Filipino content in the curriculum.

“They were just briefly kind of passed over on what they’ve done in Hawaii and in the world, and in the U.S. So by implementing this curriculum, I think it will give representation to them,” said Landee Resuello, a student at Kamehameha Schools.

“Lesson plans about Igorots, lesson plans about the Hanapepe Strike, and other very relevant histories that Filipinos have been a part of,” Roosevelt High School student Allyza Espinosa added.

“One of the lessons that we did is kind of seeing the similarities between Filipino and Hawaiians in terms of like, culture, education,” said Mariah Ramo, a student at Waipahu High School.

“It’s really time to break those borders that we’ve set between human beings and start seeing our similarities, and truly empathize with each other.”

Both the state House and Senate passed a resolution requesting the Department of Education to implement an elective social studies course on Filipino history, culture, and identity, based on the group’s framework with guidance from educator mentors.

Norman Sales teaches at Farrington High School, where he says Filipinos make up about 60% of the student body and more if you factor in mixed-race students.

“When they see themselves role models that look like them, or they understand the histories, or cultures, or identities before them, it kind of helps them build what I like to call as cultural intelligence,” he said.

“We have felt, in one way, maybe disconnected from our Filipino identities, or we have felt somewhat ashamed of it,” said Marissa Halagao, founder of the project and a student at Punahou School.

“We’ve also really had discussions about colonial mentality too which is an inferiority complex regarding your culture and yourself.”

“We’re really doing this for the next generation of Filipinos,” added Raymart Billote, a student at University of Hawaii at West Oahu. “We think that our history is worth talking about so this is definitely for all of the Filipino kids who think that their heritage is not worth talking about.”

But they stress that the classes are not just for Filipino students.

“Education is so powerful in uplifting students and letting everyone know that you are important and you are worthy,” Halagao said.

“So we think that this curriculum will really foster first of all empathy, but also self pride.”

The group is working to get the curriculum approved by the Department of Education.

The resolution asks DOE to recruit and identify teachers who can teach it.

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