Participants and UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter teachers during the 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada culminating activity with Charge d’Affaires a.i. Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. (second row eight from the left).



19 AUGUST 2023

Embassy Press and Information Section

WASHINGTON D.C.In celebration of Buwan ng Wika or National Language Month of the Philippines this August, Sentro Rizal of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. together with United Federation of FilAm Educators (UNIFFIED) Maryland Chapter successfully hosted this year’s Silid Aralan sa Embahada virtually from 14 to 18 August 2023. The culminating activity was held both in-person and virtually on 19 August 2023 at the Philippine Embassy’s Quezon Hall. 

Silid Aralan sa Embahada is an annual project of the Embassy in partnership with the UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter, wherein Filipino-American students between the ages of 4 to 18 years old learn about Philippine history and culture for a week in August.  This year’s theme “Katutubong Pamana: Gabay sa Pagpapatupad ng Matatag at Inklusibong Lipunan” focuses on the importance of the protection, promotion, and preservation of the rights of the Indigenous people. 

For the 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada, UNIFFIED Maryland Chapter has introduced a new module that aims to provide Filipino American learners with a deeper understanding about their Filipino identity, which includes the following topics: 1) Philippine History/Geography, and National Symbols; 2) The Filipino Identity: “What is being a Filipino?; 3) Getting to Know the Ifugaos in Baguio (Northern Luzon); 4) Getting to Know the Atis in Antique (Visayas); and 5) Getting to Know the T’bolis in Cotabato (Mindanao). 

During the online sessions, special guests from the various Indigenous groups in the Philippines shared their insights about their culture and traditions namely, Spokesperson of Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Youth Organization Ms. Bae Anna Jessa Mae Crisostomo, Film Actor Mr. Hilliard Paul Puguon, and Mr. Michael Yambok and Ms. Nenita S. Kinan from the Municipality of Lake Sebu South Cotabato.

In his  opening remarks, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. underscored the importance of understanding the values of Filipino Indigenous peoples.  He exhorted the students to  “keep with you and take to heart the invaluable lessons offered this year. The respect for nature, the spirit of unity, and the preservation of cultural identity are principles deeply embedded in our heritage. By integrating these principles into our modern endeavors, we pave the way for a society that celebrates its past while progressing confidently into the future.” 

This was supported by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan in  his recorded remarks as he said “Let us pay tribute to the tapestry of our past and the wisdom imparted by those who came before us… It is a gift that propels us forward, building a stronger, more inclusive society.”  

Representatives from the students, parents, and teachers also shared their experiences as the 2023 Silid Aralan sa Embahada comes to an end, including Philip Samuel Leosala along with his father Edgar Leosala, Keir Velarde with his mother Elsayolly Alegado, and volunteer teacher Ms. Dominga Bella Takinan. This was followed by the awarding of certificates to the participants.

The program was made even more livelier thanks to the cultural performances by the Migrant Heritage Fil-Am Dance Ensemble, and a community singing of Ata Song. The Filipino American learners and their families also got the chance to savor Filipino flavors through food packs courtesy of Jollibee. ###

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Basket Weaving Dance performed by the Migrant Heritage Fil-Am Dance Ensemble.

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Filipino American students and their families enjoying Filipino food courtesy of Jollibee.