Young Filipinos learn lessons on identity, giving back through Diskubre Tour

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A selfie with the local elders by the Banaue Rice Terraces. In photo are Calvin Santiago, Elaine Ficarra, Alexandra Brown and Feona Hidalgo. PCGNY Photos

A selfie with the local elders by the Banaue Rice Terraces. In photo are Calvin Santiago, Elaine Ficarra, Alexandra Brown and Feona Hidalgo. PCGNY Photos

Filipinos born abroad traveled to the Baguio-Banaue area where they participated in historical tours, food trips, nature excursions, and livelihood immersion.

The July 7 to 17 Diskubre Tour, organized by the Philippine Consulate General in New York (PCGNY) and the Philippine Department of Tourism New York (PDOTNY), seeks to promote a deeper appreciation of the Filipino heritage among the young travelers and instill in them the spirit of giving back to the Philippines.

Calvin Santiago, 20, from New Hampshire said, “I really enjoyed exploring the Philippines. Every day we were traveling to a different city and learning about the lives and history of the locals. I am excited to share stories of our travels with my family and friends, hoping they will take the same trip that changed my outlook of the Philippines forever.”

Filipino-British Alexandra Brown said, “It has brought me a new perspective to my own identity as a half-Filipino woman. Growing up in a different country, I felt like an outsider in the Philippines every time I visited family. After listening to the oral history of each town, witnessing people’s daily routines, and experiencing a sample of their traditions, I am more in touch with my Filipino side more than ever.”

Diskubre pilot group in Intramuros, from left: Calvin Santiago, Jhett Tolentino, Vice Consul Khrystina Corpuz Popov, Feona Hidalgo, Derick Hidalgo, Michael Vea, Elaine Ficarra, and Alexandra Brown.

Diskubre pilot group in Intramuros, from left: Calvin Santiago, Jhett Tolentino, Vice Consul Khrystina Corpuz Popov, Feona Hidalgo, Derick Hidalgo, Michael Vea, Elaine Ficarra, and Alexandra Brown.

Singer and beauty titlist from Philadelphia, Elaine Ficarra, mused, “I love meeting and relating with people. The trip has given me opportunities to connect with the local communities, interact with them, and even perform for them. One of my advocacies is youth empowerment, and I am happy to be given the chance to share my time and talent with school and village children during the trip.”

Bronx high school student Feona Hidalgo said the trip “made me realize how fortunate I am with the resources I have growing up. Seeing first-hand how the children in the mountains live their daily lives, I learned not to take for granted the comfort and convenience I enjoy, as not everyone has the same privilege.”

Feona’s father, Derick, is thankful for his daughter’s experience, adding “I have seen her mature throughout the duration of the tour. She has gained lifelong friends and acquired valuable lessons about her Filipino identity. I recommend that parents and Filcom organizations have their children take the Diskubre Tour at least once in their lives for an eye-opening journey.”

Diskubre Tour partnered with ABS-CBN to document the adventures of the young travelers. The trip will be featured in the digital series Discovering Routes Travels with Diskubre, premiering in September.

FYLPRO alumni educator Michael Vea and Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino joined the Manila leg of the tour.

Said Vea, “Diskubre is an amazing project that not only exposes the children of Filipinos born abroad to the beauty of the Philippines, but more importantly gives them insight on their own Filipino identity and help them understand their background. For his part, Tolentino said, “It is a privilege as much as a duty to visit your homeland. You can never feel a more fleeting and exhilarating experience than going back to your roots.”

The pilot tour also visited the Sagada and Ifugao provinces. — Philippine Consulate General in New York



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