Parents rue that for some FilAm youth, education is no longer a priority

Filipino parents  want to see their children prepare for their future through education.

Filipino parents want to see their children prepare for their future through education.

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

The aforementioned comment appeared heavy on the minds of some half-a-dozen Filipino American parents.

No, they did not hesitate to inquire whether some from their ethnicity, parents like themselves, are going through similar experiences on how their daughters and sons are faring with respect to their outlook on education.

One father, Conrado, a licensed chemical engineer who initially resided in Indiana where he received his graduate degree, said it very strongly: “My son, Len, now 24, was born in New York. He has not gone beyond one semester of junior college.

“I hate to admit it. He is a ‘dropout.’ His sister, Joy, was a fourth grader when we first arrived here from the Philippines. Joy went on to college, received her master’s degree in psychology and is now working on her doctoral dissertation.”

The same father contrasted his only son’s attitude toward education with that of his older sibling. Lina, his wife, joined him in the conversation.

“We don’t know what to do with our son. After high school, he decided he would take the year off, leaving home at 19, letting us know he had a job at a department store in sales.

“Only recently, Len returned to our house, unable to meet all his bills and promised us he would return to school. He did, enrolling at a community college, taking the minimum number of units. He dropped out before the semester was over. He told us in certain terms: “School is not for me.”

From a highly-educated family in the homeland, parents who place a high premium on education, a licensed engineer who completed his graduate degree from a prestigious university in Bloomington, Indiana, and the mother who holds a master’s degree in nutrition, also from the same school, that particular young American-born son cannot ask for better role models.

Sadly, the above-mentioned example does not stand alone in some FilAm households.

Others this writer inquired from echoed similar negative reflections. They felt ‘rebuffed’ about their children’s attitude toward educational pursuits.

One query I gathered from disheartened parents: the sense of awakening doesn’t seem to have fully awakened. When will it ever come?

Therefore, I hurried to inquire from other parents who share the same dreams of education for their second generation.

They did not hesitate to talk about similar frustrations.

Now Californians for at least two decades and a half, a couple looking forward to their future in this country, wishing to see their children finish school, expressed hopes they can be grandparents someday.

That aforementioned feeling of kinship is truly ‘Filipino.’ Filipino parents who are schooled in bringing up families as they fulfill their wishes to see their children prepare for their future through education, have other wishes germane to their children. How they would love to see them with their own families so they can enjoy their grandchildren while they are still around was so palpable!

The immigrant society from our home country arrived on these shores filled with high
hopes: that their offspring would have better opportunities than they had was one such hope. It hasn’t gone away.

“America offered more chances for educational and professional advancement seemed within reach,” is a common refrain.

Does the above sound like a paradox now with the information on how some first-generation Filipino Americans have chosen not to go for further schooling?

Filipino American parents and their parents before them are eloquent examples on the pluses on the meaning of ‘background.’ They did not have to be pushed to go to school.

Education was a given. The same was nurtured for their children, they who are from their first generation, the ones who are American-born and bred.

It is encouraging to note that not all parents have lost hope.

“Someday that batch of young FilAms will turn around and savor what it means to seek college,” is the sense of optimism that the still sunny season of summer lends while awaiting a new school year that will unfold in the fall.

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