• Re-education workshops on PH-U.S. ties • FilAms create July 4 memories

Ugnayan offers Philippine 101 classes.

Starting July 28, a series of “re-education” workshops will be offered for the youth and young professionals who may want to learn more about Philippine-American history.

Philippines 101: Rooting in our Filipino/a History of Resistance and Resilience will be held every Thursday from 7 p.m.to 9:30 p.m. in midtown Manhattan.

“We are happy to provide as a service to Filipino youth who seek truth and inspiration from our people’s history,” said Karen Hanna, Ugnayan organizer and workshop co-facilitator.

Philippines 101 was conceptualized more than seven years ago by eight young women in search of their roots.

“We wanted to learn more than just the typical cultural dances, food and language,” said Ana Liza Caballes, Ugnayan founder and workshop co-facilitator.  “We were thirsty for something more meaningful.”

Ugnayan founding members imagined their task to be a daunting one: how to engage, motivate and organize young Filipinos in the U.S. to go beyond identity politics and popular Filipino culture.  Looking at their own personal experiences, Ugnayan members realized they had to create opportunities for youth to unlearn and re-educate themselves about the real history and situation of the Filipino people, a process the group refers to as decolonizing.

“Decolonizing means that we are able to look at how Spanish, Japanese and U.S. colonization has impacted and continues to impact us,” said Caballes. “Why do we not learn about our history? Why are spam and Jeepneys such iconic mainstays in Filipino society? Why is light skin adored in our culture? Why are Filipino women considered exotic and prized wives? To grasp this phenomenon, we have to critically reflect on our past, confront our present conditions and collectively find solutions.  This is how Philippines 101 developed.”

Hanna said Philippines 101 is unique because it offers a “comprehensive, progressive, pro-people perspective that is not widely available, especially to Filipino youth in the U.S.”
Since 2004, there have been more than 300 graduates of the Philippines 101 workshop series.  The workshops will be held July 28, August 4th, 11th and 18th.  Registration is required with a sliding scale of $20 to $35.  For more information visit  ugnayan.blogspot.com


Sheila takes Manhattan.

Beach outing in Sandy Hook, N.J. for this family. Photos by Elton Lugay

Filipinos painted the town red, white and blue on July 4 as the United States celebrated 235 years of independence from Great Britain.

While the celebration is best remembered for the Coney Island hotdog-eating contest and the kaleidoscopic fireworks display courtesy of Macy’s, Filipinos created their own memories by going to the beach or hosting barbecue parties at home.

“There’s a feeling of exhilaration! Everybody’s in the mood for celebration,” said Cebuana Sheila Griarte, in town to attend a seminar on special education.

She was one giddy tourist as she hopped all over the city visiting the Broadway district, shopping on Fifth Avenue, lighting a candle at St. Patrick’s before settling in to good-old fashioned home-cooked dinner with friends in Queens.

July 4 also marked the celebration of Filipino American Friendship Day—a day designated by former Philippine President  Diosdado Macapagal “to commemorate the liberation of the country by joint Filipino and American forces from the Japanese occupation at the end of World War II.”

July 4 used to be the Philippines’ Independence Day until Macapagal moved the date to June 12, “the date which the Malolos Republic had declared independence from Spain in 1898.”

Meanwhile, the 25-minute fireworks show along Westside Highway drew more than 3 million live spectators with millions more tuned in worldwide. More than 40,000 fireworks lit the sky, the massive display drawing thunderous cheers from crowds.

Gift of Freedom, was the theme for this year’s pyrotechnic spectacular. It paid special tribute to the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty

The event also commemorated the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11. – Elton Lugay

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