Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thoughts of an Overseas Filipina Teacher

I have been teaching at one of the private schools in the state of California for 18 years. Inspiring my students to successfully reach their potential is as much a part of my motivation to teach as my love of learning. I grew up in a Filipino household where education, hard work and perseverance are held in high esteem. My parents have always encouraged me to pursue activities that had social, moral and academic value.

There’s nothing like being in another country, surrounded by another culture, to bring your cultural identity into sharp focus. There are times when I’m acutely aware of my stature ( I’m barely five feet tall ), my “quaint” accent or the color of my skin. The day I stepped into an American classroom, my wits, my years of study and my many more years of teaching experience were all put the test. I never remember being intimidated though. I believe that when one encounters a challenge, it should be looked on as an opportunity to do more, to give more. With the increasing number of Filipinas working abroad today, many have found within themselves the resilience to adapt to the prevailing culture without losing the pride of heritage which makes them exceptional and unique. In all my years of living and teaching in the United States, I have never forgotten where I came from or who I am. It is in my identity as a Filipina from which I derive the confidence to stand equal to my American colleagues in terms of accomplishment and excellence.

I am constantly looking to expand my horizons. I discovered blogging when I wanted to find a way to reach out to a greater number of people who value education as much as I do. My blog is my own little platform to promote my ideas and causes. I hope to inspire my audience with what I have to say and to ultimately help them find their own voice. The internet and the advent of blogs have given us Filipinas the means to communicate and exchange information, to expose injustice and to effect upheaval and change. I have read blogs by my fellow Filipinas, and through their writing I am given insight and a connection to our common cause to establish ourselves as competent and empowered individuals. The internet has become one of the battlegrounds where we fight to own our identity as women of substance and intelligence, to defy the stereotypes of us as victims of subjugation. We all come from a culture of courage. From one generation to the next, we are a sisterhood of survivors and warriors. A seam of fortitude lies within the spirit of every Filipina; in her bloodline are great reserves of character and purpose that she can use to make a difference in her family, in society, in the world.

My world is the classroom. Every single day I work hard to impart discipline and a love of knowledge to my students. Helping each student realize his or her capability to succeed is its own reward. Once in a while a former student comes up to me and says, “Do you remember me, ma’am? I’m going to graduate with honors this year. I want to thank you for showing me the way. When people ask what motivates me I tell them I had a teacher who taught me the value of learning. Even when things got tough, she never gave up on me. I tell them she’s the best teacher I’ve ever had. She’s a Filipina.”


Learn all about the Philippine educational system by clicking here.

Visit the web's most comprehensive resource for all things Filipino : Philippine Encyclopedia

Learn more about the extraordinary Filipina

I've come across a great piece on the modern Filipina woman by blogger Trishadeb.


carol said...

Hi I salute and admire you for your courage and strength. Keep up the good work and make every Filipina proud.

Deb said...


"I tell them she’s the best teacher I’ve ever had. She’s a Filipina.”

Hearing such words, wow! I am sure this made you feel that, in a small way, you have made a difference. Not only in your student's life, but also in our advocacy of uplifting the image of the Filipina, in the net or in real life.

Keep Blogging!

btw, would you mind if I link your entry to mine?

U-teach said...

Hi Deb

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. We Filipinas should encourage each other. Go ahead and link it. I'll visit your blog too and link your entry to my site.

Edong said...

despite the average height for Filipinas... they always stand tall..

love this one!

julie said...

Being a teacher is difficult enough with all the challenges in the classroom (especially if one is teaching in public schools here in our country). But being a teacher in a foreign country is probably doubly hard.

Thanks for this wonderful post, so inspiring.