Raising young children in a different country can be pretty challenging, not least because it can be quite difficult to ensure that your kids grow up knowing their Filipino heritage. Whether your children are pure or half-Filipino, constant immersion in a foreign country’s language, culture, and norms can make them feel a sort of disconnect with their roots from your side of the globe.
Fortunately, Christmas is a great time for you to help your children be better acquainted with their Filipino origins. For one, you can expose them to different kinds of Filipino Christmas traditions like the Belen or the Noche Buena. Secondly, you can choose to give them presents that will help them better understand and appreciate what it means to be Filipino, full-blooded or otherwise:
1. Filipino/Bilingual Children’s Books
There’s nothing like a great bilingual or Filipino children’s book to foster both a love of reading and Tagalog-speaking skills. The FilOz Children’s Bookstore has a great variety of beautifully-illustrated books that feature classic Filipino stories, Filipino cultural and literary icons, and of course, various legends (“Ang Alamat ng..”) about native fruits and vegetables like ampalaya (bitter melon) or atis (custard apple).
As a bonus, they even have a book entitled “500 Words and Pictures: My First Bilingual Visual Dictionary.” It’s an especially vibrant introduction to the Filipino language for toddlers or young children.
2. Traditional Filipino Toys and Games
Tempting as it may be to just get your child the latest Minecraft or Zoo Tycoon game and be done with it, you could, instead, hunt down a set of Filipino toys for him or her online. How about mini clay pots (remember when you used to play palayok-palayukan?) or spinning tops called “trumpo?” Or why not fashion a good old slingshot or “tirador?”
Not only will these toys introduce your tot to a bit of Filipiniana, but they also provide a nice alternative to staring at an LCD screen all day.
Just don’t forget to tell your kid to refrain from flinging pebbles with a slingshot if windows or other breakable items are close by so that s/he (and you) don’t get into trouble with the neighbors.
3. Quirky “Half-Filipino” apparel
Talk about statement tees. This website makes all sorts of shirts, tees, and even baby onesies with cheeky prints like “Half Filipino is Better than None,” “½ Pinoy- Just the Good Half,” and even an eyebrow-raising “Want Palo (spanking)?”
4. Filipino Music CD’s or Quality Filipino Movie DVD’s
For older kids, they might appreciate some Original Pinoy Music (OPM) CD’s or some classic Filipino movie DVD’s that showcase the best of Philippine cinema.
Does your teen like Bloc Party? S/he might enjoy a CD full of the musical stylings of veteran indie post-rock bands like Up Dharma Down.
If your adolescent child likes action films, a DVD of Erik Matti’s critically-acclaimed “On the Job” would probably keep them entertained for a couple of hours (and perhaps even ponderous for days after they realize the gravity of its explorations).
5. A Vacation in the Philippines
Now, if you’ve got the wherewithal to splurge, this is perhaps the best gift you can give your child if they have yet to set foot in the country of your birth and you are keen to remedy that ASAP.
Troubled as our country may be, few places are as festive and enthusiastic in celebrating Christmas as the Philippines. Here, your child will not only marvel at the beauty of brightly-colored lights and lanterns lining the streets, but s/he will also be engulfed in the warm welcome of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who have loved their grandchild/nibling/cousin even before they laid eyes on him or her.
And if all goes well, you just may find that this present is as much for you as it is for your child too.