Oh, wow. Is it really June 12 again?
As our avid readers might know, today is Philippine Independence Day. Some would argue that our country actually achieved genuine independence on a later date, particularly July 4, but regardless of which side you are on in that debate, you can’t argue that the occasion itself is a wonderful opportunity to let your nationalistic flag fly.
And if your kids are growing up Down Under, the day takes on added importance. Why? Because it’s a great opportunity for them (and for you) to revisit their roots. So, in honor of Independence Day and in the service of all Filipino migrant parents, we present to you our list of suggested activities to help you do exactly that:
1. Watch a Filipino film about one of our national heroes.
Few other kinds of media can educate children about history as vividly as film does.
This Independence Day, introduce your children to all the brave heroes who fought for the country by arranging a viewing of movies like “El Presidente,” “Heneral Luna,” and the 1998 opus entitled “Jose Rizal.” Fortunately, most of these movies feature English subtitles, so your Aussie spouse can join you if s/he is inclined to. As a bonus, such films can also improve your child’s Tagalog vocabulary. And speaking of…
2. Read Filipino children’s books.
Now would be a great time to break out those children’s books that your kid’s ninongs or ninangs gifted them with during the holidays.
Whether it’s a picture book illustrating a Tagalog word for each letter of the alphabet or a collection of Lola Basyang’s stories, these tomes will not only set your little ones’ imaginations alight, but it will also leave them with a deeper appreciation for Filipino culture.
3. Make some DIY Independence Day decorations.
Remember those town fiestas you used to attend back home? Recapture those festive occasions by making your own Filipino-themed decorations.
Craft your own buntings out of colored paper, twine, tape, and scissors by following the instructions laid out here. You can also print out some index card-sized labels, anchor them on individual pieces of calamansi fruit (be sure to slice into the bottom part first), and use these as labels for your buffet dishes or name plates for the table.
You can also go the whole nine yards by throwing a Filipino-themed children’s party. Check out this mom’s modern take on the theme.
4. Sit down to a traditional Filipino meal.
Give your children a literal taste of home by cooking up a good old Filipino-style feast.
From lumpia (spring roll) appetizers to comforting Filipino stews like sinigang or kare-kare, each bite of our country’s flavorful cuisine is sure to transport anyone’s taste buds to the lush, verdant mountain plantations or the bountiful, fragrant oceans back home.
Don’t forget to include dessert. Our leche flan is sure to make a convert out of anyone who’s reluctant to try our local cuisine.
5. Play some old-fashioned outdoor games.
Put that iPad down for a bit and try a game of luksong baka instead.
Luksong what, you say? Hear me out. This Filipino version of leapfrog has one player crouching while the other player jumps over him or her. As the game progresses, the designated “baka” gradually stands up, making it more difficult for the other players to make the jump.
That’s just one classic Filipino game you can do. Others include Patay-Patayan (“Guess the Killer,” but it’s not as morbid as it sounds, I promise), Langit-Lupa, Pinoy Hopscotch or Piko, and even our local take on hide and seek called Taguan.
Sounds fun, right? Apart from providing a pleasant break from the glare of an LCD screen, these games also show the ingenuity of the Filipino youth. Considering these games hail from the days before wi-fi and smartphones, your kids might think twice before complaining about being bored the next time they forget to charge their devices.
You may not be able to spend Independence Day in the Philippines, but with the activities listed above, you can certainly make it feel like you did so anywhere in the world.