Pinoy charity conducts Filipino classes for Pinoy kids in UK

By ROSE ECLARINAL
LONDON, ENGLAND – The Philippine Centre, a Filipino charity organization based in Hounslow, West London has been conducting Filipino classes for over a decade now. The classes, which aim to promote and cultivate Filipino language for the benefit of the next generations of Pinoys in the United Kingdom are held in a community center in Hounslow.

Parents chip in funds for the rent of the venue but the classes, which are held every Saturday for two hours during the school term, are free. Many of the Pinoy students attending the classes were born in the UK and consider English their mother tongue. Speaking Filipino is now a challenge for them.

“Para lang they will familiarize with the terms and the meanings. It has been going on for quite some time now. At saka ‘yong aking mga students din as they grow up nawawala. Tapos ‘yong mga anak pumapalit. So it’s just generation to generation,” said Ester Limotlimot, a volunteer teacher at the Philippine Centre.

The classes, composed of some 15-20 students, are conducted in a very informal style. Basic greetings, grammar and pronunciation are taught and topics for discussion are injected with information about Philippine history, geography, and culture. Sessions in the afternoon include Pinoy songs and folk dances which are part of the children’s cultural exposure and enrichment.

“They have to learn the language and also the Philippine history and bits and pieces of things about the Philippines. They have to know their origin. It’s very important kasi yung identity nila malalabas nila through their language. Hindi naman kasi lahat dito nagta-Tagalog sa kanilang bahay. So kawawa ang mga bata ‘pag umuwi sa Pilipinas. Although ang mga bata sa atin nakakapag-English. Di naman everything na lang mag e-English ka,” explained Limotlimot.

There is no age limit for the classes. Although most of the attendees are under 16, three-year-olds and adults alike enjoy the general experience of bantering in Filipino.

Charina Padua Boys is a forensic fire investigator in London. She has been attending the classes for over a year now. For Boys, the only adult professional in the group, it is never too late to learn Filipino.

“My mother is Filipino. I have a lot of family and relatives (in the Philippines) and we visit once a year and we go back every Christmas. Everyone else speaks English to me and I just thought it would be nice to go back to the Philippines and actually conversate in my own language rather than expect everyone to include me by having to speak English. I didn’t learn it as a kid because I didn’t have a lot of Filipinos around me and I just thought if I don’t learn now I don’t think I ever will,” she said.

Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Babaran takes her Filipino classes seriously.

“I guess I don’t really know the real feeling to be a Pinoy because I’m not living there at the moment but my classes bring me a step closer to feeling like a full Pinoy. You don’t really have an excuse not to know Tagalog. It’s the national language of the Philippines and I think every Filipino should know it,” she said.

They are maybe thousands of miles away from the Philippines but learning Filipino culture and language make them feel closer to home.

“I live in the UK so I can get all of the British culture that I want. Coming here gives me that little bit of the Filipino culture,” said Boys.

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