Instead of watching foreigners see the Philippines for the first time (insert clickbait title here !!), how about witnessing a group of Filipino teens, born and raised in America, discover their roots in an unforgettable journey back home?

/ 3 December 2020

For many Filipinos who have lived their whole lives in the Philippines, it’s not very difficult to pinpoint the things that make them a striking representative of the culture they grew up in, and the very elements that make up the Pinoy identity. Hot meals over rice on hot days, rubber slippers in bags in case it rains, a strange balance (sometimes imbalance) between patience and impatience, and an overwhelmingly strong sense of family for both those whom we choose, and those we’re born into.

These are but a number of things that are discovered from years of living and exploring the Philippines, and all the different shades of Philippine culture across its islands. Some things, like languages, practices, beliefs, and indigenous traditions, are harder to unlock than the others. This is because they require physical presence and personal engagements with locals to fully be appreciated and understood—something that even those who’ve lived their whole lives in the country don’t get the opportunity to do.

So, what happens to Filipinos who are born across the world, never setting foot in the Motherland? Not quite belonging here or there, and lacking the resources to fully understand where their parents came from, or where their other families live.

With this in mind, non-profit organization The Filipino School has created a vibrant community of Filipino-Americans in San Diego, California, to gather and learn more about Pinoy culture and heritage. In their latest project, they’ve launched the FILGRIMAGE, or Filipino Pilgrimage, that follows eight young students flying over to the Philippines to rediscover their roots.

The 14-part series takes these students to the stunning sights of Palawan, the history of Las Casas, and the unbelievable heroes of Corregidor. Tears, laughter, and a different bonding experience were met throughout the production, as their mentors and guides open up their eyes to what the Philippines truly is, and what Filipinos are truly like.

On top of inspiring the next generation of Filipino-Americans to appreciate and be proud of their heritage, the program also consists of the eight students, and the rest of the team, building villages for 1,000 local families in the spirit of Bayanihan. As the team set out to explore Philippine culture, they also made sure to give back to the community in their own way.

The series also serves as a great way for us locals to remember other parts of our history and culture that have been buried by colonial mentalities and contemporary beliefs. Although it’s primary goal is to educate young Fil-Ams, how many of us could actually say we’ve done the things they set out to do through this program?

At its core, FILGRIMAGE is an exploration for all Filipinos to have a stronger sense of self and nation, and a prouder answer to the question: “What does it really mean to be a Filipino?”

Filgrimage is now streaming on TheFilipinoSchool.com in honor of the Filipino-American History Month.

Watch the trailer: