LAUSD Student Board member Frances Suavillo pitched the idea of having an official Filipino American Heritage Month for the school district, as well as having the opportunity of taking Tagalog classes in a new program. With a promising plan for how this would be carried out, she got the approval from both the district and of the community.
As a previous LAUSD student myself, I was quite emotional hearing this news. I never thought for a second that there would be a WHOLE month to have my culture celebrated and whether or not my kids would ever get to witness this same opportunity too. I always pride myself on my Pilipinx culture, but it's hard to advocate for it when no one else around you makes the effort to help showcase it.
Filipinos make up a large portion of the LAUSD student population that is spread throughout nearly 1,000 schools with several heavily Filipino concentrated areas such as Carson and Eagle Rock.
Now, LAUSD schools are required to celebrate Filipino history month by providing different things that highlight it's culture, history, and students throughout the whole month of October.
Growing up as a 1st (1.5) Generation Filipinx-American, I've always wanted to learn how to speak Tagalog but was never formally taught because there were other priorities my family had with language retention not being one of them. I was always able to clearly understand what is being said, but for those relatives who have difficulty understanding when I respond in English is who I feel disconnected to the most. This has always been a dream I had for myself; to not only speak to my relatives of their mother language but to speak to my kids in Tagalog and hopefully accomplish the same things.
According to the American community survey, Tagalog is the third most common language behind Spanish and English in California. With this evidence of the large Filipinx student population and the common use of this language, board members will try to find ways to implement this program for Filipinx students trying to learn English, as well as non-Filipinx students, try to learn a new language such as Tagalog.
With this outstanding news, I've never been more elated and excited for what's to come for the many Pilipinx LAUSD students. These programs have been in question for so many years and 2020 is the year that it's finally been enacted.
Without the Filipinx representation on the LAUSD Board, who knows how much longer that these ideas would finally be brought into discussion. With the use of the Filipinx Heritage Month in October, the impact of representation for all of these students can lead to even more progress for all Filipinx Americans, contributing to many advancements such as this one.
Click here to watch how these programs were enacted, and a few accounts from LAUSD Student Board Member, Frances Suavillo! : https://youtu.be/uTdpAmqXNT8