Our friends in the U.S. have just celebrated Independence Day and I’m sure they did so in a variety of ways. We here in the Philippines celebrate our Independence every 12th of June, and although our celebrations may not be as grand as our friends in the West, we all do our best to make sure we commemorate the freedom that was won for us oh-so-many years ago by our national heroes.

I have a confession to make though — I wasn’t always a patriotic Filipino. Growing up overseas in Brunei, away from my motherland, I could be classified as what many of us call nowadays a third-culture kid. I kept trying to fit in with my classmates and friends, who were a mixture of native Bruneians, some Malaysians, and a few other nationalities (including Filipinos).  I remember even being a bit ashamed of my origins, as I used to associate being Filipino with being poor or not so well off. (Shame on me, I know!)

I’m glad those feelings of shame and of “not belonging” were eventually dispelled as I grew up. I actually have my parents to thank for the most part — because they did their best to teach me (and my siblings) to be proud of our country and everything that has to do with being a Filipino.

They taught us to sing the Philippine National Anthem (we sang the Brunei National Anthem in school) in both English and Filipino. They taught us how to pray the “Our Father” in Filipino. They exposed us to cultural and “patriotic” activities organized by the Filipino Association in Brunei — and my brother and I even got to dance a number of traditional Filipino dances in various events. They taught us different aspects of Filipino culture, history and tradition — things that weren’t taught to us in school, because we were following the Bruneian educational curriculum. They spoke to us in Filipino and English whenever they could (that’s why I can converse in Filipino, though I have had no formal education in the language).

Now that I’m a parent myself, I’m trying my best to teach my kids to love being Filipino, too. Believe me, it’s very challenging. You see, their primary language now is English. From the moment they were born in Timor Leste, we spoke to them mostly in English, though we do use Filipino every now and then. So, when you ask my five-year-old son what his nationality is, he answers: “I’m English!” (I keep correcting him about this.)

Because of this, I’ve been trying to be more intentional in teaching him (and his three-year-old sister) that we are Filipinos and we should be proud of it. Last June, most of our homeschool lessons revolved around celebrating Philippine Independence Day and we read a lot of children’s books by local authors that had historical insights. We made our own Philippine flag and now proudly display it near our altar — so that we can remember our love for God and country. We talked about how two of our national heroes, José Rizal and Andrés Bonifacio, fought for the Philippines’ freedom and about how grateful we should be for this freedom.

In addition to this, we’ve been trying (the key word is “trying”) to speak to one another more in Filipino than in English, and to learn our prayers in Filipino (The latter is quite challenging, since my husband and I are both more used to praying in English). This month, we’ll be focusing on learning the “Glory Be” prayer first. (Wish us luck!) I also plan to get more good quality children’s books by local authors and do unit studies on them, like the one we did on the Philippine Independence Day (thanks to my friends over at The Learning Basket). We also have some field trips to national monuments lined up, too.

It’s my hope that, by doing things more intentionally with a defined purpose, we can indeed raise patriotic kids who will be “heroes” for their country (and perhaps, for the whole world, too?) in their own little ways. I realize though, that everything begins with me — because my kids will learn from my example, right? Here’s to being more patriotic then, and for practicing what I preach!

How do you instill a sense of pride and patriotism in your children?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez of the Philippines.  She can be found blogging at Truly Rich Mom.

Photo credit to the author. 

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez (Philippines)

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physical therapist by education and currently the managing editor of Mustard, a Catholic children's magazine published by Shepherd's Voice Publications in the Philippines, by profession. She has been writing passionately since her primary school years in Brunei, and contributes regularly to several Philippine and foreign-based online and print publications. She also does sideline editing and scriptwriting jobs, when she has the time. Find out more about Tina through her personal blogs: Truly Rich Mom and Teacher Mama Tina.

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