The Filipino Culture Week held last week has been a success. This was a joint project of the Filipino Association of Neepawa and Area Inc. (FANA) and the Hazel M. Kellington school administration. Vice principal Corleen McKinnon first contacted the Filipino community group’s treasurer, Rochelle Unico to spearhead this endeavour with her. As the Public Relations Officer for the association, I pitched in as well. Ms. McKinnon came up with the idea of doing a project that will help promote integration. We came up with a plan which will foster a better understanding about Filipino language, traditions and practices. On April 22, Monday, the culture week started with an introduction of the Philippines as a country and our national symbols. The students watched a power point presentation and videos. During “Talking Tagalog Tuesday,” Each class was given a set of flashcards with short and simple Tagalog/Filipino phrases and corresponding English translations. The teachers, with the help of their Filipino students helped the children get familiarized with some of useful “everyday greetings.” On the next day, Wednesday, Rochelle, two Filipino volunteers, Alleah Verano and Sheena Guray, and I went to each classroom for short storytelling sessions. We imparted stories that we Filipinos grew up learning from our schools, parents and grandparents. Filipino literature incorporates a lot of legends and myths which have moral lessons at the end of each story. The Kindergarten and Grade 1 and 2 students were amazed with the “Legend of the Pineapple” and the “Legend of the Rainbow”. The children from the higher grades listened intently to the story of the “Monkey and the Turtle,” which is similar to the tale of the “Hare and the Tortoise”. The Grade 5 and 6 students appreciated the story about “Creation” known as the “Legend of Malakas (strong) and Maganda (beautiful)”. It depicts the Filipino version of “Adam and Eve”. After each story was told, the students thoroughly enjoyed the craft-making activities associated with Filipino art like, weaving, okra stamping and drawing the legendary “Sarimanok,” the Philippine adaptation of a phoenix. Thursday was “food-tasting” day. The students had a treat when the Filipino students, equipped with trollies, distributed pineapples to each classroom. In the afternoon, they tasted a very popular delicacy, the spring rolls. The meat was donated by HyLife Foods Inc. The culture week concluded with a lively show on Friday where three Filipino groups presented cultural and native dances. The Philippine Extreme Dancers composed of moms of the students did an “Itik-itik” or “Duck Dance”. Then six HMK students presented the “Bulaklakan” or “Flower Dance” that they performed at the Lily Festival last year. The “Igorot Native Dance” was performed by some of the dads of the HMK students. Their dance had an accompaniment of small gongs. The teachers and administrators of the school were asked to follow the simple rhythmic movements of the dancers. The students were thrilled and cheered them on. Heather Douglas, HMK’s gym teacher, and some of the Filipino and Canadian pupils, demonstrated a popular street game called “Chinese garter” which really tested a player’s agility because he has to attempt to cross over a horizontally stretched elastic band. With each round, the elastic’s height is made higher than the previous round from ankle level until the elastic is above the head. Ms. Angie Tester led the audience in singing the “Bahay Kubo” which is a well-known Filipino folk song that the children learned in their music classes within that week. Mrs. Douglas made a very meaningful comment about the whole week’s events. She was very pleased because the activities helped the Filipino students “come out of their shells” and be more confident. She continued to say that the children were very proud to lead their classmates in the street game activities. Throughout the week, the school played the Philippine National Anthem every morning before “O Canada”. I had goosebumps as I watched Canadian and Filipino students singing our national song with their hands on their hearts. This is the time-honoured way of singing our national anthem. This event is truly a milestone as we aspire for integration. We thoroughly appreciate how the HMK administration and teachers gave us a chance to share our culture to the children of Neepawa and area.