Fairfield students embrace language of Philippines

Our Lady of the Rosary students dance at a Filipino language assembly on April 8. Photo Kitty Beale

Our Lady of the Rosary students dance at a Filipino language assembly on April 8. Photo: Kitty Beale

Students at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary Fairfield (OLR) learned the Tagalog words for different family members during a special language assembly on April 8 – their last assembly for the school term.

Spoken in the Philippines, the language was the first this year to be celebrated at assembly, following Arabic, Italian and Assyrian language assembly items in 2015. Vietnamese will be next.

Students introduced their Filipino relatives to their peers, teachers and visiting parents before dancing in traditional costume the way they would at a fiesta to celebrate saints days in the South East Asian nation.

OLR parent John Guerra was introduced during the assembly by his son Jeremy, a kindergarten student, as “Tatay” – the Tagalog word for father.  He wore the traditional embroidered shirt known as a barong to the event which he said was a great idea.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Mr Guerra said.

“Our school is multicultural so it’s good we showcase every culture we have in the school. It gives recognition of our culture and gives children from different cultures the chance to experience what other cultures look and feel like, and to immerse themselves in new things about them.”

Mr Guerra said older sisters and older female cousins are called Ate, older brothers and older male cousins are Kuya, father is Tatay, mother is Nanay, grandpa is Lolo, grandma is Lola, aunty is Tita, and uncle is Tito.

“We always show respect,” he said. “The way we speak to our elders is different to our peers. There is always a suffix to every sentence when we speak to someone older. It is called a ‘po’.

“Every area of the Philippines has a patron saint and every saint has a feast day. Where I am from the 28th of January is the fiesta of Saint Sebastian. The fiesta is celebration of food, colour, and dancing, and that is basically what we saw today.”

OLR’s Wellbeing Coordinator Eddy Rumora said the language assemblies are part of the roll out of the first phase of the KidsMatter wellbeing and mental health initiative at the school. They aim to create a welcoming place, along with other initiatives which reward positive language (known to the students as ‘up words’) and add to the welcoming atmosphere on the school playground.

“Teachers on the  KidsMatter action team nominate a language to present to the school once a fortnight,” he said. “At last year’s Assyrian assembly, parents taught the school colours in their language.

“It’s basically to make everyone feel more welcome and for parents to approach the school more often. We put on music from the culture being presented as the bell for the day.”


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