AKO’Y PILIPINO. Pupils of the Paaralang Pilipino sing, ‘Ako’y Pilipino,” during a program that marked the school’s ‘Araw ng Pagtatapos’ held last May 5 at the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield. Leading the children in singing the patriotic song is Becky Tungol (center), PACCM president. (Photo by Percy Antonio)
AKO’Y PILIPINO. Pupils of the Paaralang Pilipino sing, ‘Ako’y Pilipino,” during a program that marked the school’s ‘Araw ng Pagtatapos’ held last May 5 at the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield. Leading the children in singing the patriotic song is Becky Tungol (center), PACCM president. (Photo by Percy Antonio)

[box type=”default” size=”large”] Skit lampoons unique ways, habits of Filipinos [/box]It was a graduation program, alright, but it was of the hilarious kind.

The showing of a supposedly action picture entitled “The Mummy Returns Again: Indiana Jones and the Lost Treasure,” set off the light-hearted tone of the program.

The event, which was held last May 5 at the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield, highlighted the “Araw ng Pagtatapos” (day of completion) of the Paaralan Pilipino class 2012-2013.

The featured Tagalog movie produced and directed by the Paaralan teachers was about the lost Yamashita treasure supposedly hidden by Japanese Imperial Army General Tomoyuki Yamashita in the Philippines before World War II ended.

An archeologist found it, and soon after things started to go wrong, so stated the intro read by Paaralan teacher Sabrina Tungol.

Then, as the plot thickened, the anticipated action movie suddenly turned into a comedy. The audience was tickled to the bones not by the funny dialogue or the Jackie Chan brand of bumbling antics, but by the way the young actors and actresses pronounced or mispronounced the Tagalog words.

The cast was composed of children, all Paaralan pupils with ages ranging from eight to 12. As they were graduating, they were showing off the Tagalog-speaking and -reading skills they had learned at Paaralan in the whole school year.

To be fair, the kids did well in reading the Tagalog script, but the funny part was in their accents and pronunciations which were unmistakably Americanized. They were born and are growing up here in Michigan, and thus the pronunciation lapses were understandable as Tagalog was not their lingua franca.

But that was just the appetizer. The main course was a skit about “how do you know if you’re a Filipino.” This was acted out by members of the “Beginning Tagalog adult class.”

In a halting, stumbling way, the class members read the Tagalog one-liners and the English translations that parodied Filipinos. Here are some examples:

Alam mong Filipino ka – Kung ang tawag mo sa bathroom ay comfort room; Kung naga-alok ka ng pagkain sa bisita maski nakakain na siya; Kung may karaoke o Magic Sing ka sa bahay; Kung kumakain ka ng chocolate meat (dinuguan); Pag may tinatawag ka, sabi mo “Psst” o “Hoy;” Pag mayroon kang tsinelas sa bahay; Pag sinabi mo, “Isara mo ang ilaw;” Pag may piano kayo, pero walang gumagamit; Kung palaging kang 30 minutes late sa pinupuntahan mong mga okasyon; Pag mayroon rosary sa rear-view mirror ng iyong sasakyan; Pag may nakadikit na kanin sa damit mo; and Pag kumakain ka ng fried spam at hotdog sa kanin.

James Beni Wilson, Filipino Youth Initiative (FYI) teacher, said the skit was a result of the month-long work of the adult class members composing FYI. Delivering a brief speech, Wilson cited the significance of the Paaralan’s efforts to connect the FYI students to their Filipino roots.

He reminded the audience of the Filipino saying, “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinaggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paparoonan (A man who does not know how to look back at where he came from cannot reach his destination.)”

In her welcome address, PACCM President Becky Tungol said Paaralan’s “Araw ng Pagtatapos” calls “for celebration for it is a milestone in the lives of our young children who had worked hard to learn their Filipino culture.”

Tungol thanked the parents for their efforts and patience in inspiring, guiding and supporting the children in attending Paaralan. She expressed hope that “you will come back in the next school year to continue learning more about our Filipino values and traditions.”

Tess Tchou, co-director of Paaralan Pilipino, who served as the master of ceremonies, also thanked the students for their efforts to learn things about the homeland of their parents.

Tchou’s co-Paaralan director, Juliet Diaz, echoed a similar expression of gratitude to the parents and students, saying “we appreciate your commitment to learn Tagalog and the Filipino heritage. Paaralan exists because of people like you.”

The program was capped by the giving of medals and certificates of course completion to the students. Dr. Ernie Mac, Tungol and Diaz handed over the certificates to the children.