PIONEERING FILIPINO LANGUAGE SCHOOL MARKS 1ST YEAR ANNIVERSARY

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Class 2017 with their teachers

The first Filipino language school based in London’s Kingston University (KU) celebrated its first anniversary on 14th June 2017. The school was established and ran by the London Filipino Centre CIC (LFC), headed by Mr Rick Patriarca. The Filipino community in England are ever increasing in number and is a vital component of the community. The school was set up to teach children to speak the Filipino language and to share cultural traditions to the wider UK community.

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Kingston University, home of the London Filipino Language School, Penrhyn Road Campus, Kingston upon Thames

From an initial 43 pupils ages 5- 15, the language school is happy to announce its expansion of services. A new branch will open this September 2017 in Ladbroke Grove, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. There will be new classes open for adults, due to increasing demand from the community.

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One of the parents, Mrs Jennifer Koch from Hammersmith, said, “I have always been on the lookout for a good Filipino language class for James.  I am so happy to find a well-planned, professionally-run language school with a vision for the future of the Filipino language teaching in London.” His son James shared how he enjoys the class and how fun his classmates are to be with.

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Another, Mrs Grace Dakay from Kingston, stated, “As a Filipino mother, I had the opportunity to be taught Filipino and English while I was in the Philippines as my first language then Cebuano.  I would like to give my children the same opportunity.  They are fluent in English, now it’s time for them to learn my native language”.

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After a week of schooling, most students would like to stay at home or go out and have fun during the weekend. But this is not the case with one of the students. “The Filipino class is a side class on weekends, I thoroughly enjoy it. I have met and made many new friends and the class has taught me plenty of new important facts about the Philippine culture.  Filipino classes are fun and important for second generation Filipinos to learn it.” Chrystopher Rudio (11) shared, who hails all the way from Guildford. His father Mr Chris Rudio agrees. “Our son always look forward to going to Filipino classes every Saturday… more than learning how to speak our native tongue, he also enjoys learning about the colourful Filipino culture,” Mr Chris Rudio said, referring to his child. “After all, ‘Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating sa paroroonan’.”

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Another interesting story is that of a family who, despite having Pinoy roots, never had Filipino as their first language. Mr Andrew and Mrs Lannette Murray from Twickenham narrates…“We decided to send Lucia-Belen to this school because it’s important for us that she doesn’t lose sight of her roots.  My husband and I are second generation and British born Filipinos.  My husband is half English and half Filipino.  Whilst both my parents are Filipino who came here in 1974, I didn’t learn the language but can only understand it.  It was only recently that I try my hardest to speak when I can.  It means a lot to us that Lucia-Belen learns the language and heritage.  We are also glad the school is running and I would encourage other Filipino parents to sign up their children and get them exposed to learning the language.”

These group of pupils started at our previous site at St. Pius X Parish Centre
These group of pupils started at our previous site at St. Pius X Parish Centre

The language class is also popular with siblings. Sisters Millih and Joelle from Chessington gladly travels to KU after their morning activities for the afternoon class. “It is important to learn and appreciate the Filipino language and culture because it brings me back to my roots, despite growing up in the UK and all the culture clash I have experienced.” Said, Millih, older of the two. As for Joelle, she highlights its practical importance “because it helps me to converse with my relatives back home”. Their mother, Mrs Aurea Coloma, is one of LFC’s teachers.

Brother and sister Jaiden (12) and Althea (11) from the morning class, shared the things they like about the advocacy. “In Filipino class, I like it when we go outside to learn and play Pinoy games. I would recommend this class because we have workbooks to bring home as assignments and we learn a lot. It is always fun!” On the other hand, her ‘kuya’ Jaiden said, “My favorite part in Filipino class is when we learn about the culture & traditions.”

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At the moment, the school has three main teachers. Mr Junart Nieva is a global business developer and humanitarian entrepreneur who teaches the morning class, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. At present he is an active member of the charitable organization Camarines Sur Filipino Community UK, a member of the Knight of Rizal – London Chapter UK, and one of the directors of LFC.

IMG_2697Ms Angeline Enriquez from Central London teaches the heritage class, where she teaches about Philippine culture and tradition, like songs and folk dances. A graduate of The University of Cagayan Valley, at present she is one of the facilitators of Scalabrini Youth Group and Oval Filipino Community. Heavily involved in the performing arts, she is also a chorister and sometimes play the guitar as well.

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The afternoon class is handled by Mrs Aurea Coloma, currently in full-time employment with Surrey County Council, Social Services Department. She has a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education obtained from Saint Louis University and master units (linguistics) at Sto Tomas University. Aurea’s involvement as a Language teacher was just mere coincidence. She initially attended a meeting to get her two daughters enrolled to learn the language, however, at that time they were looking for a teacher and a teaching assistant where she volunteered to be the assistant. Instead, was asked by the head Mr Patriarca to stand by as a teacher. Aurea agreed to stand by as the language teacher until this time which she often quips, “God knows when the right teacher is found”.

Our Teaching Assistant Miss Lorin Castroverde in close watch with her ward
Our Teaching Assistant Miss Lorin Castroverde in close watch with her Ward

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Ms Monique Marquez, a nursing student currently studying at Kingston University, is teaching assistant.

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The Centre is now accepting registration for the next school term in September 2017. All enquiries about language class registration, information about the centre, and how to donate, please visit www.lonfilcenter.co.uk or contact Mrs Elizabeth Villaflor, one of the directors, at 07854411180. For media, please contact Araial Ilustre at 07447020757.

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To celebrate the milestone, LFC prepared exciting plans this year that will further the cause and increase momentum. This July, a fundraising dinner and disco was held to raise funds for the purchase of teaching and learning materials. A courtesy call with the Philippine Ambassador HE Antonio Lagdameo is also underway in September. Students are being prepped for a recital in September/October, showcasing talents and skills through Philippine music and drama. More to come, watch this space.

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The LFC Board with the teaching and support staff

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End of Term Assembly with the parents

About the School

The London Filipino Centre CIC is a social enterprise company dedicated to the promotion of the Filipino language, culture, dance, fitness, events and travel.

The idea to establish a Filipino Language school was conceived more than three years ago based on the assumption “that in order to understand a culture, one must first understand that culture’s language.” (Allan Isaac)

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The Board celebrating LFC’s first anniversary at FM Bar Shepherds Bush, London with their guests

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The Dangerous Dancers

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Not to be outdone the Golden Ladies wowing the crowd with their moves

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The winners of the raffle draw

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In 2012 a survey was conducted to determine if there was a need for families to support the scheme. The outcome was an overwhelming endorsement to establish the language school.  But when the crunch time came only two families attended the initial meeting and are willing to support the plan. Undeterred by the disappointingly low turnout, the flame continued to burn for years and more determined than ever to shoulder on until in 2014 a decision was made to take a different course and set up temporarily the Kensal Fitness and Dance Club. After several months this metamorphosed into the precursor entity the Filipino Language, Arts & Events Centre with the hope that it will eventually become a reality that will pave the way to set up the weekend language school.

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With LFC consultant Dr Nenita Domingo of UCLA

After drumming up interest from parents and through different organisations in London, the time came to resurrect the idea after a group of like-minded people agreed to support the scheme.  The official meeting was arranged in August 2015 to start the process of registering the school as a social enterprise company with the ultimate goal of setting it up as a charity company when Charity Commission’s requirements are met.

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LFC was launched on 20th August 2017 with the Hon Lord Mayor of Kingston, Counselor Geoffrey Austin, Lady Mayoress Mrs Austin, Philippines Embassy 1st Consul Rommel Romato, Tourism Attache Mr Gerry Panga, Counselor Danny Favor and Father Julius Otaoye, St Pius X Parish Priest.

The men behind LFCThe group came up with the name London Filipino Centre and application for registration as a Community Interest Company was submitted to Companies House in June. After several weeks the Certificate of Incorporation was granted on 14th June 2016 and the London Filipino Centre CIC was born.

The London Filipino Centre CIC is headquartered at 48 Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove London, W10 5BQ. Language classes are based in Kingston University, Penrhyn Road Campus, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE.

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The men behind LFC

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