Celebrate and explore Filipino identity through storytelling
By Lily C. Fen (Published in June-July 2021 Rawmags Issue)
Kuwentuhang Sabado was born in the summer of 2016, when five passionate Filipinas with connections to Switzerland put their knowledge and dreams together to create this Swiss non-profit club. Their objective: offer ways for children to learn about their Filipino heritage while abroad, a subject close to their hearts due to their own search for their roots. Offered once a month, KS runs a two-hour session which follows the flow of a structured playgroup, an enjoyable way for kids up to ten years of age to delve into their Filipino selves. KS provides a community for Swiss-Filipino families who are passionate about their Asian ancestry. The Filipino language and its customs come to life for youngsters through stories and crafts. Songs initiate and conclude the program, while storytelling, activities, and snacks take place in between.
Meet the Founders
Lenny, a second-generation Filipina, says “I have always dreamed of a program for kids of Filipinos living in Switzerland so that they can acquaint themselves with their heritage culture starting from a young age. When Cherry, Charlie, Kith, Sining and I came together and brought Kuwentuhang Sabado to life, this dream came true.”
Kith grew up playing taguan, patintero, and other beloved Filipino games on the streets of Quezon City. Informed by how much fun she had with the neighborhood kids, she adds, “I wish for my son to pick up one of his native tongues in a playful environment that would make him appreciate his identity as a child of two cultures.”
Charlie’s parents migrated to Switzerland in 1989, making her what she dubs a “seconda”, a second-generation migrant who lives between two worlds. She is a mom of two children who are both learning to speak Tagalog.
Sining grew up with a love for languages in a bilingual Filipino and English-speaking family. Reading books and serious discussions were in English but the fun was in Filipino: playing tumbang-preso or watching an aunt portray characters from Noli Me Tangere. “I am trying to teach Filipino to my two boys, ages ten and one. KS is an answer to my prayer!”
Cherry views KS as a means of sharing the priceless gift of one’s mother tongue. She believes in the importance of preserving the language that always brings her back home, despite having spent much of her childhood in Saudi Arabia and having lived in Switzerland for more than a decade.
Kuwentuhang Sabado believes in Filipino language learning by instilling a strong sense of Filipino identity through stories and activities
Two of the KS founders, Sining and Cherry, together with their University of the Philippines colleague, Maita Salvador, took the playgroup a step further by working on an academic paper on heritage language learning. They presented their findings at the 20th European Conference on Literacy in Madrid. They focused on KS’s aim to promote Filipino language learning and establish Filipino identity through the joy of stories, providing young heritage language learners (HLLs) meaningful experiences in the target language. They discovered that acquiring a migrant parents’ language and culture was a means to psychological and social empowerment, leading to higher self-esteem in those of Filipino descent, compared to those who had no access to the culture.
Worth noting is KS’s in-house library dubbed Maletaklatan (from “maleta”—suitcase— and “aklatan”—library). KS families have access to more than fifty Filipino children’s books, with the collection continually growing.
For more information on how take part in Kuwentuhang Sabado or borrow a book from Maletaklatan, visit kuwentuhangsabado.com or email info(at)kuwentuhangsabado.com.