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Filipino/Filipino American movies on Netflix

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, Home on 03 23rd, 2010

Take a look at some of these movies available on Netflix. The Filipino movies with English subtitles are a great tool for folks wishing to learn the Filipino language. Bare in mind that the movie style is nothing like blockbuster American films so prepare yourself for controversial subject matter but that is reflective of life in the Philippines.

Read more about Cinema of the Philippines

Filipino American:

The Debut

The  Debut

Talented high school senior Ben dreams of going to art school, much to the dismay of his strict immigrant father. The struggle between his family’s Filipino traditions and his own American dreams explodes on the night of his sister’s 18th birthday party, when he’s pressured by family to attend the event instead of hanging with his white friends.
Starring: Dante Basco, Eddie Garcia
Gene Cajayon
English …
Rated RFor language

Filipino with English subtitles:

Please note that some of the film titles in Filipino do not offer english subtitles. Many films directed by Fil/Fil-Ams are rather difficult to view in theatres and are difficult to find in video stores on line or elsewhere. CineFilipino has collaborated with leading independent film makers to provide the best collection of films for purchase and provides previews. Some notable titles that you can preview and can be purchased on CineFilipino. The following films are available on Netflix: The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, Crying Ladies, Imelda, Magnifico, Manila By Night, Slow Jam King.

Babae Sa Bintana

Babae  Sa Bintana


Woman by the Window
Voyeurism leads to a perilous affair in director Chito Roño’s suspenseful tale. Abandoned by his wife, Mitch (Richard Gomez) finds respite from his depression by spying on beautiful new neighbor Jack (Rosanna Roces); next thing you know, the pair becomes intimately acquainted. But trouble lies ahead: It seems that Jack’s lover (John Estrada) has ties to Manila’s underworld, and Mitch soon finds himself in grave danger.
Starring: Rosanna Roces, Richard Gomez
Chito S. Roño
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.

Babae Sa Breakwater

Babae   Sa Breakwater
Woman of Breakwater
In this bittersweet survival tale, director Mario O’Hara paints a realistic portrait of the cadgers, prostitutes and scavengers who dwell along Manila Bay’s breakwater scratching out a living. Fleeing from gangsters, brothers Basilio (Kristoffer King) and Buboy (Al Cris Galura) settle along the jetty, but trouble crops up when Basilio gets involved with a diseased hooker (Katherine Luna) whose existence is stoked by liquor and drugs.

Starring: Katherine Luna, Kristoffer King
Mario O’Hara

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros

The  Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros


Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros
Maxi (Nathan Lopez) is a sensitive 12-year-old boy whose life has deteriorated into a surrogate existence of his dead mother. Relegated to housekeeping and caring for his criminal father and brothers, Maxi is befriended by a kind and honorable policeman (J.R. Valentin) eager to show the boy a more respectable way of life. Auraeus Solito’s compassionate drama filmed on the streets of Manila features music from Filipino rock legend Pepe Smith.
Starring: Nathan Lopez, Soliman Cruz
Auraeus Solito
DVD and streaming
Independent Spirit Awards® Nominee …
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.


Leaving her son (John Vladimir Manalo) behind in the Philippines, grade school teacher Sarah (Sharon Cuneta) travels to London, where she reunites with her husband (John Estrada), takes a job as a nursing home caregiver, and struggles with a variety of personal and professional problems. While working with challenging clients and helping a troubled youth, Sarah wonders if the extra income is worth her husband’s crumbling confidence.
Starring: Sharon Cuneta, Jhong Hilario
Chito S. Roño
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.

Crying Ladies

Crying Ladies
Charged with organizing his father’s funeral, Wilson Chua (Eric Quizon) hires three professional mourners with plenty of problems and enough tears to flood Manila in this heartwarming comedy. Desperate for cash, Stella (Sharon Cuneta) is happy to take the weeklong gig crying at the traditional Chinese funeral, but the stage is set for disaster when she brings B-movie actress Chua (Hilda Koronel) and the adulterous Choleng (Angel Aquino) along.
Starring: Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Koronel
Mark Meily
Tagalog, English …
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.


Yes, she loves shoes. But Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines and two-time presidential hopeful, is passionate about more than just her soles. Offering an objective look at Marcos’s often controversial life and political career via interviews with her fans, critics and the woman herself, this thought-provoking documentary examines one of history’s most colorful examples of female leadership.
Starring: Imelda Marcos
Ramona S. Diaz
Sundance Film Festival® Nominee …

Rated G




With a daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy and a son who’s lost his much-needed scholarship, an impoverished married couple begins to abandon their faith and courage in the face of such misfortune. But when a gifted young boy called Magnifico uses his goodness to magically transform their lives for the better, the family’s belief in miracles is restored. Suddenly, living with adversity doesn’t seem like such a burden.
Starring: Jiro Manio, Lorna Tolentino
Maryo J. De los Reyes
Rated URUnrated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.


Manila by Night: City After Dark


Set in Manila’s edgiest hoods, Ishmael Bernal’s ensemble drama explores the Philippine capital’s seedier characters, including pimps, pushers and poverty-stricken prostitutes. A drug-dealing lesbian, a blind bathhouse worker and a gay clothing designer figure prominently into this unflinching trip through Manila’s dark alleys. The talented cast features Cherie Gil, Mitch Valdez, Charito Solis, Orestes Ojeda, Rio Locsin and Bernardo Bernardo.
Starring: Lorna Tolentino, Alma Moreno
Ishmael Bernal
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.

Spirit Warriors

Spirit Warriors
In this eerie thriller from the Philippines, a group of high schoolers finds themselves contending with more than the usual teen angst issues. It seems they’ve run afoul of Ulanaya, a menacing, shape-shifting ghost bent on creating terror and pandemonium throughout the land. Can these adolescent, amateur ghost hunters summon the mettle to square off against — and vanquish — such a formidable otherworldly nemesis?
Starring: Joel Alano, Roy Alvarez
Chito S. Roño

Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.

Slow Jam King

Slow  Jam King


When would-be gangsta JoJo (Ron Domingo) carjacks traveling perfume hawker Vance (Whitney Melton), JoJo’s best friend (D.K. Bowser) tags along to keep things on an even keel in this offbeat indie comedy from the Philippines. The mismatched threesome soon finds themselves on an adventurous road trip to Nashville, Tenn., where they discover the truth about the country music capital’s seamy underside.
Starring: Ron Domingo, Whitney Melton
Steven E. Mallorca
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.

Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure

Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure


In Filipino director Chito Roño’s adventure yarn, World War II veteran Lolo Melo (Armando Goyena) enjoys regaling his grandson Jobert (Danilo Barrios) with war stories, one of which includes Lolo’s participation in burying the famed Yamashita treasure. When Jobert heads to Manila to unearth the cache, little does he know that he has competition: A shadowy G-man (Albert Martinez) and a soldier of fortune (Vic Diaz) are also in pursuit of the loot.
Starring: Armando Goyena, Danilo Barrios
Chito S. Roño
Rated NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.

US Census 2010 – Deadline April 1: LET EVERY FILIPINO BE COUNTED!

Posted by FAN Admin in Home, News on 03 19th, 2010

The deadline to submit your Census form is April 1st. This is the first time that ‘Filipino’ will be listed as its own category. Please, if you or a family member has at least 1/16th of Filipino blood – check ‘Filipino’ on the form. As the forerunner to become the largest Asian American group, “the 2010 Census will determine the federal budget allocation to every state, county, city, town and district across the nation for basic services such as education, health care, job training, transportation, senior services and other services critical to everyone who lives and stays in this country.”

‘Filipino’ to Be Listed as Own Category in Census 2010

Filipino Reporter, Posted: Dec 15, 2009 Review it on NewsTrust

Filipinos living in the United States shall now be counted in the 2010 Census as Filipinos and not merely as part of an Asian ethnic group, according to the Filipino Reporter. They now have a box of their own to describe their ethnicity as a separate and distinct group of people from Asia living in the U.S.

This was announced by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Region 1 and the U.S. Bureau of Census on Nov. 28 at the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan as they launched their partnership in Census 2010 .

The 2010 Census will provide the U.S. Government with a population count for each of its 50 states inclusive of the people living in their counties, cities, towns and districts.These data will be the basis for the American federal government to determine how many representatives the people should have in the U.S. Congress, as well as in every state, county, city and town legislature or council.

Equally important, these data from the 2010 Census shall be the basis of the federal budget allocation to every state, county, city, town and district across the nation for basic services such as education, health care, job training, transportation, senior services and other services critical to everyone who lives and stays in this country.

St. Louis Beacon – Lost and found: Jim Zimmerly returned to Vietnam with adoptive family to meet his biological one

Posted by FAN Admin in Connections, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News, Our Stories on 03 12th, 2010
Lost and found: Jim Zimmerly returned to Vietnam with adoptive family to meet his biological one Print E-mail
By Kristen Hare, Beacon staff

Video by Kristen Hare

Posted 10:24 a.m. Fri., 03.12.10 – They met outside Ho Chi Minh City airport.

He was exhausted, unprepared and unsure, but Jim Zimmerly stood there surrounded by a crowd of people, in the arms of his crying mother. His biological mother. The woman who adopted him at 1, who raised him and loved him and put him through school stood nearby.

She cried, too.

Thirty-two years before, their lives all intersected when Zimmerly’s biological mother in Vietnam gave him up for adoption and a family in St. Louis signed up to adopt a child from a country still in tatters from war.

Close to 3,000 children were adopted into families in the United States during the time, with thousands more in Europe, Canada and Australia. Zimmerly was one of those children.

But it was 2007 now, and Saigon was Ho Chi Minh City, and Zimmerly wasn’t a baby, but a 32-year-old back in Vietnam for the first time.

His birth mother was small, fragile, it seemed, her hair cut short. She cried throughout the day and touched him all she could, his face, his back, as they sat at her small home around the coffee table eating plates of rice and shrimp and fish, sweating and sipping bottled water, as he met his younger brother, two younger sisters and their families.

During that trip, he probably spent a total of 10 hours with his biological family.

“I wish there was more, but it seemed like more than enough,” he says now, seated at a Starbucks in St. Peters. “What do you talk about, you know? We just sat there. You go into it thinking you’re going to have all these questions, like, who my father was.”

But once he met her, Zimmerly couldn’t ask those questions. “I didn’t know what to do.”

He points to a photo of him and his biological brother, who have the same smile. His brother was born just 10 months later, and Zimmerly thinks, that could have been me, I could have stayed in Vietnam, he could have been adopted.

It’s something he’s thought about a lot — chance. Like how easily he might have been among half of the passengers who didn’t survive the C5 Galaxy crash 35 years ago during the first flight of Operation Babylift. Or how easily he could have ended up with a family who mistreated him.

“It’s fate and destiny and a lot of luck, obviously, to survive a plane crash,” he says.

But chance hasn’t shaped everything in his life.

Family has.

ST. LOUIS, 1970s

In Vietnam, Zimmerly couldn’t ask questions about his past. But in St. Louis, they always came easily. They started as a child and often included this one: Why did you and dad decide to adopt the child of a stranger from another country?

“I’ve always known that story,” he says. “And I always remember it.”


What: “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam”

When: 7 p.m., Mon., March 15

Where: Anheuser-Busch Hall, law school at Washington University.

What else: Panel discussion afterward about intercountry adoption and cultural identity, including Sister Susan McDonald and adoptees Dan Bischoff and Jim Zimmerly.

RSVPs are required. Click here for more info.

In the 1970s, Wanda and Mel Zimmerly sat on the beach one Sunday, having a picnic during a two-week visit with her brother in California.

There, playing in the sand, was a little girl from Korea. She’d been adopted, they found out.

“Wouldn’t that be nice if we could do something like that?” Wanda Zimmerly said to her husband then. They talked about it again on the trip home to St. Louis.

About a year later, she saw an article in the newspaper about adoptions and how to help the children of Vietnam. She got more information and applied. The Zimmerlys, who worked through Friends for Children of Vietnam, had a home study and got on a waiting list. Then, they waited.

a new home


Photos provided by Jim Zimmerly

In February 1975, when the Zimmerlys’ daughter and son were 10 and 8, the family got a photo of a little boy. He was about a year old and weighed 13 pounds. They assumed his mother was dead. They had 10 days to decide if they wanted him. They did. They’d name him Jim.

One morning that April, Mel Zimmerly left for work like he always did. A little after 6:30 that morning, the home phone rang. Wanda Zimmerly answered.

“Wanda, there’s been a plane crash in Vietnam,” a friend said.

She knew they were trying to get the kids out of Vietnam, but she didn’t know if the little boy they adopted was on the plane that crashed. Later that afternoon she saw the news on TV.

The C5 Galaxy carrying Americans and orphans crashed several minutes after takeoff. Nearly half of those on board had died, including children.

Wanda Zimmerly was devastated.

A few days later, a social worker in Colorado called her and said, “I think we found Jimmy.”

Wanda Zimmerly arranged for a friend to bring the little boy from Colorado once the paper work was cleared. He arrived on a Saturday night, the day before his first birthday.

His new sister, Melissa, was 10 when Jim arrived. She remembers he was tiny and couldn’t walk, how he loved ice cream and never fussed.

Three years later, a letter arrived from Friends for All Children in Colorado.

“In April of 1975, a plane evacuating 228 of our children from Viet Nam crashed. Seventy eight of the children and six staff were killed. One hundred and fifty children survived. Your child was one of the surviving children.”


For several years, the Zimmerly family traveled to Washington, D.C., regularly, like other families in the lawsuits against Lockheed and the government for the crash of the C5 Galaxy.

a new family


Jim is held by his sister, Melissa, as his brother, Melvin, stands by.

During those trials, it came out that the rear doors of the cargo plane had blown off after takeoff, as they’d done 17 times before. There was no oxygen, and children passed out as the plane crashed. That loss of oxygen caused some of the children to suffer minimal brain damage.

Jim Zimmerly saw doctors, was strapped down for a cat scan and visited an empty courtroom. To him, it was a big vacation. He started bragging to friends about how many times he’d been to D.C.

The first trial ended in mistrial, and a second trial proceeded, where the Zimmerlys were included in a class action suit. That trial ended in a settlement and the Zimmerlys returned to St. Louis, but Operation Babylift remained an important part of their lives.

ST. LOUIS, 1980-2005

Nearly every summer through the end of high school, many of the Operation Babylift families vacationed together.

They went to Colorado, Cape Cod, Wild Dunes, S.C., Oregon, Disneyland and even St. Louis. They stayed in their own rented houses or hotels, but gathered together for meals and activities.

Friends with a common bond


Jim is the first person on the right in a vacation photo with other Operation Babylift families.

Though all the kids lived in different parts of the country, Jim Zimmerly grew to think of them as a family. Among them were an understanding and a connection that didn’t require explaining or a map. It was easy.

Zimmerly always knew he was adopted, he’d heard the story again and again. And though his father’s side of the family were traditional German immigrants who saw black, white and Asian with clear differences, Zimmerly’s father wouldn’t allow that kind of thinking in his own home.

As a child, if Zimmerly cracked a joke about not really being his son, his father got angry.

“He would almost hit me, saying ‘I am your father. Don’t say that.'”

The signals weren’t always so clear in other places though. Zimmerly, who went to Country Day School, was often asked where he was from.

Vietnam, he’d say.

Oh, the war, kids replied. Which side are you on?

He had no idea what they meant.

During his teen years, Zimmerly distanced himself from Operation Babylift. He had his adoptee friends, but didn’t want to know the details of the crash or the war or anything to do with Vietnam.

In 2005, a 30-year reunion changed that. The group, organized by Sister Mary Nelle Gage, one of the nuns at the Vietnamese orphanages, met in Estes Park, Colo. Twenty-six of the adoptees came, including the crowd Zimmerly had grown up with. By then, most of them were 30 and had already been back to Vietnam. (Story continues below the photo of the 30-year reunion)


At one point during the long weekend was a group session to talk about how people were doing.

“It was awful,” Zimmerly says. “I mean, it was awesome, but it was awful at the same time.”

He heard a lot of pain, a struggle for identity and issues with adoptive families.

And he thought, that could have been me.

Zimmerly decided to return to Vietnam, to see it for himself, and soon, his mother had located two brothers and a sister who were also adopted in the United States. Through them, she found out that his birth mother was still living.

In 2007, with the mother who raised him and his sister, the Zimmerlys went over to meet is birth mother.

ST. LOUIS, 2010

In 2009, Jim Zimmerly and Wanda Zimmerly returned to Vietnam for a second time. He saw his birth mother again, but a stroke she’d had 10 years before was causing her health to decline.

That same year, at 34, he was diagnosed with heart disease. Shortly after that, he had heart surgery.

“I dodged a bullet twice,” he says.

he ‘knows who he is’


Jim Zimmerly, easy going and quick to laugh, has always been that way. But after his heart surgery, it takes even more to get him rattled.

Still, it happens.

People say stupid things all the time, like how he looks like that guy from “Entourage” or “Mad TV.” They’re small things, like the comments growing up. But they continue.

“I think it’s ignorance,” he says, “but sometimes it does get to me.”

“The discrimination is what amazed me,” says his sister, Melissa Narez. “I forget that he’s Asian and he doesn’t look like me.”

Jim Zimmerly knows that he and the other Babylift adoptees didn’t have what kids have now when they’re adopted transracially and internationally. There weren’t any culture camps back then, or books or classes for parents.

“I don’t speak Vietnamese; I don’t know much abut the food,” he says.

He wishes he did.

And though he’s met his biological family, there’s no bond there, not with his biological mother or siblings.

He wishes there was.

While he doesn’t let it get to him, sometimes, Zimmerly feels like there’s no real place for him.

“Here, you’re Vietnamese,” he says. “There, you’re an American.”

In the 35 years since Operation Babylift, Sister Susan Carol McDonald has seen how differently adoptees handle their identity.

babylift150sistersusannow.jpg“Well, most of them would say that they grew up and realized they looked different from other people and some didn’t have a problem with this, some did,” says McDonald (right), who cared for orphans in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975. “Many of them were wishing they had lighter color skin, that their eyes were shaped differently, that their hair was curly or blond, wanting to fit in. Most of them had other children teasing them with karate moves or making Chinese eyes or talking in some gobbledygook language. So they knew that they were different.”

For some, it wasn’t a big deal. For others, it was.

The issues of racial identity might be specific to transracial adoption, but the issue of identity in general isn’t. McDonald thinks many adoptees hesitated in asking more about their past because they didn’t want to hurt their adoptive parents.

“Parents would say, oh, he’s an all-American boy, she’s an all-American girl. I think some felt they had to live up to that.”

In fact, she says, some rejected their heritage because they didn’t see it in their families. Wanda Zimmerly, who still speaks on a weekly basis with other Babylift families, doesn’t know much about transracial adoption today. But without meaning to, she and the other families helped their children have a place to process their identity every summer. While the reunions ended after high school, in the last few years, many of the adoptees have reconnected online.

“Jimmy knows who he is,” his mom says.

And he agrees with that. He’s 35, a tax consultant, laid-back, single, living the life. He’s adopted from a place remembered for war, the survivor of a crash that killed half of those on board, the youngest of three, a St. Louis native and a St. Charles transplant. All those things are part of him. His family had a lot to do with his acceptance of that, he says.

“They made me belong.”

Next year, Jim Zimmerly plans on returning to Vietnam with his mom. While there, they’ll visit his birth mom again.

NEXT: Sister Susan Carol McDonald plans a trip back to Vietnam with adoptees for the 35th anniversary of Operation Babylift.

Post Adoption Services: Beginning Your Search and Reunion

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, FAN Announcements, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, Our Stories on 03 11th, 2010

At some point as adoptees, we wonder about the woman that gave us life, the caregivers that looked after us, what our medical history is, what physical attributes were passed down to us and so on. It is not an easy decision to start a search considering the many implications, frustrations, or worries that may raise.  Just know that you are not alone.

FAN has assisted dozens of adoptees and families who have inquired about search and reunion. Through the Network we’ve connected with adult adoptees who have begun their search and a handful who have successfully reunited with their birth family. Our close partnership with the  Intercountry Adoption Board has also provided needed assistance.

Feel free mail info@filipino-adoptees-network if you have an inquiries.

* Please note that if you are under the age of 18 years old, you MUST have the consent of your legal guardian to initiate a search and reunion.

* There is no guarantee that a search will be successful but this should not deter you from doing so. A search can actually provide unknown information that you were unaware of and can sometimes fill the gaps in your adoption story.

Before you decide to contact ICAB, the following information will be very helpful. It can be found on your birth certificate or the case study conducted before your adoption.

– Date of Birth

– Location of Birth

– Name of orphanage in the Philippines if you resided in one before your adoption

– Whether your adoption was private or not

– Name of foreign adoption agency i.e. U.S agency

– Date of adoption

– Name of birth mother

The Intercountry Adoption Board oversees all international (and domestic) adoptions and also has a team that provides post adoption services to assist you in your search. You can request for your original birth certificate and adoption records although if you were privately adopted prior to the 1980’s there is no guarantee of such records.


Counseling about adoption issues.

Access to original birth certificate

Provision of adoption records

Assistance to interpret and clarify information in the records

Search assistance  to find birth family and relatives.

Other intermediary services for adoptive parents, birth parents  and relatives.

Motherland Tour


  • DSWD Archive
  • Inter-Country Adoption Board


A. Search process:

  • The intent to search may be allowed only upon the personal request made by either  the adult adoptee, adopter or the biological parent/s. Minors who are interested to search for his/her biological parent/s shall be represented by his/her adoptive parents.
  • The request must be made in writing  by whoever intends to trace his/her roots to the Executive Director  of the Inter-Country Adoption Board.
  • Assess and determine the motivations and preparedness of the individual  to pursue the search.
  • Identifying information e.g., names, address, personal  background etc. may be shared only between  and among the adult adoptee, adoptive parents and his/her birth parents and only of they give their written consent.
  • Non-identifying  information e.g., medical records circumstances which lead to the adoption of child but not  necessarily  divulging  the identity  of concerned individual etc. may be made available  to both adoptive parents/s and birth parents and the adoptee under 18 years old.
  • The use of tri-media.

B. Meeting/Reunion:

  • Approval/Consent from the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee must be secured before  contact and/or  reunion with each other can be arranged.]
  • When reunion is decided, preparations of all concerned must be carefully planned to avoid any possible  negative experience. The social worker must also consider the decision and the readiness of  the adoptee  and the biological parent/s on whether to involve  the significant  person/s in their  present lives.
  • The timing of any approach  to family members  is very critical  and incredibly important at this point. The social worker  must be aware of the impact  on all parties desiring contact. He/She  must  be able  to offer  a mediating approach  to support  people at  this time, and to try  and negotiate and agreeable outcome for all concerned, while  at the same time  providing  support the process.
  • The birth parent/s and the adoptee  must be given time and space to arrive at a decision at how their lives will move on after the reunion.

Adoptive Families Magazine: Bringing Heritage Home

Posted by lecrowder in Back To Our Roots, Home, News on 03 8th, 2010

Bringing Heritage Home

An age-by-age guide to cultural activities that help our children take pride in their identity.

By Rebecca Klein

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Whether your child was adopted from Houston or Hangzhou, chances are, her ethnic heritage is not the same as yours, and may be different from that of her brothers and sisters, too. Incorporating our children’s birth cultures into our families seems pretty straightforward at first–heritage activities, like celebrating holidays, attending festivals, and making traditional foods, are things that everyone can enjoy. But as kids grow, it becomes more difficult to balance cultural activities with homework, after-school sports, and friends–not to mention accommodating siblings of different ethnicities. In our busy lives, we might wonder, is it really worth the effort?

When Shelly Stackhouse’s three children, adopted from Korea, were young, the family looked forward to an annual event at a Korean church near their Connecticut home. “My children enjoyed the food and dance demonstrations,” she recalls.

Now that they’re older, they don’t attend the event anymore, but their early exposure to the culture has made them more comfortable with their ethnicity. At 15, 13, and 10, the kids say the activity that they like the most is eating at a local Korean restaurant. “I can cook Korean food, but it means more to them to go to a restaurant staffed by Koreans,” says Stackhouse. And they take pride in having Korean items as decorations around the house, too. “They will object if something is moved from its place!”

They are all proud of their heritage, says Stackhouse, mainly because the family has treated their culture as part of everyday life. “We haven’t made a huge deal about Korea; we have simply included it in our family life, just as we eat food, celebrate holidays, and have stuff around the house that reflects my husband’s Scottish and Dutch and my German heritage. We take on each other’s cultures because we are a family,” she says.

Food, holidays, and decorations are aspects of culture that all of us incorporate into our lives. And although our efforts may, on occasion, feel forced, or even artificial, adoption experts and adult adoptees alike report that learning to be proud of one’s culture of origin at an early age pays dividends in self-esteem over a lifetime. “When adoptees grow up, we want them to be comfortable in their own skin, and have a positive feeling about their identity,” says AF‘s transracial parenting expert, Deborah Johnson, an adoptee from Korea and the director of a heritage travel company, Kindred Journeys International. And introducing children to their heritage helps them feel comfortable among their ethnic peers as adults. When our children are young, they are seen as part of a multiracial family, but after they grow up, they are viewed by the world as a member of their racial or ethnic group. Heritage activities don’t make them experts, but they do make their culture more familiar.

So how can you help your child think positively about his ethnicity throughout his life? We asked parents, adoptees, and adoption experts to share ideas for celebrating heritage at every stage.

��Kids know if they’re different, so let them know it’s cool to be different.” –Deborah Johnson

After we bring our children home, we focus on their heritage of birth. Celebrating heritage is fun–we hang ethnic decorations, connect with other families who have adopted from the same country, and celebrate holidays. Some families form culture playgroups, with toddler-level language lessons and songs. (For information on starting such a playgroup, go to At this age, children are happy to participate in introductions to the sounds and tastes of their culture of origin.

Get Cooking
Kids love to act as sous chef in the kitchen (even if they don’t like to clean up their messes), so involve them in cooking foods from their birth culture. Check out a kids’ cookbook for ideas. Try Kids Around the World Cook!, by Arlette N. Braman, or The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook, by Deanna F. Cook. And go to for our readers’ favorite recipes.

However, we shouldn’t stop at our child’s birth culture–we should also introduce the idea that we live in a multicultural world. Preschoolers notice differences, and it’s key to let them know that the way our families are formed is normal and acceptable. “Often, we try so hard to be politically correct that we don’t talk about skin color, and kids may see color as a negative thing,” says Johnson. This is the time to expose them to a variety of people and give them the language to describe the differences they see. Ask, What color is Mommy’s hair? What shape are your eyes? What about our neighbors? This lets children know that it’s acceptable to notice differences, and helps them normalize any “differentness” they might be feeling.

By exposing children to many cultures, we help them appreciate the differences in our world. Surround them with multicultural books, toys, and dolls. Watch TV shows and movies that show different cultures, and talk about them together. Kids this age also love attending a Martin Luther King, Jr., parade, a St. Patrick’s Day festival, or a Cinco de Mayo meal at a restaurant.

Alexis Itoh, of Portland, Oregon, is introducing her daughter, Ellie, to several cultures. “My daughter is of African-American and Hispanic ethnicity. We take part in family events with friends from Africa, and she goes to a daycare center with other African-American children. This will give her a sense of belonging and help her understand her origins.”

But Itoh also wants Ellie to feel at home in her family’s culture, which includes Persian and Japanese roots. “Our daughter belongs to our family’s culture, as well, so there’s no need to submerge her in African culture. Our goal is to experience a variety of cultures, to give her respect for all of society.”
Elementary Schoolers
��Your child won’t say, �I wish I were white,’ she’ll say, �Let’s skip culture day, I’d rather play soccer.'” –Jane Brown

While preschoolers are proud of their differences, school-age kids hate feeling different. They may hear racist comments and teasing at school, and this can lead them to reject heritage activities. “Once children experience racism, they may begin to reject their heritage, unless they have close relationships with adults and families who look like them to counter the negative views,” says Jane Brown, MSW, founder of Adoption Playshops. “Your child won’t say, �I wish I were white,’ she’ll say, �Let’s skip culture day, I’d rather play soccer.'”

Though your kids may start to pull away from heritage activities, you can still expose them to activities with kids and families that share their ethnicity. And that may mean going beyond our neighborhoods to befriend people of their ethnicity. Laralee DeHart, of Shreveport, Louisiana, wanted her African-American children to know adults who looked like them, so she searched for an African-American church that would welcome families like theirs. They found one, and they are grateful to the church members who interact with their children. “We are thankful for the people at church who build relationships with our kids,” she says. “Our children are still very young, but it has become �normal’ for them.”

Start a Book Club
Initiate a parent-child reading group that celebrates heritage. Focus on books with characters of your child’s ethnicity, and recruit book club members by posting an announcement on adoption listservs or in your local paper. Or choose a multicultural theme: Your child’s friends and classmates can suggest books about their heritage, too. Take turns hosting with other parents, and offer foods that relate to a chosen book’s story. Check out our age-appropriate book picks at

Adoption groups can provide opportunities for our kids to be with others who look like them. Carrie Hamm, of Stillwater, Minnesota, and her family are part of Harambee Village, a group that is part of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, whose members have adopted black or biracial children. She knows the family activities there help her seven-year-old son feel that he fits in, but she sees how much her Caucasian daughter enjoys the events, as well. “Our strawberry-blonde daughter loves being with the little girls who look like her brother, and she gets to be the �minority child’ for a few hours,” says Hamm.

Elementary school is an ideal time to study a language–children pick up unfamiliar words more easily than adults do. Even minimal study helps our children when they, as adults, face expectations based on their ethnicity. “We’re expected to know everything about our birth culture, even though we did not grow up in it,” says Hollee McGinnis, an adoptee, and policy and operations director for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Even benign assumptions are annoying. “People who don’t know me assume I speak Spanish,” says Marissa, age 21, an adoptee from Colombia. “Normally, when this happens, I politely correct them, or simply answer them in English. But sometimes, I find it irritating.” Marissa remembers an incident when she was at a club near her college and a fellow student–who was white–came up to her and started speaking in broken Spanish. “He assumed that I was Latina, and that I spoke Spanish. I wish people would respect my privacy,” she says.

Adoptee Kris Pak wishes she had learned Korean as a child, to help her connect with other Koreans in America and Korea. “For adoptees, knowing the language offers access to our ethnic communities like nothing else can,” she says. “I went to language classes, with little progress, as an adult. I can at least order food and ask where the bathroom is.”

Language classes also provide our kids an opportunity to be with children who look like them. Laura Manville, of Hartland, Wisconsin, says her daughter, Sara, gets more out of Chinese school than language. “Participating in a school where others look like her is key to her sense of belonging,” she says. Families who don’t have a local language school may consider sending their child to a language camp. Concordia Language Villages, for example, offers language camps for kids ages seven and up, as well as “immersion weekends” for families.
��Having role models of their own ethnicity has helped our children become more self-confident, and proud of their culture and our family.” –Mary Coyle

When children reach the tween years, it’s important for them to see what they’ll look like and act like as teens. Preteens often have a hard time finding mentors in their everyday lives. “Kids don’t often have cool role models, like older cousins, who look like them and relate to their experience,” says Johnson. Role models are key to forming identity. In a survey of adult adoptees, conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, having mentors of their own race was more influential than visiting a birth country or going to a culture camp.

Johnson says that her son didn’t see many children of different ethnicities, growing up in Minnesota. So when he went to culture camp, he was thrilled to meet the counselors. “At camp, there were older guys who were surfers, and my son went gaga,” says Johnson. “Suddenly, there were these cool guys who looked like him.”

Visit an Ethnic Neighborhood
Take a day trip to a nearby city and visit its ethnic neighborhoods. Many are walkable, and full of restaurants and markets where you can soak up the language and culture. If your kids are old enough to appreciate the history of the area, see if tours are available. For example, the Museum of Chinese in America, in New York’s Chinatown, offers walking tours. If you haven’t booked your summer vacation yet, consider including one of these neighborhoods in your trip:
� Chinatown, San Francisco
� Little India, Chicago
� Jackson Heights, Queens, New York (large Colombian and Indian communities)
� Koreatown, Los Angeles
� Little Ethiopia, Washington, DC
� San Antonio, Texas (large Hispanic community)
� Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York (large Russian community)
� San Jose, California (large Vietnamese community)

Many adult adoptee groups have mentor programs, in which preteens are matched with young adult adoptees. Look into your local Big Brother/Big Sister programs–your child probably won’t be matched with another adoptee, but he can learn a lot by spending time with an older teen.

Hosting an exchange student from another country is a good way to expose children to teens of their own ethnicity, as well as to the modern culture of their birth country. “We have hosted three exchange students from Korea, to help the kids see what they will look like as teenagers,” says Mary Coyle, of Ashburn, Virginia. “It has helped them become self-confident, and proud of their culture and of our family.”

As do younger children, preteens hate to feel different, and they thrive in places where they can hang out with other kids of their ethnicity. This is the time to expand your child’s horizons beyond the adoption community, and into the community of African Americans, Latino Americans, or Asian Americans. Julie Michaels, who lives in a primarily white community in western Massachusetts, began sending her daughter, Lily (now 17), to a one-week Chinese-American summer camp when Lily was in elementary school. Lily was one of the few adoptees and one of few campers who did not hear Chinese spoken at home. Michaels is grateful for the cultural experiences Lily has had at the camp, but she values her daughter’s time with other Asian-American peers even more. “After 10 years at camp, with the same kids, she has a gang of friends to hang out with, chat and share makeup tips with. And they happen to be Asian-American.”

Jana Wolff, of Honolulu, Hawaii, traded homes with a family in Oakland, California, for two weeks, so that her African-American son could spend time in a community with a large African-American population and attend the local YMCA day camp. “My son had a great time with his new friends, and gained an understanding that there are places in this country and in this world where people of color are in the majority,” says Wolff.

It also helps children to see faces like theirs in magazines. Check out Mei, for Chinese adoptees; Footsteps, for African-American children; and Faces, which has a multicultural focus.
��The ongoing support of my family gave me the confidence I needed as a struggling adopted Filipina American.”–Lorial Crowder

Don’t take the eye-rolling at face value: Teens are sometimes more interested in learning about their culture than they let on. “Teens do have an interest, but have a hard time expressing it in a positive way,” says Johnson. “Engage them without putting on the pressure.”

Be creative about defining “culture,” and encourage your teen to explore what he’s interested in. That might mean following the stats of Colombia’s top soccer stars or downloading Indian hip-hop. This kind of cultural fluency will be especially important when they become adults and interact with other Latinos or Indian Americans.

Go to a Museum
There’s plenty of cultural fun at your local children’s museum. Many have permanent global exhibits, where kids can try on traditional clothing and taste foods from different cultures (the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has a “Different Lands, Different Masks” exhibit; the Austin Children’s Museum’s “En Mi Familia” area immerses kids in Latino culture). Even if your museum doesn’t have a permanent collection, ask about special events and traveling exhibits. If your tween balks at visiting a museum, a special-interest museum might be up her alley. Take your sports nut to the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum in San Francisco, or bring your little fashionista to the Bata Shoe Museum, in Toronto, which showcases footwear from around the world.)

Filipina adoptee Lorial Crowder began to connect to her birth culture as a teen, through food. “I befriended a Filipina American in high school, and she gave me my first exposure to Filipino culture. Her mother introduced me to traditional Filipino cuisine,” says Crowder. As an adult, Crowder was thrilled when her family members joined her at a Filipino restaurant. “It made me realize how supportive my family was and continues to be,” she says.

The teen years are a good time for a homeland trip, since teens are able to reflect more deeply on such an experience than a younger kid. If a heritage trip isn’t doable, our choices in family vacations can have an impact, too. “Instead of traveling to a place where you’ll mostly encounter people like yourself, go where there will be families of color,” says Brown. Plan a trip to a diverse city, and explore the ethnic neighborhoods, or head for a part of the country where there are lots of people of your child’s ethnicity.

Leslie Kizner, of Long Island, New York, and her daughter, Emily, vacationed in Emily’s city of birth, San Antonio, Texas. Emily was thrilled to be among that city’s large Hispanic population. “Being part of a majority culture, even for a few days, was a powerful experience for Emily,” says Kizner. “She talks about moving to Texas as an adult.”

Perhaps the best thing we can do is just to be there for our children, and be open to any way they choose to connect with their heritage. “My parents encouraged me to seek my own answers about my heritage,” says Crowder. “Undoubtedly, the ongoing support of my family gave me the confidence I needed as a Filipina American.” Our encouragement can help them feel proud of where they came from.

Rebecca Klein is the associate editor of Adoptive Families.

Where He’s Going

Seventeen years into the experience, my family doesn”t think much about adoption these days. What once felt like a new outfit now feels like a second skin. We are a non-issue to relatives and friends–a luxury that came  with time.

We spent years talking about adoption–“Not that again,” my son used to grumble–and years trying to boost the racial identity of a black child with white parents. We sought enrichment in all the recommended ways: culture camps, a multiracial neighborhood, books, role models, friends of color, frank conversations, travel, and a family holiday we called Kwanzukkah.

It”s hard to say whether any of these had a lasting impact on our high-school-age son, though we certainly have some great family memories. We hope that the values took hold at some level; they certainly did for my husband and me. Transracial adoption changes the world of our children and the world-view of their parents. When racism becomes personal, as it has for us, introverted personalities become outspoken, as we stand up against inappropriate comments. Thousands of tiny corrections hopefully have a cumulative impact on breaking down stereotypes and increasing the acceptance of unmatched families like ours.

But our son”s life is not about promoting global tolerance. Being black is much more an issue for him than being transracially adopted is, especially as he spends less time with his white parents. The sight of a six-foot-tall black youth, with dreads, evokes a racist reflex sometimes–in a store clerk who follows him around or a suspicious security guard at his own high school. When he seems detached about the country”s first black president, when he himself embodies ethnic stereotypes about dress and language and definitions of success, our son is choosing a world that is more limited than the one we had hoped he”d internalize.

But he is only 17, and he has a lifetime of chances to embrace his potential. So for now, where he is going is more important than where he came from.

Jana Wolff ( is the author of Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother.

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Filipino Heritage Camp – Registration now OPEN!

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, Connections, Events, FAN Announcements, Home on 03 8th, 2010

Reminder – FHC Registration is now OPEN – March 8-May 15th!

Camp Fees

The program cost for camps is $95 – $125 per person in the family, depending on grade level, with middle and high school being at the higher end due to extra activities at each camp. Lodging fees are in addition to camp program fees. Lodging is available onsite for Fraser, Winter Park, and Estes Park camps – cost is depending on the accommodation package selected. Average cost of lodging is $175 per night for a family of four. Offsite lodging is also available should you choose to make your own reservations. For Denver camps only offsite lodging is available – area hotel rates will be provided upon registration. Deadlines for completed registrations, which are processed on a first come / first served basis, are noted for each camp.

You will receive registration information in the mail approximately 3 weeks prior to the opening of online registration for each camp.


For Lodging information at for Filipino Heritage Camp click here.



Whether driving or flying to Colorado from out-of-state, we highly recommend that you arrive a day or two before camp, so your family can acclimate to our higher altitude! If your camp is being held in the mountains, you might enjoy staying in Denver for a couple of nights, which is a bit of an adjustment at 5,280 feet, then going up to the mountains for camp, which will be at about 9,000 feet! You are also welcome to arrange lodging at the camp site either before camp or after camp, but you will have to do that through individual reservations, and not through our group rate.


The airport you will be flying into for camp is Denver International Airport. It is approximately 30 minutes from central Denver and about 2 1/2 hours from Winter Park and Fraser. It is about 1 1/2 hours from Estes Park. We highly recommend that you fly in one to two days early, so that your family can acclimate to the higher altitude in Colorado before camp begins. Camp will end around noon on the last day. Please schedule your flight that day to allow for the recommended arrival at the airport two hours before flight time.


We highly recommend you rent a car as it will be much easier for you and your family to get back and forth from the airport to camp, and then to get around easier with your family in the location where your camp is held.

Counselors and volunteers:  Please contact the Counselor Coordinator or Directors of camp to arrange possible transportation.