Teacher Resources 

Interested in some great books and curriculum kits to share with your Filipino-Canadian students? Here are a few favourite resources to get you started!

Ages 4+

Hoy! A Philippine Islands Activity Book

Photo by E. Tigley.

Photo by E. Tigley.

Written and Illustrated by Eric B. Tigley

Edited by Jennilee Austria

Published by YETI Arts, 2018

With over 60 pages dedicated to Philippine history and culture, children can practice baybayin script writing, colour pages about national heroes like Jose Rizal or Gabriela Silang, or learn about mythical creatures like the aswang!

Hoy! A Philippine Islands Activity Book is a groundbreaking collection of colouring pages, mazes, and puzzles awaits children ages five and up. This activity book was edited by yours truly (such an honour!) and designed and illustrated by Toronto-based Filipino-Canadian educator, artist and facilitator Eric B. Tigley.

Book Eric today for a memorable, engaging presentation in your classrooms!

Photo by J. Austria.

Photo by J. Austria.

Sandy Beaches to Snow, Snow to Sandy Beaches

By Mila Bongco-Philipzig

Illustrated by Jamie Bauza

Published by Anvil Publishing, Inc.

This is a fantastic book to spark discussions about transnationalism with young students! Written by Filipino-Canadian author Mila Bongco-Philipzig, this bilingual book is in both English and Filipino.

It is divided into two parts: the first section, “Sandy Beaches to Snow,” follows a family as they transition from the Philippines to their new lives in Canada.

Photo by J. Austria.

Photo by J. Austria.

And in the second section, “Snow to Sandy Beaches,” a Filipino-Canadian family travels back to the Philippines for a visit. Both sections have a perfect balance of anxiety and excitement that make these journeys so real and relatable.

My favourite line from Sandy Beaches to Snow:

This new place cannot be that scary if people dress like that, I think. I smile and get ready for the long, long trip to the other side of the world. // Naku—kapag ganito ang suot nila roon sa ibang bansa, hindi ko na kailangan pang matakot. Ngumiti ako at naghanda na para sa napakalayong paglipad patungo sa kabilang dako ng mundo.

My favourite line from Snow to Sandy Beaches:

“I look at the food on the table, but I’m too nervous and excited to eat. Will they like me? How will we talk to each other?” // Tiningnan ko ang pagkain sa mesa pero hindi ako makakain. Sobra akong kinakabahan at nasasabik. Magugustuhan kaya nila ako? Paano kaya kami mag-uusap-usap?”

Sandy Beaches to Snow is an essential book that will speak to both first and second-generation students alike!


Filipino Celebrations

By Liana Romulo

Illustrated by Corazon Dandan-Albano

Published by Tuttle Press

In this book for elementary school classrooms, Filipino Celebrations will encourage any young reader to learn more about Filipino culture.

While a teacher might think that Filipino celebrations would be the same as they would be in Canada (ie. Christmas and Easter), one look at Romulo’s work will show any educator that Filipinos truly celebrate in a different way. (See her page on All Saint’s Day!) This a wonderful way to start a discussion about cultural differences and the importance of keeping traditions alive— even in a new country.

Romulo’s book also includes crafts such as Ati-Atihan Festival Masks and recipes such as Pastillas de Leche, making this book a multifaceted resource for primary classrooms. Romulo has also written Filipino Friends, Asian Children’s Favorite Stories, Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories, and My First Book of Tagalog Words, which are all published with Tuttle Press.

Available at the Toronto Public Library.

Ages 9-13

Free Filipino-Canadian Curriculum Resources: www.passocproject.com

Photo by the PASSOC committee.

Photo by the PASSOC committee.

The PASSOC (Philippine Arts & Social Studies in the Ontario Curriculum) Project was designed in collaboration with teachers from the Toronto Catholic District School Board, members the York Centre for Asian Research, and York University professors to provide a wonderful Filipino-Canadian curriculum kit for Grades 6-8.

Covering Social Studies, Geography, and Dance, this resource is completely free and absolutely invaluable for the educator seeking culturally-responsive Filipino-Canadian curriculum material. And for teachers who are not handling the middle grades, every lesson can be adapted to high school or elementary grades, as well. Check out PASSOC today!

Photo by J. Austria.

Photo by J. Austria.

Lola: A Ghost Story

Written by J. Torres, Illustrated by Elbert Or

Published by Oni Press

When Jesse goes back to his family home in the Philippines, he finds that he has inherited his Lola’s (grandmother’s) gift for seeing the supernatural.

J. Torres is a Filipino-Canadian comic book writer who won the Shuster Award for Outstanding Writer for his work on Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Love as a Foreign Language and Teen Titans Go. He is also the writer of Alison Dare, Days Like This, and has also written for Avatar: The Last Airbender, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, Ninja Scroll, Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman, and WALL-E: Recharge.

Lola: A Ghost Story is the perfect graphic novel for readers interested in the eerier side of the Philippines.

Available at the Toronto Public Library.

O.C.W.: A Young Boy’s Search for his Mother

Photo by J. Austria.

Photo by J. Austria.

Written by Carla M. Pacis

Illustrated by Yasmin Ong

Published by Cacho Publishing House/Anvil Publishing, 2001

Millions of Filipino children have experienced family separation, and this book is the only one I’ve found that addresses this in a way that’s approachable for students in the middle grades.

In O.C.W.: A Young Boy’s Search for his Mother, Tonio’s mother leaves for Hong Kong to make money to support her husband and children in the Philippines. But when their situation worsens, Tonio embarks on a quest to get to Hong Kong to bring his mother back home. From the darkest corners of Manila to the metropolis of Hong Kong, this story is unlike any other about the Filipino diaspora.

A fictional story suitable for readers in the middle grades and reluctant readers in secondary school.

Ages 13+

Something in Between

Photo by J. Austria.

Photo by J. Austria.

Written by Melissa De La Cruz

Published by Harlequin Teen

Jasmine de los Santos is a Filipino-American growing up in California. She’s also a top scholar, a head cheerleader, and a valedictorian, too.

But when she receives a scholarship that lets her go to any American university, her parents tell her something that changes her life forever: their family’s visas have expired, and their documents are forged. They are in America without green cards.

As Jasmine travels to the White House, leads her team to the national cheerleading competition, and experiences the ups and downs of first love, she tries to overcome the biggest obstacle of all. Does she get deported, or does she find a way to stay? 

This fictional novel was inspired by the author’s own immigration experience— she moved to America as a teenager, but didn’t get citizenship for 28 years. Although the American and Canadian experiences differ quite a bit (Filipinos aren’t commonly in Canada without status), Something in Between would still be a powerful addition to any YA shelf.

Available at the Toronto Public Library.


Fresh Off the Boat

Written by Melissa De La Cruz

Published by HarperCollins Publishers 2005

When Vicenza’s family has to suddenly move from Manila to San Francisco, she has to adapt to a different country and to a different social class, too. They leave a life of private schools, designer clothes, and hired help to working in the Sears employee cafeteria, sleeping on mattresses held up with wooden planks and bricks, and shopping at the Salvation Army. Through it all, 14-year-old Vicenza writes to Peaches, her best friend back home, exaggerating how happy she is in her new American life.

My favourite Fresh Off the Boat excerpt:

“In Manila, my family would never even shop at a store like Sears. In Manila, I would never have this kind of problem. First of all, in Manila, I was popular. That’s what sucked so much about living in America. Just when it mattered the most, all the rules had changed, and I was suddenly out of the game.”

Available at the Toronto Public Library.

Photo by J. Austria.

Photo by J. Austria.

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me

Written and Illustrated by Lorina Mapa

Published by Conundrum Press

A groundbreaking graphic memoir by a Filipina-Canadian Lorina Mapa.

Upon her father’s unexpected death in the Philippines, Lorina Mapa leaves Canada to return to her childhood home, where she is confronted with her memories of growing up in Manila in the 1980s.

With references ranging from Depeche Mode and Duran Duran to Imelda Marcos and the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me seamlessly blends popular culture and contemporary Philippine history. Perfect for students interested in politics, military coups, history, biography, and graphic novels.

Available at the Toronto Public Library.

This list is always growing! Would you like to add something to it? Contact me!