Hawaii to be 1st state to teach Filipino history course in schools thanks to its student creators


Hawaii high schools are introducing a first-of-its-kind social studies course called CHR 2300 Filipino History Culture, which was created by a group of Filipino students who felt their stories deserved a place in the classroom.

About the course: Waipahu and Farrington high schools, where over half of the current student populations are Filipino, will be the first in the nation to offer the class in their public school curriculum after the Hawaii Department of Education approved the course.

The course will cover six units, including Identity, Philippine History, Culture and Connections, Filipinos in Hawaii and the U.S., Philippines in an Interconnected World and Community Engagement and Civic Action. The course aims to strengthen intergenerational relationships and make learning Filipino American History a regular part of every classroom, eliminating the need for a designated month to do so.

Passing HCR56: The achievement comes after two years of effort by student-led group Filipino Curriculum Project (FCP), initially founded by Marissa Halagao when she was a high school sophomore at Punahou High School. Their effort led to the unanimous passing of House Concurrent Resolution 56 in May 2022, creating space for a course on Filipino history, culture and identity within the Hawaii Department of Education.

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“I'm so excited and so grateful that this course is finally getting approved,” Halagao told ABS-CBN News. “I started this project as a sophomore in high school and now I'm a graduated senior and it's just so amazing to see how far we've come.”

Cultural disconnection: Although Filipinos make up a quarter of the student population in Hawaii's public schools, many students report feeling disconnected from their culture.

“Filipino kids who were born here weren’t really learning about themselves in the classroom. So I saw that problem. And I just told myself that, hey I want to teach this,” Raymart Billote, FCP co-director, told Hawaii News Now. “To really show the next generation of Filipino kids, students that their history is worth talking about.”

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Course date: The curriculum is approved to be taught in all Hawaii public schools, with hopes to expand to more schools in the future. While the FCP’s course is scheduled to be taught in the fall of 2024, students may now register for the course.

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