The Little Manila After School Program (LMASP) addresses the invisibility of Filipino-American narratives in local school curriculum by educating high school youth about Philippine and Filipino American history. Established at Edison High School in 2008 by Little Manila co-founder Dillon Delvo and former youth board member Alma Riego, the program serves as an extension of the Foundation’s mission to remember and reclaim the history and contributions of Stockton’s Filipino-American community. This year, LMASP welcomes former board intern and recent UC Berkeley grad Brian Batugo as co-teacher alongside Riego.
LMASP students have explored history and education from a uniquely Filipino American perspective. In its first year, LMASP students collaborated on a theatrical skit, “A Day in the Life of a Manong,” performed in front of elementary school audiences. The performance had such an impact that it sparked a post-show dialogue between younger students and the high school actors about the discrimination Filipino American’s faced in the 1920s. Performing Little Manila’s history with educational purpose was developed further in the following year’s creation of the Living Museum. With historical pictures and artifacts, LMASP students performed short tableaus embodying the narratives of Little Manila’s field workers, boxers, barbers, store owners, pageant queens, military service men, and lodge leaders. The living museum not only continued to expose Stockton’s Filipino American history to an eager audience of elementary school students, but gave voice to the faces captured in the photographs after decades of still-frame silence.
LMASP students have also explored topics on Filipino American art, culture and identity. In the past, students have celebrated the holiday season by learning to make colorful, star-shaped Parol lanterns. Students have also learned about the Filipino writing system Baybayin to strengthen their understanding of the Philippine’s pre-colonial history. Guest speakers from San Francisco’s Bindlestiff Studio, the first Filipino-American theater space in the Bay Area, facilitated a shadow puppetry workshop to develop the creativity and story-telling capabilities of LMASP students. It is with the intersections between art, culture and identity that students discover methods of representing and expressing themselves culturally and politically.
LMASP encourages its students to pursue higher education after high school. With the help of Filipino-American students and educators at the collegiate level, LMASP has organized exposure trips to the University of California Berkeley and San Francisco State University. The goal is to connect students to resources and networks at various college campuses to strengthen and develop the pipeline between high school graduation and college attendance. Upon graduation from the LMASP, students should be motivated to take college courses that go deeper into topics in Filipino American studies, to participate in critical discussion, to get involved in campus Filipino communities, and to proudly represent their origins from Stockton.
From the beginning, The Little Manila Foundation understood how education would play a major role in the historic preservation of Little Manila. It is through the LMASP that Stockton’s youth are empowered to know their history, know themselves and understand the significance of Stockton in the larger fabric of American history.