Pictures Tell a Thousand Words
The covers of Pinoy Teach show how the curriculum evolved over the years since its inception in 1996. Our first cover was a picture of an indigenous Filipino man from the Ifugao region of the Philippines. We chose him to assert pride in our tribal roots. The cover drew varied responses. Some people did not think the cover represented Filipinos. As much as our intent was to glorify our indigenous past, this limited our perception of history when we equated history and the Filipino people to a single person. Not only did we deny our diverse heritage, but we also removed our history and people from the rest of the world. What kinds of messages does this image send to children about history? When I interviewed children about what history meant to them they said “Boring, boring, boring…dead people and dates.” They did not find connection to history because it was too far back, too far away, and too static. This cover reflected my own understanding of history – a traditional, single narrative, one-sided, impersonal, and passive story.
As our conception of Pinoy Teach moved beyond “dead people and dates,” our next cover became more symbolic of the ideals of Pinoy Teach. In this 1998 cover, the title Pinoy Teach is situated in an open-ended box reflecting the outlook we wanted students to have. We wanted students to think “outside the box.” The paintbrush denotes the unfinished stroke of the painter which shows the dynamism of the curriculum. The words of Pinoy Teach are colored brown with multi-colors radiating from each letter to show the Filipino experience as an avenue to explore diversity and multiculturalism in the United States and in the world. In short, Filipino is the lens, a diverse U.S. and the world becomes the picture. We moved from a “single studies approach” to the philosophy and goals of a transformative multicultural curriculum.
Look closely at the “O” in Pinoy. You will see a map of the Philippines embedded in the light bulb. The light bulb symbolizes how Pinoy Teach enlightens students to look closely within themselves and connect to those around them. What more do you see? The moth symbolizes Pinoy Teach because they seek light. Carlos Castaneda talks about how moths accumulate dust on its wings, which are like specks of knowledge we collect over time that keep us seeking truth and enlightenment.
Our latest 2001 cover comes closest to what Pinoy Teach means to us today. A few years ago we were awarded a substantial grant to do a mural on Pinoy Teach. The mural covers the entire north side wall of the Filipino Community Center in Seattle, WA. Cordova conceptualized the mural and artist Raphael Calonzo brought it to life. It is based on the concepts and content of Pinoy Teach.
The main picture on the cover is our Pinoy Teach mural. History comes alive showing the colorful and rich heritage of the Filipino people. The cover evokes diversity, strength, perseverance, movement, struggle, change, and the growth of our experiences - universal themes of any people. Unlike the previous covers, this one combines ideas and Filipinos taking action in their lives. They no longer consume history but actively construct moments that are historical and important. The cover explodes with color showing the kaleidoscope effect Pinoy Teach has on all children to explore their own ethnic and cultural backgrounds. At the center of the cover is the moth, which remains the symbol of Pinoy Teach.
When I see these covers, I think about the beginnings, the evolvement and the future of Pinoy Teach. Just like me, Pinoy Teach is constantly changing. The curriculum moved from tradition to transformational approaches, from a singular to a multicultural focus; from inclusion of Filipino history and culture to the explicit goals of a curriculum that decolonizes our people and locates our history within a multicultural and global context.