Filipino Curriculum coming to Hawaii schools


Jesselle Ann Morales

The Filipino Curriculum Project is an upcoming addition to Hawaii’s education system. The student-driven project is all about bringing awareness to Filipino history. The project’s student collaborators created lesson plans with the hope of inspiring students from all backgrounds. Once the Filipino Curriculum is implemented in Hawaii schools, students can look forward to units related to Historical Context, Culture and Connections, and Filipinos in Hawaii, with an overarching theme of identity. 

The Filipino Curriculum Project was founded by Punahou senior Marissa Halagao. Marissa was inspired when she was required to take an Asian history course, but noticed that Filipino history was not offered. Finding this out upset her as she felt that Filipino students deserve to see their history within their schools’ curriculum. From then on, Halagao took action and recruited students from many different schools who saw the same problem and who were also passionate about making a change. 

“We are creating the Filipino history, culture and identity curriculum that we wish to see as students to empower future generations of Filipinos and show everyone that becoming aware of your culture and the cultures around you is important,” Halagao says. 

Established in the spring of 2021, the project only had five initial members. Now in the fall of 2022, the project has 14 student collaborators. The student collaborators all come from different public and private high schools and colleges, in and out of state. 

Halagao and her team reached many different milestones in the journey of getting their curriculum implemented into Department of Education schools and private schools all over the islands. One year after establishing the project, the student-driven project was able to get their legislative resolution passed in the spring of 2022. This also led up to the team presenting the project and its contents to different high school principals to gain their support. 

The Filipino Curriculum Project is not only about raising awareness of the beauty within Filipino history in Hawaii, but also all over the country. This past summer, seven of the project’s seniors went to Seattle to attend and speak at the Filipino American National Historical Society Conference. There, they were able to speak about the project’s progress and the importance of representing Filipino heritage and history in schools. 

The curriculum is expected to be implemented in Department of Education schools in the fall of the 2024-2025 school year.