Banner year for Eskwela Natin

By Perry Diaz

The graduates, Class of 2014.

The graduates, Class of 2014.

Founded in May 2013, Eskwela Natin, in the short period it’s been in existence, is making a great impact in the Filipino-American community, particularly among the youth. It has been the dream of Dolores and Perry Diaz ever since their first grandchild was born nine years ago. Since then, four more grandchildren were added to their family. That’s when they thought that it might be a good idea to teach their grandchildren and other Filipino-American children about the rich and diverse culture of the Filipino people. They formed a core group of like-minded people including several Filipino-American teachers who volunteered their time to teach the youth. They named the project Eskwela Natin.

Grand-OpeningThe grand opening was held on May 19, 2013 with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by then Consul General Marciano A. Paynor Jr. assisted by Ambassador George Aducayen Jr., former Mayor Ruth Asmundson of the City of Davis, and Governor Jerry Brown’s Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil.

On August 8, 2013, Eskwela Natin was incorporated with the State of California as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) entity.

On September 22, 2013, the first graduates of Eskwela Natin, 36 in all, received their certificates of achievement. Robert Abelon of Assemblyman Richard Pan’s office gave special certificates of achievement to the graduates as well.

First day of class.

First day of class.

Inspired by the overwhelming interest of Filipino American high school students, Eskwela Natin held a seminar catered to this age group. It included a panel discussion on community service, politics and Filipino culture. Speakers were Mayor Ruth Asmundson, Lions Council Chairman Derek Ledda and Sinagtala Artistic Director Sonny Alforque with community leader Josie Patria moderating. The day’s busy schedule also included a jeopardy game on knowledge of the Filipino traditions and current events, cooking demonstration and tasting of chicken adobo for lunch and a parol (Christmas lantern) making and contest.

Eskwela Natin also launched the scholarship program for deserving Filipino American high school graduates. This would become an annual program reaching out to local high schools in Sacramento. The scholars were presented at the opening of the summer program.

On December 29, 2013, Eskwela Natin and the Friends of Korus Foundation Inc. presented the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus (UPCC) in Sacramento. Several other organizations in Sacramento co-sponsored the event.

Although the UPCC event was started as a major fund-raiser for Eskwela Natin, Dolores suggested to the Board of Directors to donate the net proceeds of the event for the benefit of the victims of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines. The net proceeds of more than $10,000 were sent to typhoon relief efforts through the American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, and the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Second Year

Graduates marching to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance."

Graduates marching to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. gives diplomas to the graduates.

Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. gives diplomas to the graduates.

Eskwela Natin’s second year was busier than the first year. Year 2014 began with 10 Sunday classes from May to September. More than 40 young Filipino-Americans graduated. The new Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. gave the diplomas to the graduates during a ceremony, complete with the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” graduation marching song. The students – with their graduation caps with tassels — really enjoyed the graduation ceremony.

Eskwela Natin held several events to raise funds for the 2015 school year. The first was a dinner dance in August at the Asian Pearl Restaurant. In September, Eskwela Natin was the beneficiary of the Interclub Golf Tournament in Vallejo, California. About 120 golfers participated in the tournament. Through the efforts of Board Members Mark and Maryann Bamba more than $5,000 was raised for the benefit of Eskwela Natin.

Ambassador George G. Aducayen Jr. cuts ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening of the Filipino-American Collection at the Southgate Library.

Ambassador George G. Aducayen Jr. cuts ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening of the Filipino-American Collection at the Southgate Library.

The display window in the lobby of the library was decorated to showcase the Philippines.

The display window in the lobby of the library was decorated to showcase the Philippines.

In October, which was Filipino-American Heritage Month, Eskwela Natin worked with the Southgate Public Library to open a section for Filipino-American books. The grand opening of the Filipino-American Collection was held on October 3, which also kicked off the month-long community-wide celebration. Ambassador George G. Aducayen Jr. gave an inspirational speech during the reception held at the library’s multi-purpose room.  Eskwela Natin Vice President Joe Carrasco coordinated this project.

The display window in the lobby of the library was decorated to showcase the Philippines. Miniaturized landmarks such as Intramurous, Malacanang Palace, Quaipo Church, Rizal Monument and Manila Hotel were part of the exhibit courtesy of the Sacramento Manila and Pasay City Sister Cities Association. Various Filipino Fiestas and celebrations depicted were Santacruzan, Christmas with colorful parols, Ati-Atihan and a chandelier of kiping of the Pahiyas/rice festival. A rare basket collection complimented the display.

Eskwela Natin sponsors golf tournament at the Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course.

Eskwela Natin sponsors golf tournament at the Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course.

On October 18, Eskwela Natin held a golf tournament at the Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course in Sacramento.  Board Member Ernie Santos organized the successful tournament.  More than 100 golfers participated and more than $4,000 was raised for Eskwela Natin.

TOYFA 2014  Awardees

TOYFA 2014 Awardees

Eskwela Natin’s last project of the year 2014 was the Ten Outstanding Young Filipino-Americans (TOYFA). It was the first annual event that recognizes outstanding young Filipino-Americans in various fields. The awards were presented last October 26 in Sacramento. The recipients were the following: Chenelle Castellano Aquino (Sports), Gamila Saleh Abad Assad (Community Service), Haley Marie Bambula (Arts), Jeremiah Calagui (Leadership), Matthew Molina de Guzman (Sports), Avina B. Kliatchko (Essay Writing), Alfonso Benjamin Reyes (NJROTC), Chase Santos Mitchell (Sports), Tyler Santos Mitchell (Performing Arts), Jestoni Opinaldo (Sports), and Sarah Joy Polante Sy (Music). A special award – the Ester Carrasco Community Service Award — was also given to Gervilyn Mae Tormis Cadimas. Ambassador George G. Aducayen Jr. was the keynote speaker and Bert Melliza, Lions International MD-4 Past District Governor, was the guest speaker.

Kudos goes to the Board of Directors for its leadership in fulfilling Eskwela Natin’s mission, which is: “Eskwela Natin exists to educate Filipino-American children about the rich and diverse Filipino culture, ensuring the unique traditions of the Philippines are passed on to the next generation, in a safe and fun environment.”

Congratulations to the members of the Board of Directors and volunteer teachers for their untiring and selfless efforts to promote the ideals of Eskwela Natin. The Board of Directors consists of the following: President Dolores V. Diaz; Vice President Joe Carrasco; Secretary Gladys Carrasco; Treasurer Josie Canlas; Community Liaison Officer Celsa Taraya; Public Relations Officer Andrea Diaz-Vaughn; and Board Members Myrna Agbunag, Sonny Alforque, Mark Bamba, Maryann Bamba, Perry Diaz, Didi Loteyro, Josie Patria, Ernie Santos, and Ramon Taraya. The Volunteer teachers are: Vangie Hinnencamp, Anna Mestidio, and Lilibeth Brewer.

To expand Eskwela Natin’s community outreach, it invited several outstanding community leaders to join the Board. They are Pete and Vicky Lumbang, Sarah Enloe (President of the Maharlika Lions Club), Raul Bernaldez, and Raeselle Lao.

The coming year 2015 should be another exciting year for Eskwela Natin, especially with the repeat performance of the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus, which will begin its 2015 world tour in May.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.


12 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Phil esguerra says:

    Congratulations! More power to Eskwela Natin & leadership!

  2. Alfonso Tucay says:

    Please give the date/time when the UP Mixed Concert
    Chorus will perform. I used to be a member years ago!

  3. philip says:



  4. Fernando Habito says:

    Congratulation Mr.& Mrs Perry and Dolores Diaz..Your “Eskwela Natin” project is absolutely amazing and the greatest gift to humanity with lasting impact to the lives of groups of people…More power to you lovely couple who initated this project..Mabuhay..Viva la Familia Diaz,y La Eskuwela Natin”

  5. A way to remind us to help our young people become aware of the way Filipinos live – perhaps to expose and celebrate the good – to also examine the causes that hinders our growth in the light, again, of the best in Philippine culture. Best to “light a candle than curse the dark” while being realistic. Thank you for this project.

  6. Don Azarias says:


    My congratulations to you and your wife, Dolores, for organizing and promoting an extraordinary civic endeavor that will benefit the Filipino-American community and the Motherland.


  7. YOLY says:

    Kudos! Inang Bayan would be proud!

  8. Letty Woo-Ming says:

    I always welcome reading PerryScope as it gives info of the political climate in the Phil. Perry, your journalism is at the best!
    Dolores, Eskwela Natin took off on a high note due to your leadership with Perry by your side. By the way, I handed the Visayan gavel to Alice Pambid last night at our Christmas party and maybe you may address to her letter/e-mail. I will continue to support EsKwela Natin now that I have more free time to go back to community activism.
    Merry Christmas and a wonderful and peaceful 2015! Letty

    • perry says:

      Hi Letty,

      Thank you for your kind words. Eskwela Natin is a labor of love. Seeing the students graduate gives us satisfaction and gratification. We’re hoping that someday, the Filipino community will have a charter school where students will be exposed to Philippine culture in addition to the regular curriculum. We’re probably years away from reaching that milestone but we have to keep on striving — and dreaming — while we still have strength.

      Dolores and I wish you the best of the holidays. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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