September 1, 2018

Are you Filipino?

by Andrew Aviso (Published in Pilipino Express September 1-15)

Andrew getting ready to facilitate a fun filled Kapatid Program session

Mentorship has always been one of the key pillars of ANAK as an organization. From the beginning, the purpose of ANAK’s Kapatid Program has been to assist Filipino youth academically, socially, and culturally in Canadian society. I was introduced to the program in 2007, when I joined in as a volunteer mentor. I then got more involved by becoming an ANAK member, and helped run the program with the mentorship committee. Even though I was already working full-time as a gas-turbine mechanic, I found a way to fit the Kapatid Program into my schedule.

I loved every minute of it; from homework help, to preparing workshops, organizing group activities, or just letting loose and getting to reconnect culturally with my own heritage. Collaborating ideas with fellow mentors and connecting with the mentees also helped me gain valuable skills that were transferable outside of the program. The community involvement, the newly developed skill set, and the rewarding experiences that I gained in the program made me realize that I wanted to become a teacher; an Industrial-Arts teacher in particular. This allowed me to include my previous hands-on experiences as a mechanic into the classroom.

Sign-up to become an ANAK volunteer!

In 2017, I completed my degree in education and received my teaching certificate. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of substitute teaching many kids, in many schools, in all grade levels, and from many different backgrounds. Once in a while, I get a student or two looking at me with a curious stare. That is when they usually go and ask me what I think they’re going to ask me, “Are you Filipino?”

Sometimes I throw a question back at them and ask them, “Why do you ask?” But, if I see that they’re really elated to find out, I immediately and proudly say, “Yes! I am Filipino.”

The student(s) then usually respond, “Me too!” Even though I am only a substitute, I can see that they still view me as a role model and are proud to be Filipino themselves when they find out that I am too.

These experiences only emphasize more for me how representation matters, and how ANAK’s culturally oriented mentorship plays an important role in boosting self-esteem in youth and instils pride in our heritage. This is like wise with mentors too. The interactions between mentors and mentees are mutually beneficial. Through the Kapatid Program I became a Kuya to my many Kapatids through the years.

This upcoming school year, the Kapatid Program is taking on a new format based on digital storytelling. This form of storytelling is a modern way of capturing our oral history or oral tradition using video, photographs, as well as other art forms, along with narration. The mentors will assist the mentees with finding, developing, and expressing their stories through this medium. The process of creating these stories will allow the mentees to explore, reflect, internalize, and share their Filipino-Canadian experiences as they see it. These are their stories and so as a community, these are our stories.

ANAK is currently recruiting volunteers who are interested in becoming mentors for this year’s Kapatid Program. Volunteer training will begin this fall with Kapatid Program sessions starting in the New Year. Please e-mail or signup at

Andrew Aviso is a dedicated volunteer and long-serving member of ANAK. He is the current HR director and the chair of the mentorship committee. He is excited for the upcoming mentorship program to get under way.