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Filgrimage is the coming-of-age story of a group of young people who chose to spend one summer in the Philippines to nurture their Filipino roots, discover more about their culture, and to answer the question: “What does it mean to be Filipino?”

EPISODE BREAKDOWN

Episode 1:

This is the very first time we are meeting the Filgrimage Ambassadors. While there are around 35 people who participated in Filgrimage 2019, FILGRIMAGE: A Digital Series tells the journey of eight (8) of them.

Here we meet Lauren Bumatay, Tyler Jacob, Jocelynne Montehermoso, AJ Asuncion, Luis Borromeo, Gabby Almazar, Riana Hernandez, and Ryah Hernandez.

Get to know them at The Filipino School in San Diego where they share their fears and expectations, and their thoughts on what it means for them to be Filipino.

Episode 2:

The Filgrimage Ambassadors have just arrived in Manila. They register to secure their rooms at the hotel. For many of them, this is the first time they are meeting their roommates.

It is that getting-to-know-you stage among these young people.

They are about to make a collective journey of knowing each other… knowing their motherland… and knowing themselves.

Episode 3:

The Filgrimage Ambassadors take the bus to bring them to their first official stop on the Filgrimage tour: to visit the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park.

The road to Luneta is punctuated with the sights and sounds of a busy metropolis. Our Filgrimage Ambassadors witness the stark contrast between the lavish hotels on one side, and the shabby shanties on the other.

Episode 4:

Many of the Filgrimage Ambassadors have just heard of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal from what teachers have taught them in class.

For most of them, this is the first time they get to see the place where Rizal was executed by a firing squad, after he was arrested and convicted of sedition, on December 30, 1896.

Episode 5:

The Filgrimage Ambassadors spent their first afternoon making a quick stop at Intramuros and then visiting other museums like the University of Santo Tomas Museum of Arts and Sciences - which is the oldest existing museum in the Philippines. It started as a Gabinete de Fisica, or observation room, of mineral, botanical and biological collections in the 17th century

They also went to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (the 'Met’) - a world-class gallery tracing the evolution of Filipino art from the early 20th century to the present. Virtually, all great Filipino painters from the last century are represented here.

Episode 6:

The Manila Hotel embodies a rich tradition of elegant living, fine dining, and gracious service that goes back over 97 years.

Our Filgrimage Ambassadors continue to build friendships while experiencing the grandeur of this historic five-star hotel located along Manila Bay.

Episode 7:

Road trip! On the way to Bataan, the bus stops for a break at a pitstop along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). There are several fast food joints and some stalls that sell souvenirs and other gift items and Filipino delicacies.

The Filgrimage Ambassadors grab this opportunity to practice their skills at conversing in Filipino with the local vendors. See how they nailed some great bargains.

Episode 8:

First stop on the road trip is at Bataan’s Balanga Elementary School which also houses the Bataan World War II Museum and the Surrender Site Marker.

The grade school students welcome the Filgrimage Ambassadors with a marching band and the eager waving of tiny U.S. and Philippine flags.

Tyler gets to exercise his drumline skills when he joins the students’ band. Lauren gets to practice conversing with the students, using words she learned in her Filipino class. Joce has a hard time and feels disconnected from children who are the same color skin as hers. This pains her terribly.

Episode 9:

Vanguard of Filipino Heritage.
The quick overnight and day tour was not enough to marvel at the old-world charm and the picturesque allure of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Home to Jose Acuzar’s collection of restored Spanish-Filipino houses, this resort in Bagac, Bataan reflects Filipino craftsmanship intricately curated into a world-class historical haven. Our Filgrimage Ambassadors eat taho (Philippine snack made of fresh silken tofu and sweetener) and play sungka (Mandala).

Episode 10:

At this point, the Filgrimage Ambassadors have bonded well together and consider each other dear friends.

The days spent in Palawan were like Paradise. El Nido is surrounded by limestone formations that rise majestically above the turquoise water. For many of them, the stunning beaches and gorgeous islands are picture-perfect, almost like being in a postcard.

The group went island-hopping; snorkeling; had “kamayan” lunch at Papaya beach; and even drank fresh coconut juice straight out of the shell; and played basketball with the locals. Just another day in Paradise.

Episode 11:

The Filgrimage Ambassadors met with members of the Sibaltan Women Weavers Association, Inc. (SWWAI) – a bold, band of women who have taken their skills passed on from generation to generation and had grown them to become an industry that empowers community artisans.

The women weavers taught the kids how to weave, and they were able to make some simple projects of their own. They also saw the Balay Cuyunon Museum along Sibaltan's beachfront that features a replica of a traditional Cuyunon house, and they also danced with the locals.

Episode 12:

The Filgrimage Ambassadors took an early ferry boat ride to Corregidor Island – a rocky island, strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay, just south of Bataan province in Luzon, Philippines.

They take a quick tour seeing the Pacific War Memorial, numerous gunneries, and the Malinta Tunnel, which served as a supply depot, hospital, and MacArthur’s headquarters.

They gained appreciation for the national shrine commemorating the battle fought there by U.S. and Filipino forces against overwhelming numbers of Japanese during World War II.

Episode 13:

A major highlight of the trip was the visit to Barangay Samala-Marquez, an urban poor community in the municipality of Kawit, province of Cavite – about 15 miles from Manila.

Throughout the whole morning, the Filgrimage Ambassadors visited, and interacted, with the families from the community. They were welcomed into tiny houses.

For many of them, this is where their transformation manifests strongly. On this Filgrimage, their interior quest is greatly influenced by their “exterior passage” through the slums of Cavite.

Episode 14:

The Filgrimage trip culminates in building houses for the Gawad Kalinga Community in Cavite.

The Filgrimage Ambassadors experience the true meaning of Bayanihan as it comes to life.

They look back at an incredible, unforgettable summer where their visit to the country of their ancestors transforms them in ways they never imagined.

Episode 15:

Mostra Coffee Co-Founder Sam Magtanong facilitates the session. (It is fitting to have Sam host the chat since he himself made a similar trip back to the Motherland with his other Mostra Coffee co-founders. That trip for them was also a big part of what drives their mission and vision for Mostra.)

In the "epilogue" the Filgrimage Ambassadors "return home" by sharing vivid experiences of their trip in a candid and authentic exchange. We hear them talk about where they are at in their journey of (re)discovery and how they plan to concretely realize their dreams of giving back.

They invite viewers to help them with their dream of building sustainable "Filgrimage villages" by visiting www.TheFilipinoSchool.com to find out more and support them.

MAIN CAST
AJ Asuncion
Gabby Almazar
Jocelynne Montehermoso
Lauren Bumatay
Luis Borromeo
Rianna Hernandez
Ryah Hernandez
Tyler Jacobs

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Tony Olaes
Nerissa Fernandez
Tata Sy

PRODUCTION MANAGER
Rico Luancing

DIRECTOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER
Jeremiah Ysip

WRITER
Pia Lopezbanos-Carrion

PRODUCERS
Pia Lopezbanos-Carrion
Jeremiah Ysip

ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS
Sam Bañez
Nico Lucero

PHILIPPINES CREW
Leandro Mercurio
Kim Alexis Delos Reyes
Bon Jovi Tangco
Crispin Barja
Michael Brezniv Garcia
John Lawrence
Sulayel Aishi Balbuena
Erwin Briones

ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE
Alex Azansa
Bobby Ysip
Faith Austria
Miguel Carrion
Filgrimage Ambassadors

EDITOR
Jeremiah Ysip

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Amyra Soriano
Danny Manansala

SOUND
Jeremiah Ysip

GRAPHICS
Mike Carrion
Chris Olaes

Airing Saturdays 8P PDT on myx & now available on the iWantTFC app & iWantTFC.com. You can binge watch the entire season of Filgrimage at amazon.Com/v/TFCmovies.

Many of the Filgrimage Ambassadors have just heard of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal from what teachers have taught them in class.

For most of them, this is the first time they get to see the place where Rizal was executed by a firing squad, after he was arrested and convicted of sedition, on December 30, 1896.

AIRING DATE:
November 14, 2020 8P PT
November 15, 2020 9A PT
November 16, 2020 7:30P & 10:30P PT
November 17, 2020 8:30A & 6P PT
November 18, 2020 7A PT
November 19, 2020 8A & 5P PT
November 21, 2020 2:30P & 8P PT
November 22, 2020 9A PT

Airing weekly Saturdays 8P PDT on myx & now available on the iWantTFC app & iWantTFC.com.

ABOUT FILGRIMAGE

Filgrimage is the coming-of-age story of a group of young people who chose to spend one summer in the Philippines to nurture their Filipino roots, discover more about their culture, and to answer the question: “What does it mean to be Filipino?”

AMBASSADORS:
AJ Asuncion
Gabby Almazar
Jocelynne Montehermoso
Lauren Bumatay
Luis Borromeo
Rianna Hernandez
Ryah Hernandez
Tyler Jacobs


Catch Filgrimage on myxTV now!
Check your local cable TV listings for details

The @filgrimageseries captured the life-changing journey of Fil-Am college students in their quest for identity as they travel together to the Philippines on a #Filgrimage. Meet the founder of The Filipino School and the creator of the annual Filgrimage trip, Tony Orlaes & 6 of 8 of the American ambassadors on a #HeavyRotation special hosted by DJ Marlino. The group shared their most memorable moments from the trip and also played a fun Tagalog game where they were told to guess words from "My First Book of Tagalog Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Filipino Language and Culture."

Watch the new TV series 10/24 on myxTV & @kapamilyatfc. Check your local cable TV listings.

Starring:
@gabbyalmazar
@mp_joce
@lbmtay
@ryahhernandez
@rianahernandez
@pogiboy_ty
@luisborromeo
@ajasuncionnnn

Produced & edited by @unopia x @jeremiahysip.

Comment below on your first trip to the Philippines or the first place where you’d like to go if you were to visit.

The series trailer for Filgrimage opens with a local saying, “Welcome to the Philippines!” The excitement and eagerness of the young travelers reflect the tone of the journey ahead of them: exhilarating sights, a cacophony of sounds, sumptuous cuisine, an experience full of surprises and deep self-reflection.

Filgrimage follows eight young students who chose to spend one summer in the Philippines to nurture their Filipino roots, and to answer the question, “What does it mean to be Filipino?”

The series starts streaming on October 22 on iWant TFC on TFC IPTV, and on TheFilipinoSchool.com, and will also be seen on TFC via cable, satellite and on myxTV starting October 24.

The Roots of Filgrimage

On their website, Filgrimage is described as “a Filipino pilgrimage” and “a transformational experience that connects the next generation Fil Ams to their rich and proud heritage.” It is a project of The Filipino School. 

Take a meaningful, transformative trip with these young ambassadors on the new digital series: Filgrimage.

The Filipino School is a non-profit located in San Diego, Calif., where Filipino Americans get a chance to know more about their Filipino culture and heritage. The Filipino School was co-founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Tony Olaes.

Olaes, who was born and raised in the U.S., reluctantly made his return visit to the Philippines in 2006 when his parents chose to move back to the homeland to retire. It was a trip that changed his life forever.

The Filgrimage Ambassadors, together with other participants in the immersion trip, help lay the foundation for a few houses at the Gawad Kalinga community in Cavite. (Photo courtesy of The Filipino School.)
 

Olaes said, “I was never proud of being Filipino because all I would see on American TV was bad news about the Philippines. The brand was always that people there were poor, corrupt and kidnappers.” 

Those fears of entering the Philippines quickly dissipated when he walked through a slum area and was greeted with warm smiles and hospitality. He recalls that his transformation happened in a place that is now a Gawad Kalinga village, which is also part of the Filgrimage itinerary. 

Olaes shares, “There was this automatic connection toward these extremely poor people I didn’t even know. I somehow literally embodied their pain and their struggle. It was such a profound feeling in my heart that something had to be done. I had never felt this way, ever. This is when I learned the word: Bayanihan. It means coming together for a greater purpose, and when everybody comes together, the load gets lighter, and all things are possible.”

From there, he wanted to replicate his experience to have others like him find their identity and help solve the problem he saw.

A Partnership is Born

Philippine Consul General to San Francisco Henry Bensurto, Jr. introduced Olaes to ABS-CBN Global Corporate Affairs & Strategic CSR Head Nerissa Fernandez. That introduction harnessed a shared passion for knowing one’s history and knowing oneself.

Fernandez believes that Filgrimage will challenge viewers and those who make the trip. According to her, “there can no longer be vacillation and oscillation on identity.” 

Fernandez and Olaes agree that “heroism does not happen without action.” The meaningful adventures of the Filgrimage ambassadors captured in the series must be shared with many others.

The goal of the series is two-fold: (1) to awaken the hearts of the next generation of Filipinos all over the world who would never aspire to go back to the motherland, and (2) build Filgrimage Villages for 1000 poor families through the spirit of Bayanihan (the spirit of communal unity and cooperation).

Meet the Filgrimage Ambassadors

Get to know AJ Asuncion, 16, a Junior at Olympian High School; Gabby Almazar, 19, a Sophomore at UC San Diego; Jocelynne Montehermoso, 18, a Freshman at UC San Diego; Lauren Bumatay, 19, a Sophomore at San Diego City Community College; Luis Borromeo, 24, a graduate of The Ohio State University; Riana Hernandez, 21, a Senior at San Diego State University; Ryah Hernandez, 18, a Freshman at California State University, Chico; and Tyler Jacobs, 18, a Freshman at San Diego State University. 

The ambassadors went on a soul-satisfying, life-transforming 11-day trip around parts of the Philippines that included Manila, Bataan, Clark, El Nido in Palawan, Fort Santiago, Corregidor, and Cavite.

AJ, the youngest in the group, had heard of the Filgrimage trip in the past and how it has transformed those who joined the tour. He shares that “I was most excited for who I would become after the trip, as well as reinforce my Filipino roots.”

Filgrimage Ambassador Jocelynne Montehermoso (foreground) takes a group photo with their new friends – the students at Balanga Elementary School in Bataan, in the Central Luzon Region of the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Pia Lopezbanos-Carrion)
 

It was Jocelynne’s first ever visit to the Philippines and one of the main things she realized is how “bayanihan is borne within us and unites and defines us as Filipinos.” She adds, “After the trip, I felt more connected to my people.”

For Ryah, there was an awakening. She shares, “Growing up in a predominantly white school and wanting to be something I’m not, I realized that I should no longer be ashamed of my culture because it is filled with the most selfless, appreciative and humble people ever."

Transformative Trip

For many, the experience did not always start during the arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

For the Filgrimage ambassadors, their parents immigrated to the United States due to several factors, whether it be due to family ties in America or in search of economic opportunities, the result is still similar. A product of immigration is assimilation, and because of this many of the children are born into American culture, yearning to reconnect with a culture and people separated by thousands of miles of land and water. 

Fernandez believes that Filgrimage allows one to come full circle where Filipino identity is concerned. The experience aids in understanding the previous generations who immigrated. 

Those who make the journey begin to feel deeper appreciation for their parents who have made sacrifices; greater gratitude for their current country and its opportunities; and a stronger desire to do something in order to give back to the homeland.

Filgrimage is co-presented by TFC, The Filipino School, and Choose Philippines. The series starts streaming October 22, 2020Thursday on iWant TFC (iWantTFC.com), on TFC IPTV, and on TheFilipinoSchool.com

Filgrimage will also be seen on myxTV and on TFC Cable and Satellite starting October 24.

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