SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new streaming documentary follows young San Diegans on a life-changing trip to the Philippines.
"Filgrimage" focuses on eight Filipino-Americans during a 2019 summer trip to the Philippines with The Filipino School.
"If we don't have programs like this, then we as Filipino-Americans are only going to know what we have time to know, or what we're exposed to," says Tony Olaes, the founder of The Filipino School and organizer of the trip.
He says a similar trip to the Philippines 14 years ago inspired him to learn more about his culture. That's what he hopes this trip does for the people who take it.
"I went from not wanting to be Filipino to 'Mr. Filipino,'" he says. "It's because I understood something amazingly beautiful about who I was. So that's how this all started."
Olaes took 23 people on the trip in 2019. A documentary crew followed them as they visited several parts of the archipelago.
"This is something that you can't really get unless you actually experience it for yourself," says Jocelynne Monteheromoso, one of the teens profiled in the documentary. "The fact that we were going through it and it was recorded on camera is just something so beautiful that I feel that our generation especially needs to know about."
"I hope this encourages anyone who is embarrassed of their culture, or straight away or doesn't even know about their culture, to try and put some work to figure out more about it," says Ryah Hernandez, who says she discovered a beauty in the region that she didn't know about from family trips as a child.
San Diego has the second-largest Filipino population of any county in the US. Olaes says he hopes this documentary will give people who don't have the time or means to take a trip like this a glimpse into their ancestral homeland. He calls it a typical American story.
"The minute we start to reach into an inquire into where we all came from and the beauty of where we came from, it's that beauty that we get to bring to the United States," says Olaes.
As part of the trip, the teens also helped build homes for low-income people in the Philippines.
The documentary is 14 parts and lasts around two hours. It can be streamed for free at TheFilipinoSchool.com.