Kilig: A Suyomano Valentine’s Event on Feb. 12

by Zia Kalong

NEW YORK – Suyomano presents Valentine’s virtual event, Kilig on Feb. 12 at 8:30 P.M. (EST), 7:30 P.M. (CST), and 5:30 P.M. (PST). The event can be viewed in the Philippines on Feb. 13 at 9:30 A.M.

Kilig will feature Maya Banawa, who will perform an OPM song; Quintin Pastrana will render Filipino Poetry; Carl Cervantes will narrate Maria Makiling Love Story. Also, Glowy Malipol of Farmay will present The Art of Gayuma (Love Potion); Andrei Julian, The Art of Traditional Filipino Ligaw (Courtship); and Benito Bautista, Harana.

You may register for this event at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAud-Gsqj4iGtZzLF_1KhR75FdE_dgxb38L
*After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Kilig: A Suyomano Valentine’s Event

Suyomano combines two beautiful Tagalog words: “suyo,” which means gentle affection, and “mano,” which is a gesture of respect to the elderly. It is a global platform connecting Filipinos worldwide to explore, discover, and experience the richness, warmth, diversity, and beauty of the Filipino culture.

Mary Lou Cunanan

The new venture, co-founded by CEO Mary Lou Cunanan, was borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the traditional four-cornered class to evolve into e-learning platforms.

“It all began back in May. I had a call with my mentor, Sonia Delen, President of Filipino Food Movement and President of UP Alumni Association in San Francisco. She planted the idea of creating an online platform promoting Filipino culture and I thought it was brilliant. I called up a few colleagues and friends and pitched the idea to them and the first virtual meeting was organized,” Cunanan said.

Most of the Suyomano Team members have lived outside of the Philippines and value the importance of staying connected with their roots. They believe that every Filipino living abroad is always looking for ways to stay connected to their Filipino identity. Hence, the long lines at Jollibee, monthly subscriptions to TFC, and the tradition of sending out balikbayan boxes to eager relatives back home.

But it’s not just Filipinos. Each year, nearly 4 million tourists visit the Philippines to experience our country’s beauty and our people’s warm hospitality. It is the magic Suyomano wants to share with the rest of the world. “Our country, our culture, our people,” Cunanan said.

Cunanan worked at the US State Department and lived in Virginia for almost a decade. After time in Southeast Asia, she went back to the Philippines, got her MBA from the Asian Institute of Management, and launched Suyomano.

Suyomano found a way to launch an idea of reconnecting Filipinos worldwide, not just through local language but also cultural learning experiences. Such as ancient scriptwriting, indigenous tribal cultures and medicine, Philippine mythology, traditional martial arts, and beyond. In other words, it was introducing the world to Filipino culture as its main thrust.

“This is why we believe in preserving and teaching the next generation the Filipino language. We believe that language plays a key role in the expression and transmission of cultures.”

—Mary Lou Cunanan

NBC News featured Suyomano’s cultural classes in an article about how Asian Americans used the quarantine to learn their families’ languages. It noted that “(F)or these Asian Americans, it starts with a shared appreciation for the language and a desire to pass it down generations. Learning is an opportunity to come together and reconnect with their roots.” As Suyomano’s Jackielyn Junio puts it, “Learning our language, traditions and history are all essential to understanding ourselves.”

“This is why we believe in preserving and teaching the next generation the Filipino language. We believe that language plays a key role in the expression and transmission of cultures,” added Cunanan.

Suyomano was recently shortlisted as one of the top 100 Global Startups by United Nations’s SDG Competition for 2020 out of the 550+ entries from 93 countries. Only 17 will win, and Cunanan hopes that they are part of the final 17 to bring glory to the Philippines.

Cunanan said they submitted their entry to highlight the “no one gets left behind” advocacy of Suyomano. “We want to help displaced workers in education and tourism sector while keeping Philippines as top of the mind cultural and tourism destination.”

Suyomano curates carefully crafted courses on Filipino culture, language, arts, traditions, and destinations, featuring experts and leaders from every field and industry both at home and abroad. Value, authenticity, and diversity are at the heart of the work they do.

In support of cultural heritage preservation, they have partnered with Lyn Lambago, a T’boli artist and cultural worker, in honoring the T’boli culture as proceeds of Lyn’s classes go to her tribal T’boli house.

We offer this as an ode to their sacrifice, hoping to retrieve what was lost somewhere in between.”

–Mary Lou Cunanan

“I have always dreamt of a platform that celebrates, promotes, and preserves the wonders of the Filipino culture,” said Cunanan. “Our culture is so rich and unique, and I wanted to give justice to its beauty, depth and diversity.”

All Suyomano’s classes are online and can be accessed anywhere globally, offering their students full freedom and physical safety from the pandemic’s ongoing threat.

Many Filipinos had to leave everything behind to pursue opportunities abroad to provide for their children and families. “We offer this as an ode to their sacrifice, hoping to retrieve what was lost somewhere in between,” Cunanan said. — With Jay Domingo

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