Why Filipino students excel in Barcelona

Posted at 07/23/2014 10:44 AM | Updated as of 07/23/2014 10:44 AM
Raval, a neighborhood where many migrants, including Filipinos, reside. Photo courtesy of Rodel Juacalla

SPAIN - Fourteen-year-old Lara Mercado almost got a 100 point average grade in all subjects. She’s also one of the best students in her class and used to be a class valedictorian in the Philippines.

High school student Jasper Villena Cordero received consistent high grades along with commendations from her professors.

Mercado and Cordero are two of many Filipino students who excel in schools abroad.

In Barcelona alone, Filipino students have already earned a good reputation either in academics or in sports.

The reason behind this has been explained in a study entitled "La comunidad silenciosa". Migraciones Filipinas y capital social en el Raval (Barcelona)” (The silent community: Filipino migrations and social capital in Raval, Barcelona) by German medical anthropologist Eva Maria Marxen.

The study focused on Filipino high school students in Raval, a neighborhood in Barcelona where many Filipinos reside.

Interviews conducted by Marxen with high school teachers say that Filipino students are generally respectful, well-disciplined and hard-working.

Such values can be attributed to strictness and putting a premium on education on the part of the parents and the Filipino community.

“First of all, some of the adolescents already had parents who themselves had been to college, so they would very know the performance at school. Then the parents were very strict in these cases, and some cases, severely strict. The value of education was very much transmitted from parents to children and also within the community,” Marxen explained.

Cordero’s mother, Emmalyn Cordero Manalo admits that she has to be strict with her daughter.

“Kasi nga yun sinasabi sa akin ng teacher nya, na masyado akong mahigpit sa anak ko pero para sa akin hindi higpit yun eh, kasi sa kinabukasan rin naman kasi nya yun,” Cordero said.

Jay Aragones Mercado, Lara’s father, stresses the importance of education in escaping poverty.

“Kung may sapat kang edukasyon, diyan ka uunlad at siyempre pag mahirap ka yun lang talaga ang susi mo para medyo umangat ng konti ang buhay natin,” he said.

Marxen also pointed out the shared responsibility and objectives among parents, teachers and the Filipino community which have also helped the students do well in school.

“I also want to stress the subject of co-responsibility, which I observed among the high school, themselves, their teacher, the parents and the community. They have the same motivation, they have the same goals that children would finish at least finish high school, (and) also (to be) successful."