On summer weekends, the courtyard of the FilCom Center fills with the sounds of children dancing the tinikling, listening to Filipino folktales, and learning their abakada (abc). They’re attending Filcom’s Filipino for Kids Summer Enrichment Program, founded and organized by Imelda Fines Gasmen, or Ime. Watching her at work, “Ime” can readily stand for Inspiring, Multi-talented, and Energetic.
Ime is an instructor of Filipino and Philippine Literature at the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature of the University of Hawaii at Manoa; she is also a certified translator. She hails from Ilocos Sur and graduated valedictorian from Narvacan National Central High School. She is a graduate of the B.S. Development Communication program of the University of the Philippines Lost Banos and M.A. Communications program at UH Manoa.
Her students attest that she makes learning enjoyable; so enjoyable that among others, her former students return many times over and volunteer to help run Filipino Summer for Kids program and other activities. The summer program requires a lot of preparation but Ime enjoys it tremendously and finds that she is also growing more in her knowledge of Philippine culture and life. Her many talents and experiences have enabled her to craft attractive ways of imparting and packaging knowledge. According to Ime, it has been heartwarming to work with young children every summer. Children exude an innocence and purity that are different from her college students. It has been an ultimate reward to have children from past Filipino for Kids session come back as adult volunteers of the current session.
Given her background in development communication, Ime values community outreach and has what it takes to engage others at the grassroots level. When her two daughters were younger, she initiated a Reading in-the-Park program to promote literacy. She collaborated with a Lanai-based educator/librarian on a colorful Filipino Word Book designed for young ESL students. She also authored Tagalog for Kids Flash Cards for language learners.
Ime plays the guitar and was among the founding members of Banda Kawayan. She also introduced the popular parol-making activity at Pasko! events. She is a back-to-back winner of FilCom Pasko! Parol-making contests. Ime loves sports. She plays pingpong and attends the annual Great Aloha Run. She says that her favorite hobby is photography. Being a lady who has deep faith in God, Ime also draws much strength from the scriptures.
While volunteers credit Ime’s enjoyable ways as key to the success of the Filipino for Kids summer enrichment program. Ime credits the volunteers as a big part of its sustained success. She envisions that the portable program be replicated by other Filipino communities across the islands, the US, and the world.