Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Y.A. Lesson Plan


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This lesson is divided into 4 sections that are designed to follow along with the book Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. Each section focuses on reading comprehension, critical thinking, and self-reflection based on the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards. There are discussion questions, reflection prompts, and activities to guide the student and facilitator.

Lesson content was written by Alex Moyer, Asia Rubio-Villanueva, Sofia Martinez-Mannen, and Nawal Karam as part of their work in the Social Justice in K12 Education course at Portland State University and was designed to start or deepen anti-bias conversations in families and other learning communities.


This guided reading lesson is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist teaching and learning for the student and the facilitator. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper conversations and opportunities for action around racial equity in our communities. We hold the belief that being anti-racist is a process of learning (and unlearning) over time.

The Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards (focused on Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action) serve as guides for our work.


Identity Domain #1

I recognize traits of the dominant culture, my home culture and other cultures, and I am conscious of how I express my identity as I move between those spaces.

Identity Domain #2

I have a positive view of myself, including an awareness of and comfort with my membership in multiple groups in society.

Identity Domain #5

I know my family history and cultural background and can describe how my own identity is informed and shaped by my membership in multiple identity groups.

Diversity Domain #6

I interact comfortably and respectfully with all people, whether they are similar to or different from me

Diversity Domain #7

I have the language and knowledge to accurately and respectfully describe how people (including myself ) are both similar to and different from each other and others in their identity groups.

Justice Domain #11

I relate to all people as individuals rather than representatives of groups and can identify stereotypes when I see or hear them.

Action Domain #17

I take responsibility for standing up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice.

Action Domain #18

I have the courage to speak up to people when their words, actions or views are biased and hurtful, and I will communicate with respect even when we disagree.


SECTION ONE: pp. 1-78


In the opening pages, we are introduced to a young, first generation Filipino-American named Jay, who is just a few months away from finishing his senior year of high school. Jay’s life is turned upside down when he learns about the death of his cousin, Jun, who Jay was very close to during his youth.

Jay’s parents are very vague about Jun’s death, and it is only after continual prodding that he learns that Jun was murdered, as a part of President Duterte’s war on drugs. Jay has trouble accepting this news, which is only further complicated when he receives a mysterious message on social media, stating that Jay did not die from drugs, but because of his activism against the Filipino government and President Duterte’s policies.

With this new knowledge and spring break fast approaching, Jay decides to convince his parents to let him visit the Philippines, where he can figure out what really happened to Jun.


  • When Seth tries to comfort Jay about his cousin, why does this interaction end up hurting Jay instead of helping him? If you were present during this conversation, what would you say to Seth about the interaction? ACTION DOMAIN #18

  • How is Jay’s relationship with his own identity different from or the same as his other immediate family members? If you can find a difference, what do you think causes this? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #7

  • When Jay gets to the Philippines, he finds himself treated as a foreigner even though he was born there. How does this change the way that Jay sees himself? Does this further complicate the way he interacts with his own identity? IDENTITY DOMAIN #5


SECTION TWO: pp. 79-163


Jay begins his stay in the Philippines with Tito Maning, which is Jun’s father. During his stay, Jay tries to uncover as many details as he can about Jun’s life and his eventual death. Jay is surprised to find that Jun’s presence is completely erased from the house when he is directed to stay in the guest room which used to be Jun’s room. The room is completely empty from Jun’s belongings as if he never lived in it.

After a very awkward dinner with endless questions from Tito Maning, Jay returns to his room to find that his letters from Jun are missing. This leads Jay to sneak into his Tito’s office later to try and find the letters, as well as any information that would lead to discovering the reason for his death.

The following day Jay spends with his cousin Grace. They go to the mall where they split up and Grace goes with her girlfriend Jessa, leaving Jay with Mia who is Jessa’s sister. Jay befriends Mia during their adventure at the mall and swaps numbers with her. He discloses the reason for his visit to the Philippines to Mia and gets advice from her, as she is a journalist. Mia offers to help as best she can.

Later Jay is left with Tito Maning to look at historical sites in the Philippines and to learn about his heritage. Tito Maning spews his agenda supporting the current and past governments of the Philippines, praising President Duterte as being a great leader.

Finally, Jay musters up the courage to ask Tito Maning what happened to Jun. Tito explains how Jun was killed by the police for doing drugs and how Jun chose drugs over their entire family. During this conversation, Jay manages to disrespect Tito Maning which leads to him being asking to go to Tito Chato’s one night early.


  • Do you think Jay truly disrespected Tito Maning or were his actions and words justified? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #6

  • How do you think Jay reacted to the reality of the Philippines and the history told by Tito Maning? IDENTITY DOMAIN #2

  • Is his view a result of privilege? IDENTITY DOMAIN #2

  • Is Jay doing a good job of checking his privilege prior to finalizing his opinions on certain things he has seen or experienced thus far in the Philippines? IDENTITY DOMAIN #2

  • Is Jay aware of why Grace must keep her sexuality a secret from her father? IDENTITY DOMAIN #2


SECTION THREE: pp. 164-247


Jay arrives at Tita Chato and Tita Ines’s home. Jay then tells them all he has learned about possible connections to Jun’s death. Also, Jay finds a possible lead while going through his cousin’s belongings. Jay and Mia follow the lead into the slums.

Jay discovers Grace’s Instagram page. After scrolling, he sees the same photo that was DM’d to him a couple of weeks ago from an unknown person. He messages Grace. Grace admits it was her who sent the picture. Grace said she needed to make sure she could trust him. Grace admits Jun was running a website that was criticizing the government. Grace ends the conversation and tells Jay she will see him tomorrow.


  • Grace concealed the information about Jun and the website until she felt she could trust Jay? If you were in Grace’s shoes, would you have done the same thing? Do you think this will bring Jay and Grace closer? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #6

  • After arriving at Tita Chato and Tita Inez’s home, Jay is welcomed with open arms. This is opposite what he felt at Tito Mannings. Do you think the karaoke party opened up a side of Jay that he has been holding back? Do you feel that Jay felt a sense of belonging while with his aunts and among the people of their community? IDENTITY DOMAIN #1

  • Grace has taken over updating the website. Do you feel like this to keep his memory alive? Do you feel that it is safe? Why or why not? ACTION DOMAIN #17

  • Before going to the slums Jay had already had the idea of what he would see. After the visit to the slums do you feel Jay still feels the same about people who live there? Did it change any thoughts you have about people living in the slums why or why not? JUSTICE DOMAIN #11




Jay, his Tita Chato, Tita Ines, Tito Maning and his family all arrive at Jay’s grandparents house in the countryside. Jay is both sad that his Tito Danilo is not with them and eager to talk to Grace about Jun. Jay and Grace confront Maning about his involvement in Jun’s murder and Maning eventually loses his temper and lashes out at Jay physically. Maning tells them to ask Danilo about Jun if they won’t believe him. Grace and Jay head to Legazpi to talk to Danilo and they learn that Jun really had been involved in drugs and that Maning had actually been trying to protect him.

After their visit to Legazpi, Jay and Grace organize a small memorial for Jun. The whole family officially mourns Jun for the first time, even his parents who had previously only ignored his death. Those last days spent in the countryside fly by and soon Jay has to go home. Before he leaves, Jay shares a few last moments with Mia and they both know that they have feelings for each other despite all of the barriers they face.

On the plane, Jay reads his favorite letter from Jun and feels joy at the memories, but when he arrives back in Michigan he feels strange being surrounded by so many white people. On the drive home, Jay tells his dad everything that happened and feels for the first time that he can connect with his father. Jay tells his dad he wants to defer college and spend a year in the Philippines and, to his surprise, his dad is understanding and cautiously supportive of his plans.


  • Do you think Jay and Grace did the right thing by confronting Maning about his involvement in Jun’s murder? ACTION DOMAIN #18

  • If you were them, would you have approached the situation in the same way? Why or why not? ACTION DOMAIN #18

  • What is the significance of the memorial that was held for Jun? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #7

  • How did it impact different members of the family? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #7

  • Have you ever felt extremely aware of the people around you (in a physical space) like Jay did when he got off the plane in Michigan? IDENTITY DOMAIN #5

  • How do you fit or not fit with the majority of the people you see around you? IDENTITY DOMAIN #5




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