It's been such an amazing 2018 so far. I am blessed, but I have definitely realized that your girl needs some rest! I will be taking a break from organizing major food related events until Winter, and I am using the Spring and Summer for some professional development and school.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda, right?
Anyway, just going some growing pains right now. My day job is challenging, per usual, so I am also trying to muster up the energy to do very technical work and at the same time do some very creative work. Like I said before: it's hard! It's hard not to get tired or burned out, but we keep pushing here!
Thanks for putting up with my ranting. I feel like I am a student again. Well, technically I am. It's scary, but invigorating at the same time. I love learning and I love being able to put my new knowledge to good use. Feels good, right? It sure does. Until next time.
I had such an empowering morning on March 31, 2018. A few months ago, Dr. Dawn Mabalon invited me to speak as part of an epic panel at the Association of Asian American Studies Conference in SF which included chefs, educators and entrepreneurs. It really felt like a reunion.
Because we were pressed for time (seriously, we could have talked for another 3 hours), we had to keep our individual talks short and sweet. I talked about how I got into the Filipino food promotion - through writing and social media events. I wish we can have a whole entire day dedicated to Filipino food. In all honesty, it was such an honor to be in the company of these guys. They are heavy hitters and they have inspired me in more ways than one.
Panelists: Jay Jasper of No Worries Vegan, Ate Allyson at SFSU, Chel of Tselogs, myself,
Dr. Dawn of SSU, PJ of FFM, Dom of Facebook, Charleen of Craft & Spoon and Even of Senor Sisig
I am hoping to expand the discussion at the FANHS Conference this coming July in Chicago. Until then, I am excited to collabo on some projects with some people and organizations this Summer, including Kalayaan 2018 and Pistahan. Hope to see you at those events!
Guys, I am so excited about this one.
When I was in NYC with my girls Gen, Em, and Kim, we met with John and Allie, the filmmakers of ULAM. I have been following this documentary for a while because, of course, it's about Filipino food. After months of chit-chat, we finally met and, wow, I loved their enthusiasm and energy. We HAD to bring this doc to the City.
Fast forward a month and I get a message from Allie and Johnny, and BOOM. It was coming...they are WORLD PREMIERING their documentary on April 7, 2018 at the Dolby Cinema as part of the San Francisco International Festival. I am so happy they welcomed me to their planning team. I am helping with community aspect of it and I hope to see you all there!
About the Film:
ULAM (Main Dish) is a food documentary following the rise of the Filipino food movement via the chefs crossing over to the center of the American table.
Featuring: Alvin Cailan (Egglsut, Unit 120), Nicole Ponseca & Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney), Romy Dorotan & Amy Besa (Purple Yam), Johneric Concordia & Christine Araquel-Concordia (The Park's Finest), Charles Olalia (Ricebar), Chase Valencia & Chad Valencia (LASA), and Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano, The Little Bear).
Please feel free to check out and RSVP at the Facebook Event below:
Heart is So Full
Where did the last two months go? Truth be told, I was busy with this event I did. I just came back from a trip to NYC. I actually organized a dinner with my great team at the James Beard House, called "Regional Filipino Celebration" on the 25th of January. Nuts, right? Started from the bottom, now the Beards! I am going to post a longer recap on the event this weekend, but I just wanted to thank our sponsors. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did.
I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!
I am still feeling the excitement. I still smile randomly when I remember the wonderful food and amazing chefs. It was one of the best days of my career.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus.
Longer post later. Off to another community function. I need to take a day off. =)
Happy December! Where did 2017 go? Again the holiday season has crept up on me, but I am definitely ready for the new year. When I run into people these days, people ask what I am up to. I am proud to say that I am taking a "break" in December. Just focusing on work and school for the time being. I have a project I am working on that is happening in January, but I will update on that later.
My workplace has been turned upside down with the announcement of my manager's departure last month. I am nervous because my work will be scrutinized differently and I expect to be asked to do more by the physicians I work for. I mean, I have been at my job for 10 years! Technically, 1/10/18, but I think I have been there long enough to figure things out on my own. Right?! Haha, we shall see how this new arrangement goes at work.
School has been great. Met with some classmates who I work very well with. I honestly have been dreading this essay and PowerPoint presentation due this Monday, but I expect to slay. Wish me luck!
So let's go back to Chefsgiving that happened on November 20 at Bao Down in San Francisco. Thank you, Matt of Bao Down for letting us use your space. It impressed so many people. It was vibrant and so welcoming. Here are some pictures from my friend Dennis Chan.
The night before the dinner, I was at a coffee shop in San Bruno trying to finish my homework and tightening up any loose ends for the event. Then the worst thing happened: OVERNIGHT I GOT SICK. To the point that I could not make myself go to work. I had a throat infection and I was coughing up some nastiness. Francis asked for my husband to go to his place at 11:00 pm (!!!) to pick up some antibiotics. Pair that with a double-dose of Theraflu and a shot of lambanog and I felt a little alive. There was no way I could host and speak to the crowd because my throat hurt a lot, so thank goodness for my friends, Kim, Em and John who came and helped me out that day. I wish I did not get sick, but it was my body telling me to slow down and rest. But because of this sickness, I refused to go on camera for anything. It was for the best because I looked like a hot mess anyway. I was sweating! I guess the Theraflu was doing it's job.
Thanks to my old friend Rommel for featuring the event on Balitang America!
To say the least, Chefsgiving was a success. We raised a little bit of money for Undocufund, and I will be sending them a nice check next week after I finish up some last minute accounting. Thank you to all the chefs, sponsors, and volunteers for making this event happen. I am still a little sick and I bit slow at following up, but I will be reaching out to you all in the next few days.
There's even interest in making Chefsgiving an annual event. I am totally for that. Because of this event, many people there asked about who the chefs were and how they can attend their events. In response to that, I have created a public Facebook page for the Kusinero Alliance, which can be accessed by clicking the banner below:
It is about time the Filipino cooking community in the San Francisco gets some shine. Many folks within this group, like Dom and Tim, have been cooking in the Bay for over a decade. I have been working with them for a little over 5 years. I don't intend on stopping. Any. Time. Soon.
I am so proud of this group and I will work with them for as long as they have me. It's been a passion of mine to promote the food that I grew up with. It has also been an interest of mine to see how Filipino food progresses here in the States. I am excited to see several coalitions in the country form and share a common goal. Shouts to Barkada in LA and ILAW in the Pacific Northwest. I look forward to meeting all of you some day!
Alas, it is time for bed. I really am taking this "rest" thing seriously. I am not going out as much and I have been coming straight home after work. Today, I stayed in bed all day because I am still feeling under the weather. I blame this full supermoon! I just hope that the rest of 2017 takes it easy on me. I am looking at 2018 and I see so much happening, but I know I have to set up borders for myself.
2018 will be the year of adulting for me, ladies and gentlemen. I am a bit scared, yet excited.
Hope you will join me then.
Long time no blog! I have to say though - lots going on this Winter! I just came back from an amazing weekend in Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona. 10 of my FYLPRO family and I attended the FPACC event. Made a lot of connections and did some crazy things in 36 short hours. One example of this is doing a zombie escape room at 11pm and then eating In-n-Out afterwards at the rental house.
So what's coming up?!
BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE: https://kusineroalliancesfchefsgiving.eventbrite.com
I am currently working with an organization that will help our North Bay neighbors. Can't make it to our event, please donate via the same link. We have included a way for you to help even if you cannot make it physically.
Currently looking at the menu. It's going to be amazing, guys! See you there!
Apply to be part of the FYLPRO family!
FYLPRO - "Filipino Young Leaders Program" - is the non-profit that sent me on that life-changing trip in Manila back in November. I became a prouder Filipina-American during our excursion. Here is a little trailer of our trip. The longer (30+ mins) video is on my Facebook profile if you were interested.
FYLPRO is now accepting applications for this year's delegation which will be starting their trip this coming October. Scroll below for some of the details.
Every year, FYLPRO works with the Philippine Embassy and the Consulates General in the United States to search for the 10 most outstanding, next-generation Filipino-Americans or Filipinos in the United States to participate in its distinguished Immersion Program in the Philippines.
2017 FYLPRO Immersion Program Dates:
*this schedule is subject to change without notice*
WHO CAN APPLY
For full details, go to: www.FYLPRO.org/apply
Good luck! Can't wait to meet Batch 6!
Batch 5 alumna
It all started with a conversation Jim (of Manila Bowl) and I had at an event in San Francisco. He and I would see each other at these things and we would talk Food and how we could collaborate. This time, I felt the urge to just put something into motion. He asked, "wouldn't it be cool to get everyone together?" Being me, I replied, "Where and when?"
I knew I had to make this happen.
Needless to say, the conversation we had was inspiring and a wake up call. We need to work together in order for us to succeed. I became more enlightened and more motivated to work after each of them spoke. That Chel from Tselogs. I felt like I was at church! Preach, girl! Each person here brings something valuable to the plate and it was so exciting to see them all in one place. I have been following some of these guys for almost 10 years (ahem, the old, used, and abused Chef Timmy Luym) and have been friends with some (ahem, I miss your face, Dom and Melissa.) for years. I cannot wait to see what they all have up their sleeves.
They are ready to be seen and heard.
Get ready for them, Bay Area.
PS: If you would like to meet up with us (our next get-together is in May), let me know!
The Philippine Consulate here in San Francisco and the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines were so kind and generous to their "Filipinos Around the World" campaign on Facebook.
I am honored they picked me and valued my opinion on what being a Filipino means to me. Here is my response:
"Being a Filipino to me is all about togetherness as well as being hospitable and making connections. Just think about it, when you enter someone's house, they asked if you have eaten yet. When you are at the dinner table eating sinigang with rice and mention where you are from or where you went to school, Filipinos are quick to ask if you know a certain person who might have known your cousin's stepfather's girlfriend's brother. There is a saying that goes, 'we are all family.' Because we love to eat with each other and tell stories, we have all created a bond that is very unique. I love that. Even though there are so many regions and provinces in the Philippines, we always find each other abroad and create communities. During college, I participated in Filipino organizations run by students and even today, I contribute to our Filipino community events and activities. I love our sense of community and our want to collaborate with each other. This togetherness or kapwa is our way to keep our culture alive.
Being Filipino is probably the most important part of my life. I knew I was Filipino since I could remember. I truly appreciate that my grandparents made it a point to speak to us in Ilocano and feed me Filipino dishes like pinapaitan and pinakbet. Filipinos were pretty much everywhere I looked as I was growing up; however, as I got older, I realized that San Francisco was a special place because of the dense Filipino population here. I did not know that Filipinos were not known well in other parts of the country.
One of the earliest memories of feeling proud to be Filipino was in 1992 seeing Lea Salonga on Entertainment Tonight when she was featured for her part in Disney's Aladdin. I was around 8 years old or so. Who doesn't love 'A Whole New World?' Then in 1995, I watched Lea on PBS as Eponine in the 10-year anniversary show of Les Miserables. That performance is one of my all-time favorites. I have adored Broadway, Disney and musicals since I was a kid, so seeing a Filipino on the television made me very happy - I saw someone who looked like ME achieving success. It was very empowering to see a Pinay hustle and become the person she is now. Actually these days, whenever I do see someone of Filipino ancestry gain success in any field, I feel proud because that shows that our people is a hard working one. We strive to be the best and make a statement in this world. I love seeing our kababayan enjoy the fruits of their labor.
My greatest dream is to be able to travel the world, meet fellow Filipinos, and just eat and eat! Filipino food, and food in general, is such an important aspect of my life. I have been working on the promotion of Filipino food for over 7 years, and through the years, I have met incredibly talented chefs and amazing people who share the same goals as I do. Recently, I traveled to the Philippines, explored my family's province, made my way around Manila, and ate the most delicious dishes - including some Filipino dishes I had never tasted before such as pancit pusit ng Cavite and kinunot. It was truly a life-changing experience. I would love to travel even more to gain more knowledge about Filipino food and other ethnic cuisines, eat, meet more people, and eat more.
Another dream of mine is to help open a Filipino food cultural center in the Bay Area that has a place for hands-on workshops and lectures, special pop-up dinner and events space for local and visiting chefs, and a library that will house all the Filipino cookbooks, memoirs, and historical documents for visitors to refer to. This center will be a hub for those interested to be educated about our food, culture, indigenous ingredients, and stories. Also a drive-through window for rotating chef specials because why not?"
I could only imagine what was going through my mom’s head when she was on her way from Manila to San Francisco in the early 1980’s. She has told me over the years that she chose to leave Pangasinan plus everything she knew to live in the United States so she can start a new and better life for her and me. I am grateful everyday for the opportunities that have been given to me as a result of her sacrifice. However, there was always a part of me that yearned for that connection with my heritage. Being a Filipino has never been a foreign concept for me. My family spoke in our native Ilocano. Lea, Pops, Roselle were on rotation. Our parties were always joyous and the food! Lechon, pinakbet, lumpia. The food was the constant star of our celebrations year after year growing up. We also made trips back to Pangasinan every two to three years. Our togetherness as a family was prevalent. The communities I associated with during college and the present have given me a sense of pride, but still, I felt I needed to experience the Philippines on my own terms, at my own pace. When I saw the call for applicants for the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) in the Spring of 2016, I knew it was my chance to finally make that connection.
Every year since 2012, ten delegates are chosen to visit the Philippines and they participate in various activities with the government and local communities while engaging in the culture and heritage of the Philippines. These delegates are to utilize the knowledge they brought with them and the knowledge they gain during their immersion trip to strengthen the ties between the Philippines and the United States.
After working on my application and sending it off to FYLPRO in July, I wondered how my work in Filipino food promotion would even help. A cruel realization came to me that I knew so little about what I was promoting. With the country’s regionality and diverse ecosystems and people, there was so much to learn and I made it my goal to go back to the Philippines whether or not I was chosen. Fortunately, in September, I was blessed to be selected as one of the ten delegates in Batch 5 to travel to Manila in November.
On the airplane to Manila, I looked back on all the trips I took prior. My last trip was in 2014. Before that 2011. And before that 2009. I was not unfamiliar with my family’s province, but Manila was going to be a challenge for me as I was traveling alone. For the first time. I then wondered how mom was when she travelled to San Francisco on her own. My grandpa, whom we fondly call Tatay, immigrated to the United States in the late 1970’s - at the height of government turmoil in the Philippines. Mom joined him in 1983 and I was born shortly after. Being the first grandchild born in the United States, there was always the expectation to make the family proud and to be the best I can be. They sacrificed so much to come to the United States and I felt it was my duty to do just that.
I knew the Philippines I would be seeing would be a whole different one from the Philippines I was exposed to as a child and even as a young adult. Citizens my age are now making decisions for the country. People like ME were making a difference in their communities. I felt proud, empowered, but terrified. Was I even worthy to be part of this group? Were mosquitos going to eat me alive? What if I couldn’t get good cellular service? Was I safe? The worrywart came out full throttle; nonetheless, I was incredibly excited to meet my batchmates and start on this new adventure because I was certain it was going to be an eye opening one.
The curators of the trip, (special thank you to Minnie, Joe and Joanna at the Ayala Foundation), made sure that the delegates had a healthy dose each of government exposure, cultural activity, hands-on community work, and time to reacquaint ourselves with the Philippines. Because my legacy project is focused on the progress of Filipino food, as well as its history and chefs, I made sure to create connections with those in the Filipino food industry.
Department of Foreign Affairs - We were given the opportunity to have a roundtable discussions with leaders at the Department of Foreign Affairs. We discussed everything from the government’s plan to create an infrastructure that will ensure the country's market growth in the future, to the Philippine foreign policy, budgets and targets, to the DFA's mission to promote Philippine interests in the global spectrum to more mundane things such as my love for Filipino food. It was a great honor to converse with DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Assistant Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria of the Office of American Affairs, Director Reichel Quiñones of the Canadian Division, as well as with the representatives from the DFA, National Economic and Development Authority, National Commission on Culture and the Arts, and Department of Social Welfare and Development who were generous with their time.
Senate of the Philippines - Immediately after our visit to the DFA, we were ushered to the Philippine Senate to meet and converse with Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. They graciously shared their programs regarding community advancement, leadership, and political and civic engagement.
Malacañan Palace - I never would have thought I would ever step foot at Malacañan. This place has so much history within its four walls. Paintings of all the presidents and their First Ladies, artifacts from the Martial Law era, and even the fine china used at special dinners were on display. It was such an honor to be there. This was also the perfect place for the traditional FYLPRO teleserye photo.
National Museum of the Philippines
Intramuros and Fort Santiago - Jose Rizal's jail cell with BamBikes Tours
Habitat for Humanity - Bistekville 4, Culiat, Quezon City
100 for 200 - Araw ng Pagbasa - Books for Youth with Ayala CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Vice President Leni Robredo - Ayala Museum, Makati
XO46 Heritage Bistro - Thank you to owner Andrew Masigan for feeding us until we couldn't eat anymore! On our first day, we were treated to a welcome dinner at XO46 Heritage Bistro in Makati where the servers spoke in old Tagalog and no English! Many of us have never heard that spoken before and it definitely added to the charm of the restaurant.
Mentorship: One important aspect of the FYLPRO immersion trip was to spend time with someone in the community who can mentor us in our fields. Mine is the promotion of Filipino food, and I was mentored with Mr. Masigan who gave me a tour of his properties, including XO46 in the S Maison Conrad which has a gorgeous dining room, inspired by the grand dining room at Malacanang, overlooking Manila Bay and his not-yet-opened Arroz Ecija in BGC. He also treated myself and Batch 4 alumna Nicole Ponseca of NYC's Maharlika and Jeepney to a sumptuous meal over a conversation about their beginnings in the restaurant industry and how to entice the masses to Filipino restaurants. The food was amazing - the pusit pancit from Cavite was my favorite!
Aristocrat with Mama Sita's
Rural Kitchen of Liliw, Laguna
I am incredibly grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Even though the trip was only 1 week long, I felt I became more connected to the Philippines and to my batch mates. We came from all over the country and from different backgrounds, but we all had something in common: we wanted to strengthen our ties to the Philippines because we know we have something valuable to offer. I admire the people I experienced this trip with and I am indebted to all those who helped make this trip possible.
Hi. I'm Jo.
Everything in this blog is mine. All photos, words, all of it. All views on this blog are mine. My views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer and the community organizations I work with. Do not use my words or screenshots of my website and blog without written permission.
At the end of the day, if you would like to know me more than what is said here, please feel free to message me and let's hang out or better yet, LET'S EAT!