It's so strange to be doing this because I have not blogged in a good 3-4 years! The last post on this particular blog doesn't count because it was associated with my event in October, but this is the first one in a long while that is solely about myself.
Background information: I was a food blogger for 5 years from 2007-2012. I quit food/personal blogging (Jo Boston is a Foodie on Blogger which I deactivated), because it wasn't ME anymore. Plus I just got tired of hearing myself talk about how scrumptious a tuna tartare was. Honestly, I was tired of tune tartare all together. I switched my focus to freelance writing for a bit, but that too became a chore, and then I became a Filipino food advocate and teamed up with the great folks at The Filipino Food Movement. Go ahead and hit the "MEDIA" link above to see what I was up to in the last few years.
So here we are in 2017. A good ten years after I started blogging in the first place. Call it coming full circle, or even completing life in a parallel universe. I started blogging in 2007 because I was going to school and I wanted to chronicle what I was consuming on a daily basis. School in general seems to ignite something in me to write.
I am back in school and here I am writing again...but before I go on to this year, let's do a quick recap of 2016 to catch you up on how the heck I got here.
The whole 365 days taught me a huge lesson. That lesson?
At the end of it, you only have yourself to get where you want to be.
Okay, true, people help you throughout your life, but it's up to you to take the opportunity when it knocks. Sometimes you have to work hard, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and hope for the best.
Let's backtrack. It's the beginning of 2016 and I am celebrating my 8 year anniversary at my job (medical field) and I am also celebrating my duties and role with The Filipino Food Movement. Lots of good stuff happens: we are in the San Francisco Chronicle in January, we are invited by the SF Consulate General to curate their Philippine Independence Day Gala in June, we are asked by the FAAE to host the Culinary Pavilion at Pistahan in August and in between I am meeting so many awesome people, contributing to podcasts, online publications, and so forth and going to amazing food events and Filipino pop-ups.
In the midst of all this, I began thinking. When can I possibly make my passion of connecting and promoting people and my food into a career? I have a great job in the medical field. I have been there for a long time and I am good at what I do. But still, there was that feeling of being something that encapsulates what I love to do. In late Spring in May, I see various opportunities to advance my career.
1) a random video posted by The Ellen Show. Yes, Ellen DeGeneres. She gave a scholarship to a woman who didn't get to finish her degree. I thought that was cool. Then I learn they were awarding 10 full-ride scholarships to the University of Phoenix titled the "Rise To Your Dreams" Scholarship. They wanted to award the scholarship to those who wish to apply their degree to a career. I totally regretted not continuing my Bachelor's program at SFSU in 2006, so I said "why the hell not?" The process: apply online and submit 3 essays. I sent off my essays, said a prayer and hit submit. Honestly I didn't think anything would come of it. So much so that I waited until the very last day to submit my essays. Call it procrastination or lack of hope, but I thought "whatev."
2) The same week I sent my essays off to I get an email from the Consulate General's office with a press release for a call for applicants to participate in an immersion trip in the Philippines happening the week of Thanksgiving organized by the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPro) in partnership with the Ayala Foundation and the Philippine Consulates around the country. Again, I thought "why the hell not?" I hadn't gone to the Philippines in a couple of years and I felt my work in the Filipino food industry proved that I had the urge to connect Filipinos living in the motherland and the Fil-Ams who live abroad. The trip would give the delegates the opportunities to meet influential people in the Philippines and to experience the beauty of the country. I prepped for this application HARD. Unlike my scholarship essays. I had until August to fill it out and submit. The process: resumes, letters of recommendation, essays. I had to prove I was worth choosing. This was so important for me and I prayed that I would get it. Waiting for the results was so nerve-wracking. Come August and then I get an email for an in-person interview at my local Consulate office. Let's just say I came out of that interview incredibly down on myself. I texted my FFM team of my disappointment in myself and had a pity party at Bon Chon with my girls that night. I was certain I didn't get it.
Never Count Yourself Out
August 28, 2016 - I got an email from the University of Phoenix. I won the full-ride scholarship.
September 2, 2016 - I got an email from FYLPro. I was accepted into the immersion program.
To say the least, I was floored. I cried because I would finally be able to see my dad after so long and I would be able to finish what life put on the back burner. I felt like I was getting a second chance.
Long story short, September was crazy because we had to plan Savor Filipino, our event in October which coincided with Filipino American History Month. There were debates on going on with the event or cancelling...and learning Filipinos LOVE to buy last minute tickets. Good thing we decided to have it!
Then another email from the organizers the FAHM White House celebration and next thing I know, I am applying for that as well. Never did I think I would go to the White House...let alone Washington DC...I submitted my application and I had to be vetted in order for my invitation to come. And it came. A week after Savor Filipino, I was on an airplane to Washington DC to celebrate FAHM with a few of my FFM team members and friends. Had a wonderful dinner at Bad Saint then a tour of the White House. Came back to the Bay Area, met Anthony Bourdain at his book tour party at the Tonga Room and then I was prepping for my FYLPro trip. All the while, I was still going to my full-time job, going to pop-ups, and prepping for school which I was to start on January 3.
It was CHAOS.
Finally Finding Me
The road leading to the FYLPro trip was not easy.
I had to prove myself to, well, myself.
I went to the Philippines torn. This was the land where I was made. I spent some of my childhood there. I have siblings there. I promote the food of this country yet I knew so little. I knew I had to come to the Philippines with an open mind and an open heart. I had to expect the worse and prep for the best. Again, I was a student.
I saw my father and my siblings and I was so happy yet sad knowing I would leave them again. I spent a week and a half with my fellow FYLPro delegates going around Manila attending meetings, arranged lunches with dignitaries and mentors, and dinners with those who paved the way for people in my industry. A more in-depth post shall follow soon. It was such a busy and hectic schedule. I loved it. I loved how I was learning so much and meeting so many people. I spent my last 3 days in the Philippines on my own. Navigating Manila by myself was terrifying. It hit me. I had to rely on myself. I had never done that before and I felt free. I left the Philippines with a new point of view.
I am not the expert of anything. I am the only person I can control. I will forever be a student. I shall always be grateful for everything that comes my way. I will always be thankful for the people I meet. I only have me in the end. I am the only one who dictates my success.
Here We Are. 2017.
The last few weeks of 2016 were so busy with work and the holidays that 2017 came with an unreal quickness. I would start the new year with a new and earlier schedule at work so I can spend my afternoons studying. I am now working on that long-neglected BS degree and I am so excited. I should be done by the end of 2019. It's a little longer because I opted for a certification in Marketing as well. It's a scholarship so there is no liability on my end. What a blessing. I am still trying to figure how this is all real. I mean, is this real life?
I am going to be experimenting with my time over the next few months because while I want to spend so much time on FFM duties, I know I have to step down at times to concentrate on school and to work on the legacy projects I pitched in my FYLPro application. 2017 is going to be another amazing and amazingly busy year.
I learned that you have to work hard in order to get the future you want. Plus you have to work hard to silence the noise. At the end of the day, you just need to do you. I need to do me. I need to do what is good for my future and the future of my family. Social media makes it so hard because everyone's business and dirty laundry is in your face and I am learning how to filter out the chismis and the negativity. I haven't mastered it yet, but I am working on it.
Right now I am just focusing on my schooling. I had a FFM reorganization meeting yesterday and it was so hard not to volunteer for everything on our calendar. I want to dip my finger in everything, but I have to keep myself in check. Plus I still have a social life, family life and my husband to be with. This year is definitely going to be a learning experience. It is somewhat scary because I really do not have anything planned for the rest of the year. No travel or big personal events. But then again, life happens in the most mysterious way and you can be surprised at any point of it.
I am just praying that my year is fruitful and healthy and safe. I am also praying that my friends and family stay safe as well. Whatever 2017 has for me, I am excited for it. I am in a very good place and 2017 will definitely be about self-care and self-love.
Thanks for reading my blog. It's been a while since I have done this and it feels good. I hope to post again soon when I have the time. Until then, salamat!
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!