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?"
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!