Sign of the Times: A Reflection on the Panel

The turnout of this event revealed what may be an unexpected sign of the times. Imagine a circle discussion, 3 panelists, 3 UniPro staff members, and a diverse range of attendants—ranging from a high school student who has never attended a Pilipinx-focused discussion to a retired grandparent still active in empowering the Chicagoland Pilipinx community. This turn-out resulted in an intimate, almost “striking” dynamic, with each individual’s point-of-view bearing conspicuous weight to the conversation. One could wonder how such a small and diverse group would be able to address the generation gap.

But the event revealed a blaring truth: the generational gap of today has many different factors that contribute to its complexity. Still, many of the issues we feel that are important to our respective generation seem to have a common theme: navigating what it means to be Pilipinx American. And it may very well be that the main issue is not the gap, rather it is the continuing issue of social injustice and lack of its discussion. This perception of a “gap” could simply be a byproduct.

Held at one of Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s conference rooms, the atmosphere of this unique panel-style discussion was a combination of grassroots, mentor-mentee, and family. Our panelists Jerry Clarito, Mae Lant, and Rey Tanig were asked to speak about their experiences as Pilipinx Americans, addressing the empowerment of Pilipinx identity, balancing it with American values, and how they pass these on to the younger generation.

As staff member Chris Aldana effectively facilitated the questions and discussions, it was revealed that the panelists came from varying backgrounds, finding their sense of community and strengthening their Pilipinx American identity in their own ways. But even though their paths were evidently different, their common passion for empowering Pilipinx Americans and their faith in the younger generation was undeniable.

This, in conjunction to the diversity of the audience, generated a new sense of determination and understanding of what bridging the generation gap looks like. With this new picture of unity, we look forward to taking the next steps to progress.

Charmaine Balisalisa, Staff Member, UniPro Chicago-Midwest