What a long road it’s been to get where we’re at right now. While we had our official launch event in April, the initial talks of having a Midwest UniPro chapter happened over a year prior. It took many months of recruiting, community polling, and event planning to ensure that there was even a spot for us among the other great organizations in the region, and that we’d have the capacity to meet the goals we envisioned.
UniPro has made significant progress across the country in our communities in 2016. Despite the numerous events, twists, and turns that have taken place throughout the year, UniPro's work never stopped, and only continued towards realizing one unified and engaged Pilipino America. Our Board Chairperson, Iris Zalun, reflects on all the work that has been done throughout our chapters across the nation.
I do not even know where to start. Coming from the Midwest, I have had the privilege to attend 3 conferences: Unseen Unheard, Filipino Americans Coming Together, and Midwest Filipino American Summit. These three conferences as well as the people who coordinated them have not only become some of my biggest role models but my best friends. It was these experiences that have contributed to my growth both as a leader within my community and as a first generation Filipino American.
Did recent college grad Amanda think that attending UniPro Summit would be integral to setting up a staged reading in New York four years later? 2016 Amanda can confidently say: no, she sure didn’t. As a friend once told me, “It’s not always one big dramatic decision you make and your life changes – it’s all the micro-choices you make day-to-day.” To that I also add, it’s a grateful spirit and our bayanihan, open to possibility and eager to help, that sets our lives and art in motion.
First thing: how long until they build the second Seafood City in the Chicagoland area? The chain had existed for years on the west, but it took years to get here. There’s no shortage of smaller Filipino shops around Illinois, some with movie rentals and some with their own turo turo restaurants built in. But rarely do they have fresh produce or proteins like Seafood City does, nor the immense selection , and the large crowds show that demand has been there. So the question becomes, why did it take so long for us to get the first one?
Last year, Jerome and I both quit our corporate jobs and decided to embark on a new adventure. We launched Cambio Market on a whim of sorts, no expectations or long-term plan. All we had was this burning desire to do something more, to inject meaning and impact into our very comfortable, easy lives here in Toronto. Little did we realize how near and far our whim of an adventure would take us ...
The Pledge says, Philippine society is “loving, of God, of the environment, of its people, and of its country,” but how true is this? Do we love our God when we turn our churches into marketplaces? Do we love the environment when we continue to litter and pollute our surroundings? Do we love our people when crab mentality remains within us? Do we love our country when everyone aspires to migrate?
Maybe the best thing about this election is that we're finally speaking about emotions and angers that people in this country have. Whether you're frustrated with the 1%, upset with the politics of Washington, wanting our country to create more jobs, or looking for more social equality - that is all good. If you feel strongly about something or want to fight for something, keep fighting.
Coping and managing are my biggest priorities right now. I’ve always used my identity as a bridge between my Black and Pilipino communities, but I’m tired of using Black death as a conversation-starter with the latter. No matter how much I work with and identify as a Pilipino-American, I never forget my Blackness. Blackness supersedes any of my other identities because it’s the one that can get me killed.
Before Western colonizers even arrived in the Philippines, “shame” prevailed in our households. But the “shame” that Dr. Kevin Nadal wrote about in his book "Filipino American Psychology" is based on honor; as in, we have “shame” because we want to show society the best version of ourselves and of our families to preserve this honor.
When Sierra Adkins, a Filipino-American, worked as a teacher in South Korea, she was encouraged to not disclose her Filipino heritage. A colleague explained to her that Filipinos are “ranked lower socially” because Filipino immigrants in South Korea commonly take maligned gigs as nannies or prostitutes. This is the story of her experience in South Korea.