For as long as I can remember I have always identified myself as Filipino-American (if my dad had it his way he would want me to say Igorot-American). It was only until college did I begin to push my understanding of identity to go beyond eating mangoes with bagoong and dancing/teaching tinikling. Just how much of my own beliefs and aspirations were influenced by my culture as well as the world’s ideas on who I am and how I should act? Insert colonial mentality, bamboo ceiling, microaggressions, hiya, and much more right here. I joined UniPro NY in order to find answers to my questions only to learn that it was only the beginning of my journey.
For most of my life the word community went as far as my blood relatives, fellow Trinity St. John’s members, and classmates but it has expanded moving beyond my immediate neighborhood stretching across state lines to include organizers from respective UniPro chapters like Chicago and Texas. UniPro has given me so much more than the opportunity to find incredibly compassionate individuals who wish to build bridges, not walls but a platform to create programming that helps others find answers to the same questions I have been asking. The mentors, friends, and memories that I have made along the way continue to shine light unto why I want to continue to build. Their confidence, patience, and love have helped me find the courage to serve in whatever capacity I can. Because of their abundance my journey has taken quite a few twists and turns.
Before interning for UniPro in 2013 I was involved with Stony Brook University’s Philippine United Student Organization first as the Cultural Dance Director (2011-2012) and then President (2012-2013). Expanding outside of Stony Brook I served as the Secretary of FIND, Inc.’s District III (2013-2014). After college I had multiple opportunities to organize on a national scale having helped plan FIND, Inc. Dialogue 2014: Ikaw Na and Empowering Youth Through Collaboration Conference 2016: Reach. After interning for UniPro I took a gap year to focus on graduating undergrad only to come back in full force serving as the Assistant Director of Human Resources (2014-2015), Director of Human Resources (2015-2016), Director of Internal Programming (2016-2017), and President just last year. Today I gladly serve as the Director of Organizational Culture.
One would think that non-profit pays the bills. By day, I am an Estimator for the ADE Group. By night, I karaoke and binge watch Netflix series.
What questions do you find yourself still struggling with? Where do you even begin? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any of those sentiments.