UniPro Now: Volume 3 Table of Contents
Letter from the President Letter from the Editor
Jessica Cox: A Foot in the Clouds
Career Development 7 13 19 21 23
Career Development Panelists Anthony Castro: Inspiration in Daily Life, History, and Filipino Culture Maharlika & Jeepney: Interview with Nicole Ponesca Lumpia Shack: Interview with Neil Syham Five Questions to Ask... by Edsel Batucan
Connecting Communities 27 33 34
Connecting Communities Panelists Steve Raga: Filipino American Civil Engagement Maria Cruz Lee: Raising the Bar as a Community
Social Good 37 41
Social Good Panelists Fall from Graceland: Film Review
Joe Bataan: The King of Latin Soul
UniPro Now: Volume 3 Magazine Staff
47 49 50
Sponsors Vendors Community Supporters
Letters from the President and Editor 2
Letter from the President
Letter from the Editor
Dear UniPro Now: Volume 3 Readers,
It’s that time of the year again when we invite inspiring leaders to share their stories and witness history in the making. This year, our UniPro Summit theme is “RISE,” so we asked panelists and community leaders what it means for them to “RISE”.
The third volume of UniPro Now continues the tradition of releasing a magazine in conjunction with the annual Multinational Forum for Pilipino Young Professionals, Students and Youth, also known as “UniPro Summit.” While the Summit theme last year focused on the notion of a “Pilipino Renaissance,” a celebration of ideas, passions and aspirations, the 2013 Summit theme of “Rise” challenges delegates and supporters to move towards making those ideas into reality. It’s about education and empowerment in the areas of career development, community organizing and social change. It’s about the resources and tools necessary to achieving goals like starting a business, running for public office, or defending the rights of Pilipinos all over the world. Most importantly, it’s about action, taking the first and second and third step towards shaping the future. Apply for that job. Register to vote. Join that organization.
Letter from Rachelle Ocampo President of UniPro: Pilipino American Unity for Progress
As President of UniPro, I asked myself what it means to “RISE”. For me, it’s not only a word that motivates me when I feel blinded by a personal dilemma or issue, but it is an opportunity to help others, so that we come together as a whole community. There are dozens of inspiring movers and shakers in the Fil-Am community who seize this opportunity on a daily basis. We wish we could have featured all of them at this year’s UniPro Summit! Nevertheless, we have an amazing group of speakers this year, and whether or not you can be with us at the Summit in New York City, we hope to capture some of their inspiration and spirit in the third volume of UniPro Now magazine. Read through some of the very fun and insightful interviews and excerpts that we have collected this year, and share your thoughts with us @UniProNow on Twitter. Our goal for this magazine, along with our annual Summit, is to educate and empower students and young professionals as we provide practical tools and resources to help them “RISE”. As leaders, we are constantly faced with a list of issues that we want to conquer, but it cannot be accomplished by wishing them all away. You need a voice. You need a voice that is loud, resourceful, and knowledgeable about the issues you are most passionate about. It is time for YOU to “RISE” with UniPro, and be part of a collective voice that gets shit done!
Letter from Sabrina Echaluce Editor–in–Chief of UniPro Now: Volume 3
I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with UniPro a few times over the course of four years—as an intern during college, an associate editor for UniPro Now in 2011, and Editor-in-Chief for UniPro Now in 2012 and 2013. While editing the magazine calls for a considerable amount of time
and effort in the weeks leading up to the Summit in June, the UniPro team works tirelessly to provide resources for students and young professionals in the Pilipino-American community all year-round. “Rise” is not only their Summit theme—it’s their way of life. I want to express sincere gratitude for these amazing individuals at UniPro, the most inspiring group of people I know. Thanks to Alyssa Esteban, UniPro intern and UniPro Now graphic designer, for creating something truly beautiful out of the endless string of e-mails and Google documents we sent her way. Thanks to Iris Zalun, UniPro Summit Co-Chair, Vice President, and all-around superwoman, for keeping the magazine team organized and moving. Thanks to Gecile Fojas (UniPro Summit Co-Chair and UniPro Now Managing Editor), Meriden Villanueva (UniPro Secretary and Director of Communications) and Ivan Gonzales (UniPro Director of Public Policy and Foreign Relations), for their ideas, support and dedication. Finally, thanks to our contributors, interviewees, and panelists—the heart and soul of the magazine—for sharing their stories and insight. Thank you, thank you, a million times, thank you.
SAbrina Causin Echaluce Editor–in–Chief, UniPro Now
What are you waiting for? Sincerely,
Rachelle Peraz Ocampo President, UniPro 2013
PAGE OPPOSITE | Jeepney Filipino Gastropub Identity (tabletops) | Anthony Castro, 2013 | Ink jet/vinyl adhesive One major consideration for the table service at JEEPNEY Filipino Gastropub was designing a numbering systemm that servers could easily navigate. Not only did the tables demand its own distinct flavor, each table had to include a Filipino translation of the number in several dialects and reflect formally, the distinct 3D block letter style and vernacular aesthetic on the Jeepney vehicles.
Jessica Cox: A Foot in the Clouds 4
We asked UniPro Summit opening keynote speaker Jessica Cox to imagine herself as the first Pilipino or Pilipino-American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement—anything as wild and ambitious as becoming the first Pilipino to set foot on the moon or the first to win the Nobel Peace Prize. What could she achieve? What barriers would she break? Jessica responded, “I would like to be the first PilipinoAmerican to help bring more opportunities to people with disabilities in other countries. I would be breaking the attitude barrier that people have against people with disabilities. I would also be breaking the other social and economic barriers that people with disabilities face.”
countries, perhaps young Pilipinos and PilipinoAmericans can look to Jessica as an example of how to rise above personal challenges, and then extend the lessons learned from these experiences to benefit the world around them. In essence, we can learn from her story how to rise as leaders in our communities.
Of course, Jessica Cox doesn’t need to imagine any of this.
She certainly does.
Born without arms, Jessica not only managed to adapt to the challenges of living with a physical disability, but achieved more with just her legs than most people achieve in a lifetime. In high school and college, Jessica earned two black belts in Taekwondo, holding the title of the first armless person to receive a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association. Not impressed? She’s also a licensed pilot with a Guinness World Record for being the first pilot to fly with her feet. Search her name on YouTube and you’ll come across countless videos of her driving a car, playing the piano, and even surfing.
jessicaCox “A Foot in the Clouds...”
But Jessica’s courage and strength extends beyond her ability to learn skills and perform tasks using only her feet. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology, Jessica travels the world as a motivational speaker, spreading the notion that people have greater power over the limitations and constraints in their lives than they might realize. She teaches us that creativity, determination and self-acceptance are vital tools in breaking the barriers that stand in the way of our goals, and given her endless string of personal achievements, these tools work. In April 2013, Jessica joined Handicap International in Ethiopia to witness their work in local schools that serve as resources for children with disabilities. As she moves toward reaching her goal of bringing more opportunities to people with disabilities in other
Jessica explains, “I believe people should address social problems with integrity and honesty. I would also demonstrate why there is a need and how it can be filled. If I am convincing others to take actions, I believe it is just as important for me to be involved in taking that same action. It’s necessary to practice what you preach.”
“I rise by...” “... Not allowing my disability to stand in the way of accomplishing anything.” If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what would it be called? Which aspect of your life would the plot focus on the most? Would it be a comedy, a drama, an action-packed thriller, etc.? “The movie would be called ‘A Foot in the Clouds,’ and the plot would focus on my flight training and becoming the first pilot to fly using only their feet. The movie would be action-packed, as well as a drama.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What are your plans? Most importantly, what Pilipino dish would you have for dinner that first night? “We would find ourselves in the middle of Bobon, Mercedes, Eastern Sarmar. We would go out to the dock and enjoy the ocean breeze while chatting and reading a book. We would go to my mom’s home, visit with family, and eat pancit and adobo for dinner.”
“Lumpia Shack at Smorgasburg in DUMBO.” Photo credits to Iris Zalun.
Career deveLopment Panelists
Career Development Panelists 8
Principal, Initiative Marketing & Events “I rise by...” “…focusing on the positive and thinking out of the box for solutions when facing challenges. I rise by utilizing my energy to help those whom I have the capacity to aid, especially when it only takes a little bit of energy or time… by supporting those in my circle and community that are doing great things personally and in business.” Reflect on your career path from when you were a child to where you are now. Are you where you expected yourself to be when you were ten years–old, a teenager, or a college student? What were the major turning points that defined your career? “When I was younger, I definitely thought I would be a millionaire by now. While I tend to keep moving rather than sitting and thinking about my actual accomplishments, I can say that by having certain successes such as making a full business year with my own company, not having to take on a traditional full-time office job, and having the freedom to do things I have wanted like travel and explore different opportunities, I definitely have to celebrate those small moments. I left corporate in 2009, and while I was devastated by not having the stability and structure, I learned that I could build structure within another small organization (which proved to be a learning moment about partnering). That gave me the confidence to sign-on and start my own business. It allowed me to decide what projects I wanted to take on, and when and how I wanted to work. I have done numerous career-style presentations, and being able to inspire and mentor young people has helped to motivate me and helped me to keep working.” Describe the most difficult point in your career. What was the most difficult day, week, month or series of events? In three steps, provide instruction for others on how to overcome similar obstacles. a. Step One: ... b. Step Two: ... c. Step Three: ...
“After working at a corporate level, the first obstacle was getting over the lack of stability. I had to trust in my abilities and that I was going to be okay. I had the instant opportunity to figure out what I wanted to do next. I was able to start picking up gigs and roles that moved me into that next career movement. Next, I got into a partnership that allowed me to work on my freedom with business. But, it was in a field that I wasn’t sure about (personality management) which had the perks of having access to really cool events and things, but meant that I was now responsible for someone else’s career. I wanted to do something else. I knew I was unhappy, and I needed out. 1. I started to clear up the work I had done and started to finish up negotiations. I spoke to my partner and staff about my departure. Lastly, I let clients know that anything I was in charge of was wrapped up and handed over. 2. Yet again, I was at a moment where I got the chance to figure out what I wanted to do next. This was finally my moment. 3. Once I was out, it took me almost a year to get my own business in order, which meant I would now be an official LLC with my own EIN, but I had to do a lot of research on payroll, taxes, as well as building that new brand. It’s an ever growing journey.” You’re accepting a lifetime achievement award at a televised ceremony honoring the people in your field. Quickly—before the orchestra music cuts you off—describe and thank the people that have influenced and supported you. “God and my ancestors, first and foremost. I’ve been blessed to be able to live a certain lifestyle. Even during times when I was unsure where the next check was coming from, I have always been taken care of in life.” My mom. She was my first inspiration and continues to be a source of motivation and strength. She always holistically gives me advice with my best interests in mind. While she was unsure about me changing majors in college to communications and working in the entertainment industry, having a strong business background, she has always been the most supportive and the most proud of me. My friends-turned-family. I have a small circle of friends who have been with me for years, who have seen me through everything, and I would not have been able to keep going without their support.
I have a series of mentors in all different industries, many of whom I plan to tell their stories in an upcoming project. It would take too long to name everyone, but I am influenced by a variety of my peers, my colleagues and “big brothers and big sisters” that always ask the right questions to make sure I’m on the right path. Oh, and my partner-in-crime. He knows who he is.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “My best friend Corinne has wanted to go to the Philippines since the first time I went in 2005 after college. I would love to take her around to Manila first, of course, to hit the malls in Makati. Greenbelt is something to be seen for sure, and I’d show off some of the brands that we don’t have in the States. I would definitely take her to eat in Fort Bonifacio, and then off to check out the nightlife. While we have to do traditional Filipino food for sure, there are some really awesome restaurants out there that provide international culinary options. We would also have to trek out so I could take her to the provinces (my family is from Samar) to meet my Uncle Bogey, who is ex-Military. She works in criminal justice, so I think she would get a kick out of him. We would then have to hit up Palawan and Boracay, since we have traveled for years together to various beaches—from Miami to Costa Rica to multiple Caribbean islands. I would have to bring her to check-out the beaches, especially since I have yet to go to Boracay myself.”
East Orange General Hospital “I rise by…” “…taking the lead in uplifting my profession with my own career development. I plan to accomplish this by ensuring that I will be open to all leadership
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and professional education, as well as experiences that will be afforded to me. I would take advantage of such development. You have to rise to the occasion—to the call of your career path and development. Take advantage of all the resources that are available, and reach out to your colleagues and mentors so you can be guided accordingly in achieving your goals.” Reflect on your career path from when you were a child to where you are now. Are you where you expected yourself to be when you were ten years–old, a teenager, or a college student? What were the major turning points that defined your career? “I wanted to be in the medical profession—I wanted to become a physician. Being the oldest of eight children, I sacrificed becoming a physician when I lost my dad at sixteen. I then pursued a nursing career, which was close to being a doctor. I like to help those in need, and I feel that with the treasure and talent given to me by the Almighty, I will be able to give back this way. I did not pursue career advancement right away due to family obligations. But, when the opportunity came, I grabbed it, and that is how I was able to achieve my accomplishments.”
Career Development Panelists 10
Second, I would like to give thanks to the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to be where I am now. Of course, I would like to thank family members who have been supportive of my career goals. Without their support, I would not be able to achieve this. Lastly, I would like to thank all my mentors and friends who have always been there for me. Nothing is easy, but with everybody supporting you in achieving your goals, it makes it more meaningful. Again, thank you for this award.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “I land in Manila with my friend. I have not been home since 2001, so I am like a tourist, not knowing my whereabouts. We check into a five-star hotel to get settled and relax. For dinner, the first dish that I want to eat is kare kare (oxtail or tripe with peanut sauce and vegetables) and crispy pata (pork) at Barrio Fiesta. With this trip, I plan to go to Boracay and see all the newly-developed tourist spots.”
Describe the most difficult point in your career. What was the most difficult day, week, month or series of events? In three steps, provide instruction for others on how to overcome similar obstacles. a. Step One: ... b. Step Two: ... c. Step Three: ... “The most difficult point of my career was choosing between being a bedside nurse and pursuing administration. These are the steps I took to help me choose my career path: 1. Think of yourself and what you want to be. 2. Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis after making your choice. 3. Pursue your dreams and give it 100% or more. Do not be discouraged by obstacles. They will always be there. Do not procrastinate. Time is of the essence. Time is gold.” You’re accepting a lifetime achievement award at a televised ceremony honoring the people in your field. Quickly—before the orchestra music cuts you off—describe and thank the people that have influenced and supported you. “I would like to thank the organization for this award.
Senior Analyst for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Management and Budger; Co-founder, writer, trainer for Movemo Fitness “I rise by...” “…firmly believing that the Pilipino mind, body, spirit and community is a resilient one—one that was built to endure the most difficult trials and challenges this world has to offer.” Reflect on your career path from when you were a child to where you are now. Are you where you expected yourself to be when you were ten years–old, a teenager, or a college student?
What were the major turning points that defined your career? “When I was seven, I believed I would grow up to be a lawyer who owned every single comic book in the world. Today, I’m nowhere near that career path (although I’m close with the comic book thing… just kidding). The most major turning point in my career was in college when I realized that I had a passion for positive systemic change in the urban environment, which relied heavily on policy changes, demanded social justice, and necessitated a broad understanding of both social and physical infrastructure.” Describe the most difficult point in your career. What was the most difficult day, week, month or series of events? In three steps, provide instruction for others on how to overcome similar obstacles. a. Step One: ... b. Step Two: ... c. Step Three: ... “The most difficult time in my career was when I realized I could no longer chart my pathway to my dream job. Basically, I was lost in getting to where I wanted to be. Here are the steps I followed: 1. I got advice from my closest friends, family, coworkers and mentors.
you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City. We would visit the Yellow Boats of Hope, which empowered children and communities to travel waterways to go to school. I don’t know what food specialties there are in Layag-Layag, but I’m sure I would want to eat a lot of fish and mangoes paired with bagoong (salted shrimp fry).”
Ayesha vera yu
CEO and Co-Founder of ARK (Advancement for Rural Kids)
2. I acted upon whatever options which allowed me to learn and be challenged.
“I rise by…” “…being positive and part of the solution.”
3. I returned to the roots of my passion and gave back to the community.”
Reflect on your career path from when you were a child to where you are now. Are you where you expected yourself to be when you were ten years-old, a teenager, or a college student? What were the major turning points that defined your career? “I am where I never thought I would be—excited and happy to do what I do. I figure out solutions with incredibly inspiring partner communities and share their stories with the world. I am here because of the support of my family and friends, and because of my mom, who inspired me to lead by example, grace and hutzpah. Everything in my life—from my parents’ interracial marriage to all the turns and roundabouts—enabled me to do what I do well. I wanted to connect with my grandparents and therefore learned Ilonggo and Mandarin. Ilonggo now helps me understand the plight of our sponsored communities, while speaking Fukien and Mandarin helped me negotiate the best prices from local businesses. In turn, year after year, ARK is able to buy a whole-year’s worth of school supplies at $4/kid!
You’re accepting a lifetime achievement award at a televised ceremony honoring the people in your field. Quickly—before the orchestra music cuts you off—describe and thank the people that have influenced and supported you. “My sister (Policy Analyst for Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, CA), who showed me that a career in public policy was infinitely interesting, challenging and essential for achieving social justice. Tim Ngubeni (South African Apartheid social justice leader & former director of UCLA’s Community Programs Office), who showed me that a career in community empowerment was challenging and ultimately fulfilling. Professor Ilan Juran (Director of Urban Infrastructure Engineering Program at NYU Poly), who showed me a career in international urban infrastructure engineering was possible.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of
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My love for marine mammals led me to explore and study biochemistry in college. The rigorous training of figuring out cause and effect has not only made me a successful banker, but to this day enables me to figure out the root cause of issues. At ARK, we are increasing literacy and people’s livelihood by getting kids back to school and healthy with our five cent per meal feeding program. Through investment banking, I was trained to understand and figure out how business models and plans across a gamut of industries and across borders can be sustained, and thereby funded. This training gave me and ARK the insight that the principles fundamental to the success of for-profit businesses are the same principles lacking in international development. That is the key to making social missions successful. ARK partner communities come up with solutions to their issues. They invest alongside us with their labor, time and funds, making them owners and implementers of their own solutions. ARK officers and I help by ensuring their strategies are sound, and that their solutions are locally affordable. This is why our Feeding Program costs five cents a meal, while the rest of the world funds at ten times our cost. Home-grown solutions that are locally affordable are what makes ARK programs sustainable, and enables us to give a tangible and grand return and impact to all our investors and donors. My life has taken many turns. The three principles that have remained constant and influenced my path throughout is my zest to learn something new at every point of my life, to look for and make the ‘fun’, and to work with kind, awesome, and inspiring people.” Describe the most difficult point in your career. What was the most difficult day, week, month or series of events? In three steps, provide instruction for others on how to overcome similar obstacles. a. Step One: ... b. Step Two: ... c. Step Three: ... “There’s been so many that it’s hard to choose one. But below is how I look at obstacles: 1. Simplify and breakdown the obstacle to figure out the true bottleneck or obstacle. Unless you are sending people to Mars, problems are not that complex. People make it complex.
2. Figure out your hooks. Identify at least 3 ways of unleashing the bottleneck or tackling the problem and play out the domino effect of each one. 3. Implement. 4. Analyze and figure out what made it successful or a failure. 5. Start again. If you are lucky enough to fail, go back to the drawing board and play once again. Maybe your analysis of the problem is wrong. Incorporate lessons learned from Step 4 and change your tactics. Implement again.” You’re accepting a lifetime achievement award at a televised ceremony honoring the people in your field. Quickly—before the orchestra music cuts you off—describe and thank the people that have influenced and supported you. “The partner communities, for inspiring me to no end and matching us every step of the way. The ARK team and all the die-hards, for sharing their expertise, time and support. My mom, for teaching me to look back and fight my own battles. My brother, for teaching me the true meaning of compassion and understanding. My dad, for teaching me the strength in being vulnerable. My husband, for showing me how to be better.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “My friend and I would be on top of a mountain in Tapaz, Capiz after a day’s hike and clearing the ‘mountain sentinels’. Upon arrival, I would make sure that we met with the village chiefs and elders of the Bukidnon tribe first to understand their ways and make sure we respect them before exploring the environment and seeing their craft. I’m not sure that they will have my favorite dish of shrimps and alogbati (vine spinach).”
PAGE OPPOSITE AND PAGE 14 | All About You | Anthony Castro, 2013 | Ink, acrylic, collage/paper | Each panel 32” x 40” “The faces used in this piece were cut out from a Chinese fashion/photo magazine I found during a recent visit to Shanghai. When I got back to NYC I had this idea for a piece of floating the faces against a layer of abstraction to generate some kind of tension. I really had no expectation and I just went with it. The economy of the space and cyan and red color was an instinctive choice and just felt right at the moment.”
Inspiration in Daily Life, History and Filipino Culture
Anthony Castro is a visual artist and designer, born in Romblon, Philippines, raised in San Jose, California and currently lives in Brooklyn, NYC. Past work includes store fronts and retail spaces in Prague, visual displays at the MoMA Design Stores, and most recently, Maharlika Filipino Restaurant and Jeepney in the East Village neighborhood of NYC. Castro contributed the artwork seen throughout this year’s UniPro Now. See more of his pieces at www.castroesque.com. Where do you find inspiration for your artwork—particularly some of your more abstract paintings and drawings, as well as design projects? “I find inspiration EVERYWHERE. It’s open-ended, evolving and can come at any moment. I have ideas running constantly in my head, and it’s just a matter of committing to executing it. It could be an emotional charge from a random pattern, a distressed layering of subway posters, actual artworks like the recent Jean Michel Basquiat exhibition, media, a beautiful letter style, a studio visit or travel. The city can also produce an endless stream of visual epiphanies. It’s really impossible to quantify. My latest preoccupation is this series inspired by grid patterns used for learning calligraphy that I discovered during a fairly recent trip to Shanghai. I’ve always been obsessed with grid structures, and when I ran across
these amazing calligraphy lesson books at a random shop, I became immediately stoked. The simplicity of the pattern—a square divided equally by two diagonal lines cutting through the center and meeting at the corners, as well as two lines intersecting the center vertically and horizontally. I can’t really explain it, but this pattern somehow became the archetype for a lot of my recent pieces. The really cool thing I discovered later is that the pattern was derived from an early Chinese pictogram character of a rice field.” What aspects of your Filipino background do you like to reference or emphasize most in your art work and designs? “Interesting question—we’re going to take a little trip down memory lane. It really wasn’t until graduate school when my Filipino background began to surface in my process. But I have to segue into an unfortunate incident during graduate school involving the LAPD. Long story short, several cops stopped me off-campus, their guns drawn and pointed at my head. I was detained and handcuffed. To add insult to injury, this all went down publically in broad daylight. I was profiled and accused of breaking and entering a fellow graduate student and friend’s apartment. My ‘being brown’ had multiple meanings. During that period, I also discovered Jose Rizal’s Noli mi Tangere (The Social Cancer), a masterpiece manifesto of Filipino resistance to Spanish colonialism. It happened to be a rare 1912 publication with one of the most beautiful book jackets—a letter pressed style script title against an illustrated graphic of a billowing ornate smoke rising from a torch. On the bottom right was simply ‘Rizal’ in beautifully scripted typeface and the ‘R’ tailing expressively. There was something regal and dignified about the juxtaposition. I was so obsessed with that ‘R’ that I created a version of it in a painting that ironically ended up being exhibited at the university library where I first discovered the book. That gesture became a symbol of pride and defiance after having been enraged with that experience with the police. I have a backlog of ideas that I want to execute. Filipino pop culture is an aspect that I’ve been exploring lately. I would love to elaborate on the wall covering of collaged vintage Filipino film posters that I designed for Maharlika’s pop-up in Williamsburg a few year ago (featured last year in UniPro Now: Volume 2). The posters are these incredible artistic gems of popular cinema, camp, humor, history and sexuality produced in distinctly black and white comic style from the 60’s through the late 80’s. I’ve recently also been fascinated with the history of the Manila-Acapulco trade, and I’m currently in the process of designing an abstract
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motif/pattern of a Manila-Acapulco galleon. The galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice a year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila, Philippines and Acapulco, New Spain (Mexico). This trade, which spanned from 1565 to 1815, allowed the Spanish colonial empire to flourish for 250 years and ensured the economic survival of the Philippines. It’s very significant when you consider these ships were built by Filipino labor, using local hardwood timber to transport luxury goods for European, Americas and East Asian markets and aboard. These ships were the first Filipinos to the Americas.” We also see historical references and vintage elements in some of your design projects. What is it about these elements that you find particularly interesting or important? “The use of vintage elements is an aesthetic that I feel we can all connect to as a tactile experience- one that we can touch and see. The mode may seem a bit saturated in a lot of NYC interiors, but if executed to perfection and used honestly, it can still make a space feel very dignified. Historical context is very important, especially with regards to identity and culture. History is culture. A brand needs linkages to its past in order remain contemporary in that sense. During my time at MoMA, we had an awesome international program called ‘Destination’. It featured a country each year presenting one-of-a-kind, curated design objects at the MoMA Design Stores. One country that was featured was Portugal. When developing the concept for the in-store exhibition, it was clear to me that the space should give a nod to their rich tradition of Azulejo (art of the painted rich blue glazed ceramic tile) and cork production. The large blown up photos of the vivid tile patterns and allegories, combined with the cork flooring, really gave the environment a local sensitivity.” You’ve worked on projects for night clubs, retail and company spaces, MoMA, and most recently Jeepney Filipino Gastropub and Maharlika Filipino Moderno. Can you tell us a little about your career background? How did you come across some of these opportunities? “All my projects came through referrals and chance connections—typical NYC style. Except for MoMA, I never
PAGE OPPOSITE | One Hellauva Town | Anthony Castro, 2011 | Acrylic/found record cover | 12” x 12” “The paintings are created by applying a uniform layer of acryllic onto a found image, usually a 12” album cover. Scoring and grooving out the paint surface with an X-Acto knife create the complex and improvised patchwork of lines, curvature and ornamentation. The graphic details and color of the exposed album art work appear as a ‘surprise.’ In this instance I squeegeed the acrylic directly into the incisions.”
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had to go through a typical interview process. My very first artistic job in NYC, after hustling countless odd jobs, was assisting this crazy decorative painter, who was basically the court painter for the rich and famous. He was pretty much the go-to guy if you wanted your entire ceiling painted in a Rococo style, your grand piano faux marbleized or a Renaissance landscape in your stairway niches. It was an incredible experience. I learned A LOT about technique, the preparation of surfaces, execution, detail, and not to mention the obscene wealth in NYC while spending time in all these homes. Plus, I got to drink on the job! This led to a gig designing the window environment at Saks Fifth Avenue. It was very insane. It was like executing art installations on a daily basis with incredibly tight deadlines. l gained a vast knowledge of fabrication, building, prop styling, visual merchandising, lighting, CAD vinyl adhesive application, scenic painting—essentially, key skill sets of production design. My encounter with Maharlika and Jeepney came as a sort of chance meeting with Nicole Ponseca, the co-founder and CEO. The week they opened as a pop-up in the East Village was also the same week I happened to be going to Manila for my parents’ golden anniversary. So, before my trip, I was curious to see what they were all about since they got a killer write-up on Grub Street. Unfortunately, they were closing up when I walked in, but I got to chat with Nicole very briefly. That was that. Fast-forward about four months later, and we meet again at their new pop-up location at 5 Ninth in the Meat Packing District while I was DJ-ing their brunch. That’s when I struck up a conversation about being inspired by a recent trip to Manila and creating more of an identity for the environment using props, kitsch objects and merchandise to brand the space with a stronger, hipper Filipino vibe. She asked me if I knew anyone. I replied, ‘Yea, me.’” What are some of the challenges and benefits to working in spaces provided by storefronts, restaurants or museums? What’s the creative process like when collaborating with the owners of these spaces? “Besides the perennial time and cost constraints on completing a project, I would say articulating a vision for the client and working to understand the process for solving a problem and developing an idiosyncratic depiction. Setting ego aside is the first stage. Realizing the design is a two-way street between you and the client. Working with a client who understands and appreciates design value is a huge
blessing. Nicole Ponseca understood that, and we clicked immediately when I proposed my concepts. I feel the gap between art and design is narrowing. Its core distinction for me is that design strives for perfection, and painting thrives on misdirection and improvisations. As an artist, I utilize a very deep, instinctive, ‘follow-mygut’ process. My pieces aren’t planned; that’s part of the excitement and discovery. My role as a designer, however, is to reexamine the client’s needs with fresh eyes and a different perspective to create innovative and visually dynamic ways to engage customers. One of my favorite processes is getting into the research and culture of the brand. It’s both educational and enlightening.” Do you have any advice for young Pilipinos and Pilipino-Americans looking to pursue careers as visual artists or designers? “Don’t get into it thinking that it’s cool, dope, fun or that you can make money. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that, but the choice needs to begin with a deep love, honesty and passion. Go against the grain. Most Filipinos have been traditionally pressured in their younger years not to pursue an artistic career path. It’s a classic conflict with parents for a career choice that would bring you success. I think this has a lot to do with the history of daily life in the Philippines being a struggle. Maybe art is viewed as some sort of elitist practice, or a fleeting hobby, but it shouldn’t be. Art nurtures the soul! Artistic expression, craft and good design runs deep in our Filipino heritage. Look at our iconic wallis tambo broom. No joke. That’s the epitome of function, beauty and sustainability. What other brooms do you know that can get deep into corners!? Consider art and design schools. A critical education, art and design history and feedback from your peers can be an invaluable experience. Research, learn the craft and just make something. Make more of it. If you have an idea, run with it and get it out there before someone else does!” Any other comments you’d like to include about your artwork or the pieces in the magazine? “At the heart of my art is an improvised and intuitive process of organized chaos through a composition of layers, fragments, shapes, patterns and color imposed on a grid structure to form a personal language. And, oh! All the pieces are for sale!”
PAGE OPPOSITE | Homage to Filipino Cinema | Anthony Castro, 2011 | Ink jet on bond paper “A homage mural to Filipino Cinema. A collage of vintage era Filipino film posters—over 120 posters dug up on the web, digitally placed together to create a beautiful tribute. The posters are incredible artistic gems of popular cinema, camp, humor, history and sexuality produced in distinctly black and white comic book style from the 60s thru late 80s. First presented on the walls of Maharlika’s pop-up at Kinfolk Studios in Williamsburg/Brooklyn.”
Maharlika & Jeepney 20
Maharlika &Jeepney Interview with Nicole Ponseca
Nicole Ponseca is the co-founder of Maharlika Filipino Moderno and Jeepney in New York City’s East Village. Respectively, the restaurant and gastropub create a dining experience and environment that manages to showcase both the eclectic flavors of Pilipino cuisine, as well as the idiosyncrasies of Pilipino tradition and culture. Complete with ube (purple yam) waffles for brunch and banana leaf plates (sans silverware) for Kamayan Night, Pilipinos and Pilipino-Americans can appreciate the creative twist given to dishes from their childhood, while others can enjoy the novelty of cuisine that has long been overshadowed by its Asian counterparts. For more information, visit www.maharlikanyc.com or www.jeepneynyc.com. How do Maharlika and Jeepney differ from one another? “When I was developing the concept for Maharlika, a lot of the ideas I had did not fit, like yelling balut, steel walls, and references to street culture. But, I still loved those cultural references to the Philippines. When Jeepney fell in my lap, it was very clear to me that those ideas would make a great Filipino pub—make that a gastropub. Maharlika, therefore, would be a feminine uptown vibe with great service and composed of individual plates of appetizers and entrees, all of which is not a familiar concept in Filipino cuisine restaurants. The décor, drinks and demeanor would reference fabulous Filipino culture: Miss
Photo credit to Candice Reeves, originally published on hillreeves.com.
Universe 1973, Sharon Cuneta, Nora Aunor, and FPJ would be like a walk down memory lane for our parents, as well as a lesson in pop culture history for us young ‘uns. The food would conjure memories of breakfast at home and re-invent dishes with a Filipino point of view. Filipino chicken and ube waffles, anyone? The food and dining experience for me should be like your best dreams, only saturated with color and come to life. On the other hand, Jeepney, with its references to barrio life, is grittier than its sister Maharlika. Still, Jeepney also champions Filipino food and continues pushing the envelope of accepted notions of a Filipino restaurant. The value of religion (the «god bless» mural, images of Jesus Christ), sexuality (pin-ups, ‘barrel man’), poetry (the ‘I Am a Filipino’ poem), and street culture (ghost signs) are on display. They provoke thought and stir debate about life ‘back home’. The food is encouraged to be enjoyed ‘familystyle’ and focuses on big flavors without dumbing it down. Some flavors are polarizing: fish and champorado, squid ink malabok. The flavors are in no way ‘Americanized’. We always said that if we succeeded or failed, we would do it by being 100% authentic to our existence. ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword,’ as we like to say. The vibe should feel like organized chaos, kind of like Manila, di ba (right)? I’m happy that the New York Times said it felt like parachuting into Manila; I couldn’t have said it better.” Where did the idea for Kamayan Night come from? Why do you feel that kamayan is an important aspect of the Filipino culture to introduce, or in some cases, reintroduce? “It came out of nowhere. I was thinking about my dad and how I was so embarrassed by him eating with his hands in front of my American friends when I was in elementary school. As an adult, I wanted to turn that embarrassment around and be proud and, I suppose, redeem my guilt for having my dad feel like he couldn’t be himself. This restaurant and Maharlika has always been a tribute to my dad: his love of food, teaching me about food, and instilling in me the notion that—no matter what—“my blood runs deep with the immortal seeds of Filipino heroes.” It’s important that other Fil-Ams and Filipinos continue to honor and reclaim relics of our Filipino history. My hope is that 2nd and 3rd generations of Fil-Ams will be able to stand up without a doubt of who they are and where they come from in the world. At the end of the day, I know it’s just food, but food is a gateway to history and culture.” What’s next for the Maharlikans? “I’m working on a couple of things. I’ll let you know.”
What are your thoughts on the growing interest in Pilipino/Pilipino-inspired cuisine? “It’s about time.” What advice do you have for those considering a career in the food industry? “There are no shortcuts. Almost nothing in school will prepare you for what’s ahead. Use common sense, listen to
your instincts, remember that hard work and determination will get you there, and never hold grudges. My last piece of advice: only hindsight will tell you why you are getting into this industry. You may stay in it for the long haul, or you may bail on it. Whatever you decide to do, learn everything you can about running a small business, for the lessons learned will undoubtedly teach you everything you need to know about numbers, human nature and being a boss.”
Whenever you see “pancit,” it means noodles. The second word following pancit suggests the type of noodle. For example, “pancit bihon” uses bihon noodles, “pancit canton” uses canton noodles and so on. The way it is cooked doesn’t deviate between noodles, so whenever you order pancit bihon, one can generally expect a certain flavor or style. Unlike Italian noodles, where fettuccine can be prepare or presented with any number of sauces, it is not so with pancit noodles.
Ingredients 2 carrots 2 celery stalks 4 onions 2 bay leaves 1 TBSP black peppercorns 1 Tbsp coriander
1 cup garlic 5 lbs roasted chicken bones or wings 2 cups soy sauce 4 QTS chicken stock ½ Cup kalamansi juice (may substitute
equal parts orange or lime juice)
bihon noodles (may substitute with vermicelli noodles)
Patis (Filipino fish sauce), to taste Chicharon (crunchy pork skin), opt. PoacheD Egg, optional
Directions For sauce 1. sweat mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions) in oil. 2. Add aromatics (bay leaves, black peppercorns,
by a quarter
3. Add kalamansi Juice
coriander and garlic), chicken, soy sauce, chicken stock and reduce
Bring up to a boil and pass through a chinois (conical sieve).
For Noodles 1. Soak 1 packet of bihon noodles in hot water until soft (about 20 minutes) and strain. 2. Mix Noodles in 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce and gently toss all ingredients together
Maharlika Filipino Moderno typically garnishes with crushed chicharon and a poached egg. The poached egg acts like a great emollient, and adds flavor to the dish. Note:
Be careful of acidity. Add kalamansi juice and patis to taste.
Lumpia Shack 22
Lumpia Shack Interview with Neil Syham from Lumpia Shack and Adobo Shack
What was the inspiration for Lumpia Shack and Adobo Shack? “It’s the food I grew up eating! Lumpia and adobo are common dishes that my family ate for dinner, that relatives and family friends served at get-togethers and that I enjoyed making for friends in college. After being a chef for the past six years working in various restaurants and settings, I wanted to go back to my roots and also help promote the food I love to eat. We felt that our versions of lumpia and adobo were a great way to introduce people to Filipino food and culture, since they are our own comfort food and snacks we love to eat ourselves!” Why is it important to you to source locally? “We found that a lot of the recipes for Filipino food called for ingredients that are either not found locally or available only as canned goods or powdered packages. So, we try to incorporate seasonal ingredients that inspire us when we shop at the NYC greenmarkets. Of course, not everything can be substituted, or else it would lose too much of the authenticity. However, we do strive to use the best ingredients possible by focusing on local and organic products from NYC greenmarkets and purveyors—not because it’s a trend—but because it’s the food we choose
“Lumpia Shack at Smorgasburg in DUMBO.” Photo credits to Iris Zalun.
to eat in our own home. Personally, we try to eat what’s in season and choose to buy pastured meat from local farms when cooking our own food, and don’t see why we would choose to buy different products for our business.” What are your thoughts on the growing interest in Pilipino/Pilipino-inspired cuisine? “Filipino food hasn’t broken the bubble of mainstream cuisines in America or the rest of the world yet, but you’re right that there’s growing interest. We hope we can help bring it to the forefront! We really have to give credit to the original pioneers of Filipino food in NYC such as Kuma Inn/King and Purple Yam/Romy D. We’re excited about all the great Filipino restaurants, such as Maharlika and Jeepney, getting more acclaim. A lot of our customers are already familiar with lumpia and adobo, so we hope they’ll appreciate our take on these traditional dishes and find them interesting, innovative, and tasty!” What can we expect from Adobo Shack? “From the start, our main goal with Adobo Shack was to serve the Philippine’s national dish using the best ingredients and the techniques I have learned throughout my time as a chef in NYC. The key for us is translating adobo to the mainstream market, but also keeping its core and soul in the dish. We only use natural heritage breed pork and organic chicken, plus create our own adobo jus (sauce), which are fortified with homemade stocks and bone that help reinforce its flavor and richness to another level. Whereas Lumpia Shack serves snack or finger food, we hope to offer a heartier meal with Adobo Shack, as each plate comes with an adobo dish over rice or as a sandwich.” What do you aim to achieve with Lumpia Shack and Adobo Shack? “Our main goal with both stands is to make food that we love using the best possible ingredients while promoting culture that reflects our own heritage and upbringing. As long as people appreciate it and support us, we’ll keep doing it!” What advice do you have for those considering a career in the food industry? “Be prepared for a life of hard work, six to seven days a week, no holidays, and twelve+ hour shifts. If you are prepared for all that, right away, get your hands dirty and try to work at as many places possible. Broaden your skills and try and learn different cuisines and techniques. Don’t be afraid to start your own venture or business. And always aim to get better. There’s always more to learn and ways to improve!”
Lumpia shack’s original Pork Lumpia Shanghai by Neil Syham from Lumpia Shack and Adobo Shack Makes approximately 30 rolls.
Ingredients (get your local butcher to grind up some for you, medium grind) ½ cup garlic ½ cup shallots ½ cup green onions 2 # ground pork
carrots (finely diced) kamote leaves or cilantro (chopped) 2 TSP soy sauce 2 TSP sherry vinegar 1 egg 1 cup 1 cup
salt sugar fresh ground black pepper Lumpia wrapper (Spring roll)
1 TSP 1 TSP 1 TSP
egg (beaten for egg wash)
Directions 1. Mix all the ingredients with the ground pork starting with the garlic, shallots, green onions, carrots, kamote or cilantro leaves, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, egg, salt, sugar and fresh ground pepper.
Lay out one spring roll wrapper on a clean surface. Spread 2 tablespoons of ground pork mixture in a thin line against the edge of the spring roll wrappers. Brush the opposite edge with the egg wash, fold in the edges and roll up tightly. repeat.
3. In a medium pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 375 F. Working in batches, fry the rolls until golden, 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, sprinkle with coarse salt. 4. cut your lumpia
to desired sizes and serve with sweet chili sauce!
5. Share and enjoy!
They will be gone faster then you know it!
Connecting Communities Op-Eds 24
Five Questions to ask…
…when searching for colleges & how the answers can translate into searching for jobs and mapping careers. by Edsel Batucan
VALUE making a higher salary and making ends meet and sacrificing what you may enjoy doing on a daily basis. Whether or not we have identified it, we all value something on a daily basis. Whether it’s finding meaning in one’s work, money, enjoyment and fulfillment in whom we work with, what we are doing and when we do it, it is important to never lose sight of what we hold true to ourselves and what we want in our work.
2. SKILLS to pay the bills! [What am I good at?] “What are you good at?” is what I ask my high school juniors before looking into colleges. I try to get my students to start thinking about their own career planning at a young age. And while many of their life experiences and their conceptions of their own capabilities haven’t been fully crystallized at the ripe age of 16-17, the notion of “skill development” and answering “what am I good at?” is important, especially for an emerging young professional. Hopefully, by the end of college, one has identified some of their skills after a plethora of professional and personal experiences (internships, volunteering, part-time jobs, being active and involved in student-run organizations, etc.). Take the time to reflect and pinpoint what you’re great at- is it listening, helping people, working with your hands and building things, communication or organizing? These are just to name a few.
3. INTERESTS [What am I interested in?] “What do you like to do, see or talk about?” is a question I ask my rising seniors in high school. Simply put, it is best to identify what my students’ interests are so I can match them to a school that offers their academic programs, as well as their personal and extracurricular needs. It may be an easy question to ask, but more difficult to answer in the context of career planning. 1. VALUES [What do I value?] I tell my students to “stick to what is true to you” while also challenging one’s self. Identify your own core values and what you hold dear to you as an individual, a student, and as a professional. Is it important that you VALUE working with people and helping others while making a difference in the lives of individuals or communities? Perhaps you may
The same can be said for finding one’s job, and perhaps mapping out a career. Identify your own interests and what you are passionate about. Work becomes so much easier and more fulfilling when you identify and take part in what you are passionate about—to the point where it may not feel like work! And for the record, my own interest and passion is helping people and providing advice based on my own life experiences while working with young students (such as writing in this column!).
4. GOALS [What am I working towards?] “What are you working towards?” is something I am learning to ask my students more on a daily basis as we approach the end of our school year. Often, it is a hard question to identify the answer to since many of our longterm goals may not be crystallized at a young age. But what we can work towards is reaching our short-term goals while keeping a picture of what our long-term goals look like. Goals give you something to work towards. As someone who plans forward by habit, I like to tell people, “Think of your end goal and work backwards.” Where would you like to be one year from now? What can you realistically accomplish in six months? And what can you do to get to that point in the next three weeks? The sequence and mapping of where you want to be and how to get there becomes a little easier in knowing what you have to do and what you have to accomplish to get to the very end. It helps with completing all the small, but necessary, steps in the middle.
5. “BEST FIT” [Where do I fit in?] One of the more difficult elements of my position as a college adviser and working with a hundred or so students is helping them find a college that meets their academic, social and professional needs. I am not always going to get it right, but how I help my students encompasses the aforementioned advice mentioned above. It involves finding a place where my students will succeed academically and developmentally. It’s based on what they like, what they’re good at, and where they are likely to develop their skills while challenging themselves and growing into mature individuals in society. It is my job to help them find a place of “best fit”. I offer this last piece of advice: don’t worry about finding where you belong as an emerging professional, but rather, where you fit in. Find a job that will translate into a career that is in alignment with what you value, your skills and your interests. Make sure that the job you are working towards is in sequence with your long-term career goals. Last Note: You may not get it right away, but finding what you want and where you should be in life requires a lot of self-honesty and self-reflection. Only then, when you know your capabilities, what you can offer in the world, what you’re passionate about doing and what you are working towards, will you know who you truly are and where your place is in the world. RISE, and take ownership of your future planning!
1. What do I value? 2. What am I good at? 3. What am I interested in? 4. What am I working towards? 5. Where do I fit in?
â€œJeepney Filipino Gastropub.â€? Photo credit to Candice Reeves, originally published on hillreeves.com.
connecTing communities Panelists
Connecting Communities Panelists 28
Branding & Marketing for Bayani Tour and Co-Founder of RedefinedMag “I rise by...” “…knowing where I came from. When people used to refer to the Philippines as my Motherland, I didn’t quite understand. Actually, as a second generation Filipino American, I resented when people referred to the Philippines as their Motherland. It didn’t make sense to me at first. My mentality was that I was born and raised in America. I am American. But what I failed to realize was that if my parents were denied their visas to come to the States, I would have grown up like any of the other children in the Philippines. I failed to realize that the Philippines is my Motherland. Once I accepted that concept as truth, I was able to ‘rise’ as a Filipino-American dedicated to bringing visibility to our Filipino community.” Imagine that you’re the first Pilipino or Pilipino– American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement. What would that achievement be? What “barrier” would you break? “If I were the first Filipino-American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement, the ‘barrier’ that I would be breaking would be proving the fact that there was no ‘barrier’ to begin with. I strongly believe that it is typically our minds that create this invisible barrier to achieving whatever goal we have set. Once we realize that there was nothing holding us back but our own minds, we will realize that we can choose to rise at any given moment of any given day.” You’re campaigning for public office—as a mayor, congressional representative, senator, or even the President (if you’re feeling really ambitious). Define yourself as a leader. How would you convince others to take action or address social problems? “I believe that the best way to have people believe in your cause is to act sincerely with intentions that stay true to your cause. People will follow those who can inspire,
motivate, have a bit of humility, and be respectfully relentless with their beliefs. Along with my partner in crime, Krystal, we aim to be the leaders that clearly define WHY we do what we do. People aren’t necessarily inspired by WHAT you do as opposed to WHY you do it, so I aim to be the leader that expresses the motivation behind the action. The way I see it, there isn’t anything more convincing than a leader who can simultaneously stand true to her conviction and also map out a game plan to turn a dream into a reality.” If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what would it be called? Which aspect of your life would the plot focus on the most? Would it be a comedy, a drama, an action-packed thriller, etc.? “My life would probably be a satirical comedy/drama/ thriller musical entitled, ‘Yup, That Just Happened.’ Everyone would be harmonizing in song about the ups, downs, sideways, and diagonals that my direction has been in, but the take-away is that through all the comedic timing within my life’s script, a thrilling and dramatic lesson is always learned. The moral of the story is that when you truthfully believe in yourself, you realize that you have the choice to accomplish anything you want.”
Councilman–At–Large, City of Jersey City “I rise by…” “…engaging community and heeding the voices calling for change.”
Imagine that you’re the first Pilipino or Pilipino– American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement. What would that achievement be? What “barrier” would you break? “In November 2011, I was elected in a special election to be the first Filipino and AsianAmerican Councilperson in the City of Jersey City, with a mandate to bring change to a broken City Hall. If I should be blessed to be re-elected on May 14, 2013 to a Imagine you’re traveling with full four-year term, Jersey City will a close friend who’s never have successfully broken with the been to the Philippines. The status-quo and literally changed the two of you finally arrive in face of politics in Hudson County any part of the country you and New Jersey forever. An era of choose. Where are you? political cronyism and patronage What are your plans? Most will be washed away by the voices importantly, what Pilipino of Filipinos, underrepresented dish would you have for communities and Jersey City’s —Krizia Medenilla dinner that first night? working families. The Filipino “We would arrive in Manila. American community will have laid I’d like to show them the contrast to rest any lingering doubts about its political strength in between the development in Makati and the not-soJersey City.” developed surrounding areas. Then, after a day of exploring Manila, I’d take him or her to El Nido on Palawan where You’re campaigning for public office—as a I’ve heard the ‘miraculous-ness’ is unmatched. mayor, congressional representative, senator, What Filipino dish would we have? Sinigang, for sure, or even the President (if you’re feeling really rice, beef tapa, freshly cut mango, and a San Miguel Red ambitious). Define yourself as a leader. How Horse to top it off.” would you convince others to take action or
“People Aren’t necessarily inspired by What You do as opposed to Why you do it.”
address social problems? “A leader is authentic. There is no faking your values, goals, and desire to serve others. People will connect with
29 UniPro Now: Volume 3
Connecting Communities Panelists 30
and be willing to listen to someone who genuinely has their interest in mind. A leader leads by example. I can’t convince others to follow a course of action if I am not in the forefront taking the challenges head on. If I’m diligently working to address a community problem, I can make the case to others to join me and for all of us to work together. A leader has the courage of his conviction. Urban ills impact people in different ways, and there are varying perspectives as to the causes and solutions. A leader has the courage to engage diverse communities, whatever the perspective, and to take the road less travelled. A leader has a vision and a plan and follows through with real action. Complex social problems require careful thought, community input, and a plan of action. A leader must be committed to take action, even if the road to be taken is full of challenges or even contrary to popular belief.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What are your plans? Most importantly, what Pilipino dish would you have for dinner that first night? “Palawan. I have heard that it is an amazing natural reserve, something that my family and I don’t normally experience living in an urban metropolitan area. My family, particularly my very active and curious young daughter, would be able to enjoy the beauty of the Philippines, as well as relax and discover what the island has to offer. Also, I must visit Boracay, as one of, if not, the best beach and international destination in the world. As for dinner, you can’t go wrong with a tried and true chicken adobo.” Additional Comments “My path to political office was never a single election or even in my lifetime. As a Filipino-American, there were Filipino-American pioneers and other progressives who opened doors for me and the community to make history in November 2011. As the first FilipinoAmerican Councilperson in Jersey City, I have an obligation and commitment to uphold the legacy of those who came before me and
to pave the road for those that will follow. While the path to Filipino-American political empowerment is laden with many challenges and pitfalls, the struggle is necessary so that our community may continue to rise.
Director of Development, Foundation Relations at Columbia University Medical Center’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and Founder/School Director of The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey “I rise by…” “...taking the next step (doing something) in order to make progress towards achieving my goals.” Imagine that you’re the first Pilipino or Pilipino– American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement. What would that achievement be? What “barrier” would you break? “I would be the first PilipinoAmerican to either invent a device that allows people to successfully travel through space and time. Barriers I would be breaking with this achievement are gender and race/ethnic.”
“A leader is authentic… leads by example… has the courage of his conviction… A leader has a vision and a plan.”
You’re campaigning for public office—as a mayor, congressional representative, senator, or even the President (if you’re feeling really ambitious). Define yourself as a leader. How would you convince others to take action or address social problems? “As a leader, I would define
myself as being innovative, a risk-taker, having integrity, continuously learning and mentoring/guiding others to become leaders, and staying ahead of the game. I would convince others to take action by learning more about the issue(s), joining others who believe in the same cause, and finding opportunities where they can get involved and do something.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who has never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What are your plans? Most importantly, what Pilipino dish would you have for dinner that first night? “I would take my friend to the provinces of Cavite, where my grandparents are from. Plans for the day would include a tricycle ride to the local palengke (market) to have merienda (snack), riding my lolo’s owner to the farm to check out the coffee and pineapple plantations, get some fresh buko (young coconut) juice from the coconut trees in my lola’s backyard, visiting the local elementary school to visit my pamangkin (nieces/nephews) and to see the students, and stop by the nearby ilog (river) to go for a swim. That first night, we would have kamayan-style dinner with rice, fried bangus (milk fish), lechon (roast pig), gulay (vegetables) and manggang hilaw (green mangos) with bagoong (salted shrimp fry). We’d finish it off with halo-halo or some other dessert, and wash it down with a nice, cold San Miguel or Red Horse.”
“I rise by always asking myself, ‘If not now, then when?’ and ‘if not me, then who?’”
Imagine that you’re the first Pilipino or Pilipino– American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement. What would that achievement be? What “barrier” would you break? “The achievement would be becoming the highest ranking Filipino American in the Executive Branch.” You’re campaigning for public office—as a mayor, congressional representative, senator, or even the President (if you’re feeling really ambitious). Define yourself as a leader. How would you convince others to take action or address social problems? “My leadership style is all about collectivity, and ensuring that everyone around the table feels like they have a voice and stake in addressing an issue. I’m also big on mentorship, and ensuring that we’re constantly thinking about uplifting the next generation of leaders.” If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what would it be called? Which aspect of your life would the plot focus on the most? Would it be a comedy, a drama, an action-packed thriller, etc.? “I’m thinking less of a movie and more a comedic reality TV show, like ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ meets ‘Keeping Up the Kardashians.’ It’d be called ‘Real Tengco Talk’ (or something more creative).”
Advisor on Public Engagement for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders “I rise by…” “…always asking myself, ‘If not now, then when?’ and ‘If not me, then who?’ These questions remind me that we can’t wait to tackle prominent issues and that if I don’t do something, who else will?”
Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What are your plans? Most importantly, what Pilipino dish would you have for dinner that first night? “We’d be on the beaches of Boracay, and would arrive to a massive feast of our favorite dishes: sinigang, sisig, lumpia, and more. Our plans would be to pretty much eat, drink, and hang out at the beach all day.”
31 UniPro Now: Volume 3
something, you can never (and should never) argue from a position of ignorance. Therefore, the key to success—to achieving results—is to learn and to help provide the means for others within our organization or community to be aware of issues and for this awareness to be rooted in factual information and substantial knowledge. Knowledge is indeed power and should be empowering.”
Theresa Dizon-De Vega
Deputy Consul General, Philippine Consulate General New York “I rise by…” “…being informed and being involved.” Imagine that you’re the first Pilipino or Pilipino– American to accomplish a certain goal or achievement. What would that achievement be? What “barrier” would you break? “If I were a Filipino-American, I would break barriers by becoming the first Filipino-American woman lawyer to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Being called to the bench is a singular honor for any lawyer, but the solemn honor to sit on the highest court of the land would be a landmark achievement for a Filipino-American woman lawyer. I am speaking in the hypothetical but, somewhere out there, I hope a young Filipino-American will strive towards this goal.” You’re campaigning for public office—as a mayor, congressional representative, senator, or even the President (if you’re feeling really ambitious). Define yourself as a leader. How would you convince others to take action or address social problems? “My leadership style would always be informed and shaped by my long-term belief that if you want to achieve
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what would it be called? Which aspect of your life would the plot focus on the most? Would it be a comedy, a drama, an action-packed thriller, etc.? “It may be a ‘dramedy’ about my many adventures and mis-adventures as a career diplomat and lawyer, and the many migrant Filipinos I have met along the way. Each one’s story, though similar, is unique and like life itself. It has elements of comedy and tragedy, the heavy and the light.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What are your plans? Most importantly, what Pilipino dish would you have for dinner that first night? “I would take that friend to a place I have never been to myself. I recently discovered, through a friend, that there are many beautiful and now slowly deteriorating churches made of coral in the province of Bohol. I would take her/ him there, and it would be a mutual journey of discovery. What Filipino dish? Well, in Bohol, anything with seafood, perhaps a nice sinigang with the catch of the day.” Additional Comments “The UniPro Summit is a unique event that celebrates the diversity and vibrancy of the Filipino-American Community, and I hope it continues to infinity times infinity. Mabuhay ang UniPro Summit!”
PAGE OPPOSITE | Little Red Hoodie | Anthony Castro, 2007 | Acrylic/canvas | 24” x 30” “The piece is a take on Little Red Riding Hood for a fashion/art story spread that I contributed to theaptLIFE, an in–house magazine created by The Apartment, a creative agency founded by friend Stefan Boublil. The Apartment evolved from an experimental retail, interior living space on Crosby Street into a unique creative agency providing architecture, interior, branding and marketing services.”
Connecting Communities Op-Eds 34
Filipino American Civic Engagement
The Philippines held their mid-term elections on May 13, 2013, the results of which affect issues ranging from reproductive health and marriage laws to anti-cybercrime laws and freedom of information. Steve Raga, the founding president of UniPro, currently leads a campaign dedicated to advancing dual citizenship among Filipino-Americans for proactive democratic engagement in Philippine government called Filipino American Civic Engagement (FACE). For more information on dual citizenship and overseas absentee voting, visit their website at www.facephilippines.com. What was the inspiration behind Filipino American Civic Engagement (FACE)? What does FACE hope to accomplish as a campaign? “FACE hopes to advance dual citizenship among Filipinos in America for proactive democratic engagement in Philippine government.” What are the benefits to dual citizenship? Are there any misconceptions about dual citizenship you’d like to address? “Other than having a cool maroon passport, you can vote for elections in the Philippines and can stay in the country as long as you like, without having to pay fees. Other than what’s on paper, reclaiming your Filipino citizenship creates a direct and emotional connection to the country. Not only are you now linked with your family in the homeland, but your fellow countrymen and countrywomen as well. The biggest misconception about dual citizenship is that many Filipinos in America believe dual citizens have
to pay taxes in the Philippines, which is not true. This was actually a policy used in the past, and many older Filipinos think it still holds true today.” How can dual citizens living in the US ensure that they’re voting in the best interest of people in the Philippines? “First, we need to do our independent and non-partisan research. Second (and I would argue more importantly), dual citizens in the US should also ensure that we’re voting for the best interest of Filipino people abroad as well. With reportedly tens of thousands of Filipinos leaving every 24 hours, a united and concerned voice is needed to safeguard the interests of the many of Filipino citizens living beyond the country’s borders, among them are those Filipinos living in the US. With our votes in the States, we can express our concerns—anything from cultural programming for young Fil-Am youth and students to ensuring the safety for Filipino overseas workers living in the US.” Are Fil-Ams more or less civic-minded than ever before? How do we compare to other groups in the U.S.? What can we do to increase civic engagement as a community? “I think the Fil-Am community has turned a corner over the last decade, becoming more engaged in the serious issues that our community faces. But, compared to other ethnic minorities, Filipinos are still behind. I believe this is more due to the Filipino-American community’s unproductive tendency to remain divided. We can increase our voice to both the American and Filipino government by (1) holding community leaders accountable for their actions/inactions, (2) creating a mechanism for financial transparency within community organizations and (3) making sure we make working together easier than working separately.” Could you comment on the results of the midterm elections in the Philippines in May 2013 and how it relates FACE? Was the campaign successful? Could more have been done by Filipino-Americans to affect the outcome of the elections? “The FACE campaign was definitely a nation-wide success in regards to the recent midterm elections in the Philippines. Even though the community expected a larger turnout in terms of votes, this year laid down the groundwork for others to participate next time around, especially since it will involve voting for the next President of the Philippines. Given our current resources, FACE and our partners in various Philippine Consulates can and should be commended.”
Maria Cruz Lee Raising the Bar as a Community
you’re disconnected and apathetic to your local government. Leaders in this city are making decisions about your daily lives without your presence at the table. I’ve been at MOIA for over three years and have yet to hear my colleagues take a Filipino organization seriously (find me at the UniPro Summit and I’ll share the range of reasons). It frustrates me to no end that my own group isn’t viewed as credible in the city office that I’ve been part of for years. That needs to change, and fast. It’s been tough getting through to the seasoned groups and individuals since there is this prevailing distrust, skepticism and misunderstanding of government. I’ll admit I didn’t understand civic responsibility either until I joined the MOIA team. But that’s actually why our office exists. We’re here to demystify and help connect New Yorkers to the resources and services that will help the community grow. We’ve helped emerging West African, Mexican and Bangladeshi communities. Why is the existing and prevalent Filipino community completely absent?
I’ll start off with this: I am a Filipino New Yorker, born in Manila and raised in Queens. I’ve worked in television, financial staffing, online advertising, and now city government. I have seen angles of the world through many different lenses. Through each view, I’ve always tried finding the Filipino spin, internally cheering every time the Filipino community had a “win”. There are success stories and many model representatives, but we as a community have a serious disconnect. I come from the school of connectivity. Working at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), we’re tasked with integrating the newest New Yorkers, even if they’re “TNT” or tago nang tago (always hiding), into the city. I’ll take it a step further and say that no matter how long you’ve lived in the five boroughs, you’re still a “new New Yorker” if
UniPro brings young professionals together through this Summit, but we—as Filipinos and as part of the future— need to raise the bar as a group. Being in the same room is not enough. Listening to stories is not enough. Introductions are not enough. We need to understand what each of us, individually, represents. Every group has its respective goals, but as representatives of the Filipino community, we need to set the bar high and really represent standards. Be accountable to each other, and build credibility with outside entities. We need to support each other’s initiatives and be cheerleaders for them. We need to build strength from within, because that strength, accountability and credibility is what the outsiders will see. The more of it they see, the more elevated our community becomes. We are a strong group of movers and shakers, we are thinkers and we are doers. We’re overdue to be recognized in the mainstream. If we come together, we’ll get there. It’s time to rise.
—Maria Cruz Lee
NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
*The piece above is the sole opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
“Movie stills from Graceland.” Photo credit to Drafthouse.
Social Good Panelists 38
Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “Boracay. Go for a swim and then a massage. Grilled fish and scotch ad infinitum. Plus, remedies for hangovers.”
J. T. S. Mallonga, Esq.
Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc. “I rise by…” “…actively participating in the advocacy of issues near and dear to the heart of the Filipino-American community, e.g. Dream Act, family unification and the path to legalization under the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill; by educating Fil-Ams in the ever-growing problem of labor trafficking and participating in actions to prevent the same; and, most importantly, by actively participating in the registration and voter participation of all Fil-Ams eligible to vote.” The world is changing fast with advances in technology, shifts in social norms and increasing global interdependence. What has changed for the better? What do you wish we could change back? What hasn’t changed quite enough? “Negative attitudes towards volunteerism and the need to help our most disadvantaged kababayans (neighbors) haven’t changed enough. We need to utilize the advances in technology to combat the root causes of this negativism.” Rocky had “Eye of the Tiger,” The Karate Kid had “You’re the Best,” and the Glee kids had “Don’t Stop Believing.” Give us your inspirational song. Which lyrics would play over and over as you try and change the world? “The Impossible Dream” You’re a social activist by day and a superhero by night. You’ve been given permission by the Pilipino community to use one super power to advance a social cause. Would it be the ability to read minds, invisibility, super strength or super speed? Why? “The ability to persuade minds (not read minds). If you can’t change their minds, then we should apply this favorite dictum of mine from President Theodore Roosevelt: ‘If you hold them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.’”
Additional Comments “Why are our young Fil-Ams (as well as various young Fil-Am organizations and student associations) not in the forefront of the advocacy of DREAMers like Jose Antonio Vargas and countless of young Fil-Ams that are similarly situated? Where’s the ‘disconnect’? What can we do about this?”
What do I wish we could change back? I’m not sure what we could change back, as history does repeat itself, what with ‘retromania’ and its revivals, reissues, reunions and remakes. What hasn’t changed enough? I feel that psychology is an underrated aspect that needs to be further addressed somehow, because so much of human behavior is the result of nature and nurture. Mindset is a huge category that must be tackled with urgency and care. For instance, the feminist debate needs further reimagining. Many women are still in distress about their options in life, in spite of the 21st century opportunities available to them. Meanwhile, men are also forced to re-evaluate their roles within this modern society where women are able to live like men.” Rocky had “Eye of the Tiger,” The Karate Kid had “You’re the Best,” and the Glee kids had “Don’t Stop Believing.” Give us your inspirational song. Which lyrics would play over and over as you try and change the world? “It will have to be either Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ or Ian Brown’s ‘F.E.A.R.’ ‘I can’t stand this indecision Married with a lack of vision Everybody wants to rule the world.’
Rina Atienza Trustee, Spark & Mettle
“I rise by…” “… shining. There’s this song from my childhood: ‘This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.’ That’s what I strive to do. Coincidentally, the Philippine flag features a sun and three stars—a reminder that ‘what is to give light must endure the burning.’ I try to emit energy, enthusiasm, hope, brilliance, warmth and cheer to people that I meet.” The world is changing fast with advances in technology, shifts in social norms and increasing global interdependence. What has changed for the better? What do you wish we could change back? What hasn’t changed quite enough? “What has changed for the better? Some people have referred to the ‘revenge effect’ of technological innovation, and arguably it’s the case with environmental issues. In certain respects, we remain more fragmented, yet we are also more connected. The prominence of social media is evidence of what the philosopher Immanuel Kant called the ‘unsocial sociability of men,’ and I do believe this can better society.
‘Fantastic expectations Amazing revelations Finding everything and realizing For everything a reason.’” You’re a social activist by day and a superhero by night. You’ve been given permission by the Pilipino community to use one super power to advance a social cause. Would it be the ability to read minds, invisibility, super strength or super speed? Why? “So much is lost in translation when it comes to people relations—the ‘Curse of Babel,’ I guess. So, without a doubt, I’d love to have the super ability to speak all the languages and dialects of the world. Just imagine being able to connect and engage in stories with so many different groups, to share experiences, and to listen to all the varying opinions. It’s access to even more knowledge that is the currency of all things social and cultural. It could facilitate the understanding of universal themes.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do
39 UniPro Now: Volume 3
first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “I would share with them a beautiful beach with white sands, clear waters, and blue skies. But, it’s more fun in the Philippines because of my family. They are the real precious thing I’d want to share with a close friend. I’d organize a gathering with my siblings and cousins at our hideaway outside Manila. We’d hang out, share stories, play guitar and sing, tease each other with jokes, drink, see the sunrise, and play a good old-fashioned game of patintero! For dinner, I would recommend the simplicity of garlic rice with inihaw na bangus (grilled milk fish), itlog maalat (salted egg) with kamatis (tomatoes) and then mangoes for dessert.”
Social Good Panelists 40
and change the world? “‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley & the Wailers.” You’re a social activist by day and a superhero by night. You’ve been given permission by the Pilipino community to use one super power to advance a social cause. Would it be the ability to read minds, invisibility, super strength or super speed? Why? “I would read minds so I can outwit my enemies and others whose interests are harmful to people.” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “I would take my friend to the island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte in Northeastern Mindanao. I would trace my familial roots on the side of my lolo (grandfather), whom I never knew, but was from Siargao. I would eat kinilaw na tanigue (raw fish with vinegar and spices) for ulam (main dish) and marang (fruit in the jackfruit family) for dessert.”
Bernadette Ellorin Bayan U.S.A.
“I rise by…” “…organizing communities for change.” The world is changing fast with advances in technology, shifts in social norms and increasing global interdependence. What has changed for the better? What do you wish we could change back? What hasn’t changed quite enough? “Advances in communications technology are tremendously positive for the Filipino diaspora, which is spread over 110 countries. It is helpful in keeping families that are separated due to migration in contact with each other, and building a sense of global community. It’s sad the Philippine government is still seeking to take away our internet freedom and right to online privacy with its Cybercrime Act. If passed, it will have an impact on Filipinos overseas and their families in the Philippines who register any criticism of the Philippine government online.” Rocky had “Eye of the Tiger,” The Karate Kid had “You’re the Best,” and the Glee kids had “Don’t Stop Believing.” Give us your inspirational song. Which lyrics would play over and over as you try
President/Founder, PAGASA’S Foundation Inc. (PSF) “I rise by…” “… taking the challenge we are now facing with the growing number of Fil-Am elderly seniors. In 2010, the population over 60 years-old in NYC numbered 1.4 million, representing 17.2% of all New Yorkers. The boroughs with the largest number of seniors are Brooklyn at 29.3% and Queens at 28.6% (New York City Department of Aging, July 2012). A more recent study found that 90.4% of Filipinos over 65 years-old are foreign born and 8.4% live in poverty. Of the total U.S. Filipino population, 55% are over 55 years-old. Of this number, 20.6% are over age 68. Filipinos are the second largest population of older AsianAmericans (McBride, M., Stanford University, 2010). This
statistic is very alarming. That is why PAGASA SFI is now calling the progressive youth of UniPro to rise up and join us. Let us take the lead in advocating for our growing number of our Fil-Am seniors.” The world is changing fast with advances in technology, shifts in social norms and increasing global interdependence. What has changed for the better? What do you wish we could change back? What hasn’t changed quite enough? “In the advent of the computer age, communication and information are readily available at your finger tips. Social media, smart phones and email are only some of the tools we can use to be able to reach out to a larger audience. Let use these tools in our fight while voicing out and advocating for the interests of our Fil-Am seniors, not only locally and nationally, but also internationally. Our progressive youth should participate and volunteer their valuable time to assist PAGASA SFI to unify our FilAm seniors and solicit support globally to propagate and materialize the programs set forth by PAGASA SFI.” Rocky had “Eye of the Tiger,” The Karate Kid had “You’re the Best,” and the Glee kids had “Don’t Stop Believing.” Give us your inspirational song. Which lyrics would play over and over as you try and change the world? “I think the inspirational song ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen is most appropriate for our delegates. I was impressed by the message of belief, commitment and perseverance in the lyrics. As the song goes, ‘We are the champions my friends/And we’ll keep on fighting till the end/We are the champions/We are the champions/No time for losers/’Cause we are the champions of the World.’ Yes, we shall be the champions for our Fil-Am seniors, and we shall keep on fighting till we reach our goal.” You’re a social activist by day and a superhero by night. You’ve been given permission by the Pilipino community to use one super power to advance a social cause. Would it be the ability to read minds, invisibility, super strength or super speed? Why? “Wow, what interesting choices of super abilities. Of course, I would pick the ability to read minds. Imagine being able to read minds at night and implement what you have perceived in your social activity by day. This would definitely play a major role in laying down one’s strategy and tactics. Furthermore, it will guide me in distinguishing who is a friend or foe. As the Asian philosopher Sun Tzu said, ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but
not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’” Imagine you’re traveling with a close friend who’s never been to the Philippines. The two of you finally arrive in any part of the country you choose. Where are you? What would you do first? Most importantly, what amazing Pinoy dish would you have for dinner that first night? “Since I had not been back in our country the Philippines in the last 16 years, I would need some guiding myself. Well, in this situation I would like to go to Silang Cavite and visit Saujana Premier Spa residences known as the ‘blue zone’ area of the Philippines. I would recommend sinigang na bangus (milkfish and tamarind soup). I would like to explore super foods for health that they have in their menu. I would probably stay a bit longer to know more about their various facilities and what they have to offer to our Fil-Am seniors.” Additional Comments “The theme that UniPro selected this year for your convention is very appropriate for our Fil-Am seniors, who are increasing in numbers ever day. The Asian-American Foundation of NYC found that the average age of Filipino seniors in NYC in 2003 was 73.2 years-old. The median age at immigration was 50 years-old. Among these seniors, 49% did not receive Social Security and only 27% received Supplementary Security Income (SSI). Many of these older seniors came to the U.S. to assist in raising their grandchildren so that their children could work full-time. As a result, these seniors were not employed and therefore are not eligible for Social Security benefits. They have to rely on their families for support. A more recent study found that 90.4% of Filipinos over 65 years-old are foreign-born and 8.4% live in poverty. Of the total U.S. Filipino population, 55% are over 55 years-old. Of this number, 20.6% are over age 68. In a study conducted in Vallejo, California, Filipino participants stated that socializing with their peers who speak their language and share their same culture give them a sense of security and belonging (Verder-Alinga, R., Journal of Filipino Studies, CSU East Bay). Let us not be in denial. It is in our obligation to address this alarming situation. Let this theme of ‘Rise’ not remain in this forum, but rise above and beyond these halls as a vehicle to integrate oneself to the present struggle of aging we are now facing. We need the progressive youth of UniPro to join hands with PAGASA SFI to accept and take up these challenges for our heroes and our loved ones—our Fil–Am Seniors. Mabuhay tayong lahat (long live us all).”
Fall From GrACE land Film Review
by Iris Zalun
more—are related in one way or another, fueling each other further in an endless cycle of greed and depravity, hurting innocent people along the way. Directed by Ron Morales, Graceland is an unsettling reminder of the ubiquity of these issues. The film is meant to entertain, but it accomplishes this and so much more. Graceland is a long-lasting affront to your complacency, like that uncomfortable blast of humid air that hits your face and sticks to your skin when you first step outside of the airport into the tropical heat of the Philippines. In Graceland, Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes) is a father in Metro Manila, raising his daughter alone while his sickly wife languishes in a hospital. To support his family, he works as a driver for crooked politician Manuel Chango (Menggie Cobarrubias). One afternoon, Marlon is stopped by a cop while driving both his own daughter and Chango’s daughter home from school. The cop, however, is a kidnapper who has come for Chango’s daughter, but in the terrifying confusion, he takes Marlon’s daughter instead. What ensues is a heart-pounding race for Marlon to save his daughter amidst the unforgiving forces of corruption that permeate society. In late April, several members of the Summit magazine team and I attended a screening of Graceland at Village East Cinema. I was pulled into the film’s world early on in the plot. As Marlon’s desperation grew, so did mine, and the deeper I sank while seeking comfort in the cushioned darkness of my seat. At every turn of the story, my heart palpitated with nerves and the expletives spilled out of my mouth. There are plenty of WTF moments—not the lifewasting, unnecessary kind (a la The Human Centipede), but they are the kind of shocking and heartbreaking scenes that made me think, “Wow, this is really happening right now in the movie… and this kind of shit must happen in real life.” Neither is guaranteed a happy ending.
Roosters crowing at all hours of the day, fresh pan de sal from the corner store for breakfast, huge welcome (or despedida) dinners of lechon and pancit laid out across the dining room table, falling asleep on white sand beaches, trips to gigantic, air conditioned malls; what comes to mind when you think of visiting the Philippines? Of course, there is another side to the Philippines—as is true for every part of the world—my experience and knowledge of which is limited to the extent of seeing it on TV, reading about it in news articles, and learning bits about it at community events. Poverty, kidnapping, human trafficking, political corruption… all of these issues—and
Following the screening was an audience Q&A session with Mr. Morales and Rebecca Lundgren, one of the film’s producers. One of the points they addressed was the film’s title. Why Graceland? Very little grace is present in the film, though it is there—in the innocence of the daughters, for example, and in the moments of Marlon’s prayers. In the end, this film is more about the fall from grace—rather than grace itself—and its ruinous effects on the lives of those who are unfortunately and inevitably dragged along.
Joe Bataan: The King of Latin Soul 44
For anyone who doubts that the arts have the ability to change—perhaps save—lives, the evidence is clear in the story of musician Joe Bataan. Born in 1940s Spanish Harlem to a Filipino father and an African-American mother, Joe reached the most difficult point in his life as a teenager when he was arrested for riding in a stolen vehicle and sentenced to five years at Coxsackie Correctional Facility in New York. It was in prison that he began to develop an interest in music. A few months after his release, Joe formed a band and began recording an innovative style of music known as “Latin Soul,” a fusion of traditional Latin sounds with English lyrics. By 1967, Joe released his debut album Gypsy Woman. He would continue on to change the landscape of the music industry by coining the term “salsoul,” an incorporation of salsa to his existing musical style, as well as the release of his single “Rap-O Clap-O,” one of the earliest successes in recorded rap history. Most recently, Joe has worked as a counselor for juvenile and correctional facilities, passing along ways to avoid incarceration and achieve success through “spirit, health and knowledge.” Joe explains, “No one can predict, but only pray that our future endeavors materialize. I am blessed to be able to tell my story worldwide. The major turning point in my life has always been [the development] of an inner drive and unrelenting passion to succeed despite all obstacles… I have tried in a lifetime to erase the words ‘can’t do’ from my vocabulary.”
The King of Latin Soul
“I rise by waking early and thanking the Lord for another blessed day He has made. And always remember, ‘nothing is promised.” “The following have supported me all my life: the Lord, the ‘Big Boss,’ and worldwide gratitude to all my friends and fans. A universal love story.” When asked to describe an ideal trip to the Philippines, “I am in Manila looking for my family tree… and for dinner, I’d have adobo chicken.” Photo credits to The Official Joe Bataan Website, originally published on joebataan.com.
UniPro Now: Vol. 3 Magazine StAff
UniPro Now: Volume 3 Magazine Staff 46
Fun Fact: Sabrina can recite ALL the lines from the 1997 movie The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser and that guy who looks a lot like Billy Zane from Titanic.
Fun Fact: Gecile was in a marching band and performed on Good Morning America and at the Apollo.
Gecile Fojas, Summit 2013 Co-Chair
Editorial Intern Marissa Guiang
Feature Contributors Edsel Batucan Maria Lee Cruz
Special Thanks Designer & Cover Artist Alyssa Esteban
Fun Fact: Alyssa has only had five birthdays.
Meriden Villanueva, Secretary and Director of Communications of UniPro Fun Fact: Meriden dreams of becoming a Pilipino version of Oprah.
Fun Fact: In 2008, Iris flew to London with two friends to see the Backstreet Boys live at the O2 Arena.
Fun Fact: Ivan was once kicked out of Saudi Arabia for being too handsome.*
Iris Zalun, Summit 2013 Co-Chair and Vice President of UniPro
Rachelle Peraz Ocampo Randy Gonzales Steven Raga Kristina Joyas Hillary Reeves Candice Reeves Ron Morales Drafthouse Rebecca Lundgren Kyle Ancheta Judy Yem
Ivan Gonzales, Director of Public Policy and Foreign Relations
* Or so he tells us.
Thank you sponsors Lumpia Shack, Phil Am Foods, OMG Foodie, and Dalaga
Vendors and Community Supporters 50
Bread and Bullets, Stache Haus, ARK, Destiny’s Promise
Community supporters Fil Am Who’s Who, Maharlika/Jeepey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt