thisfilipinoamericanlife

Episode 30 – Creative Writing w/ Jason Magabo Perez

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The pen is mightier than the sword, they say.  And in our history, the pen has certainly been very powerful.  The Illustrados who started the Propaganda Movement, which included Jose Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, sparked the rise of Philippine nationalism and the Revolution during the late 19th century.  Carlos Bulosan with his quintessential novel America is in the Heart and his other writings forever cemented the history and legacy of the Manongs for future generations of Filipino American generations.  And today, numerous Filipino American writers, poets, and musicians continue the writing tradition to spark social change.

In this TFAL episode, we talk to Jason Magabo Perez, writer, poet, and Professor of Creative Writing at Cal State San Bernardino.  We discuss the power of writing, the re-emergence of the Filipino American spoken word movement during the 1990s/2000s, and pedagogy of creative writing – if there is such a thing.  We also have time to talk about the relevance of Zack Morris to young Filipino American graduates and the significance of his mother’s fight for justice for our community in the U.S. v. Narciso-Perez court case.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

Do you have any writing that you’d like to share?  Email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com and maybe we’ll publish it on our blog!

Check out more of Jason’s work on his website: http://www.jasonmagaboperez.com.

 

Bonus Episode – A Conversation with Geena Rocero

On this bonus episode the TFAL crew has a conversation with Geena Rocero, the trans activist, model, producer, and founder of GenderProud, her advocacy and production company that is committed to tell trans-focused and trans-specific stories.   We learn about Geena’s life as a trans beauty queen in the Philippines, her journey to creating a new life in San Francisco, and how she went from passing to coming out as trans through her widely viewed TED talk in 2014.

Geena is also a contributor to American Like Me : Reflections of Life Between Cultures.  This compilation of stories curated by America Ferrera reflects what it is like for 31 of her friends, peers, and heroes. Make sure to pick up your copy of American Like Me and read Geena’s story after you check out this episode of TFAL.

For folks looking for resources here are links to a few of the organizations we talk about in this episode:

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Many thanks to Visual Communications for hosting our conversation and welcoming Geena to Little Tokyo

Random fact: We learned that Geena is also a big fan of Ruby Ibarra. She raps the along lyrics to US just like we do!

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You can also catch Geena on tour with Together Live and Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s media brand who’s mission is to tell stories centered around women.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

What are your suggestions with supporting our trans family and friends? Leave us a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Episode 29.5 – 18 Questions for Producer Mike

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Pew pew pew!

He is the reason why we sound as good as we do – that you don’t hear any of our snorts and sneezes.  Due to his technical expertise, we are able to interview our guests from afar and because of his amazing photography, we have amazing memories of our TFAL journey.  He’s our tech geek, our video gamer, our passionate poet, our homeless advocate, our DJ.

On this very special episode, we get a bit silly but also learn more about the mysterious man behind the sound mixer of This Filipino American Life podcast, our very own Producer Mike Nailat.  Mike takes some time from his sound mixing duties to answer a few of our questions – 18 to be exact – so that you can learn more about why we love him.

Get comfortable and let the Producer Mike fandom continue.

Can we get a pew pew pew!!

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

If you have any extra questions for Producer Mike or any of us, leave us a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

TFAL meets Kate Gavino

Author Photo - Kate Gavino

In August our #TFALPodcastBookClub book was Sanpaku by Kate Gavino. Sanpaku is a graphic novel that follows Marcine, a Filipina American growing up in Houston. This coming of age story highlights the insecurities of being a teen growing up in the 1990s, attempts to understand religion, family history, and even pop star Selena.

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What was it like being a Filipino American growing up in Houston, Texas?

There’s a huge Filipino population in Houston, so I grew up within a tight community of Filipino families, where most of the families were nurses in Houston’s huge medical center. A lot of our parents had immigrated there in the early 80s, so their kids were all roughly around the same age. There was usually a party every weekend, where we’d all cram into each other’s houses, eat like crazy, and then the adults would go off to karaoke and drink, while the kids terrorized each other in other rooms.

What were your experiences growing up in a religious household that is conveyed in Sanpaku?

My parents and Lola were very religious, so we observed all the holidays and went to church every Sunday. Since it was instilled within me at such an early age, Catholicism just always seemed like a chore to me. I developed little games and distractions to get through Mass, decades of the rosary, or religion class. I’d often get in trouble for not paying attention during church, and it always made me wonder, “Doesn’t God have better things to do besides watch me watch him turn into the body and blood of Christ?”

Are you still a practicing Catholic?

I go to church with my family when I’m in Houston, but that’s the extent of it.

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What kind of relationship did you have with your Lola?

I took her for granted when I was a kid, though I loved her deeply. I didn’t make the effort to see her as anything besides my Lola. After she died, I’d later learn all these amazing details about her life from my mother, but when she was alive, she was embodied to me in strange superstitions, amazing food, and a suffocating form of love and affection. I think this is common amongst ungrateful apo, but I truly wish I had asked her about her life more when she was alive.

What is your favorite thing about being Filipino American? Least favorite thing?

This is boring, but my favorite thing about being Filipino-American is family. I’m lucky to have a supportive, open-minded family, which I know not everyone has. We make each other feel loved, and that’s something I hope to never take for granted.

My least favorite thing about being Filipino-American is the amount of self-hate and lack of self-awareness in the community. It saddens me to see racist, homophobic, or misogynistic ideas passed on or dutifully ignored just because we grew up with it. I know every community has this problem in some form, but I like to think future generations of Fil-Ams are progressing and amenable to having open dialogues.

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What drew you to graphic novels as a medium?

For me, they are the perfect blend of written narratives and comics. I’ve always loved drawing comics and illustrating, but in college, I studied creative writing, and that’s when I got to incorporate my lifelong love of books and storytelling. As a generally quiet person, I’ve always loved the way images can say something that words can’t. In graphic novels, that’s only amplified.

Are you connected with any other Filipino American writers/illustrators?

One of my favorite parts of doing a book tour for Sanpaku was meeting other Fil-Am artists and illustrators. In San Francisco, I met the amazing Trinidad Escobar, whose work thrills me. In Minneapolis, I met Dennis Madamba, an intimidatingly good illustrator. I’m also obsessed with the zines and comics of April Malig. There is so much mind-boggling work happening right now — I feel very lucky to witness all of it.

Who do you look up to?

I admire writers and artists like Jillian Tamaki, Zadie Smith, Marjane Satrapi, and Anita Brookner, as well as musicians like Jens Lekman. But the one person I will look up to the most is my Lola. She was headstrong, kind, and fiercely loving — three qualities to which I aspire.

What has been your favorite part about your book tour?

See above re: Fil-Am artists!

What is it like living in Paris?

Paris is postcard-level beautiful, and no one wants to hear anyone complain about living there. But learning to speak French has been difficult, and I miss New York City dearly. But now that I’m nine months in and my French has improved (incrementally) and I’ve made friends with other artists here, I’ve grown to love it here.

What is the Filipino community like in Paris?

About once a week I Google “Filipino restaurant Paris” and nothing comes up, save for one fusion-type place. I know there are Filipinos here because, duh, we are everywhere, but I do miss being in Filipino neighborhoods like Woodside in Queens. One beacon of light I have encountered here is a chef named Erica Paredes. She hosts private dinners at her apartment regularly, ranging from plated meals to boodle fights. When I went to my first dinner and smelled the ginataang, I shed a single tear.

What is your next project?

I’m constantly doing freelance illustration projects for various websites and companies. I’m also working on my next graphic novel, which is, unfortunately, still top secret!

Many thanks to Kate Gavino for this interview! Pick up Sanpaku on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore!

Bonus Episode – Dear America with Jose Antonio Vargas

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On this bonus episode, the TFAL crew talks with the Emmy nominated filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize journalist winner Jose Antonio Vargas. The founder and CEO of Define American has been traveling around the country on his book tour for Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen. In this episode we go straight into a conversation about the complexities of immigration and how the Filipino American experience of mixed families (documented and undocumented) has changed the undocumented narrative in the US.

 

How have you supported your undocumented relatives? How do you have these conversations with your family? Let us know by emailng us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com or call our voicemail, (805) 394-TFAL (8325).

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

In the episode Elaine misspeaks when she says “green card” she means “phone card.”

If you haven’t yet, pick up Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen at your local bookstore!

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Episode 29 – Chat w/ Pinay Entrepreneur Freya Estreller, co-founder of CoolHaus Ice Cream

I Scream! You Scream! We all scream for ice cream….sandwiches by Coolhaus!

If you remember the food truck craze about 10 years ago, then you may have seen the hip, colorful, fixed up postal van-turned-ice-cream truck from CoolHaus that roamed the streets of Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York.  What started off as a fun idea of creating ice cream sammies with punny architecture names is now a popular product that’s available in over 6,000 stores in the United States and across the world!

On this episode of TFAL, we had the chance to talk to Coolhaus Ice Cream co-founder, Freya Estreller, who tells us her story about beginning this business venture with her life and business partner, Natasha Case. Freya discusses her experience as a Filipina American woman in the business world, her love of basketball, and the time she came out to her parents!

Have a listen as we discuss the versatility of Filipino migrants and their unique economic opportunities in the United States. Find out which TFAL host had a lemonade stand and who got paid for plucking grey hairs from their parent’s head!

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

The Debut Will Have Its Own “Debut” at the Cinematografo International Film Festival on November 10

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You heard right, folks. It’s been 18 years since the release of The Debut, the pioneering Filipino American film by Director Gene Cajayon. To celebrate The Debut’s maturation into adulthood, the Cinematografo International Film Festival will host a special screening of the film with some of the cast and crew in attendance as part of its weekend-long celebration of Filipino and Filipino American filmmaking.

For the uninitiated, the film centers on Ben Mercado (played by the one and only Dante Basco), a young high school senior unfamiliar and ashamed of his Filipino American heritage, and his exploration of his identity through relationships to his family and community at his sister’s debutante ball. As a coming of age film, The Debut explores issues that many deal with today: immigration/acculturation, interracial relations, cultural values, inter-generational conflict, family tsismis, hiya, and of course, love. It’s hard to imagine all of these matters addressed in a movie about one night, but don’t a lot of us put all of our eggs into one basket? (Think: PCN).

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In essence, The Debut was truly Cajayon’s ode to a 1990’s Filipino America, an era when young 2nd generation Filipino Americans – the children of post-1965 immigrants – came of age in an increasingly diverse society to create a distinct culture that continues to this day. The scenes featuring Sun-In’d hair, pagers, rice rockets, and dance battles harken back to simpler times for many of us. And in true pre-social media era fashion, making the film was a community effort fueled by a grassroots campaign, involving thousands of Filipino Americans from numerous cities throughout the nation – some of the TFAL crew included.

The Debut’s “Debut” will take place on Saturday November 10, 7pm at the AMC Kabuki 8 Theaters in San Francisco. Following the screening, come join the fun at the Cinematografo Centerpiece Party at Hotel Kabuki (1635 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, 94125) following the event!

Tickets are now available!

SPECIAL TICKET PRICING

  • FILM ONLY – MEMBER: $13, NON-MEMBER: $15
  • FILM + PARTY – MEMBER: $25, NON-MEMBER: $30
  • CENTERPIECE PARTY ONLY – $20 FOR ALL

In addition to the special screening, the Cinematografo Film Festival will feature many new films by talented Filipino and Filipino American filmmakers. HP Mendoza’s Bitter Melon and Mikhail Red’s Neomanila are some of the TFAL crew’s top narrative picks. Additionally, PJ Raval’s Call Her Ganda, Hans Block and Moritz Reisewick’s The Cleaners, and former TFAL guest Alexandra Cuerdo’s Ulam: Main Dish are must watch documentaries. Also, make sure to check out the short films blocks, particularly Filipinx: Queer Shorts, which will feature Drama Del Rosario’s In this Family and the By Way of America which will feature Filipino American stories like Jeremy Sistoso’s Fakeapino and Joy Regullano’s I Won’t Miss You.  Plus, the Festival will feature other films, conversations, panel discussions, and much more!

The 2nd annual Cinematografo International Film Festival, presented by ABS-CBN International, will be held on November 8-11 at the AMC Kabuki 8 Theaters in San Francisco. Check out all of the other films playing at the Festival on their website https://cinematografofilmfestival.com/.

 

About the Festival:

The Cinematografo International Film Festival is an annual film exhibition series presented by ABS-CBN International and aims to showcase emerging filmmaking talent from around the world, focusing on issues of representation and inclusivity. We also provide financial support for filmmakers to tell their stories and passion projects through our Cinematografo Originals initiative.

On its second year, the festival’s theme is “Breaking Down Walls,” which refers not only to divisions along global political lines but also aims to empower storytellers in breaking through barriers in film and story whether in terms of subject matter, representation and cultural limitations.

Episode 28.5 – Stockton’s Little Manila, Journey for Justice, and the Legacy of Dawn Mabalon

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Stockton, California, an agricultural city in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, was the center of Filipino life in the United States for much of the 20th century.  Beginning in the 1920s, thousands of Filipinos called Stockton home.  The intersection of El Dorado and Lafayette Streets in downtown Stockton was the heart of what was fondly called Little Manila.  Yet, much of this rich history is unknown to most of America, and sadly, to the majority of Filipino Americans.

However, the history of Stockton’s was not lost to one Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon.  Dawn was a born and raised Pinay Stocktonian who spearheaded the reclamation of Stockton’s Filipino American history.  As developers threatened to demolish the three remaining buildings of Little Manila, she helped to organize community members to stop the further erasure of Filipinos in the city.  Ever the scholar, Dawn also documented the history of Stockton’s Filipinos in her much lauded book, Little Manila is in the Heart.  She was truly a pioneering scholar and leader of the Filipino American community.

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Dawn Mabalon. August 17, 1972 – August 10, 2018.

TFAL was set to interview Dawn Mabalon along with two other community leaders on August 19.  However, Dawn passed away a week prior to the recording.  In this episode of TFAL, Joe and Gerlie speak with two of her compatriots, Gayle Romasanta, co-author with Dawn of Journey for Justice, a children’s book about the life of labor leader Larry Itliong, and Dillon Delvo, Executive Director of Little Manila Rising, an organization dedicated to the well-being of Filipinos in Stockton.  In the episode, Gayle and Dillon remember the life and legacy of Dawn Mabalon, her impact in their respective work, and the importance of reclaiming our history as Filipino Americans.

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Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

To donate to the good work of Little Manila Rising, go to their website here: http://www.littlemanila.org/donate/

To purchase Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, go here: https://www.bridgedelta.com/purchase/journey-for-justice-the-life-of-larry-itliong

For more on the history of Stockton’s Little Manila, check out this video:

To see the power of Dawn Mabalon, check out her speech during the dedication of Little Manila in 2002:

Episode 28 – TFAL talks Voice Acting (and Secrets & Fears)

On this episode of TFAL the crew shares their memories about their favorite cartoons and imagine what a Filipino American cartoon show would look like! We then geek out with Eric Bauza (voice of Marvin the Martian and countless other characters that he will recount in the episode) and three time return guest Earl Baylon, […]