Episode Archives

Episode 73 (31.5) – Reflections on Beauty Pageants and Miss Universe Catriona Gray

Though beauty pageants in the Philippines can be traced back to the celebration of Santacruzan and other religious festivals, modern beauty pageants, emerged out of the Manila Carnival, an annual event during the early 1900s.  According to scholar Genevieve Clutario, the queen contest became a platform where both Filipino nationalists’ and American colonial officials attempted to redefine Filipina femininity and with it, the image of the Filipino nation.  Today, beauty pageants are a fixture in almost every Filipino celebration from the small town fiesta, to the ever-popular Miss Universe contest.

In this episode of TFAL, the crew, with special guests Gerlie Collado and Kat Carrido-Bonds, discuss the pervasive cultural phenomenon of beauty pageants in the Philippines and the impact of Catriona Gray’s Miss Universe win on Filipinos everywhere.  Why were so many Filipinos ecstatic over Gray’s victory?  What does her win say about the Filipino nation?  Why are pageants so pervasive in the Philippines?  Can we simply ignore beauty pageants as spectacles of patriarchal notions of femininity?  Or are there more nuanced aspects to such extravagance?

We discuss these topics and more in this episode!  Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Have any thoughts on beauty pageants? Leave us a voicemail at 805-394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

PLEASE NOTE: We are slowly veering away from the “.5” numbering system of the episodes, in case you’re wondering where episodes 32-72 are.

Episode 31 – TFAL Goes to SD: Community Organizing w/ DJ Kuttin Kandi, Kirin Macapugay, and Ree Obana; Filipino American Apparel w/ Zar Javier of Kampeon Co.

 

We conclude our San Diego interviews with community organizers DJ Kuttin Kandi, Kirin Macapugay, and Ree Obana. In this discussion we highlight the issues that these womxn currently center their work around. Kirin and Ree give their perspectives as born and raised Pinxys, while Kandi discusses her experience as a transplant from Queens, NY by way of the Bay area. You may also know Kandi from her time as a member of DJ team champions 5th Platoon. The TFAL crew discuss the work that Kandi, Kirin, and Ree presently do with the Paradise Hills community, Asians for Black Lives San Diego, and Asian Solidarity Collective.

From PNoy Apparel to Kampeon Co, the TFAL crew gets to know Filipino American business owner Zar Javier.  Zar highlights how Pnoy Apparel was founded and its transition from its early days as a t-shirt/streetwear brand to branching out and growing into Kampeon Co.  The company will be celebrating their 20 year anniversary in 2019. Be on the look out for exciting things!

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

Thank you San Diego for your hospitality. We only scratched the surface. Where should we head next? Who should we talk to? Have thoughts or suggestions? Leave us a voicemail at 805-394-TFAL (8325).

Episode 30.5 – TFAL Goes to SD: Filipino American Politics with SD Councilmember Chris Cate; Broadcast Journalism with KGTV Newscaster Melissa Mecija

Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina.” – Ron Burgundy

Anchorman jokes aside, San Diego has a long history, and Filipinos have been a significant part of it.  Largely attracted to the region because of the large naval presence, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been migrating “Daygo” since the early 20th century.  The last census counted close to 93,000 Filipino Americans living in the city of San Diego and over 182,000 living in San Diego County, making it one of the largest Filipino regions in the United States.  Naturally, it became one of the must-visited places for TFAL.

In the next couple of episodes, we talk to some of the movers and shakers of San Diego’s Filipino American community.  The first installment features a short introductory interview with USD Professor of Political Science, Alan Segui, and interviews with Councilmember Chris Cate, the first Filipino Councilmember of San Diego, and Melissa Mecija, news anchor for KGTV Channel 10, San Diego’s ABC affiliate.  Find out why many flock to San Diego, how we can get more Filipinos involved in electoral politics, and what it takes to be a newscaster in today’s multimedia world.  And of course, hilarity will ensue.

 

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

Part 2 of our trip to San Diego coming soon!

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

JoseAntonioVargas_AuthorPhoto_Credit Elena Elena Seibert

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!