Episode 15: Lab and Basketball – Hoops from a Filipino American Perspective


Basketball has a special place in the hearts of many Filipinos and Filipino Americans alike. One cannot visit the Philippines and not notice Filipinos playing on the millions of makeshift basketball hoops, barangay courts, and gymnasiums throughout the country. Likewise, one would be hard-pressed to know a Filipino American (particularly male) who does not follow the NBA.

Basketball was first introduced to Filipinos by YMCA clubs established in the Philippines during the early American colonial period. Institutionalized by American colonial officials in Philippine physical education as a way to instill discipline among their colonial subjects, basketball was adopted and adapted by many Filipinos and spread quickly among the populace. With Filipinos’ early success in the sport on an international stage and its economic accessibility, the game became a national obsession.

Yet, basketball is more than simple recreation. It tells us a lot about ourselves. For instance, basketball is a way many Filipino and Filipino American men perform masculinity. Likewise, the way that basketball is played among Filipinos reflects more communion and democracy compared to American norms on the court.

In this episode, we explore Filipino Americans’ particular relationship with basketball. How did our families introduce us to the sport? How do Filipino Americans play basketball differently than Filipino immigrants? And most importantly, who was the Philippines’ “Best-Looking Team”? All these discussions and more in this edition of This Filipino American Life.

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


Also, check out some of these vids:

Bonus Episode: “About Tita” by Lauren Lola


In the photo: the great aunt and father of Lauren Lola.

Hey TFALers!  Here’s a bonus episode brought to you by TFAL superfan, Lauren Lola, about her great aunt, Justita.  We are collecting any stories that is out there in the Filipino American community.  If you have any audio stories to share, please email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!!

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

Episode 14.5: #TFALheartsOPM


Cheats performing in Los Angeles in 2017

OPM, or Original Pilipino Music, is a term that once referred primarily to the ballads and love songs popular in the Philippines in the 1970s and 1980s.  A modern take on the harana traditions, these songs were sung mostly in Tagalog and were often tied to equally emotive films and television shows.  They also served as reminders of home for many Filipino Americans, who could relatively easily get their fill picking up cassettes and video tapes from the local Filipino market.

Today, however, the OPM label is just as likely to be applied to any of the music coming out of the Philippines, from the Pinoy Rock traditions of the Eraserheads to the electronic musings of Tarsius.  Filipino music has always been diverse, but in the internet age its that much easier to find yourself perusing reggaeton tracks from Iloilo and Calypso from Manila.

But are Filipino Americans, particularly those that are born here, even listening?  Certainly a band like the Eraserheads can and has filled places like the Hollywood Palladium with eager Fil-Am fans, but is there a genuine audience for music from the Philippines beyond its shores?

So as part of our continuing series #TFALheartsOPM, the crew talks about music from the motherland, how we’ve connected with it, and why others may or may not be pumping these artists on their stereos.

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

And as a bonus, some music videos by Producer Mike’s current favorite OPM bands:

Episode 14: On TFAL’s Wings – Thoughts on Filipino Catholicism with Father Radmar Jao

Radmar Priest

Take me to Church!

As Filipino Americans, most of us were raised Catholic.  With over 80% of the people in the Philippines identifying as Catholic, it’s no surprise that those of us in the TFAL crew grew up going to church every weekend, observing religious holidays, and some even going to Catholic school.

On this TFAL episode, we talk about Catholicism, how we practice or not practice the religion.  We have a candid conversation with our special guest, Father Radmar Jao, S.J.  He is a Jesuit priest and currently serves as the Campus Minister at Boise State University.  He’s also the son of Filipina actress, Tessie Agana.  He himself has worked as an actor and a singer on stage in Hollywood before joining the Jesuit order.  He even has an IMDB profile!

We only begin to scratch the surface as we delve into questions about Father Radmar’s choice of joining the priesthood, his thoughts on Church policies and politics, and how to approach religious leaders and priests we disagree with.

Find out who among us pondered being in the religious ministry, enjoy a story about how one “must repent,” and spend some moments listening to Father Radmar talk about the faith the TFAL crew grew up with, be critical about, and watch develop over time.

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

For more info on the Caritas retreat where Ryan met Father Radmar, go to this link: http://www.christusministries.org/#welcome-home.



Episode 13.5: The Manny Pacquiao Era


For about a decade, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao captured the hearts of millions of Americans and people throughout the world. He became a household name for even the casual American boxing fan because of his electrifying punches, religious humility, and off-tune singing. Even fans of his opponents loved the guy for his rags-to-riches story. Manny Pacquiao becoming synonymous with the Philippines. And for a brief moment, everyone knew what a Filipino was.

For Filipino Americans, he represented a hope of self-becoming in a society that deemed us “invisible.” Pacquiao sparked a sense of nationalist fervor rarely seen in a community prone to “assimilate.” Filipino Americans from all walks of life – radical, conservative, Catholic, Protestant, Californian, Midwesterner – succumbed to Pacquiao fever. In many ways, Pacquiao’s entry into American national discourse told us about ourselves and our place in this world as much as it told us about a poor skinny kid from General Santos City.

The TFAL Crew discusses Manny Pacquiao’s meteoric rise to stardom and his fateful downfall.  This episode is not so much an analysis of his boxing career, but rather an examination of his cultural impact on Filipino America. Nobody brought together Filipinos around the world as much as the Pacman. Love him or hate him, Manny Pacquiao is a significant part of our history.

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

Let us know your memories about Manny Pacquiao!  Email us at  thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com or leave a voice message on (805) 394-TFAL.

Also, check out these awesome videos after you listen to the episode.

Episode 13: Filipinos and Gentrification


Apparently, cities are back. People are moving back into the inner core of cities. Coffee shops, bars, and artisanal eateries are thriving in certain neighborhoods. Millennials are ditching their cars for public transportation. Politicians are touting the brand new economy of “hipster-dom” that is reviving cities nationwide.

But what do these changes mean for families who live in these inner city neighborhoods? What happens to the demographics of the city? How does it affect young folks who are looking for a place to live or trying to buy their first home? How do these economic shifts impact the diverse Filipino American community who live in both the inner core and outer suburbia?

In this TFAL episode, the crew speaks with Jennifer Ganata, a housing advocate and community activist in Los Angeles, to discuss the economics of gentrification and how it affects Filipinos in Southern California and throughout the country. Whether you live in neighborhood likes SoMa Pilipinas, Beacon Hill, or Woodside or suburban areas like Rancho Bernardo, Bergenfield, or Skokie, gentrification has a major impact on all of us.

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

Have you seen major demographic shifts in the place you grew up in or the place you live now? Do you have any opinions on gentrification? Let us know your thoughts on thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com or (805) 394-TFAL.

Bonus Episode: “The Filipino and the Drunkard”

In this short bonus episode, TFAL presents a retelling of the short story, “The Filipino and the Drunkard.”  Written in 1935 by William Saroyan, this short story tells the tale of a young Filipino who is aboard a ferry boat in 1930s San Francisco.  While waiting to go across the Bay to visit his brother, he is suddenly finds himself followed and harassed by a drunk White bigot.  Truly relevant to today’s tense racial climate under the Orange Cheeto administration.


Anonymous letter send to the Chief of Police of Sunnyvale, CA in 1930.  Photo credit: http://www.personal.anderson.ucla.edu/eloisa.borah/filfaqs.htm. (Original picture found at James Earl Wood Photograph Collection, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley).

This will hopefully be the first of a new series of audio short stories we will present on TFAL.  If you have a story (personal or otherwise) that touch upon the Filipino/Filipino American experience and you would like to produce it for the podcast, please email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

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

Episode 12.5: Reflections on “My Family’s Slave” and Katulong Culture

Most of us have read “My Family’s Slave” on the Atlantic, written by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon.  The article saddened us, angered us, and confused us.  What’s to make of the story of Eudocia Pulido, aka Lola, who toiled her whole life against her will and without pay for a family that wasn’t her own?


There are many angles and layers to this gut-wrenching story.  On this episode, the TFAL crew gives you our thoughts and reflections on the article as well as “katulong culture” in general.  It’s a tough issue to wrap our heads around, and we only scratch the surface. Give it a listen and let us know what you think in the comments below or leave a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325).

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

For more opinions on this article, check out this compiled list of responses/reactions from TFAL listener Marnette Federis.  Also, for great insight on the Alex Tizon’s life, the history of enslavement culture in the Philippines, and the life of a trafficked Filipina woman in New York, listen to NPR’s Code Switch podcast episode on the story, featuring one of Joe’s grad school advisors, Professor Vicente Rafael.

Here are links to local organizations who are fighting for the rights of domestic workers and those who are victims of human trafficking:

Finally, a distant relative of Eudocia Pulido who is in contact with the Pulido family set up this gofundme page to help raise funds for their family in the Philippines. Please consider donating.

Pogi Pose Picks!

TFAL loves a pogi pose as you can see by all the awesome pogi-ness below.

In preparation for our Happy Birthday TFAL party we asked TFALers to send us their pogi pose. Here are the top 3 pogistas!

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Kid Heroes Filmmaker Patricio Ginelsa’s adorable son Logan rocking a baby pogi pose.

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Much love to Francis, Strela, and Iskra! The family that pogi poses at May Day marches!

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Friend of show Paolo Espiritu rocks an ice cream cone pogi.

Honorable pogi mention goes to AJ for this black and white group shot. Berto for the 90s bangs and asian squat shot. And lastly Beverly for the puppy pogi pose!


It’s been an awesome year of TFAL. Much love to everyone who listens to the show and enjoys our stories, history, and puns!

Join us at The Park’s Finest THIS SATURDAY, May 13th from 8pm-12am for an epic Filipino Family Party! RSVP now at Happy Birthday TFAL.  What are some of your favorite TFAL moments from this past year?  Let us know 805-394-TFAL 805-394-8325.


Episode 12: Chef’s Choice. A conversation with Chef Dale Talde



If you’ve been listening to the show you’ll know that we love food at This Filipino American Life.  We love talking about it in our personal life, with strangers, and on the podcast.  TFAL resident reality checker Gerlie and graphic designer Vince join us for a bit as we share our favorite Filipino restaurants.


On episode 12 TFAL celebrates our one year anniversary with a super special guest Chef Dale Talde! We talk food, Dale’s experience as a cheftestant, and who would be on his NBA dream team starting five. You should also check him out on Eater’s premier episode of Cult Following. Eater explores the magic of Jollibee with Dale. Warning: you may want to have a full belly when you watch this video. Or at least a Chicken Joy ready because you will get hungry!


TFAL interviews Dale Talde

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

If you are in the New York, New Jersey, and Miami area make sure to check out these spots and give TFAL tips on what to munch and drink! Atlantic Social, Talde BrooklynTalde Jersey City, Talde Miami Beach

Thank you for listening to TFAL this past year. TFAL is a labor of love for the entire crew. Help us celebrate our first birthday! RSVP now at Happy Birthday TFAL. Join us at The Park’s Finest THIS SATURDAY, May 13th from 8pm-12am for an epic Filipino Family Party! What are some of your favorite TFAL moments from this past year? What’s your favorite Filipino restaurant? Let us know 805-394-TFAL 805-394-8325.