filipino american

Episode 87 – Filipino Americans in the PBA: TFAL Talks to Former PBA Star Tony De La Cruz

It’s no secret that Filipinos are obsessed with basketball.  Same goes for Filipino Americans.  Ask many Filipino Americans and more likely than not, they LOVE basketball.  TFAL even did an episode on it.  Did you know that several hundred Filipino Americans are in the Philippines playing basketball in the college, minor leagues, and the PBA? When the NBA seems out of reach for most, many Filipino Americans strive to join the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

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What are the experiences of Filipino American ballers in the Philippines?  What is it like to move away from the U.S. to pursue their hoop dreams?  In this special TFAL episode from the Philippines, we speak with former PBA star Tony De La Cruz about his journey to the PBA.  He talks being among the first Filipino American players to join the PBA, the culture shock he experienced when moving to the Philippines, his current role as a basketball and life coach, and his views about Filipino-style of basketball and basketball in general.  He also discusses his battle with depression and the importance of mental health among Filipinos.  Tony truly believes that basketball is an apt metaphor for life.

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

Tony is truly an inspiration and it was a honor to interview him.  He welcomed Joe and Gerlie to his lovely home and we broke bread with him.  Though the premise of the interview was basketball, our conversation was so much more.  We hope you enjoy this episode.

Episode 86 – Filipino Americans Doing Business in the Philippines: TFAL Talks to Roland Ros of Kumu and Carmel Laurino of Kalsada Coffee

As a Filipino American, have you ever considered moving to the Philippines?  Whether you were born in the diaspora or moved from the Philippines as a small child, does the Philippines ever “call to you?” If you’ve ever contemplated it, you should check out this episode about two Filipino Americans who moved to the motherland to set up socially-conscious businesses.

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In May, Joe and Resident Reality Checker Gerlie was able to carve out some time during their Philippine vacation to speak with a couple of Manila’s newest Fil Am residents. In this TFAL episode, we speak to Roland Ros of Kumu, the hottest social streaming app to hit the Philippines (download it now!). We also speak to Carmel Laurino of Kalsada Coffee, a company that supports Filipino coffee producers in their efforts to bring Philippine coffee to the world. Listen as these two talk about the reasons why they decided to move to the Philippines, how they work with local entrepreneurs to set up their respective businesses, and how they come to terms with their Fil Am privilege.

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

Do you have any urge to move to the Philippines?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

P.S. This is the photo of early Philippine coffee importers in Seattle that Carmel referenced in the interview.

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(Image courtesy of Museum of History and Industry)

Episode 85 – Filipino Ethnic Enclaves: Do They Exist? Do We Need Them?

Despite efforts to create Filipino ethnic enclaves – Historic Filipinotown in LA, SoMa Pilipinas in San Francisco, Filipino Village in National City, Little Manila in Toronto, etc. – a common narrative out there is that Filipinos do not have a discernible ethnic enclave. Even heavy Filipino-populated suburban cities such as Daly City, Carson, Vallejo, Jersey City, etc. are not majority Filipino and arguably do not have a markedly Filipino character, economic activity, or cultural identity like say a Chinatown, Japantown, Little India, or Koreatown.  Are they considered Filipino ethnic enclaves?

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In this TFAL episode, the crew discuss Filipino ethnic enclaves in the United States.  Do enclaves – in the common American immigration context – exist?  Are they necessary? What would Filipino Americans gain or lose if a Filipino ethnic enclave existed? Are current geographies – where Filipinos are largely scattered in a metropolitan area with some concentrations in certain urban neighborhoods and suburban cities – adequate for the Filipino American community? We also talk about Joe’s early – and quite embarrassing – obsession on Filipinotowns.

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

Here is the picture of the Joe’s drawing referenced in the episode.  Please remember that Joe was 15 when he drew this. =)

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We only scratch the surface on this subject and admittedly neglect certain topics.  For a more in-depth analysis on Filipino ethnic enclaves, feel free to download Joe’s dissertation about Filipino American racial space in Los Angeles.

Episode 84 – Filipino Canadian Businesses and Cultural Arts in Vancouver: TFAL Talks to WSDMCLUB Barber Shop, DISTRIKT MOVEMENT, and Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective Society

 

Welcome back to Canada!  We round out our travel shows with our last two interviews from Vancouver.  In this episode we interview entrepreneurs Marvin Soriano of WSDM CLUB Barbershop and Jian Pablico of DISTRIKT MOVEMENT.  They discuss opening up their respective businesses, not only to make money, but to serve as community centers for a lot of folks in Vancouver.  We then talk to Birthmark Tattoos artist, Mayo Landicho, and JR Guerrero, co-founder of Kathara about preserving Filipino indigenous arts in Canada.  We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!

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

We had a great time with our Pinucks in Canada!  We hope to visit again someday.  Where in Canada should we go next, eh?  Toronto?  Winnipeg?  Edmonton?  Who should we talk to?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail to (805) 394-TFAL (8325), or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

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Thank you listening to this episode!  Many of you have written us asking us to visit your city.  As you know, traveling is not cheap.  Only a part of our trip to Seattle and Vancouver was subsidized through your generous donations.  We certainly had to pay out of pocket to travel to those cities.  A $5/month or $10/month contribution makes a huge impact on our ability to bring Filipino American issues to the forefront.  If you enjoy our content and want to hear Filipino American stories from other parts of the diaspora, consider becoming a T-PAL through our TFAL Patreon account.  Salamats!!

Episode 83 – Filipino Canadian Politics and Community Organizing in Vancouver: TFAL Talks to Mable Elmore, MLA, RJ Aquino, KAMP, and Tulayan

 

Welcome to Canada, eh?  In addition to our trip to Seattle last month, the TFAL crew was able to take a trip to our neighbor to the north, Canada…Vancouver to be exact.  In our next couple episodes, we talk to some of Van-city’s awesomest Filipino community leaders.  This episode focuses on political and community organizing in the city and Canada as a whole.  Mable Elmore, Member of Legislative Assembly for British Columbia, and RJ Aquino discuss the benefits of being in a more tolerable country like Canada (unlike the hyper-capitalist United States).  We then talk to Maureen Mendoza of the Kababayan Academic Mentorship Program (KAMP) and Marjorie Eda of Tulayan, two extraordinary Filipino organizations working on empowering Filipino Canadian youth.

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

Special shout out goes to RJ Aquino and Sammie Jo Rumbaua for helping us coordinate the interviews and for your warm hospitality!

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Episode 82 – Filipino Food Scene in Seattle: TFAL Talks to Hood Famous Café, Kamayan Farm, and Musang Seattle

What is the Filipino Food scene like in Seattle? In this TFAL episode, we’re back in Seattle to talk about Pacific Northwest Filipino food with some members of the Ilaw Collective, a coalition of Filipino food and beverage professionals in the region. First, we talk to Chera Amlag and Geo Quibuyen of Hood Famous Bake Shop and discuss the popularity of their Ube Cheesecake and bringing back Filipino flavor to the International District.

Then, we talk to Ariana de Leña of Kamayan Farm and discuss the importance of agricultural foodways and sustainable living for Filipino Americans.

Finally, we round out our Seattle interviews with Melissa Miranda of Musang Seattle and discuss her journey from pop-up restaurant to brick-and-mortar as a way to continue the Filipino legacy in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in the face of gentrification.

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

Seattle was soooo much fun for us, so we we’ll definitely be back. Thanks again to all of our old and new friends in the Emerald City!

Episode 81 – Finding Filipino American Community in LA’s Little Tokyo: Conversations with Alison De La Cruz, Kennedy Kabasares, and Francis Cullado

In Los Angeles, Filipinos have a special relationship with the Little Tokyo neighborhood. In the 1920s and 1930s, Filipino immigrants formed a viable Little Manila district adjacent to the Japanese neighborhood. Little Tokyo was in many ways the heart of the Asian American Movement in Southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, prompting many Filipino American activists to work and live in the area. Today, many Filipino American leaders continue to head Asian American organizations headquartered in Little Tokyo, contributing to the cross-cultural coalition work established decades ago.  LA might have Historic Filipinotown, but SoCal’s Filipino American community can be found in numerous places.  Many Filipinos have built a vibrant center in Little Tokyo.

In this episode, Producer Mike takes us on a journey to Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo through the lens of its Filipino American community advocates. He speaks to Alison De La Cruz, Vice President of Programs at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Kennedy Kabasares, artist and resident of Little Tokyo, and Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications, the organization that produces the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Listen as they speak about the rich history of Filipinos in Little Tokyo, the importance of Asian American coalitions, and the legacy of the late Linda Mabalot, former Executive Director of Visual Communications and a pioneering Filipino American visual storyteller.

Pictured: Bill Watanabe, former Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center and the late Linda Mabalot during the construction of the Union Center for the Arts, home to Visual Communications, LA Artcore, and East West Players.

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

On a similar note, make sure to check out the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival of which TFAL is a media sponsor. They got some great films lined up, particularly from Filipino and Filipino American filmmakers. You can check out the festival lineup here: https://vcmedia.org/festival.

Episode 80 – Filipino American History, Politics, and Cultural Work in Seattle: TFAL Talks to Dr. Pio De Cano, Devin Cabanilla, and Sendai Era

Over the next few episodes, the TFAL crew brings you some voices from the Pacific Northwest.  This past month, TFAL was on location in Seattle (and later Vancouver) to speak with some of the movers and shakers of the Filipino American community.

In our first installment, we talk to Devin Cabanilla of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and long time political advocate, Dr. Pio de Cano.  We then speak to Rico and Mike of Sendai Era, a duo who met at the University of Washington (Joe’s alma mater!), and now document the city’s rich creative scene through multimedia videos on Instagram.

Seattle has a long Filipino American history, politics, creativity, and food dating back to the turn of the 20th century.  We barely scratched the surface in these episodes, but I hope the next couple of episodes inspires you to dig deeper into the rich Filipino American heritage of this corner of the United States.

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

Many thanks to Devin Cabanilla, Joseph Guanlao, and the good folks at Hood Famous Bakeshop (Geo and Chera) for your warm hospitality in the International District!

7 Mile House, a 161-year old restaurant in the Bay Area, continues long legacy with Filipino Food

Established in 1858, 7 Mile House, located in Brisbane, California (just south of San Francisco), is one of the oldest standing restaurants in the country.  However, this historic restaurant doesn’t serve any 19th century delicacies.  Instead, 7 Mile House serves Filipino food.  Yes…Filipino Food.

We  get some answers about the Filipino connection to 7 Mile House from owner, Vanessa Garcia.  Vanessa Garcia, originally from the Philippines, was a drummer, backup singer and original member of the Philippine-based all female pop-rock group ‘Prettier Than Pink’.  Enjoy this interview!

As a Filipina immigrant & owner of a 161-year old establishment, how do you see 7 Mile House in the context of the San Francisco Bay Area Filipino American community?

It is rare that a Filipino immigrant is given the opportunity to preserve a historic establishment’s legacy and stories and I consider it an incredible honor to be the owner and guardian of the 7 Mile House.

Its original owners in the mid-1800s were immigrants from Italy — hard working families who wanted to survive in America by incorporating skills, experience and culture that they learned from their motherland and could apply to their livelihood in order to succeed in a foreign country. Over 150 years later, that story has not changed. As an immigrant from the Philippines, I share the same intentions and feel immense gratitude for the opportunity this country has handed me, which is one I will never take for granted.

Many Filipino-American immigrants share this same sentiment, which is why we work hard, seize opportunities and never forget where we came from.

 

Right now is an incredibly exciting moment for many Entrepinays (Filipina/Pinay entrepreneurs) not just in the SF Bay but around the country. What lessons can you share about the intersection of your experience in culture, food & entrepreneurship?

Nothing is impossible and there are no limits to what we as Entrepinays can do. I have never let anything or anyone stop me from reaching my goals and in return, have achieved what I once thought were impossible dreams: I run a landmark restaurant despite being an immigrant and not knowing how to cook. I published an award-winning book on its history, which took 13 years of data collection and only 7 months to write, design and publish. 7 Mile House has won numerous awards for various categories including our food, ambiance, live music and dog-friendliness, to name a few — all of which I never thought a little dive bar could ever achieve.

Dig deep down into your soul and figure out what you want to achieve. Do everything it takes. But do so in the name of kindness, honesty and sincerity. It is much more fulfilling to know that you do things because you have good intentions and people around you will see that and will treasure you for it.

 

 

Can you talk about the community 7 Mile has built in the neighborhood, particularly with Filipinos & Filipino Americans?

In 2004, when I purchased 7 Mile House, I was frustrated. More Filipinos lived in the Bay Area than other Asian groups like Thai and Vietnamese, yet the locals knew more about their food and culture. I thought, “How could one know more about Korean food when 30% of Daly City is comprised of Filipinos?”

Our very long history of colonization from Spain and the United States has made Filipinos quite invisible within this country. As a result, many in our community have internalized this invisibility and believed they were inferior.

Eventually, things aligned and Filipinos started getting noticed worldwide. Entertainers like Apl.de.ap and Bruno Mars, as well as the rags to riches story of Arnel Pineda touched many people’s lives. Comedians like Rex Navarrete seemed to give us permission to relax and laugh at who we are. And of course, there’s Manny Pacquiao, who really brought the most pride and limelight to the Filipinos as a fighter.

While all of this was happening, I was still fueled by the frustration that our cooking and culture was little known by others, so I set out to talk about our culture through their stomachs. My strategy was to lure my guests with something familiar — a really good burger. Then, sprinkle amazing Filipino food into a menu mostly comprised of American and Italian food. I wanted to offer people Filipino food that was familiar — adobo and lumpia — and then to introduce to something more interesting, such as pork sisig made with pig cheeks on a sizzling plate.

Back then, no one knew what sisig was. “Sig Sig?,” non-Filipinos would say. “Sing Sig?” No one even know how pronounce it. I was so determined to bring this particular dish to 7 Mile House because it is my all-time favorite when paired with a cold bottle of San Miguel beer. In addition to this, no one was doing it “right.” Restaurants at that time were simply cooking dishes that resembled pan-fried sliced beef and that frustrated me.

Like I said, I don’t cook. And when I discovered this little Filipino Restaurant in Alameda that actually did it right, I drove every few days to that restaurant just to buy their sisig and resell it at 7 Mile House. Once we figured out how to make it ourselves, our formula just kept getting better and better. Today our Sisig is one of the most popular items on the menu, along with lumpia, adobo and of course, the cheeseburger!

Through the years and through our tummies, my mom and I spread the word about our food and culture. We talked all day long about how beautiful the Philippines is to whoever wanted to listen. I even went as far as inviting everyone on a nice vacation to the Philippines with the idea that somehow someday they could come see the sights and rich culture.

Then, the Filipino Food Movement started to emerge. Young Filipino cooks started creating both traditional and fusion dishes. It became cool to sport the Philippine star on your shirt and even as a tattoo.

And as my Mom and I continued to spread the word about our heritage in our little restaurant, little did we know we would be a part of a Filipino American movement that would change how the world saw our culture and how we would see ourselves.

 

 

You came out with the book “See You at the 7” last year, a book that chronicles the buried history of 7 Mile. How do you think this contributes to the legacy of Filipinos & Filipino-Americans in San Francisco?

See You at the 7 along with books like Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, help chronicle our contributions to this country. This book leaves an indelible mark on American history — throughout the book you will read stories of Filipino Americans, and how they are all connected to 7 Mile House, and the SF Bay Area. It also tells the story of a Filipino immigrant family that would become historians of a 161-year old establishment in California, and document it in the first book ever written about Bay Area mile houses. I hope this book inspires more people to document their history as Filipinos in the diaspora.

 

7 Mile House

2800 Bayshore Blvd

Brisbane, CA 94005

http://7milehouse.com/

Episode 79 – Gio-Stories: Three Tales about Filipino America by Giovanni Ortega

In this TFAL episode, we switch gears a bit and give you a few literary works in audio form by Giovanni Ortega, multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and teacher. Giovanni joins the TFAL podcast and shares his upbringing as a 1.5 generation Filipino American from Chicago. He then gives us three short stories from different Filipino American experiences. The first is an excerpt from the play, ALLOS, a story about writer Carlos Bulosan. The second story is about life as a young Pinoy soldier in the U.S. military. Finally, the last story depicts the struggles of a Filipina migrant working overseas. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.

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

 

Do you have an audio story to share?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.