It’s been a hard week. Not only for me, but for her family, asawa (we love you, Uncle Jesse), colleagues, students, community fam, and the hundreds of people who came in contact with her or saw her at one of her many conferences, classes, and presentations. Dawn spoke to us in a way that made people listen. Her content was robust, engaging, and unforgettable. Her presence dominated in whatever room she was in. I loved her voice and her humor when she spoke.
After the Association of Asian American Studies Conference panel we had in March, I talked to her about FANHS. I wanted her to be a part of an idea that I had for it called, “Filipinas in the Kitchen.” She agreed to be a part of it right away. We had plans to do more together especially after the feedback we got from AAAS.
Jasper Pugao, owner of No Worries Vegan Filipino Food, Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, PhD - Professor at SFSU, Chel Gilla, owner of Tselogs, me, Manang Dawn, PJ Quesada, Chairman of FFM, Dominic Ainza, chef at Facebook and Ninong of Filipino food in the Bay Area, Charleen Caabay, owner of Kainbigan, Evan Kidera, owner of Senor Sisig at the AAAS Conference
FANHS would be the first session we’d do together, and I was scared shitless. We discussed (lightly) about the panel in the weeks leading up to FANHS. I say “lightly” because there was no real urge to have a “sit down” to talk about logistics or formatting or anything. She said something along the lines of, “I do my presentation, you do yours and then discuss with audience.” In my head, I thought, “that’s IT?” Like it was TOO EASY. She basically said that whatever we did would turn out good. Her confidence in me gave me even MORE anxiety. This was Dr. Dawn *freaking* Mabalon. She’s a legend. I did not think I would be able to be as good as she would have believed me to be. Her agreeing to partner with me already blew my mind, so I was a mess. A hot nervous mess.
She bust out the Skyflakes, the Danish Butter Cookies in the blue tin (I went for the sugar-covered pretzels and Manang Dawn took the spirals), pastillas, and chicharron WITH suka. I mean, how else can we fill a room? FOOD!
The room fills up and we are about to start. I told her, “Manang, you do not have to say that I am part of so-in-so organization or so-in-so company which I am not involved with anymore.” Sensing my lapse in confidence, she replied, “You created that shit! OWN IT!”
Then she goes to the podium and works on her tech. We watch Ruby Ibarra’s “US” video to get everyone in the mood. She does her presentation and all the while, I am sweating bullets. I drink half of my water bottle and have a nervous coughing fit. Her presentation is flawless, of course (I am still bitter that we were not allotted more time, but that’s another story). She makes everyone laugh, but she also instills our audience with so much knowledge and history. So many “Ohhhhh’s” and lightbulbs turning on. I can literally see the audience beam with every word Dawn spoke.
Shaking my head, I was already thinking of the shit I would get for this, but then I thought about it and started to convince myself, "Hell yeah, I did something to contribute to this company/organization." Dawn saw it.
I laugh, look at my feet, and realize that she believes in me. She saw what I was working so hard for. Validation from her meant so much. She did not allow me to doubt myself. I do not come from an extensive educational background. I am still in school and the most I got is an AA. I never went to a university when I was “supposed” to. I am probably one of the least qualified people to have a presentation at FANHS, but here we were, and here is Dr. Dawn at this panel that we were all experiencing and enjoying.
I ended the session in tears. The audience was captivated by Manang. We were touched by their stories. Again, I am super maalat that we did not have enough time. We saw that people wanted to make our session longer, so we overstayed our time and ran into the lunch hour. People wanted more, so we made plans to have a longer session when we got back home to San Francisco. Lily Ann from City College, Mayo from USF, and Dawn from SFSU were going to be my targets when I got my feet planted and secure in the Fall. I wanted to do something with them for Filipino American History Month and do something focusing on Filipino food and history. I was so sad when I opened up my Passion Planner to October and saw “Dr. Mabalon” on my calendar.
If someone told me that Friday, “Jo, Dawn is going to pass away in exactly 4 weeks.” I would have punched them in the throat. When I found out about Manang 4 Fridays later, I was in disbelief. I was in shock. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. A world without Dawn? Who would be our source and our backbone? She stood up for us. She spoke up for us. She dropped knowledge like no other and she educated young and old. I look at my army of Pinays and while we are broken inside, I know Manang would want us to get up and continue her legacy. She would tell us to get up, dry our tears, and keep pushing even when it is so hard.
#DawnMabalonInspiredMeBy teaching me that I shouldn’t let anyone derail me when it came to my mission and goals. Other people would tell me to avoid certain tasks or events just so that I wouldn’t have to deal with certain people or situations. Dawn knew there were snakes in the community. She told me straight up. She told me that not everyone is going to like what we do. She said “haterade” a lot when we would vent to each other about the crabs in our community. I am sensitive and I would hide, but she told me to continue and to keep pushing. She said, “All these people can say whatever they want about you to make you look a certain way, but your actions and your accomplishments will make everyone see the truth.” So for Dawn, I will keep going. I will never let someone or some people make me believe I am not good enough or I am not worthy of owning the work that I have done.
Dawn was more than just a friend to me. She was foodie buddy, my venting partner, my hero, my Manang. She supported so many of our events. She was loyal and she is loved and respected by so many. I miss her and will continue my work for her.
Happy Birthday, Manang Dawn.
We love you.
PS: I think of you every time I hear this song:
I am also social media manager this year (yehey!), so if you would like to join my team, let me know! I currently am managing Pistahan's official Instagram account, which you can go to here: www.instagram.com/pistahansf. If you visit, you will see that I am doing a countdown of the "25 Reasons Why You Should Go to Pistahan." Next month, I will be posting old school Pistahan pix as this year is the 25th anniversary! So it is a very special occasion.
I remember coming to Pisatahan when I was younger and it was always an amazing thing to see our culture and our people all in one place. It's empowering.
See you there, friends!
Happy Philippine Independence Month!
I like June because 1) it is the month when summer arrives and 2) it's Kalayaan. This month is special because it is the 120th Year of Independence from Spain. Truly, and important and monumental time in Philippine history.
For the Gala Reception, I assisted with the food and beverage portion in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General team. I was lucky enough to be able to eat majority of the wonderful dishes, such as lechon and garlic noodles! Our Filipino food community is so amazing. Some people rolled out of the venue because they were so full.
The second event of Kalayaan SF is the outdoor festival which is held at Union Square in Downtown San Francisco. Every year, I assist with crowd control. Essentially, I am the bouncer for the stage during the special entertainment hour produced by TFC. Let's just say it is definitely a learning experience every year. You would be surprised how many people try to sneak into the stage area. It's so funny.
Check out pictures from Kalayaan on my Instagram: @JBKollaborations
I enjoy participating in these types of events because it really does keep in my touch with my Filipino roots. Looking forward to next year! Mabuhay! Happy Philippine Independence Month!
What a month this has been! I just wanted to let you know that I have become an official partner of the Spark Connect Empower initiative founded by the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco.
Our events, logos, and news will be shared with the whole community and that's awesome because this can lead to more engagement between varying generations and regions. I am looking forward to seeing how this will benefit the community here in the Bay Area.
I feel I have to work extra hard for Ambassador Babe and this partnership with SEC because I want to show him that FYLPRO, the program former Ambassador Cuisia founded, is essential for our generation. You do not even know how FYLPRO has helped me in my networking, my confidence in myself, and my overall drive to serve the community. I feel I am part of something that can make our community a more cohesive one. Actually, JR's involvement with SEC is a prime example of the excellence that is coming out of our community and our organization.
I know I mentioned that I was taking a break for a couple of months, but I am ready to immerse myself in community work once again. Looking forward to hustling this Summer and Fall!
It's been such an amazing 2018 so far. I am blessed, but I have definitely realized that your girl needs some rest! I will be taking a break from organizing major food related events until Winter, and I am using the Spring and Summer for some professional development and school.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda, right?
Anyway, just going some growing pains right now. My day job is challenging, per usual, so I am also trying to muster up the energy to do very technical work and at the same time do some very creative work. Like I said before: it's hard! It's hard not to get tired or burned out, but we keep pushing here!
Thanks for putting up with my ranting. I feel like I am a student again. Well, technically I am. It's scary, but invigorating at the same time. I love learning and I love being able to put my new knowledge to good use. Feels good, right? It sure does. Until next time.
I had such an empowering morning on March 31, 2018. A few months ago, Dr. Dawn Mabalon invited me to speak as part of an epic panel at the Association of Asian American Studies Conference in SF which included chefs, educators and entrepreneurs. It really felt like a reunion.
Because we were pressed for time (seriously, we could have talked for another 3 hours), we had to keep our individual talks short and sweet. I talked about how I got into the Filipino food promotion - through writing and social media events. I wish we can have a whole entire day dedicated to Filipino food. In all honesty, it was such an honor to be in the company of these guys. They are heavy hitters and they have inspired me in more ways than one.
Panelists: Jay Jasper of No Worries Vegan, Ate Allyson at SFSU, Chel of Tselogs, myself,
Dr. Dawn of SSU, PJ of FFM, Dom of Facebook, Charleen of Craft & Spoon and Even of Senor Sisig
I am hoping to expand the discussion at the FANHS Conference this coming July in Chicago. Until then, I am excited to collabo on some projects with some people and organizations this Summer, including Kalayaan 2018 and Pistahan. Hope to see you at those events!
Guys, I am so excited about this one.
When I was in NYC with my girls Gen, Em, and Kim, we met with John and Allie, the filmmakers of ULAM. I have been following this documentary for a while because, of course, it's about Filipino food. After months of chit-chat, we finally met and, wow, I loved their enthusiasm and energy. We HAD to bring this doc to the City.
Fast forward a month and I get a message from Allie and Johnny, and BOOM. It was coming...they are WORLD PREMIERING their documentary on April 7, 2018 at the Dolby Cinema as part of the San Francisco International Festival. I am so happy they welcomed me to their planning team. I am helping with community aspect of it and I hope to see you all there!
About the Film:
ULAM (Main Dish) is a food documentary following the rise of the Filipino food movement via the chefs crossing over to the center of the American table.
Featuring: Alvin Cailan (Egglsut, Unit 120), Nicole Ponseca & Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney), Romy Dorotan & Amy Besa (Purple Yam), Johneric Concordia & Christine Araquel-Concordia (The Park's Finest), Charles Olalia (Ricebar), Chase Valencia & Chad Valencia (LASA), and Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano, The Little Bear).
Please feel free to check out and RSVP at the Facebook Event below:
Heart is So Full
Where did the last two months go? Truth be told, I was busy with this event I did. I just came back from a trip to NYC. I actually organized a dinner with my great team at the James Beard House, called "Regional Filipino Celebration" on the 25th of January. Nuts, right? Started from the bottom, now the Beards! I am going to post a longer recap on the event this weekend, but I just wanted to thank our sponsors. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did.
I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!
I am still feeling the excitement. I still smile randomly when I remember the wonderful food and amazing chefs. It was one of the best days of my career.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus.
Longer post later. Off to another community function. I need to take a day off. =)
Happy December! Where did 2017 go? Again the holiday season has crept up on me, but I am definitely ready for the new year. When I run into people these days, people ask what I am up to. I am proud to say that I am taking a "break" in December. Just focusing on work and school for the time being. I have a project I am working on that is happening in January, but I will update on that later.
My workplace has been turned upside down with the announcement of my manager's departure last month. I am nervous because my work will be scrutinized differently and I expect to be asked to do more by the physicians I work for. I mean, I have been at my job for 10 years! Technically, 1/10/18, but I think I have been there long enough to figure things out on my own. Right?! Haha, we shall see how this new arrangement goes at work.
School has been great. Met with some classmates who I work very well with. I honestly have been dreading this essay and PowerPoint presentation due this Monday, but I expect to slay. Wish me luck!
So let's go back to Chefsgiving that happened on November 20 at Bao Down in San Francisco. Thank you, Matt of Bao Down for letting us use your space. It impressed so many people. It was vibrant and so welcoming. Here are some pictures from my friend Dennis Chan.
The night before the dinner, I was at a coffee shop in San Bruno trying to finish my homework and tightening up any loose ends for the event. Then the worst thing happened: OVERNIGHT I GOT SICK. To the point that I could not make myself go to work. I had a throat infection and I was coughing up some nastiness. Francis asked for my husband to go to his place at 11:00 pm (!!!) to pick up some antibiotics. Pair that with a double-dose of Theraflu and a shot of lambanog and I felt a little alive. There was no way I could host and speak to the crowd because my throat hurt a lot, so thank goodness for my friends, Kim, Em and John who came and helped me out that day. I wish I did not get sick, but it was my body telling me to slow down and rest. But because of this sickness, I refused to go on camera for anything. It was for the best because I looked like a hot mess anyway. I was sweating! I guess the Theraflu was doing it's job.
Thanks to my old friend Rommel for featuring the event on Balitang America!
To say the least, Chefsgiving was a success. We raised a little bit of money for Undocufund, and I will be sending them a nice check next week after I finish up some last minute accounting. Thank you to all the chefs, sponsors, and volunteers for making this event happen. I am still a little sick and I bit slow at following up, but I will be reaching out to you all in the next few days.
There's even interest in making Chefsgiving an annual event. I am totally for that. Because of this event, many people there asked about who the chefs were and how they can attend their events. In response to that, I have created a public Facebook page for the Kusinero Alliance, which can be accessed by clicking the banner below:
It is about time the Filipino cooking community in the San Francisco gets some shine. Many folks within this group, like Dom and Tim, have been cooking in the Bay for over a decade. I have been working with them for a little over 5 years. I don't intend on stopping. Any. Time. Soon.
I am so proud of this group and I will work with them for as long as they have me. It's been a passion of mine to promote the food that I grew up with. It has also been an interest of mine to see how Filipino food progresses here in the States. I am excited to see several coalitions in the country form and share a common goal. Shouts to Barkada in LA and ILAW in the Pacific Northwest. I look forward to meeting all of you some day!
Alas, it is time for bed. I really am taking this "rest" thing seriously. I am not going out as much and I have been coming straight home after work. Today, I stayed in bed all day because I am still feeling under the weather. I blame this full supermoon! I just hope that the rest of 2017 takes it easy on me. I am looking at 2018 and I see so much happening, but I know I have to set up borders for myself.
2018 will be the year of adulting for me, ladies and gentlemen. I am a bit scared, yet excited.
Hope you will join me then.
Long time no blog! I have to say though - lots going on this Winter! I just came back from an amazing weekend in Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona. 10 of my FYLPRO family and I attended the FPACC event. Made a lot of connections and did some crazy things in 36 short hours. One example of this is doing a zombie escape room at 11pm and then eating In-n-Out afterwards at the rental house.
So what's coming up?!
BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE: https://kusineroalliancesfchefsgiving.eventbrite.com
I am currently working with an organization that will help our North Bay neighbors. Can't make it to our event, please donate via the same link. We have included a way for you to help even if you cannot make it physically.
Currently looking at the menu. It's going to be amazing, guys! See you there!
Hi. I'm Jo.
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