Apply to be part of the FYLPRO family!
FYLPRO - "Filipino Young Leaders Program" - is the non-profit that sent me on that life-changing trip in Manila back in November. I became a prouder Filipina-American during our excursion. Here is a little trailer of our trip. The longer (30+ mins) video is on my Facebook profile if you were interested.
FYLPRO is now accepting applications for this year's delegation which will be starting their trip this coming October. Scroll below for some of the details.
Every year, FYLPRO works with the Philippine Embassy and the Consulates General in the United States to search for the 10 most outstanding, next-generation Filipino-Americans or Filipinos in the United States to participate in its distinguished Immersion Program in the Philippines.
2017 FYLPRO Immersion Program Dates:
*this schedule is subject to change without notice*
WHO CAN APPLY
For full details, go to: www.FYLPRO.org/apply
Good luck! Can't wait to meet Batch 6!
Batch 5 alumna
It all started with a conversation Jim (of Manila Bowl) and I had at an event in San Francisco. He and I would see each other at these things and we would talk Food and how we could collaborate. This time, I felt the urge to just put something into motion. He asked, "wouldn't it be cool to get everyone together?" Being me, I replied, "Where and when?"
I knew I had to make this happen.
Needless to say, the conversation we had was inspiring and a wake up call. We need to work together in order for us to succeed. I became more enlightened and more motivated to work after each of them spoke. That Chel from Tselogs. I felt like I was at church! Preach, girl! Each person here brings something valuable to the plate and it was so exciting to see them all in one place. I have been following some of these guys for almost 10 years (ahem, the old, used, and abused Chef Timmy Luym) and have been friends with some (ahem, I miss your face, Dom and Melissa.) for years. I cannot wait to see what they all have up their sleeves.
They are ready to be seen and heard.
Get ready for them, Bay Area.
PS: If you would like to meet up with us (our next get-together is in May), let me know!
The Philippine Consulate here in San Francisco and the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines were so kind and generous to their "Filipinos Around the World" campaign on Facebook.
I am honored they picked me and valued my opinion on what being a Filipino means to me. Here is my response:
"Being a Filipino to me is all about togetherness as well as being hospitable and making connections. Just think about it, when you enter someone's house, they asked if you have eaten yet. When you are at the dinner table eating sinigang with rice and mention where you are from or where you went to school, Filipinos are quick to ask if you know a certain person who might have known your cousin's stepfather's girlfriend's brother. There is a saying that goes, 'we are all family.' Because we love to eat with each other and tell stories, we have all created a bond that is very unique. I love that. Even though there are so many regions and provinces in the Philippines, we always find each other abroad and create communities. During college, I participated in Filipino organizations run by students and even today, I contribute to our Filipino community events and activities. I love our sense of community and our want to collaborate with each other. This togetherness or kapwa is our way to keep our culture alive.
Being Filipino is probably the most important part of my life. I knew I was Filipino since I could remember. I truly appreciate that my grandparents made it a point to speak to us in Ilocano and feed me Filipino dishes like pinapaitan and pinakbet. Filipinos were pretty much everywhere I looked as I was growing up; however, as I got older, I realized that San Francisco was a special place because of the dense Filipino population here. I did not know that Filipinos were not known well in other parts of the country.
One of the earliest memories of feeling proud to be Filipino was in 1992 seeing Lea Salonga on Entertainment Tonight when she was featured for her part in Disney's Aladdin. I was around 8 years old or so. Who doesn't love 'A Whole New World?' Then in 1995, I watched Lea on PBS as Eponine in the 10-year anniversary show of Les Miserables. That performance is one of my all-time favorites. I have adored Broadway, Disney and musicals since I was a kid, so seeing a Filipino on the television made me very happy - I saw someone who looked like ME achieving success. It was very empowering to see a Pinay hustle and become the person she is now. Actually these days, whenever I do see someone of Filipino ancestry gain success in any field, I feel proud because that shows that our people is a hard working one. We strive to be the best and make a statement in this world. I love seeing our kababayan enjoy the fruits of their labor.
My greatest dream is to be able to travel the world, meet fellow Filipinos, and just eat and eat! Filipino food, and food in general, is such an important aspect of my life. I have been working on the promotion of Filipino food for over 7 years, and through the years, I have met incredibly talented chefs and amazing people who share the same goals as I do. Recently, I traveled to the Philippines, explored my family's province, made my way around Manila, and ate the most delicious dishes - including some Filipino dishes I had never tasted before such as pancit pusit ng Cavite and kinunot. It was truly a life-changing experience. I would love to travel even more to gain more knowledge about Filipino food and other ethnic cuisines, eat, meet more people, and eat more.
Another dream of mine is to help open a Filipino food cultural center in the Bay Area that has a place for hands-on workshops and lectures, special pop-up dinner and events space for local and visiting chefs, and a library that will house all the Filipino cookbooks, memoirs, and historical documents for visitors to refer to. This center will be a hub for those interested to be educated about our food, culture, indigenous ingredients, and stories. Also a drive-through window for rotating chef specials because why not?"
I could only imagine what was going through my mom’s head when she was on her way from Manila to San Francisco in the early 1980’s. She has told me over the years that she chose to leave Pangasinan plus everything she knew to live in the United States so she can start a new and better life for her and me. I am grateful everyday for the opportunities that have been given to me as a result of her sacrifice. However, there was always a part of me that yearned for that connection with my heritage. Being a Filipino has never been a foreign concept for me. My family spoke in our native Ilocano. Lea, Pops, Roselle were on rotation. Our parties were always joyous and the food! Lechon, pinakbet, lumpia. The food was the constant star of our celebrations year after year growing up. We also made trips back to Pangasinan every two to three years. Our togetherness as a family was prevalent. The communities I associated with during college and the present have given me a sense of pride, but still, I felt I needed to experience the Philippines on my own terms, at my own pace. When I saw the call for applicants for the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) in the Spring of 2016, I knew it was my chance to finally make that connection.
Every year since 2012, ten delegates are chosen to visit the Philippines and they participate in various activities with the government and local communities while engaging in the culture and heritage of the Philippines. These delegates are to utilize the knowledge they brought with them and the knowledge they gain during their immersion trip to strengthen the ties between the Philippines and the United States.
After working on my application and sending it off to FYLPRO in July, I wondered how my work in Filipino food promotion would even help. A cruel realization came to me that I knew so little about what I was promoting. With the country’s regionality and diverse ecosystems and people, there was so much to learn and I made it my goal to go back to the Philippines whether or not I was chosen. Fortunately, in September, I was blessed to be selected as one of the ten delegates in Batch 5 to travel to Manila in November.
On the airplane to Manila, I looked back on all the trips I took prior. My last trip was in 2014. Before that 2011. And before that 2009. I was not unfamiliar with my family’s province, but Manila was going to be a challenge for me as I was traveling alone. For the first time. I then wondered how mom was when she travelled to San Francisco on her own. My grandpa, whom we fondly call Tatay, immigrated to the United States in the late 1970’s - at the height of government turmoil in the Philippines. Mom joined him in 1983 and I was born shortly after. Being the first grandchild born in the United States, there was always the expectation to make the family proud and to be the best I can be. They sacrificed so much to come to the United States and I felt it was my duty to do just that.
I knew the Philippines I would be seeing would be a whole different one from the Philippines I was exposed to as a child and even as a young adult. Citizens my age are now making decisions for the country. People like ME were making a difference in their communities. I felt proud, empowered, but terrified. Was I even worthy to be part of this group? Were mosquitos going to eat me alive? What if I couldn’t get good cellular service? Was I safe? The worrywart came out full throttle; nonetheless, I was incredibly excited to meet my batchmates and start on this new adventure because I was certain it was going to be an eye opening one.
The curators of the trip, (special thank you to Minnie, Joe and Joanna at the Ayala Foundation), made sure that the delegates had a healthy dose each of government exposure, cultural activity, hands-on community work, and time to reacquaint ourselves with the Philippines. Because my legacy project is focused on the progress of Filipino food, as well as its history and chefs, I made sure to create connections with those in the Filipino food industry.
Department of Foreign Affairs - We were given the opportunity to have a roundtable discussions with leaders at the Department of Foreign Affairs. We discussed everything from the government’s plan to create an infrastructure that will ensure the country's market growth in the future, to the Philippine foreign policy, budgets and targets, to the DFA's mission to promote Philippine interests in the global spectrum to more mundane things such as my love for Filipino food. It was a great honor to converse with DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Assistant Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria of the Office of American Affairs, Director Reichel Quiñones of the Canadian Division, as well as with the representatives from the DFA, National Economic and Development Authority, National Commission on Culture and the Arts, and Department of Social Welfare and Development who were generous with their time.
Senate of the Philippines - Immediately after our visit to the DFA, we were ushered to the Philippine Senate to meet and converse with Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. They graciously shared their programs regarding community advancement, leadership, and political and civic engagement.
Malacañan Palace - I never would have thought I would ever step foot at Malacañan. This place has so much history within its four walls. Paintings of all the presidents and their First Ladies, artifacts from the Martial Law era, and even the fine china used at special dinners were on display. It was such an honor to be there. This was also the perfect place for the traditional FYLPRO teleserye photo.
National Museum of the Philippines
Intramuros and Fort Santiago - Jose Rizal's jail cell with BamBikes Tours
Habitat for Humanity - Bistekville 4, Culiat, Quezon City
100 for 200 - Araw ng Pagbasa - Books for Youth with Ayala CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Vice President Leni Robredo - Ayala Museum, Makati
XO46 Heritage Bistro - Thank you to owner Andrew Masigan for feeding us until we couldn't eat anymore! On our first day, we were treated to a welcome dinner at XO46 Heritage Bistro in Makati where the servers spoke in old Tagalog and no English! Many of us have never heard that spoken before and it definitely added to the charm of the restaurant.
Mentorship: One important aspect of the FYLPRO immersion trip was to spend time with someone in the community who can mentor us in our fields. Mine is the promotion of Filipino food, and I was mentored with Mr. Masigan who gave me a tour of his properties, including XO46 in the S Maison Conrad which has a gorgeous dining room, inspired by the grand dining room at Malacanang, overlooking Manila Bay and his not-yet-opened Arroz Ecija in BGC. He also treated myself and Batch 4 alumna Nicole Ponseca of NYC's Maharlika and Jeepney to a sumptuous meal over a conversation about their beginnings in the restaurant industry and how to entice the masses to Filipino restaurants. The food was amazing - the pusit pancit from Cavite was my favorite!
Aristocrat with Mama Sita's
Rural Kitchen of Liliw, Laguna
I am incredibly grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Even though the trip was only 1 week long, I felt I became more connected to the Philippines and to my batch mates. We came from all over the country and from different backgrounds, but we all had something in common: we wanted to strengthen our ties to the Philippines because we know we have something valuable to offer. I admire the people I experienced this trip with and I am indebted to all those who helped make this trip possible.
Happy Monday, friends!
I hope your Lunar New Year was great. I love new year because to me it signifies new beginnings. What better time is there to look back on how you have been living your life and thinking of ways to not "improve" it per se, but to enhance it.
So this year, I have vowed to be a bit more organized and mindful of how I spend my time. That's why I have decided to start PLANNING!
The type of planner I chose is the Passion Planner. I opted for the "Classic" version because the "Compact" was a little too small. I got a new bag for my laptop and this planner fits in perfectly, so it all worked out. The reason why I chose the Passion Planner as opposed to other planners, (which I am sure are glorious in their own ways) is because each Passion Planner has an intro/orientation part in the starting pages which lets you reflect on your life and allows (actually urges) you to think of how you can make steps to achieve your goals. Each month has another reflection/evaluation section after it that asks how you did in the month, what/who you are thankful for and what your next steps are. This planner is great for me because I can doodle, write in inspiration quotes, keep track of daily habits, write out my plans, draw, paste in photos and other mementos, and keep track of homework and work schedule. I can also schedule in "no adulting rest days" because we ALL need them. Self care, people!
The other reason why I chose this planner is because a PINAY is founder and CEO! Angelia Trinidad hustled to make her dream of creating this planner a reality. Check her out on YouTube. I love referring to Passion Planner's YT channel for tips and suggestions on how to use the planner from Angeli herself and her Passion Planner team. I mean, a Pinay CEO though. How inspiration and empowering is THAT?! That in itself makes me want to fill my own planner with things to do, people to see, and occasions to celebrate...even if it is just "National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!"...which I have a sticker for. I like planners because it gives to something to look at and days to look forward to.
Despite my busy schedule, I am going to make 2017 a great one and the Passion Planner will definitely help in my journey for the next year. I am loving it so far. Do you have a planner? How do you use yours?
Til next time!
No, I did not get paid to write this post. I just love this product so much and I want to share <3
It's so strange to be doing this because I have not blogged in a good 3-4 years! The last post on this particular blog doesn't count because it was associated with my event in October, but this is the first one in a long while that is solely about myself.
Background information: I was a food blogger for 5 years from 2007-2012. I quit food/personal blogging (Jo Boston is a Foodie on Blogger which I deactivated), because it wasn't ME anymore. Plus I just got tired of hearing myself talk about how scrumptious a tuna tartare was. Honestly, I was tired of tune tartare all together. I switched my focus to freelance writing for a bit, but that too became a chore, and then I became a Filipino food advocate and teamed up with the great folks at The Filipino Food Movement. Go ahead and hit the "MEDIA" link above to see what I was up to in the last few years.
So here we are in 2017. A good ten years after I started blogging in the first place. Call it coming full circle, or even completing life in a parallel universe. I started blogging in 2007 because I was going to school and I wanted to chronicle what I was consuming on a daily basis. School in general seems to ignite something in me to write.
I am back in school and here I am writing again...but before I go on to this year, let's do a quick recap of 2016 to catch you up on how the heck I got here.
The whole 365 days taught me a huge lesson. That lesson?
At the end of it, you only have yourself to get where you want to be.
Okay, true, people help you throughout your life, but it's up to you to take the opportunity when it knocks. Sometimes you have to work hard, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and hope for the best.
Let's backtrack. It's the beginning of 2016 and I am celebrating my 8 year anniversary at my job (medical field) and I am also celebrating my duties and role with The Filipino Food Movement. Lots of good stuff happens: we are in the San Francisco Chronicle in January, we are invited by the SF Consulate General to curate their Philippine Independence Day Gala in June, we are asked by the FAAE to host the Culinary Pavilion at Pistahan in August and in between I am meeting so many awesome people, contributing to podcasts, online publications, and so forth and going to amazing food events and Filipino pop-ups.
In the midst of all this, I began thinking. When can I possibly make my passion of connecting and promoting people and my food into a career? I have a great job in the medical field. I have been there for a long time and I am good at what I do. But still, there was that feeling of being something that encapsulates what I love to do. In late Spring in May, I see various opportunities to advance my career.
1) a random video posted by The Ellen Show. Yes, Ellen DeGeneres. She gave a scholarship to a woman who didn't get to finish her degree. I thought that was cool. Then I learn they were awarding 10 full-ride scholarships to the University of Phoenix titled the "Rise To Your Dreams" Scholarship. They wanted to award the scholarship to those who wish to apply their degree to a career. I totally regretted not continuing my Bachelor's program at SFSU in 2006, so I said "why the hell not?" The process: apply online and submit 3 essays. I sent off my essays, said a prayer and hit submit. Honestly I didn't think anything would come of it. So much so that I waited until the very last day to submit my essays. Call it procrastination or lack of hope, but I thought "whatev."
2) The same week I sent my essays off to I get an email from the Consulate General's office with a press release for a call for applicants to participate in an immersion trip in the Philippines happening the week of Thanksgiving organized by the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPro) in partnership with the Ayala Foundation and the Philippine Consulates around the country. Again, I thought "why the hell not?" I hadn't gone to the Philippines in a couple of years and I felt my work in the Filipino food industry proved that I had the urge to connect Filipinos living in the motherland and the Fil-Ams who live abroad. The trip would give the delegates the opportunities to meet influential people in the Philippines and to experience the beauty of the country. I prepped for this application HARD. Unlike my scholarship essays. I had until August to fill it out and submit. The process: resumes, letters of recommendation, essays. I had to prove I was worth choosing. This was so important for me and I prayed that I would get it. Waiting for the results was so nerve-wracking. Come August and then I get an email for an in-person interview at my local Consulate office. Let's just say I came out of that interview incredibly down on myself. I texted my FFM team of my disappointment in myself and had a pity party at Bon Chon with my girls that night. I was certain I didn't get it.
Never Count Yourself Out
August 28, 2016 - I got an email from the University of Phoenix. I won the full-ride scholarship.
September 2, 2016 - I got an email from FYLPro. I was accepted into the immersion program.
To say the least, I was floored. I cried because I would finally be able to see my dad after so long and I would be able to finish what life put on the back burner. I felt like I was getting a second chance.
Long story short, September was crazy because we had to plan Savor Filipino, our event in October which coincided with Filipino American History Month. There were debates on going on with the event or cancelling...and learning Filipinos LOVE to buy last minute tickets. Good thing we decided to have it!
Then another email from the organizers the FAHM White House celebration and next thing I know, I am applying for that as well. Never did I think I would go to the White House...let alone Washington DC...I submitted my application and I had to be vetted in order for my invitation to come. And it came. A week after Savor Filipino, I was on an airplane to Washington DC to celebrate FAHM with a few of my FFM team members and friends. Had a wonderful dinner at Bad Saint then a tour of the White House. Came back to the Bay Area, met Anthony Bourdain at his book tour party at the Tonga Room and then I was prepping for my FYLPro trip. All the while, I was still going to my full-time job, going to pop-ups, and prepping for school which I was to start on January 3.
It was CHAOS.
Finally Finding Me
The road leading to the FYLPro trip was not easy.
I had to prove myself to, well, myself.
I went to the Philippines torn. This was the land where I was made. I spent some of my childhood there. I have siblings there. I promote the food of this country yet I knew so little. I knew I had to come to the Philippines with an open mind and an open heart. I had to expect the worse and prep for the best. Again, I was a student.
I saw my father and my siblings and I was so happy yet sad knowing I would leave them again. I spent a week and a half with my fellow FYLPro delegates going around Manila attending meetings, arranged lunches with dignitaries and mentors, and dinners with those who paved the way for people in my industry. A more in-depth post shall follow soon. It was such a busy and hectic schedule. I loved it. I loved how I was learning so much and meeting so many people. I spent my last 3 days in the Philippines on my own. Navigating Manila by myself was terrifying. It hit me. I had to rely on myself. I had never done that before and I felt free. I left the Philippines with a new point of view.
I am not the expert of anything. I am the only person I can control. I will forever be a student. I shall always be grateful for everything that comes my way. I will always be thankful for the people I meet. I only have me in the end. I am the only one who dictates my success.
Here We Are. 2017.
The last few weeks of 2016 were so busy with work and the holidays that 2017 came with an unreal quickness. I would start the new year with a new and earlier schedule at work so I can spend my afternoons studying. I am now working on that long-neglected BS degree and I am so excited. I should be done by the end of 2019. It's a little longer because I opted for a certification in Marketing as well. It's a scholarship so there is no liability on my end. What a blessing. I am still trying to figure how this is all real. I mean, is this real life?
I am going to be experimenting with my time over the next few months because while I want to spend so much time on FFM duties, I know I have to step down at times to concentrate on school and to work on the legacy projects I pitched in my FYLPro application. 2017 is going to be another amazing and amazingly busy year.
I learned that you have to work hard in order to get the future you want. Plus you have to work hard to silence the noise. At the end of the day, you just need to do you. I need to do me. I need to do what is good for my future and the future of my family. Social media makes it so hard because everyone's business and dirty laundry is in your face and I am learning how to filter out the chismis and the negativity. I haven't mastered it yet, but I am working on it.
Right now I am just focusing on my schooling. I had a FFM reorganization meeting yesterday and it was so hard not to volunteer for everything on our calendar. I want to dip my finger in everything, but I have to keep myself in check. Plus I still have a social life, family life and my husband to be with. This year is definitely going to be a learning experience. It is somewhat scary because I really do not have anything planned for the rest of the year. No travel or big personal events. But then again, life happens in the most mysterious way and you can be surprised at any point of it.
I am just praying that my year is fruitful and healthy and safe. I am also praying that my friends and family stay safe as well. Whatever 2017 has for me, I am excited for it. I am in a very good place and 2017 will definitely be about self-care and self-love.
Thanks for reading my blog. It's been a while since I have done this and it feels good. I hope to post again soon when I have the time. Until then, salamat!
Hey friends! Please help me spread the word on our event Savor Filipino which is going down on October 15th in Oakland, California! Please support us via this Thunderclap campaign by clicking the link below! #SavorFilipino16 #filipinofoodmovement Salamat!
To buy your tickets and get more information about Savor Filipino, please visit www.SavorFilipino.com!
Hi. I'm Jo.
Everything in this blog is mine. All photos, words, all of it. All views on this blog are mine. My views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer and the community organizations I work with. Do not use my words or screenshots of my website and blog without written permission.
At the end of the day, if you would like to know me more than what is said here, please feel free to message me and let's hang out or better yet, LET'S EAT!
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