Rank #1: Episode 25 – Filipino Americans and Panethnic Identity
As a Filipino, do you identify as an Asian American? Do you feel more affinity towards Mexican Americans and other Latinos? Do you believe Filipinos are Pacific Islanders? Do Filipino Americans belong to a specific “race”?
These are some questions Filipino Americans grapple with all the time. Living in the United States, “Asian,” “Pacific Islander,” or even “Latino” is thrust upon Filipinos. Filipino Americans, in numerous ways, do not fit these arbitrary racial and/or panethnic categories, yet many of us have the arduous task of choosing which one we belong to.
In this TFAL episode, we explore the ways in which these arbitrary panethnic categorizations are unfair to Filipinos, how they fail to encapsulate our lived experiences, and how they elide so much of our political realities in the United States. We speak with Dr. Anthony Ocampo, Associate Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and author of the renowned book The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race.
Listen as Anthony talks about Filipino Americans ambiguous belonging to Asian America and what Filipinos need to do to advance from our marginalized position under the Asian American category and in the United States at large. Later, we have a great conversation about his future book project on the experiences of LGTBQ persons of color. Also, we find out what race Ryan really is!
How do you identify? Do you believe Filipino American are Asian or any other category? Drop us a line on our voicemail, (805) 394-TFAL (8325)!
Jun 19 2018
Rank #2: Episode 20 – Pop Culture and Cultural Appropriation
On this episode of This Filipino American Life, the crew talks about their experiences with pop culture before hashing things out with pop culture scholar and fellow Pop Rocket podcaster, Karen Tongson. Find out who in the crew loves Steven Universe, music, food, gambling, and sports. (Hint hint: it’s someone in the picture.) Also listen as we decipher how appropriation plays into pop culture.
What is your pop culture wheelhouse? Let us know! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a voice message, or even text us your thoughts at (805) 394-TFAL.
Jan 18 2018
Rank #3: Episode 98 – Filipino Funerals, Spirits, and the Afterlife
Death is a natural part of life. All of us have experience with death, whether it’s among our family, our friends, or even folks we barely know. With death comes customs and rituals associated with it that we, the living, perform and practice. For example, many pre-colonial peoples of the Philippines believed that one had to go through a voyage on a boat to the afterlife. As such, many coffins and burial jars incorporate a sailing vessel in its design.
In this episode, the TFAL crew explores funerals, spirits, and the afterlife. Listen as we discuss Filipino customs such as 9-day novenas, blocking mirrors after someone has passed, and not being able to take food home from a wake. We also talk about our thoughts about what the afterlife will be like! With Halloween and Day of the Dead (Araw ng mga Patay) coming up, we thought it would be a good time to discuss some of our Filipino traditions when it comes to the “other world.”
Share some of your experiences with Filipino and Filipino American funeral customs by emailing us at email@example.com, or call us at (805) 394-TFAL!
Oct 16 2019
Rank #4: Episode 103 – On Filipino American Nationalism(s) with Vicente Rafael
Many Filipinos and Filipino Americans tend to identify as such without question or sense of history of how these categories emerge historically. In this TFAL episode, Joe speaks to his advisor and mentor in graduate school, Dr. Vicente Rafael, about the various formations and iterations of Filipino and Filipino American nationalism. Dr. Rafael is a Professor in History at the University of Washington, and author of critical works in Philippine Studies such as Contracting Colonialism, White Love, The Promise of the Foreign, and Motherless Tongues.
Listen as they discuss Rafael’s career as a life-long academic, the short, tenuous history of the Philippine nation, and the various social and political movements that shape Filipino life in the United States. It was a true honor to interview one of the foremost Filipino scholars. We hope you enjoy this podcast episode.
Have a question or comment about this episode? Let us know by leaving us a voicemail, (805) 394-TFAL, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec 04 2019
Rank #5: Episode 92 – Fading Cultural Practices
Do you still mano po? Do you still call your siblings ate/kuya or manang/manong/ading? Do you know the recipes that your grandparents used in their cooking? Do you miss the local Filipino restaurant or store that no longer exists? Do you wear barongs or baro’t saya? What markers of Filipino culture do you still preserve in your family and community?
As Filipino Americans, many cultural practices that many of us grew up with may be slowly fading away. Some may completely vanish, but others may still be preserved. Many practices may even take on new forms, yet keep the same meaning behind them. Change is inevitable in this fast-paced world, but what cultural practices get preserved in our community and why? In this episode, the TFAL crew discusses some cultural practices that our parents and grandparents may have passed on to us, but are slowly changing due to the realities of living in the United States.
What aspects of Filipino culture have faded away? What aspects do you still practice? Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at email@example.com.
(Photo credit: thinkingwithb.blogspot.com)
Aug 14 2019
Rank #6: Episode 110 – The Social Distance Edition: TFAL on Facebook Live
Coronavirus is here. We’re all required to practice social distancing. For many of us, this type of isolation is normal, for others, not so much. Despite these government mandates, we here at TFAL must continue, if only for our own sanity. This past week, Elaine, Joe, Ryan, and Producer Mike came together virtually and streamed a Zoom conference call discussing our respective experiences with social distancing. Listen as we discuss our current situations, dealing with our aging parents, adventures into grocery stores (Filipino and non-Filipino alike), strategies of maintaining mental health, and stories of xenophobic incidents aimed at Asian Americans.
The current crisis is hard on all of us, both physically with the virus and mentally with the social isolation. It’s on all of us to help each other out. This is our way of lightening the mood. Through the duration of this crisis, we hope to host more online sessions, so please join us on FB Live. Hopefully, this online version of TFAL will give you a bit of laughter and thought through these grim times.
How are you dealing with the Coronavirus crisis and social distancing? Let us know by calling us at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get through this together!
Mar 19 2020
Rank #7: Episode 26.5 – Filipino American Weddings
(Photo Credit: In The Clouds Events)
The union of two people is a very momentous occasion and the catalyst for much celebration throughout human history. Weddings signify many things from the love of two people, the alliance of two families, and the coming together of a community.
Weddings also signify exclusion. Marriages were and still are elusive to many people. In decades past, people of color (including Filipino Americans) were forbidden from marrying Whites in many states of this country. The LGBTQ community was not able to partake in marriages legally until recently (and even its legality is on shaky ground at this day and age). Weddings (at least extravagant ones anyway) can exclude those without the means.
And yet, weddings continue to be prevalent in our communities. They provide an opportunity to experience some cultural traditions. Jumping the broom. Riding a white horse. Wearing something blue. Many of these traditions are ways the married couple can share a part of themselves with people they love.
In this TFAL mini-episode, the crew discusses Filipino and Filipino American wedding traditions. A mixture of Filipino, Spanish, and American traditions, many Filipino American weddings have a certain formula to them. We talk about some of them and more!
Which Filipino or Filipino American wedding traditions do you know of? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com or call our voicemail, (805) 394-TFAL (8325)!
Aug 02 2018
Rank #8: Episode 99 – Weaving Filipino Cultures and Communities: A Conversation with Anthill Fabric Gallery
In this special TFAL episode, we get to know two Pinay visionaries of Anthill Fabric Gallery: Co-founder and Managing Director Anya Lim and Team Performance Coach Elisa Estrera. Anthill Fabric Gallery creates beautiful, contemporary, handmade clothing and accessories by putting culture and communities first. Headquartered in Cebu, Anthill partners with various indigenous, rural, and working class communities throughout the Philippines. By helping members of these communities sharpen their creative and business skills, strengthen family ties, pass down cultural practices, and expand the markets for their work, Anthill has created a strong ecosystem of cultural bearers, designers, business administrators, community developers, and proud weave-wearers. Through this ecosystem, Anthill cultivates sustainable living conditions for every person involved in creating and selling its products. As more “fast fashion” lines fall by the wayside, like Forever 21, we are inspired by Anthill’s approach of putting people, culture and communities first.
Listen in as Anya and Elisa share how Anthill was founded, surprises they experienced during the beginning of the company, important lessons they’ve learned along the way, and where they see Anthill in the near future.
While this recording took place two days before their first two pop-ups in Los Angeles, chat with them in person in San Francisco on Thursday, October 24, and in New York City on Sunday, October 27. Visit their Facebook (@AnthillFabricGallery) or Instagram (@AnthillFabric) pages for exact times and locations.
PC: Producer Mike & gonegosyo.net
Oct 23 2019
Rank #9: Episode 109 – Documenting Filipino American Stories: A Conversation with Marissa Aroy
Documentaries are essential for our community. There are certainly a number of good films that document the Filipino and Filipino American experience – Delano Manongs, The Fall of the I-Hotel, Imelda, The Learning, Bontoc Eulogy, to name a few. These films are so important in spreading awareness of our people’s history and culture and keeping our stories alive. Without them, we will be further doomed to ignorance and irrelevance. But how does one begin to make a documentary?
In this episode of TFAL, the crew interviews award-winning filmmaker, Marissa Aroy. Listen as we discuss her journey into making film documentaries, her passion for the Filipino American community, the rise of mini-docs, and what it’s like to be a woman of color in the largely white, male film documentary industry. The crew also talks documentaries, their favorites, and the documentary films they would make if they were actually filmmakers…and had the money!
Do you have any great ideas for Filipino/Filipino American documentaries? Let us know your thoughts, (805) 394-TFAL or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, to support Marissa Aroy’s latest film project on the Philippine American War (very very needed!), go her this link here.
Mar 11 2020
Rank #10: Episode 22.5 – Filipino and Filipino American Slang
Naks naman, pre!
Everyday, we hear a new term or phrase or acronym that we totes have to google. With the ever evolving ways of communicating, we can expect some of our words and phrases to be shortened and even more so, turn into widely-used slang.
Slang has multiple uses. It can be used for inclusion. People use slang to create and reinforce a people’s identity through a shared network of communication. On the other side of the coin, slang can be used for exclusion as well, essentially demarcating who’s in the know and who isn’t. Slang can also be a way to rebel. Many people use slang as coded or hidden words to conceal meanings from those in authority. The use of slang among Filipinos and Filipino Americans is no different We have used slang to include, exclude, and rebel in many forms.
On this TFAL mini episode, we discuss Filipino and Filipino American slang. We explore Filipino “tadbalik,” the practice of inverting and reversing letters and syllables of words to give them new meanings, which is believed to have developed among Filipinos rebelling against the Spanish in the 19th century. It also gained popularity anti-martial law youth in the 1970s. Likewise, we discuss slang among Filipino Americans. Though fewer in number, Fil Ams have developed a unique identity through slang as well.
We only shared a few slang words, but do you know others?? If you want to share some Filipino or Filipino American slang that was hella popular where you grew up, feel free to email us or leave a comment below!
EDITOR’S NOTE: CON-ASS is Constituent Assembly, not Congressional Assembly. =)
Apr 05 2018
Rank #11: Bonus Episode – TFAL talks Crazy Rich Asians
On this bonus episode the TFAL crew talks about the recent phenomenon that is Crazy Rich Asians. The popular novel by Kevin Kwan debuted in 2013. The film premieres this month with high expectations. Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, and director Jon M. Chu grace the cover of Hollywood Reporter with the cover story The Stakes Are High for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ — And That’s the Point.
Constance Wu shared why this film is a monumental moment for Asian Americans. Crazy Rich Asians is the first blockbuster film with a predominantly Asian American cast in twenty years. Nico Santos is a part of the cast and Kris Aquino makes an appearance, but does this film have a larger impact on Filipino Americans? Is the story reflective of our own stories? Does it have to be? We discuss these issues and more on this bonus episode.
— Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) August 1, 2018
What are your thoughts on Crazy Rich Asians? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com or call our voicemail, (805) 394-TFAL (8325)!
Aug 09 2018
Rank #12: 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 394-TFAL.
Jun 05 2017
Rank #13: Episode 20.5 – Walang Hiya
“Ay nako…walang hiya ka!” or “Walang hiya si ________.” Many of us have heard these phrases before. It may be the ultimate insult, or the start of a juicy gossip story. But what is hiya?
Hiya closely translates to “shame” in English. To say “walang hiya” is to accuse someone of having no shame. It’s a form of social relations embedded in Filipino culture with countless unwritten rules. It’s a way for Filipinos to regulate themselves in a community. It’s a tool to discipline and socialize their children. While it’s also a vehicle to maintain class status and create false aspirations and desires, in some ways, hiya can also serve to level hierarchical power structures even for a brief moment.
In this TFAL episode, we discuss a bit of our experiences with this concept of hiya. How does it bind us together? How does is restrict us? How do we navigate and negotiate the rules of hiya in our families? How is hiya still with us in the United States? We only scratch the surface, but hopefully it’ll lead to new revelations and discoveries.
What are your experiences with hiya? Let us know! Email us at email@example.com, leave a voice message, or even text us your thoughts at (805) 394-TFAL.
Feb 06 2018
Rank #14: Throwback Episode – Filipino Ethnic Enclaves: Do They Exist? Do We Need Them?
Earlier this month the Los Angeles Times ran the column Here’s how HiFi, or Historic Filipinotown, got its name by Frank Shyong. In the column Frank quotes TFAL’s Joe Bernardo and mentions Episode 85 – Filipino Ethnic Enclaves: Do They Exist? Do We Need Them?
Head to the LA Times and read the full column and then take a listen to this throwback episode of TFAL!
What are your thoughts about Frank Shyong’s column? What would your ideal Filipinotown look like? Let us know at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan 15 2020
Rank #15: Episode 104 – Hilaw Pa 3.0
Hilaw Pa is back with its third edition! If you’re new to TFAL, Hilaw Pa is a recurring segment in which the TFAL crew proposes random half-baked ideas related to the Filipino Americans that should exist in this world, but someone else should make it happen. In this edition of Hilaw Pa, the crew comes up with new ideas that every Filipino American needs, whether it’s a new Filipino fusion dish, a way to tip Filipino workers abroad, or a new air freshener for your car. You might love our ideas or poo-poo on them, but we guarantee that you’ll laugh as much as we did.
Do you have any half-baked ideas to share? Or do you want to execute on any of the ideas we came up with? Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at email@example.com.
Dec 11 2019
Rank #16: Episode 23 – Filipino Healing Traditions w/ Herbalaria
If you grew up in a Filipino household, it’s possible that you’ve had experiences with natural medicines or remedies — from your parents use of the aloe vera plant on a burn to the use of tawas as underarm deodorant.
For TFAL co-host Ryan, he would have never known the healing effects of ginger root had his dad not ground some up, created some paste with it, spread it on his sprained ankle, and wrapped it up with cloth as he recited a little prayer. Although the use ginger root or other herbs and plants are very effective, it is sometimes looked upon as too simple or inadequate in the eyes of Western/modern medicine practitioners. Who knows what Western medicine’s comment would be regarding that prayer?!
In reality, Filipino traditional healing is extremely complex. Although it can sometimes be as simple as using ginger in your tea, Filipino healing traditions encompass faith, intentionality, and connectivity to nature, which all have their own specific guidelines and processes. We all have a connection to our parents and nature, but are we aware enough to know how to channel it or know its power?
On this episode of This Filipino American Life, we discuss Filipino healing traditions with Lyn Pacificar, an albularya or traditional folk herbalist/spiritual healer, and her partner Gilbert. Lyn comes from a long line of Filipino healers and mystics. Her dad, a hilot from the islands of Leyte and Samar in the Philippines, while her mom hails from the Islands of Mindanao, Panay, and Bohol–all within the Western Visayan region of the Philippines. Lyn uses a combination of modalities including prayers, ritual, diagnostic readings, and ancestral communication to achieve a certain goal for the recipient. Throughout our discussion Lyn explains her vocation and speaks to the power of our own pre-colonial methods of healing.
Join the TFAL crew as we explore our own experiences with natural healing we learned from our families. We share our thoughts on Western medicine, talk about the healing effects of different natural plants and herbs, and discuss how our pre-colonial healing traditions meld with our Catholic faith. Her inspiring life’s work sets out to re-invigorate people to unearth those hidden memories within our souls, reminding us how we truly lived in harmony with Mother Earth. Have a listen.
Did you grow up or do you practice Filipino healing traditions? Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave us a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL, or write us a comment below!
Finally, check out Lyn Pacificar and her awesome products on her website!
Apr 18 2018
Rank #17: Episode 95 – Filipino American Gangs, Part 2: Law Enforcement
Historically, police departments have had a history of tense and even hostile relations with communities of color, with the Los Angeles Police Department as one of the most notorious. Looking back as far as the 1960’s and 1970’s, the LAPD has had police chiefs at the helm whose approach to law enforcement was not only aggressive, but paramilitary. What emerged in the later decades from the 80’s into the early 2000’s was an LAPD culture that was “anti-gang” equipped with policies with the intent of harassment, beatings, killings, and making lots of arrests.
Three years ago when we released our third podcast episode – “Filipino American Gangs in SoCal: Where are you from and where are you now?” – we wanted to look back at a time when gang crime was at its peak in California and how it affected Filipino American lives. On this episode, we wanted to extend that conversation. But, this time, we reflect back through eyes of our guest, decorated LAPD Gang Detective, Craig Marquez. Craig talks to us about growing up in Hawaii, becoming a cop, and, of course, Filipino American gangs. We look back what policing was like in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and discuss what it’s evolved to today. TFAL talks about gang injunctions, the “Rampart Scandal,” systematic oppression of communities of color, and we even share our own experiences growing up not only fearing gangs, but fearing cops.
Whether or not we have mixed emotions about the law enforcement system as a whole, we hope we continue to remain vigilant and hopeful that law enforcement can truly protect and serve ALL people. Having the presence of Filipino Americans, like Craig, in law enforcement can perhaps be a small step in getting there.
Have any opinions about Filipino American gangs and law enforcement? Leave a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at email@example.com.
Sep 18 2019
Rank #18: 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).
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:
- Pilipino Workers Center (Los Angeles)
- Filipino Migrant Center (Long Beach)
- Filipinos Advocates for Justice (Oakland)
- Damayan Migrant Workers Association (New York)
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Nation-wide)
- Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (Los Angeles)
May 25 2017
Rank #19: Episode 16.5 – TFAL goes to the Bay: Voicemails / Filipino Folklore
Once upon a time…we started a podcast.
Storytelling is one of the most fun ways we communicate in our podcast – sometimes through deep reflection and other times through funny interpretations of our past. More importantly, it was a way our parents, grandparents, or teachers were able to communicate important lessons and morals to us as we grew up. It was a way to engage young minds, and perhaps a vehicle for inspiration.
On this mini episode, TFAL Crew is joined by Roger Habon and Rhean Fajardo, members of our TFAL family, as we share fables, stories, and legends that some of us grew up hearing. We look at Filipino folk tales that our parents and grandparents have passed on to us. Discover with us the legend of the pineapple, who is afraid of the “white lady” and why you shouldn’t be eating red meat with tea!
Plus, listen to our fans who have left us voicemails asking important questions about Filipino American food and identity.
In honor of Filipino American History Month, we record from Arkipelago Books, a Filipino bookstore in the SoMa Pilipinas district in San Francisco. They have been a great pillar to the Filipino American community in the Bay and our gracious hosts for this episode.
Whether written or told, share our stories, pass on your own, and discuss. Let’s learn together and not be Juan Tamad about it.
Oct 03 2017
Rank #20: Episode 28.5 – Stockton’s Little Manila, Journey for Justice, and the Legacy of Dawn Mabalon
Stockton, California, an agricultural city in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, was the center of Filipino life in the United States for much of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1920s, thousands of Filipinos called Stockton home. The intersection of El Dorado and Lafayette Streets in downtown Stockton was the heart of what was fondly called Little Manila. Yet, much of this rich history is unknown to most of America, and sadly, to the majority of Filipino Americans.
However, the history of Stockton’s was not lost to one Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon. Dawn was a born and raised Pinay Stocktonian who spearheaded the reclamation of Stockton’s Filipino American history. As developers threatened to demolish the three remaining buildings of Little Manila, she helped to organize community members to stop the further erasure of Filipinos in the city. Ever the scholar, Dawn also documented the history of Stockton’s Filipinos in her much lauded book, Little Manila is in the Heart. She was truly a pioneering scholar and leader of the Filipino American community.
Dawn Mabalon. August 17, 1972 – August 10, 2018.
TFAL was set to interview Dawn Mabalon along with two other community leaders on August 19. However, Dawn passed away a week prior to the recording. In this episode of TFAL, Joe and Gerlie speak with two of her compatriots, Gayle Romasanta, co-author with Dawn of Journey for Justice, a children’s book about the life of labor leader Larry Itliong, and Dillon Delvo, Executive Director of Little Manila Rising, an organization dedicated to the well-being of Filipinos in Stockton. In the episode, Gayle and Dillon remember the life and legacy of Dawn Mabalon, her impact in their respective work, and the importance of reclaiming our history as Filipino Americans.
To donate to the good work of Little Manila Rising, go to their website here: http://www.littlemanila.org/donate/
To purchase Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, go here: https://www.bridgedelta.com/purchase/journey-for-justice-the-life-of-larry-itliong
For more on the history of Stockton’s Little Manila, check out this video:
To see the power of Dawn Mabalon, check out her speech during the dedication of Little Manila in 2002:
Oct 01 2018