Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Filipino American History Month Feature - #WCW Joanne

Hey Friends!!!
Do you remember me saying I have some fun things planed for the blog in October? Well it's October and it's Pilipino/Filipino American History Month also know as PAHM/FAHM. I have been wanting to celebrate this month in some way on the blog because I'm really proud of my heritage and it's such a big part of who I am. Last year I styled a Filipino barong for an outfit, (here) and this year I'm doing something a little different, every Wednesday I'm going to do a Women Crush Wednesday #WCW and feature an amazing Filipino-American women, this week I'm featuring Joanne Boston, continue reading to learn more about her.
So the first #WCW for October is Joanne, she started following me on instagram and I followed her back. Then I saw her post about something called Filipino Food Movement which showcases Filipino food and thought it was amazing what she was doing with this movement. I really love how she is helping showcase Filipino food and bringing it to the masses and letting people know what its all about and I find that inspiring which is why I asked if I could feature her on my blog and she said yes! 

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Joanne Boston. I was born in San Francisco and have lived in the SF Bay Area for all my life. I have a wonderful husband of 5 years and I currently work as an oncology medical reimbursement specialist at a private practice in the City. I am also currently Vice President of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization called The Filipino Food Movement. I'm like their social media manager slash community net worker. I love meeting others who are as enthusiastic about food, musicals, and LIFE as I am. I am a big kid at heart, so I am down to do anything fun!

Where are you or your parents from in the Philippines?

My parents are from Umingan, Pangasinan. It's about 3-4 hours north of Metro Manila.

How has being Filipino-American influenced your life?

I always knew I was Filipino since I was a kid. Ilocano was spoken to me by my grandparents and family throughout my childhood. Filipino dishes like pinakbet, tinola and balatong were common at our kitchen table. I also believe that because I am a daughter of an immigrant, I saw things from a unique perspective. I was used to the hundreds of family members coming to the house for random visits. And those hundreds of visitors always brought food! I saw all the celebrations complete with giants platters of ulam, purple ube cakes and karaoke. I saw how hard my mom and aunts and uncles worked in blue collar jobs to get by and to send money back to the Philippines. My life now has been influenced by both Filipino customs and the American way. It's interesting to be part of two different cultures. I am a cross between adobong manok and a McChicken sandwich!

I have embraced being Filipino-American and it was pretty easy to do so because I went to a high school which was predominantly Filipino in Daly City. We all had that in common and it was never hard for us to express our "Filipino-ness." In fact, my schools, both high school and college encouraged us to explore that side of us - which I am so grateful for. Being a Filipino-American to me means that we know the struggle of our elders and we will do what it takes to make them proud. Immigrant families went through tough times just for us to have a future here. We feel indebted to them and because of that, many of us are striving to validate their choice for coming here in the first place and show them it was worth it.
Have you ever faced any adversities as a Filipina in America and if you have how did you overcome them?

While I have never been discriminated against BECAUSE I was a Filipina, I have been because of my appearance. In high school, majority of us were Filipino and I was never in a scenario where I was scared I wouldn't fit in anywhere. Not all my friends were Filipino either, so I am grateful that my group of friends accepted one other regardless of what ethnicity we were. However, I did feel I was shafted at times because I was not the "right" type of Filipina. I call it the Maria Clara effect. I'm short, I have darker tan skin, I am plus-sized, I have a wider nose, I have more junk in the trunk...and the glove compartment...and the center console. The "ideal" image of a Filipina is long, black hair, porcelain skin, thin stature, aquiline nose, and the grace and poise of a queen. Imelda Marcos. Even looking at the superstars in Philippine showbiz, there is no way I would fit in. Even so, I do not want to change any part of me. I know that my work experience and quirky personality are great just the way they are. I never used my appearance as a way to get ahead. Even today, I always find ways to better myself and experience life in my own way. I do tons of solo trips and excursions. I told myself that the best person I can be with is myself. Once I learned that, I was more comfortable in my own skin and doing things on my own and accomplishing things on my own. San Francisco is the perfect place to do that because it's such a walkable City and there is always something to do and see out here!
Can you tell me about Filipino food movement and how you’re involved with it?

I like to say that the "Filipino Food Movement" are two entities - one being the non-profit I am involved with and two being the collective effort that chefs, restaurants, media and food lovers participate in. Basically anyone and everyone can be part of the Filipino food movement. I am one of the board of directors right now and I manage social media for the Filipino Food Movement platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. I post 4-5 food photos that are from homecooks, eaters and chefs. Each day is different and it is so amazing to see all the feedback - they range from "omg" to "I miss this" to "ew #sorrynotsorry" to "@soinso when do you wanna get this?" Not everyone can be pleased with the photos, but that's the reality of Filipino food. People who love it already will always love it and people who are new to it ask questions about the certain dishes to get educated. Many people ask for recipes. Others just like the food porn because it reminds them of their childhoods. This movement is such a beautiful thing because it has resulted in some of the most fantastic collaborations I have ever seen. Chefs and food enthusiasts are traveling to different cities and countries just to cook Filipino food. The camaraderie and the dishes that result from these meetings are remarkable. This shows me that these chefs want to advance our people and to give Filipino food the image that we have always seen but has never been appreciated by other cultures.

What is your favorite Filipino food?

My favorite food is chicken and pork adobo. It's so simple to make and it hits the spot every single time. Who knew vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, and meat makes for the best dish ever?! I need extra rice with it too.
What’s your favorite thing about being Filipino-American?
I love our culture's togetherness AND love for food (of course). My friends always want to get together to eat and sing. The Filipino festivals remind me of how proud people are to be Filipino. I see so many people wearing their Philippine colors and shirts with the flag's sun and stars. I see them congregating over pulutan and beer. I see them praying over the food. I see them talking chismis when they roll lumpia. I just love how family-oriented our people are.
Who inspires you and why?

My mom! She has worked so hard ever since she came here from the Philippines in her early 20's. She worked two jobs, raised a family single-handedly, and still managed to build herself a home in the Philippines. She's Superwoman. I also admire Michelle Obama because she empowers women of color and makes us realize our worth. She values education and she just carries herself so well. I love how eloquent she is while having a sense of humor. Plus, her style is amazing. We all know the world has its trolls and bashers, but she eats them for breakfast.

What are some of your goals and dreams in life?

I hope to be a mother one day. My husband has been waiting patiently! Being a mom will just make me so happy and fulfilled. Work-wise, I would love to open a Filipino food resource center in Daly City - where I live currently. Daly City is also known as "Little Manila" or "Manilatown" because of the dense Filipino population. I think this would be a perfect place for a resource center where people can learn about the history and techniques of Filipino cooking. My dream is to have a library filled with cookbooks and Filipino food publications, a drive-through window where rotating chefs can sell one or two of their signature dishes, and a multi-purpose room where we can hold events and workshops. Also a spit for roasting a pig would be just awesome. Just a place where the community can come together and learn and eat with each other. By the time someone leaves the center, I want their bellies and minds satisfied and wanting for more.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to pursue something they love? 

You have to keep pushing. There are going to be times where you second-guess yourself and wonder why you are still doing what you're doing - especially if things seem stagnant. I have been doing community work for over 10 years now, and throughout the ten years, I was working full-time and going to school. My community work isn't my full-time day job, but I love it so much that I cannot stop doing it. I hope that my work in the Filipino community does become my main source of income in the future. It will be hard and at times it would feel that there are only 12 hours in a day rather than 24, but keep pushing. It is also very important to keep learning. Education is so important for growth. I still like going to seminars, classes, and workshops. The more you learn, the better your odds of finding inspiration and conjuring up new ideas. But most importantly, just do you. Think about what you want to accomplish and believe in yourself. If you see yourself doing it, you can make it happen. Don't let anyone's negativity bring you down. You know you the best. BUT! There will be people who will disagree with you or just be plain mean. It's vital to have a support system who will keep you on track - mentors, people within your community or industry, or even friends and family not associated with your work who can take you out for a breather when things get overwhelming. Finding balance will keep your mental health at peace.

So keep pushing, keep learning, do you, and find a support system.

Thank you Joanne for letting me feature you on my blog and thank you all for reading. Come back every Wednesday in October to see a new #WCW feature on the blog! Have a great day! 

XOXO - Nina
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