Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#WCW feature Mary

Hello Friends!
So I'm back with another #WCW for Filipino American History Month and today I'm featuring Mary! The first time I saw her was through one of her videos that a friend had posted and then she commented on one of my pictures on instagram. So I started following her, and she post some of the funniest things that are so relateable to the Filipino culture. So of coarse I reached out to her to be one of my #WCW and she agreed which made me so happy, so find out more about her in the article! 
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born on an Air Force Base in Turkey to an American dad and a Filipina mom.  We moved to the Philippines to live on Clark Air Force Base when I was 3 and left for the States when I was 6.  My mom is from Pampanga so I got to spend a lot of time with my family off base, at the barrio.  Even though it was a short time, I vividly remember going to the sari-sari store with my cousins, swimming with the caribou and eating fresh sugar cane from my Apu’s (Grandma’s) farm. When we left for the States and my dad retired from the military, we settled in a little Virginia town.  I was there from 1st grade to age 22 when I left for California and have been here ever since.  I like to say I grew up in Virginia and matured in California.
What’s your favorite thing about being Filipino-American?
I get the best of both worlds!  I’m so honored to have lived there and seen with my own eyes the difference between the Philippines and the US.  In the Philippines, the technology is not as advanced.  People still plant crops by hand, use water buffalos to sow fields, use sickles to cut crops while working 12-16 hours a day.  A lot of hard, manual labor still fuels many families.  Here, you can hold a sign for $10 an hour and on your way home complain about how your Starbucks coffee wasn’t sweet enough.  My point is hearing my mom’s stories of when she was younger and having family there, make me truly appreciate who I am and where I come from.  My Filipino side keeps my American side humble. 

How has being Filipino-American influenced your life?
Growing up in Virginia, there were no other Filipinos around.  No other mixed, Fil-Am kids like myself.  I was never white enough for the white kids or black enough for the black kids.  It wasn’t until I moved out to San Diego when I was 22, that I found Fil-Am communities.  In Virginia, I was just ‘the brown girl’.  Being Filipino-American has become who I am and has given me a place to belong. 

How did you start making videos on YouTube?
I used to send silly videos to my cousins and friends to tell stories.  Texting takes too long and you can’t get the dramatic suspense through text like you can in a video.  I love making my friends and family laugh.  I had a silly idea for a song and sent the idea to my cousins to think of lines.  With their help, I came up with the lyrics to my parody song about Filipino food called, Pinoy Pood.  It’s a parody of Meghan Trainor’s, All About That Bass.  I also do voice overs so I have a little home studio.  I recorded the song, just for fun and sent it back to my cousins.  They loved it so I started sharing it with my friends.  I have a friend that owns a production company and he suggested we shoot a music video for it.  I thought it was silly at first but thought it would be a fun video my family and I could cherish and laugh about.  Once we shot the video, he suggested I put it on YouTube and Facebook.  I never thought so many people would get it and enjoy it!
Where do you get in inspiration for your videos?
I definitely refer to my family a lot.  I draw a lot from personal experiences.  I see it as storytelling.  A story a lot of us share, like the stick broom.  All of our mom’s had one growing up.  And it doesn’t matter what new gadget comes out to sweep floors, my mom and Auntie’s will NEVER give up their stick broom and swear it cleans the floors the best.  Or how there’s no letter ‘F’ in the Philippines.  That’s why my Apu (Grandma) couldn’t pronounce my childhood pet’s name, Taffy.  I like to share stories and experiences that a lot of people can relate to!  It’s almost like a brotherhood or secret camaraderie we have with other’s when we can communicate only using our eyebrows and lips.  I love it.  There is a fine line though, I never want to be offensive or make fun.  I never want to come across as being mean-spirited.  I always try to present my material as celebrating our culture. 

On your YouTube channel I see you have tried different types of Lumpia’s which one is your favorite?
Cheese is my weakness.  I would have to say one of my favorite creations was the Bacon, Mac & Cheese lumpia.  It was buttery and gooey with the salt from the bacon, just right.  I also adore Ube.  I did one with Ube Kalamay & macapuno strings.  Amazing.  The ube is not too sweet.  I defiantly have more of the Filipino palate because I don’t like a lot of sweet stuff.  So the ube mixed with the jelly texture of the coconut was fantastic.  I actually just made a new flavor yesterday.  Pumpkin pie lumpia!  I’m working on a video for that one as well.
What are some of your goals or dreams in life?
I would love to keep making videos and content for my Filipino-American community.  I love sharing my culture as well as showing people new things.  Recently, I had some Latino friends try balut and bagoong for the first time.  Filipino food is coming up and becoming more and more popular.  I want to be a part of the movement.  I want to help make Filipino food mainstream, even if it’s 1 crazy, craft lumpia flavor at a time. 

Who inspires you and why?
My Apu is the strongest woman I ever knew.  When she was 14 she had to wear boy’s clothing to prevent from being raped by Japanese soldiers.  She raised her 7 children all by herself, all on her own.  She helped raised all her grand kids, lived with us a couple years here and there so we all knew her and were very close to her.  She spoke no English but understood everything.  I have a tattoo on my arm that symbolizes her and I wear it on my sleeve so that I’m reminded that she is a strong woman and if my Apu could build and care for such a strong and loving family all on her own, I am her granddaughter and I can do ANYTHING.
Have you ever faced any adversities as a Filipina in America and if you have how did you overcome them?
Sometimes I still face adversities on a daily basis.  It’s a little opposite, it’s more like as an American to the Filipinos.  When people look at me, they usually think I’m Hawaiian or Mexican.  I was telling someone I work with that I was going to be a guest on a Fil-Am talk show called: Kababayan Today.  He said, ‘Why?  You’re not Filipino’.  I was like, ‘Uh, yeah I am.  I’m Filipino & American’.  And then he called me a fake Filipino.  That has always kind of struck a chord with me.  Growing up, I was always worried that I wasn’t ‘Filipino enough.’  I speak some Kapampangan but I’m not fluent.  I eat adobo but not dinuguan or tuyo.  That was my biggest fear when I first started making videos, that I wouldn’t be ‘Filipino enough’ and that I’m too big to be accepted by the community.  Since making videos, I’ve been embraced and welcomed to the community.  That has helped me overcome my insecurities and I see now that we all share the same thing.  We are all proud of our culture and so happy to support anything that showcases it. 
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to pursue something they love? 
Always keep moving forward.  Even if it’s a step at a time, an inch at a time, just keep moving forward.  You can never learn too much about what you love.  Whether it’s an online course, a workshop, a YouTube video, you need to know as much as you can in what you want to pursue so you know what to expect.  Sometimes I get frustrated because I haven’t landed that dream voice over job yet but I have to take a step back and look at what all the baby steps over the past year has added up to.  Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming.  It’s good to have that in sight but I like to look at the small conquests.  As long as you don’t give up and keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll get there and all those small conquests will add up to something amazing!

Thank you Mary for letting me feature you on my blog! I look forward to seeing what you put out on your YouTube channel, if you want to check out her channel Click (here)! 

XOXO - Nina
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