How do you celebrate or keep your AAPI roots alive in your daily life?
As a Filipino-American, I celebrate my culture as it revolves around two things: family and food. Cooking is a love language that is an ode to our Filipino heritage. Food brings our family together to embrace, to be thankful, and to honor those that came before us. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation. The meals we share come from our ancestors, and they are a timeless reminder of our love for each other and the deeper appreciation for our kultura. Food is family; food is history; food is love.
What does your AAPI heritage mean to you?
There is a saying I have known for many years that goes: “Know history, know self; no history, no self.” To me, my Filipino heritage means never forgetting to honor my roots and remembering the sacrifices that were made before me which allow me to pursue my dreams today. As a third generation Filipino-American, I grew up knowing very little about where my family came from. As I got older, I became more interested in Tagalog, our food, and our ancestral traditions. In high school, I was the President of our Filipino-American culture club, and I not only learned more about my own history, but I had a shared identity with others who also wanted to embrace our Filipino heritage. Understanding where my family came from and the struggles they endured helps me realize who I am today as an individual. Because of this, I remind myself to always be thankful, work hard, and above all else, help others pursue their own passions in life.
What AAPI mentors have inspired or influenced you and in what ways?
The biggest mentor in my life is my mother. Growing up being raised by a single mother had the single most influential impact on my identity. My mother taught me how to work hard, put others before yourself, and to do all things in kindness and love. To this day, I owe all of my achievements and accolades to her because she instilled those principles in me at a very young age which I continue to in my professional career. My mother taught me that despite the adversity that stands in the way between you and what you want to achieve, always remain true to yourself. She showed me that the best version of who you want to be tomorrow, starts with the best version of who you are today. Because of my mother, I am the person I am today, and I would not be in this position without her continued love and guidance.