New Year, New Volunteers

By Trish Fontanilla

Today I feel like one of those franchise owners that gets to announce a new roster! 2019 is going to be a big year for BOSFilipinos, and I’m so incredibly excited to introduce you to a few of the folks that are going to make that happen. Take a moment to peruse their bios, then show them some love by commenting below or messaging them on social!


Hyacinth Empinado // Multimedia Content Contributor & Editor

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Hyacinth is a multimedia journalist at STAT News, an online life sciences publication. She creates mini documentaries and animation, and also produces The Readout LOUD, a weekly biotech podcast. In her spare time, she enjoys playing Zelda, learning Japanese and Chinese, and turning her apartment into a jungle. 

Lightning Round Questions
Where are you from? Cebu, Philippines 
Fave Filipino Dish
: Dinuguan and buwad (dried fish) with rice and vinegar
Fave Boston spot: I like to see shows at the Huntington Theatre and the American Repertory Theater. I also enjoy going to Santouka in Cambridge for a nice bowl of ramen. 
Social media: @sayhitohyacinth on Twitter and Instagram 


Melissa Obleada // Marketing Contributor & Liaison

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Melissa Obleada is the Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager at HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company in Cambridge. Originally from New Jersey, she attended Emerson College in Boston to study marketing and has been here ever since.

Lightning Round Questions
Fave Filipino Dish: “100% my mom's lengua in a mushroom sauce, then my mom's arroz caldo with generous fried garlic, lemon, and fish sauce, then pandesal on Christmas Day with leftover ham & cheese from the night before.”
Fave Boston spot: The Esplanade and Harvard Square
Social media: @MelissaObleada on everything (Twitter / Instagram)


Reina Adriano // Blog Contributor

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Reina is completing her Master's in Finance this March 2019. She loves math and writing as well as learning about things and people that make an impact on the world. Reina also hopes that one day the world will take a chance on her. (aka please hire her).

Lightning Round Questions
Where are you from? Quezon City but I have Bicolano roots in Legazpi, Albay
Fave Filipino Dish: Pork Sisig!
Fave Boston spot: The Boston Public Library
Social media: @reinagination on IG and reinagination.wordpress.com


Mihaela (Mihae) Hinayon // Designer

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Mihae is a freelance graphic designer working with local clients in retail, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing. She designs anything from print collaterals, packaging, and large format graphics, to user interfaces and webpages, mostly from her home office slash urban jungle. Born and raised in the Philippines, Mihae moved to Rhode Island in 2011 and currently lives in Providence, RI with her husband and their four-year-old Tibetan Terrier, Finley (@finleytheexplorer).


Lightning Round Questions
Fave Filipino Dish: My all-time faves are kaldereta and buko salad but right now I'm definitely craving pancit canton and lumpia
Fave Boston spot: New England Aquarium
Social media: @mihaehinayon (Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn)


And if you find that this new volunteer piece has inspired you to become a volunteer, just send an email over to info@bosfilipinos.com (or check out our one year anniversary post). I’d be happy to chat to see how we can get you more involved!

Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Journalist & Educator Alyssa Vaughn

By Trish Fontanilla

Happy New Year, BFers! We’re kicking off 2019 with an awesome new profile: Alyssa Vaughn. While I haven’t met Alyssa in person, we connected over social media and I was totally fascinated by her work with Teens in Print. Thank you Alyssa for taking time to chat with BF, and I hope y’all enjoy learning more about her!

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Where are you from?
Alyssa:
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. My mom’s family immigrated to the Midwest from Cavite City.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Alyssa:
I work full time at a nonprofit called WriteBoston, where I manage Teens in Print, an after school newspaper journalism program for Boston public high school students. I’m also currently the editorial fellow at Scout Magazines, the hyperlocal bimonthly magazines of Somerville and Cambridge. Basically, I spend my days designing lessons to teach my budding writers the basics of journalism, and I spend my evenings and weekends making sure my own journalism skills stay sharp!  

Can you tell us a little more about how you got started with Teens In Print?
Alyssa:
After college, I knew I wanted to work in journalism in some capacity, but I wasn’t sure how. I was also interested in spending a year serving in the AmeriCorps program, as I participated in a lot of community service throughout my high school and college years. As I was looking through the AmeriCorps positions available in Boston, I came across a position with Teens in Print, and it seemed like the perfect way to both serve the community and pursue my interest in journalism. After my service year, I was fortunate enough to be hired by WriteBoston as a full time staff member—so now I get to continue teaching journalism and working with amazing kids, but with a real salary instead of that tough AmeriCorps stipend!

On Boston...

How long have you been in Boston?
Alyssa:
This is my sixth year here—I moved here originally to attend Boston College.

What are your favorite Boston spots:
Alyssa:
I’m totally partial to Cambridge and Somerville since I spend so much time learning and writing about those communities. I love Bow Market in Union Square (I’m eagerly awaiting the kamayan dinners that will be hosted there at Ellie Tiglao’s Filipino restaurant, Tanam!). I cook a lot, so I also love to poke around the city’s specialty food shops, like Capone Foods, Formaggio Kitchen, and the Central Square H-Mart. I also appreciate all the beautiful outdoor spaces we have in this part of town—North Point Park is my favorite place to sit outside and read in the warmer months.

What's your community superpower?
Alyssa:
As you can probably tell from what I do for a living, I’m passionate about building community through writing. I’ve actually written for the local magazine of every city I’ve ever lived in because I love to uplift people who are doing amazing things right in my own neighborhood. I think that storytelling is an incredibly powerful force, and that when you read about your community, you can’t help but feel more connected to and excited about it. I feel really lucky to have a career that’s focused around facilitating that connection.

On Filipino Food...

What's your all-time favorite Filipino dish?
Alyssa:
That’s such a tough question! The winner has to be my Nana’s pork adobo.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Alyssa:
Chicken adobo was one of the first things I learned how to cook, and I make it ridiculously often. I just follow my mom’s method: I lightly sear about a pound and half of chicken thighs in a pot, then pour 1/2 a cup of vinegar, 1/2 a cup of soy sauce, and all the garlic in my apartment over them. There’s also nothing quite staining my clothes and making my whole house smell like oil while frying up a batch of lumpia.

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On Staying in Touch…

How can people stay in touch? (website / social / email if you want!)
Alyssa:
Follow me on Twitter!


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers / subjects! If you’d like to contribute or have any suggestions, feel free to send us a note: info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Hairdresser / Colorist / Educator Trish Mullen

By Trish Fontanilla

I’m not gonna lie, it was a little weird interviewing someone named Trish, but when past BF interviewee Tina Picz told me about her awesome Filipina stylist I just had to meet her! Thank you so much to Trish Mullen for taking time to chat with me during this busy holiday season. She was also super generous and offered a special discount code for BOSFilipinos readers. Read on to learn more about this awesome Filipina in Boston!


Picture of & provided by Trish Mullen

Picture of & provided by Trish Mullen

Where are you from?
Trish: I was born in Malolos, Bulacan and came to the U.S. with my parents when I was very little. I first lived in Southern New Jersey, and then moved to Philadelphia after high school.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Trish: I work for Salon Marc Harris as a hairdresser / colorist, and as a Network Educator for Bumble and bumble.

What inspired you to become a stylist?
Trish
: I became a stylist because I like creating every day and working with people. I went to school for design, and would even do haircuts in my dorm room. Before all of that, I remember helping my Lola (grandmother) do her hair. I used to put these pink rollers in her hair at night, and when she took them out in the morning she brushed her hair into this pretty little hairdo. I decided to make styling into a career once I moved to Boston.

Picture of & provided by Trish Mullen

Picture of & provided by Trish Mullen


On Boston...

How long have you been in Boston?
Trish
: I have been here since January 1, 2007.

What are your favorite Boston spots?
Trish
: I got married in the Kelleher Rose Garden. In between client appointments during the week, I like hanging out in the Boston Public Library or having lunch outside in the Boston Common. I also browse around at the Brattle Book Shop or pick up film from Bromfield Camera. On the weekends I am usually at the movies. My husband and I go to Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline and love Otto Pizza and J.P. Licks.  

Picture provided by Trish Mullen / One of her clients

Picture provided by Trish Mullen / One of her clients

On Filipino Food...

What's your all-time favorite Filipino dish?
Trish
: I love Salmon Sinigang on a cold day.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Trish: Pancit or Tofu Adobo. I don’t eat pork or beef anymore, so I have created a lot of plant-based versions of my favorite Filipino recipes.

Picture provided by Trish Mullen / One of her clients

Picture provided by Trish Mullen / One of her clients

On Staying in Touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / programs that you want to highlight?
Trish
: The holidays are an event for all hairdressers. If you would like to be a new client, I would love to have you in my chair. To book an appt with me call Salon Marc Harris Avery Street at 617-375-8510 and I will throw in a 20% discount if they mention BOSFilipinos.

Anything I missed that you’d like to talk about?
Trish
: I told my mother that I found a Filipino community up here, and told her I was doing an interview with you. She insisted I mention that I am the great granddaughter of Filipino scholar Epifanio de los Santos.

How can people stay in touch?
Trish
: hairwithtrish617@gmail.com or @hair.data


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers / subjects! If you’d like to contribute or have any suggestions, feel free to send us a note: info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos in Boston Interview with Community Impact Manager Nick Pelonia

By Trish Fontanilla

One of my favorite things to do every month is the interview for Filipinos in Boston. I love highlighting different people and voices around the city, and it’s honestly such an honor that I get to bug these amazing people for weeks or months to learn more about what they do and what drives them.

Meet Nick Pelonia. Nick is one of our Twitter followers that I learned more about while down a total rabbit hole learning more about our astounding community. I hope you’re motivated by this interview as much as I am, and thanks again to Nick for opening up and being so candid with his story.

Taken in Antipolo, Philippines / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Taken in Antipolo, Philippines / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Where are you from?
Nick:
I was born in Olongapo City, Philippines and immigrated to California with my family shortly after being born. My mom’s side of the family is from Candelaria in Zambales and my dad’s side is from Camarines Sur in Bicol. We lived in Alameda, California for a bit and then spent a solid 20+ years growing up in Southeast San Diego in a neighborhood called Paradise Hills. My family still lives in San Diego, and for the past decade I’ve been living and working in a number of places: San Francisco, Hong Kong, Japan, Vermont, and now Boston! Just last December 2017 I actually went back to the Philippines for the first time since 1989, visiting my mom’s hometown and the place I was born and grew up. There I further learned my connection to the Philippines is because of U.S. Imperialism, straight up.

Brotherhood of Strength members (as part of The Center for Hope and Healing) to support #BelieveSurvivors campaign / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Brotherhood of Strength members (as part of The Center for Hope and Healing) to support #BelieveSurvivors campaign / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Where do you work and what do you do?
Nick:
I work at The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc. (CHH), the rape crisis center in Lowell, MA serving the Greater Lowell area. We are an anti-oppression, social justice, and multicultural agency with a vision of a world free of sexual violence. Along with intervention services for survivors of sexual assault at CHH, we also design and provide social justice-based sexual violence prevention programs that focus on Engaging Men & Boys as allies against sexual violence, LGBQ/T communities, and Youth, which I currently oversee as the Community Impact Manager.

Nick with his brother and mom taken at SIT Graduate Institute graduating with my MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Nick with his brother and mom taken at SIT Graduate Institute graduating with my MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management / Provided by Nick Pelonia

With a Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management (BTW - what a cool degree), what led you to The Center for Hope & Healing?

Nick: Pretty cool degree with a long name indeed! It has definitely been a journey. Much of it revolves around where I started and where I came from. As an immigrant and Filipino man in the United States that grew up in Southeast San Diego, a community that was often known as “crime-ridden and impoverished,” I went most of my life not being aware of the injustice and oppression that was in the community. Much of this I feel ties to the Filipinx American identity of following the “U.S. American dream.” After immigrating to the U.S., I feel my family was following exactly that and I’ve realized the dream wasn’t meant for us and many other marginalized people.

My mom was working multiple jobs and late shifts when we first immigrated, yet we still filed for bankruptcy (twice) while my siblings and I were just going “through the motions” of school, social life, etc. I’m also a first-generation college student, meaning I’m the first in my family to fully navigate through higher education and obtain my degree. Given this, I felt “on-track” in following that “dream,” yet so lost at the same time. It took me seven years to get my BA let alone know what the hell I was doing with my life. It wasn’t until I actually got outside of the U.S., where I taught in Hong Kong and rural Japan. That opened up my eyes more to social justice and intercultural competency, both in direct experience with people from other countries and in reflection of my upbringing in Southeast San Diego, a community with predominantly Black, Filipinx, and Mexican people.

Fast forward to working as an educator and international youth worker for a few years, I thought: “what’s next?” and according to the “U.S. American dream” I thought of graduate school, which led me to the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. Given my international work, I initially wanted to work in International Education with the hopes of supporting people like me with the opportunity to go abroad as well. However, my time at the SIT Graduate Institute was in community with some amazing activists and educators that relentlessly examined social injustice, which inspired me to shift my MA to Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management, with a focus on training and social justice education.

Since then for the past three years I’ve been doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work as a trainer, educator, and organizer in the non-profit sector working with youth, adults, and international students primarily on anti-racism work. With social justice work focusing on identities, privilege, power, and oppression, a year ago I wanted to focus on my own non-target identities: as a cis-, abled, and educated man. And as a man, I know men play an invaluable role to upholding patriarchy and sexism. I believe we can be part of the solution to undoing that, which led me to The Center for Hope and Healing! At CHH we are ultimately building upon and strengthening Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement so that survivors can be thrivers, with safety, healing, accountability, closure, and empowerment. On top of my identities as an immigrant, Filipino, and as a man, I can truthfully say sexual assault and rape culture has been in my life and continues to exist continuously - and men need to do better.

Taken at the Boston Women's March / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Taken at the Boston Women's March / Provided by Nick Pelonia

On Boston...

How long have you been in Boston?
Nick:
3 years.

What are your favorite Boston spots (could be restaurants / parks / anything!):
Nick:
Since I’ve been working in Lowell most of my time here (and Lowell is amazing BTW) there’s a few places in Boston I frequent:

I enjoy going to the Middlesex Fells Reservation with my partner to walk and hike with our dog, Kanji.

The King & I restaurant on Charles St. hands down has the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. They also have a photo of Usher at the restaurant so you know it’s legit.

J.P. Licks’ Brownie Brownie Batter ice cream with marshmallow sauce is perfect to have any time of the year.

Flour, Myers + Chang, and Boston Barber Exchange are also probably the only other places I go to when I am in the city, supporting my good family friends’ the Lujares and they constantly provide top notch quality services!

And as someone that grew up in San Diego, I’m constantly on the lookout for solid Mexican restaurants so I’m always open to recommendations in the Boston area!

Nick’s dog, Kanji / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Nick’s dog, Kanji / Provided by Nick Pelonia

What's your community superpower?
Nick:
It’s my dog Kanji - she stops everyone in Boston whenever we’re out for a walk, not even kidding. She is a community hero! She has her own Instagram: @KanjiTheBearDog14

Taken in Candelaria, Zambales, Filipino breakfast / Provided by Nick Pelonia

Taken in Candelaria, Zambales, Filipino breakfast / Provided by Nick Pelonia

On Filipino Food...

What's your all-time favorite Filipino dish?
Nick:
Filipino breakfast! Pan de sal, SPAM, longanisa, eggs, corned beef, vienna sausage, pretty much any of the Silogs with some Ovaltine or Milo - all about that life!

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Nick:
Whenever I miss the taste of home I make Chicken or Pork Adobo and Sinigang in the cold months. I plan on trying to make Arroz Caldo for the first time this year, too.

On Staying in Touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / programs / fundraisers / initiatives that you want to highlight?
Nick:
For sure, The Center for Hope and Healing is a non-profit agency and we also provide all our services FREE to survivors. One way that would be a huge help to continuing free services and our mission to ending sexual violence is TO DONATE.

I just recently found out about an organization, Boston Pilipino Education, Advocacy, & Resources (PEAR), I want to especially highlight and support. They’re an organization in the Boston area that aims to promote Filipino culture and history, advocate for the rights of Filipinos in the U.S. and in the Philippines, and provide resources for community empowerment:

Also supporting Ellie and her crew’s Tanam, very much looking forward to opening cause I know it’s gonna be amazing!

My Ate has her own baking business back home making Crinkle Cookies, one of the flavors being Ube! They’re bomb and she ships nationwide! Please support her as she supports two little boys.

Want to highlight #MagandangMorenx as well, Asia Jackson’s campaign that ultimately helps pushes against the anti-Blackness in the Filipinx community.

And last but certainly not least:
#BelieveSurvivors
Trans & Non-binary folx #WontBeErased
#BlackLivesMatter

How can people stay in touch? (website / social / email if you want!)
Nick:
Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email nfpelonia@gmail.com


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers / subjects! If you’d like to contribute or have any suggestions, feel free to send us a note: info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Tech Program Manager Patty de Castro

By Trish Fontanilla

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Ever since I started telling people about BOSFilipinos, everyone has been introducing me to their Filipino friends. And by everyone I mean BF even comes up in business meetings! Earlier this year I was having a coffee chat with Alo Mukerji, COO of coUrbanize, and she said I just had to meet her former colleague Patty de Castro. Patty and I went out for coffee, and next thing you know we’re bonding over our Filipino families and planning out a food excursion.

Thank you Patty for being our Filipino in Boston feature this month, and I hope you all enjoy learning more about Patty as much as I did!

Where are you and your family from?
Patty
: I grew up in Quezon City but my parents are from the Visayas (Cebu and Negros Occidental), which means my Tagalog is pretty bad.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Patty
: I work at Brightcove, an online video platform. I am a Senior Program Manager, which means I work with our Product and Engineering teams to build and launch our video products.

In your career you’ve bounced around from being a consultant, engineer, product manager, and program manager. What motivated you to get back into program management?
Patty
: I really love being in tech, it’s been my whole career. Being a software engineer was pretty cool because I got to build parts of much larger systems. Being a product manager allowed me to create the vision and strategy for the product(s) I owned, but I really missed working across the entire org, from working with the execs all the way to individual developers and with every department in the company. As a program manager, I love working with Engineering, Operations, Product Management, Marketing, Sales, Legal, Customer Success, etc. and aligning everyone so our products exceed our customers’ expectations.

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Patty
: 32 years (yikes ang tanda ko na!)

What are your favorite Boston spots:
Patty
: The Greenway, the Harborwalk, or the Chestnut Hill Reservoir for walks. The MFA and Symphony Hall to get my mind away from all things digital, even for just a few hours.

Are there any Boston-based programs or companies in tech that you love?
Patty
: We’re very lucky to be in Boston where there are so many programs available to pretty much everyone. I always check out BostInno and MassTLC to see what’s going on in Boston tech. One of the companies that really intrigues me is Hopper, which is headquartered in Cambridge. I have a deep interest in travel tech and Hopper has a very interesting story, as a company and in the work they are doing.

On Filipino food…

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Patty
: Wow, that’s like asking who your favorite child is! I mean, we’re talking FILIPINO FOOD - it’s all so good. I can’t pick just one, so I’ll do a favorite meal (rule-breaker!).  I’d start with garlic mani (peanuts) and chicharron (fried pork belly / rinds) with vinegar. The mains would be callos (stew), lengua estofada (ox tongue stew), palabok (noodles), and someone else’s adobo (I do not make a good adobo). And lots of rice. Dessert would be mangoes from back home and brazo de mercedes (jelly roll dessert). Always shared with friends and family.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Patty
: Sans rival (Filipino dessert cake). I find making the cashew meringue layers very therapeutic.

On staying touch…

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Facebook or LinkedIn, but the best way is the old fashioned way - a friend of a friend. We’re Filipino, after all, so we’re only three degrees separated.


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers / subjects! If you’d like to contribute or have any suggestions, feel free to send us a note: info@bosfilipinos.com.

Todos Los Santos in the Philippines

by Bianca Garcia

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Do you celebrate All Saints’ Day? I do, and lately the movie Coco has been on my mind. I love how the movie showcased Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), when big throngs of family and friends congregate at the cemetery to commemorate their loved ones. The movie tugged at my heartstrings because it reminded me so much of how we celebrate Todos Los Santos (All Saints’ Day) in the Philippines.

Each year on November 1st, Filipinos swarm to the cemeteries to honor our beloved family and friends who have passed away. Some families would come the previous day, some would come the next day (on All Souls’ Day), and some would stay there for the three days. Some people camp out and spend the night, and the cemeteries are literally packed with people, food, light, flowers, candles, and music.

The energy during Todos Los Santos is anything but sad. The holiday has become a de facto family reunion, so there’s a jovial feeling in the air. Filipinos honor our loved ones who have passed by bringing their favorite foods, reminiscing about them, praying for them, and keeping our memories of them alive. There is something very uplifting about celebrating the lives of our dead, instead of mourning their deaths.     

In my family, we go to two cemeteries - one for my mother’s side, and another for my father’s side. We bring food, we pray, we catch up with our relatives. The kids play, the adults talk, we all eat and enjoy our time together. I am sad that some of my family have passed too soon: Lolo Ising, Lolo Leno, Lola Nading,Tito Jun,  Ate Isabel. But I am also happy that I still have them in my life - through my living relatives, and through Todos Los Santos.

*Quick Filipino vocab:

Lolo = grandfather

Lola = grandmother

Tito = uncle

Ate = older sister