Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Professor and Researcher Christine Leider

By Trish Fontanilla

This month’s interview with Christine Leider is brought to you by the good ol' Twitterverse. I’ve never met Christine, but when I was scrolling through the BOSFilipinos Twitter feed a couple months ago, her account caught my eye: Filipina American and ate (Tagalog for older sister). I clicked through to her professor profile, and thought her work was super fascinating. I’m so thankful to Christine for taking time to do an interview with me, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know another awesome Filipino in Boston!

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Where are you and your family from?
Christine: My family is Bisayan. Both of my parents are from Cebu; my mom is from Cebu City and my father is from Sogod. My siblings and I are second generation immigrants, born and raised in Ketchikan, which is an island in southeast Alaska. There is actually a relatively large Filipino population in my hometown; and my family has always been active with the Filipino Community Club. There’s a brief article that the This Filipino American Life podcast did about southeast Alaska, and when they reference Ketchikan they refer to Diaz Café – Ninang Clara is my godmother!

Where do you work and what do you do?
Christine
: I am a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University. I’m a former ESL teacher and my work as a teacher educator involves working with pre-service teachers who are preparing to teach bilingual and immigrant students in PK12 (pre-K to 12th grade) public schools. I also do research on bilingual and immigrant student language and literacy development. A lot of what I do centers on anti-racist perspectives and pedagogy and equity in education.  I feel really fortunate to love what I do. Working with teachers and students is my favorite.

What motivated you to center your work on bilingual education?
Christine: I think it’s a bit personal, growing up in an immigrant family. I wish I could speak Bisaya. We’d speak it when I was younger and I understand when I hear people speaking Bisaya and Tagalog, but I can’t really talk back as much as I would like. My parents really wanted me (and my siblings) to focus on English. English was viewed as the pathway to success. That’s actually quite common among many immigrant families in the US, and not unique to my own experience. Research and census data document an intergenerational language shift among many immigrant groups such that by the third generation, children are monolingual English speakers. Language is definitely a part of heritage and identity, and it’s so unfortunate that society pushes so much emphasis on English. I’m not saying English isn’t important, but students shouldn’t have to give up their home language for it. There’s a lot of misconception around language development and bilingualism – and of course the power associated with English dates back to colonialism. I could go on about this forever. Anyway, I love working in bilingual education because it’s about breaking down these misconceptions about language and bilingualism, empowering bilingual and immigrant students and families, and working with teachers and communities to better support culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

On Boston...

How long have you been in Boston?
Christine: I moved to Boston in 2008 to attend graduate school at Boston College. I think I “became” a Bostonian when I bought my first Red Sox hat in 2009. Or maybe in 2010 when I first met my now husband – he’s from the Boston area. To be honest, when I first moved here I had no intention of staying in Boston, or Massachusetts for that matter, but here we are 10 years later. I love it, I just wish I was closer to family and that lumpia was easier to find.

What are your favorite Boston spots:
Christine
:  l love eating in Chinatown, especially hot pot – I’m partial to Q Restaurant because the a la carte menu includes both tripe and tendon. My dad would always make this dish, that was kinda like a menudo, with tripe, tendon, and beef tongue. I also like dim sum on the weekends at Hei La Moon, the spareribs taste really similar to something my mom would make. I grew up on an island, so I love sitting near water, and I also grew up in a small town so I have a thing for food courts, because we just didn’t have those where I grew up. So this is pretty touristy-cheesy, but I really like to get something to eat from Faneuil Hall and then walk over to the waterfront and eat over there. When I’m not eating, I enjoy walking around the city with my husband or reading a book in the Common. I can also be found grading and writing at various coffee shops in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville.

Are there any Boston-based programs that people should know about to work in / volunteer for / learn more about the kind of work you do?  
Christine: Have you heard of 826Boston? They do awesome literacy work with Boston Public Schools – and their Volunteer Manager is a fellow Filipina! More specific to my own line of work, this is more at the State level, but I sit on the MATSOL (Massachusetts Educators of English Language Learners) Board of Directors, which is a non-profit dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in the education of bilingual students in Massachusetts. There’s lots of opportunities to get involved in different ways through MATSOL and other organizations like MABE (Multistate Association of Bilingual Education, formerly the MA Association of Bilingual Education) and MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition), especially if you are a teacher and / or advocate for bilingual and immigrant students.

What's your community superpower?
Christine
: Connecting like-minded people with each other.

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Christine: Lechon baboy. Hands down. Also lumpia shanghai. I was pescatarian for a good amount of time, which was cool and all, but didn’t jive well with the Filipino diet.  I think my family was pretty relieved when I started eating meat again, especially pork.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Christine:
“Filipino breakfast” aka a fried egg, white rice, and some sort of pork or corned beef. I could eat that for every meal. When I was in college I would often make bacon and then eat it with a fried egg and rice. To me, it was just “breakfast,” but my roommates would always call it “Filipino breakfast.” That’s more of a meal though. As far as preparing a dish, I think I enjoy making pancit the most. Primarily because I’d make it with my mom. I think it might have been one of the first things I learned to cook. Speaking of pancit, did you know there’s this children’s book, Cora Cooks Pancit, that is all about a Filipina-American making pancit with her mom? I wish I had that book when I was younger.

On staying in touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / lectures / program that you want to highlight?
Christine: It is currently summer, so I’m trying to keep a low profile right now! When the school year starts up though, I am the Faculty Advisor for the Bilingual Education student club in the Wheelock College of Education at BU and the club often hosts several social and informational events on education, advocacy, and bilingualism. Feel free to join us, I post event information to my Twitter and Instagram feed.

How can people stay in touch?
Christine: Follow me on Twitter and Instagram! Thanks so much for the interview!


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

PAMANA Filipino Parade and Festival

By Bianca Garcia

We had a blast celebrating the 120th Philippine Independence Day with PAMANA (Philippine-American Mainstream Mainstream Advocacy for Nonpartisans Associations) last weekend. We ran a dessert booth in collaboration with BOSFilipinos and Confessions of a Chocoholic, and it was a hit! I made mini ensaymadas, Leila made leche flan, and our friend and BOSFilipinos member Val made calamansi bars.

Here are some pics from the day:

After the parade, there were some welcome comments, a flag raising, and various types of performances. And of course: Filipino food in abundance. Quintessential Filipino foods like lumpia, longsilog (longganisa + sinangag + itlog) plates, pancit, BBQ, halo-halo, and other snacks fueled us throughout the day and brought us a taste of home.

Our neighbors at the next booth were the Pulutan Boyz, Philjay (you may have seen him at BOSFilipinos events) and Mac, slinging longganisa and tocino sliders.

It was such a fun day seeing other Filipinos and celebrating our culture together.

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by our booth to say hello and buy our desserts! We hope we were able to entice some of you to be a part of the BOSFilipinos gang in some way. Thank you to Jen and PAMANA for coordinating the Independence Day celebration. And maraming salamat to Val for baking goodies, and to Matt for driving us all to Attleboro.

In case you missed us at the parade, don’t worry, you can find us at the next Filipino event on June 23rd at the 2nd Annual Filipino Festival in Malden. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to catch up with us every month.

You can also reach out to us at info@bosfilipinos.com and tell us how else we can build on the Filipino community. Or better yet, let us know how you want to participate.

We look forward to meeting more of you soon. Mabuhay!

(More pics on our Facebook page.)

Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Costume Designer / Entrepreneur Virginia Johnson

By Trish Fontanilla

Hat tip to BOSFilipinos contributor Christine Del Castillo for suggesting we interview Virginia Johnson this month. When I used to live in Somerville, I would bike by gather here almost daily. I should’ve known that a Filipina was involved in creating a space that is so warm, welcoming, and vibrant. I hope you all enjoy learning more about Virginia as much as I did!


Where are you and your family from?
Virginia: I was born in Subic Bay, the old U.S. Naval base. My mom and her 12 siblings all grew up in the province of Bulacan. My grandfather and now my Uncle Jose owned and operated a bottling plant in San Miguel. We moved to Southern California after my younger brother was born. My dad, on the other hand, was born and raised in Eastern Iowa. He enlisted so he could go to college, and it happened to be during the Vietnam War. And he ended up being stationed in the Philippines during the war.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Virginia
: I am a costume designer for film and television, mostly major motion pictures like Patriots Day and The New Mutants. I’m also the owner of the Cambridge stitch lounge and fabric/fiber boutique, gather here. I wrapped up a film in Bogota, Colombia in late February, so I have been focusing my energy on community activities and workshops at gather here.

What motivated you to go from costume designer to entrepreneur?
Virginia
: I didn’t give up costume designing completely. I just couldn’t. I love working collaboratively, and watching a group of people come together and create something as awesome as a film. And I love telling stories through what people wear. However I also wanted to put down roots, and opening gather here was a way to do that. I’m investing in the community not only by having a brick and mortar store, but by providing employment opportunities, sharing creative knowledge, and passing on the tradition of handcraft to future generations. Working as a freelance designer felt impermanent, while owning and working at gather here, despite the challenges of retail, felt like my forever home. When we opened in February of 2011 I was terrified that I had sunk all of my savings into a hairbrained idea, but we have flourished and even moved to a bigger location in 2016.

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Well we know you have a great love for makers considering you built a space just for them, but tell me more about your work with your neighborhood and the greater Boston community through the shop’s “We Care Wednesday” initiative. What are some of the non-profits that you’ll be focusing on this summer?
Virginia
: After the 2016 Election I wanted to just hole up and hide, but my responsibilities to gather here were too important. So I found comfort just going in, helping people with their projects, and sewing in the studio. In the quiet of sewing it became clear that the collective “we” would have to step up and support the programs that are essential to our communities. Since there’s already a Giving Tuesday we chose We Care Wednesday (we find that people are out of town on Fridays and Mondays so didn’t want to hurt the fundraising efforts in the summer). We created this initiative not just because we, gather here, care but because we, the community of makers, care. Every Wednesday 5% of our profits are collected for a nonprofit that we announce on our blog at the beginning of the month. At the end of the month we tally up the totals and make a donation as We Care Wednesday at gather here. We are currently fundraising for the Pride Youth Theater Alliance since it is Pride Month and I was a theater kid. July’s recipient will be Fenway Health - a former advisee from my years teaching at Tufts worked there prior to starting medical school and with the constant threat of healthcare repeal it is so important. We don’t have a nonprofit selected for August at the moment because we leave one month available every quarter should a specific need arise. In May we raised money for MusicWorks because one of our employees, Sue, is a volunteer for that organization. The elder she was paired with passed away in April and she asked if we would consider fundraising for an organization that had brought her so much joy and friendship. In September the recipient is Y2Y in Harvard Square. It’s the kick-off of another academic year and this student-run shelter is so inspiring!

One of my favorite NP’s from 2017 was Girls Rock Campaign Boston. They are doing so much to build up the confidence of girls! They sent us an awesome postcard that we framed.

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On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Virginia:
I moved to Boston in 2000. I lived in Waltham, right on Moody Street when I first got here. I’ve been here nearly 18 years! That’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere!

What are your favorite Boston spots:
Virginia
: I love the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If I knew that the end of the world was at 5 PM tonight I would head to the museum and sit in the atrium. I also really love Fenway Park. I’m a Cubs fan having spent my formative years in the Midwest, but Fenway’s history is so rich. I love all the public spaces in Greater Boston. Walking along the Charles River, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Public Garden, and all the small parks and memorials throughout the city.

Do you have a favorite Boston-based art project? Either something that was made in your space, or by a maker you know?
Virginia
: Well, I love Bren Bataclan. And not just because he’s Filipino. I have one of his paintings that my friend commissioned after seeing his work at Christopher’s in Porter Square. She knew I would love it, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Bren’s Smile Project is international and it comes from the best place - from the heart.

What's your community superpower?
Virginia: Space. I created gather here with the intention of reserving space for people and gathering. It was never designed to be filled with product. Currently we are hosting Badass HERstory meetings for people who want to tell their story through fiber for a worldwide craftivism project. When Red Fire Farm lost their CSA pick-up location I immediately volunteered our store. And when the Cambridge Modern Quilt Guild was looking for a meeting space we invited them to take over the back of the shop on the last Sunday of every month.

Creating a space that champions community and wants to help people share their stories, I think, is the most valuable gift I can give.

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Virginia
: Pancit. Like I would stop a car for that. Especially for my sister’s pancit. She’s the best cook, and has kept our family’s recipes alive.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Virginia: Lumpia. It’s easy and everybody loves it. Seriously, do you know anyone who doesn’t like lumpia? I mean, my mom would say that my technique isn’t perfect but most people don’t know.

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On staying in touch…

Do you have any upcoming events at the store that you wanted to highlight?
Virginia: Yes! We're hosting a special event this Saturday with a guest artist, Melody Hoffman from Latvia. And we're doing a tea tasting from Tea Hive! For more events, our Classes calendar is updated regularly. 

How can people stay in touch?
Virginia
: I’m a social media junkie. To follow our crafty community on instagram: @gather_here. For my costume design/personal struggle: @vee.bee.jay. I tweet about craft, community, and the state of our nation as @gather_here.

 

Philippines Independence Day & BF Founders Around Town

By Trish Fontanilla

Filipino trivia: On June 12, 1898 the Philippines celebrated their declaration of independence from Spain. Interestingly enough, that’s not when the Philippines gained its full independence. Spain had only ceded the islands to the United States as a part of the Treaty of Paris. The U.S. granted the Philippines their independence after World War II (yep, Filipinos fought alongside Americans during the war), and the Treaty of Manila was signed on July 4, 1946.  

For years the Philippines yo-yoed their celebration between the two dates. Today June 12th is a national holiday, but you still gotta go to to work on July 4th, which is now recognized as Republic Day / Philippine-American Friendship Day.

In Boston there’ll be celebrations throughout the month, but here are the events that the BF Founders will be attending:

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Philippine American Mainstream Advocacy for Nonpartisan Associations, Inc. (PAMANA) will be celebrating the month with a few events!

The Parade & Festival are June 10th, 10AM ~ 3PM at La Salette Shrine in Attleboro. BF Co-Founder Bianca Garcia will be there partying at a BOSFilipinos booth, and she’ll be selling some of her homemade mini ensaymadas in addition to some flan from BF Co-Founder Leila Amerling!

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The 2nd Annual Filipino Festival is June 23, 4:30PM ~ 7:30PM at the Malden YMCA. The Filipino Festival is independently run, and supported in part by a grant from the Malden Cultural Council. The event itself will feature food, performances, and activities celebrating Filipino culture. I'm super excited for this year’s festival because I know that the organizers have a deeper focus on inclusivity. I’ll be there reppin’ BOSFilipinos with a booth and language station!

If you’re heading to any of these events, let us know below or via Facebook / Instagram / Twitter!

And for more events this month, check out the BOSFilipinos Events page. We’ll see ya out there!


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

Food and Recipes Inspired by My Mom Celia

By Bianca Garcia

Continuing our May celebration of mothers, I want to talk about my mom, Celia. She is my most influential food guides. She has always been the first one to introduce me to different tastes and flavors from all over the world. I learned to love food because of her, and as fate would have it, I now have a food blog where I can share my favorite foods with the world, too.

Here are some of my mom-inspired recipes and favorite foods that I’ve shared on my blog:

 kesong puti, pan de sal, tsokolate © Bianca Garcia

kesong puti, pan de sal, tsokolate © Bianca Garcia

It all started when I was still in utero, and my pregnant mom was constantly craving and eating kesong puti, the milky white cheese that’s native to the Philippines. It’s essentially buffalo mozzarella, but creamier and fresher. According to Filipino superstition, my mom’s pregnancy craving was the main reason why I myself developed a lifelong longing for kesong puti.

 sardinas © Bianca Garcia

sardinas © Bianca Garcia

My mom is the one who taught me to love sardinas (sardines), the Spanish or Portuguese kind, in oil and spices. I love these little sardines (that still have skin and bones), on top whole wheat bread, toasted dark, slathered with creamy butter.

 key lime pie © Bianca Garcia

key lime pie © Bianca Garcia

My mom loves key lime pie, and (surprise!) so do I. Key limes are smaller than regular limes, with a more yellowish skin, instead of bright green. They are very similar to Filipino calamansi. I would juice a million key limes by hand for my mom!

(Here’s my easy recipe for Key Lime Pie.)

 caramel thumbprint cookies © Bianca Garcia

caramel thumbprint cookies © Bianca Garcia

My mom cannot turn down anything “turtle” flavored - chocolate, caramel, pecans. These little turtle cookies are a nice little treat. Like me, she enjoys dessert. But unlike me, she’s typically content with smaller portions (ha!).

(Here’s my recipe for Caramel Thumbprint Cookies.)

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My mom makes me feel like I can do anything. She believes that I can go to Harvard, land my my dream job(s), star in a TV show, rule the world. Thanks to her encouragement and support, I have done it all. Well, I’m still waiting on that last part, but Beyonce says we already run the world anyway…

Her faith in my cooking also helped me finally recreate her famous pasta sauce, which is like a mixture of a bolognese with a surf and turf plate. It’s a meat-lovers sauce (ground beef + bacon + Italian sausage) with big juicy shrimp. It’s as mouth-watering as it sounds.   

(Here’s the recipe for My Mom’s Pasta Sauce.)

 mini almond cinnamon buns © Bianca Garcia

mini almond cinnamon buns © Bianca Garcia

When I see any kind of citrus marmalade - orange, lemon, grapefruit - I immediately think of my mom. And when I see a breakfast treat or pastry studded with nuts - almonds, pecans, walnuts - I think of my mom as well. I wanted to make a citrusy breakfast inspired by her favorite flavors, and landed on little cinnamon buns with almond paste, slivered almonds, and Meyer lemon marmalade.

Meyer lemons, by the way, are like a cross between a lemon and an orange. They’re sweet and not as tart as their more ubiquitous cousins. They’re also smaller with a thinner skin that has a slightly more orange tint, and they come into season during mid-winter to late spring. They remind me of Filipino dalandan.

(Here’s my recipe for Mini Almond Cinnamon Buns.)

 crab cake linguini © Bianca Garcia

crab cake linguini © Bianca Garcia

Even though I’m a woman in my thirties, I am not exactly adept at eating crab, one of my favorite seafoods. That’s because whenever I’m home or with my parents, I turn into a child and ask my mom to do the work  for me. Shell the crab, pick the meat, open the claws – the whole show. She’s just so adept at it! (And I’m too lazy.) My mom and I both love crab cakes, so I made this easy but luxurious-tasting linguini with crab cakes.

(Here’s my recipe for Crab Cake Linguini.)

 cheesy anchovy toast © Bianca Garcia

cheesy anchovy toast © Bianca Garcia

Last but not least, since my mom was the one who influenced my love for anchovies and all things cheesy (melted cheese, snacking cheese, cheesecake, cacio e pepe - if it has cheese, give it to me) I recently made this anchovy toast. Crunchy bread, garlicky cheese spread, and salty anchovies, finished with a shower of chopped chives and red pepper flakes. The flavors are unapologetically strong, not for the fainthearted, and perfect in every way.

(Here’s my recipe for Cheesy Anchovy Toast.)

 Bianca and Mom in the 80s © Bianca Garcia

Bianca and Mom in the 80s © Bianca Garcia

Thank you, Mommy, for introducing me to the foods that have become my favorites  <3

I hope I was able to inspire some of you to make something delicious and enjoy it with your mom and loved ones!

Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Artist Bren Bataclan

By Trish Fontanilla

 Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Taken by Zach Bouzan-Kaloustian

Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Taken by Zach Bouzan-Kaloustian

I first heard about Bren Bataclan over 10 years ago when I went to an event at Berryline in Harvard Square. I told one of the owners that I wanted “dealer’s choice,” any froyo with any toppings. The exchange went something like…

“How about I add mango?”

“Oh, how Filipino…”

“You’re Filipino? The artist that did the murals here is Filipino!”

I was so stoked, I obviously gave Bren a shout out in my Berryline review, and I’ve been following his work every since. I'm so glad BOSFilipinos gave me an excuse to interview him, and I’m excited for even more people to get to know Bren’s story!


Where are you and your family from?
Bren
: My parents were born in Makati, Philippines, and their ancestors are from Cavite and Bicol. I was born in Makati as well, but my family moved to the United States (Daly City, CA) in 1981.

What do you do?
Bren
: I am a full-time artist. I live in Cambridge but my studio is in the South End (Boston).

In past interviews you’ve talked about your previous career as a tech guy. What inspired you to be an artist? And when did you make the leap to doing it full-time?
Bren
: I moved to Massachusetts to teach computer graphics at UMass Amherst in 1995. I then joined the dotcom world in the late 90s. When the whole economy crashed in the early 2000s, I became one of those ex-dotcomers who lost their job and could not find work. I was unemployed for about a year and a half, and it was one of the most challenging times of my life. I tried all kinds of creative things to make money, including painting the cartoon-like characters I've been drawing since I was a kid. I premiered this new series of work from childhood at the Cambridge Open Studios in 2003. To my surprise, 49 out of 56 paintings were sold! To thank Cambridge and Boston, I started a street art project where I left paintings in public spaces with a note attached saying, "This painting is yours if you promise to smile at random people more often." I invested the money I earned from the open studio event, and made 30 additional paintings which I gave out around the city. The Boston press and word-of-mouth got me painting projects with businesses, hospitals and schools. Slowly, my street art project led to me becoming a full-time artist. Sixteen years later, and there is no turning back. I love my job!!! I never thought that I would become a full-time artist, let alone a muralist. Now I have painted about 175 murals, mostly at schools. It's awesome to work with students, and all of my school murals are based on kids' drawings.

 Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / "Liberty For All Painting

Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / "Liberty For All Painting

Your pieces have a joyful, playful spirit to them, and I love the pay-it-forward Smile Project that you highlighted here and in your TEDx Talk. However, your Liberty For All piece has a different tone. What inspired you to create it and donate all the proceeds?  
Bren
: Right after the 2016 election, a family in Acton asked me to paint how I felt about Trump winning. They cleared a large wall, asked me to find the biggest canvas, and most importantly, they allowed me to paint whatever I felt. I am glad that I didn't start painting right away because I probably would have painted something negative. After taking some time I was able to muster enough positive, hopeful and compassionate thought, and I ended up painting the Statue of Liberty comforting really vulnerable people (a Black Lives Matter activist, a Jewish man, a Muslim woman, the Syrian boy pulled from the rubble of an Aleppo bombing, a Mexican American woman, a gay man, and a woman fighting for equal rights). I am really proud of this piece.

 Photo provided by Bren Bataclan /&nbsp;Boston Children’s Hospital

Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Boston Children’s Hospital

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Bren: 22 years.

What are your favorite Boston spots?
Bren
: The ICA and MFA. We subscribe to the A.R.T. and the Celebrity Series, and so we are always at the Loeb Theater, Symphony Hall, and Sanders Theatre. I also love the Public Garden.

Do you have a favorite Boston-based mural or project?
Bren
: The Boston Children's Hospital (pictured above) painting series I did in the beginning of my art career, the Sidney Borum mural (pictured below) I painted fairly recently, and the Berryline murals (pictured above the Filipino food section) in Cambridge I painted about 10 years ago.

 Photo provided by Bren Bataclan /&nbsp;Sidney Borum

Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Sidney Borum

What's your community superpower?
Bren
: I love starting groups, especially Filipino-related ones. I helped form the Boston Filipino American Book Club, and we just celebrated our 10th Anniversary!

 Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Berryline

Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Berryline

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Bren: Way too many to mention: lumpia (spring roll), adobo (marinade, generally a meat dish), empanada (savory stuffed pastry), and halo halo (shaved ice dessert).

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Bren
: It changes depending on my mood, but lately I've been loving cooking tortang talong (eggplant omelet). In fact, I just gave two tortang talong cooking classes at the PAO Arts Center.

 Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Kulap

Photo provided by Bren Bataclan / Kulap

On staying in touch...

Do you have any upcoming shows / events?
Bren: I had an exhibit entitled "Kulap" about my immigration experience at the PAO Arts Center in Boston. PRI's "The World" on NPR just covered it. I hope to exhibit "Kulap" next at the Daly City Museum. And I have a current group exhibit at the Boston Children's Museum.

How can people stay in touch?
Bren
: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter


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

My Filipina Mama

By Leila Amerling

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Mother’s Day. To my mom, and I’m sure to all moms, Mother’s Day should not be celebrated just ONE day a year. With an Asian mom, especially a Filipino mom, you’re bound to be reminded, or even guilted into thinking that you should show appreciation to your mother everyday! You readers out there who have an Asian mom know exactly what I’m talking about.

First there’s guilt...

An Asian mom will tell you that “nobody” (aka YOU) cares about her, just because you don’t call her every hour on the hour while you’re at work. She will “joke” about how YOU should be giving HER presents on YOUR birthday, because you should be celebrating the fact that she let you into the world. She will guilt you into saying that she makes the best adobo, which is actually true. No one makes adobo as well as your mom. But somehow if you want to eat out, she’ll make you feel guilty by saying that you don’t like her food. In fact, saying how delicious her food is only once in a day, means you really don’t like it very much and are just trying to be nice.

And if that isn’t enough, when having a disagreement with your Filipina mother, she will end the argument by claiming that “you are just like your father,” which somehow makes you feel terrible, as if being like your dad is a bad thing.

Then there are her awkward displays of affection...

She’s the mom who has a special way of kissing you by sniffing your cheek or your head.

She’s the mom who buys you clothes that are totally not your style but you’re guilted into wearing them anyway. But then your friends only compliment your outfits when you wear the stuff she buys you.

She’s the mom who while sitting in her room, or the TV room, will shout out your name repeatedly until you get to her, only to ask you, in the sweetest of ways, to pass her the remote control (that’s sitting right on top of the TV), by pointing at it with her lips, not her finger, and then rewarding you with another sniff kiss.

If you don’t answer your phone or get home right at curfew time, she will worry about you, but not in the way that other non-Filipina moms do, like maybe thinking you got into a car accident. She will worry that you’ve been kidnapped by a bunch of hooligans and sold as a sex slave to one of the drug cartels of Manila.

And finally there’s the brutal honest truth (many times told at inconvenient places) that you just don’t want to hear but really need to...

She will tell you if you’re getting fat, or if you’re too thin (although this will RARELY ever happen). She’ll tell you if your breath smells, or that you need to go see your dermatologist because you’re getting pimples again. She’ll tell you that your clothes aren’t “nice” or “sexy” enough when you’re going out on a date. But when you’re finally in a serious relationship, she’ll say that you’re too young to be in that kind of a relationship. And then when you’re getting older and are still single, she’ll try to set you up with the one son of Tita-so-and-so because he’s the only guy in her circle of friends that’s around the same age as you. She’ll start reminding you of your age and that you’ll need to get married soon because you’re getting too old and may not be able to have children. She’s the one woman on this planet (well besides your lola - grandma) that you can’t argue with and just need to accept the “fact” that she’s “always right.”

No matter what, we can’t imagine having another type of mother...

No matter how she shows it, she loves you unconditionally. Even if half of the things you do are done “over my dead body.” Without her, you literally would never have existed. You are at least half of her and hope that you’ve inherited all of the good Asian genes that she bestows (like looking like you’re 40 when you’re 60, or having a head full of luxurious black hair and golden, olive-toned skin that never burns when under the sun). You hope that someday, when you become a mom too, you will raise your child(ren) as well as your mom raised you. After all, you didn’t turn out so bad, right?

Nanay, Inay, Ina, Mama, Nanang, Irmat, Ma, I love you too!

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Trish Fontanilla

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Boston is stacked with events! But before I share what’s going on around town (including our meetup on the 10th), I wanted to get into the origins of it. The month itself is epic when you think about how it’s an umbrella for the largest continent on Earth coupled with the Pacific Islands, and celebrating all of the cultures, people, and history that it includes. So not to overwhelm you too much, here are a few quick facts about the month:

Want to learn more? PBS has a whole collection of stories and videos on its website: http://www.pbs.org/specials/asian-pacific-american-heritage-month/

And without further ado, here’s what’s happening in Boston this month!


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2nd BOSFilipinos Meetup of 2018
Thursday, May 10, 2018
6PM - 8PM @ Globe Bar & Cafe

Join us for our second meetup in 2018! We’re bringing together some of the awesome folks in the Boston Filipino community for a happy hour in May. No agenda, just bring yourself and your friends! RSVP on the Facebook page to receive updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/496276400774813/


2018 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration
Thursday, May 17, 2018
5:30PM - 9PM @ Wellington Management Company

This Ascend New England event will have cultural performances, food from local Pan-Asian restaurants, and networking with professionals and students. For info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-asian-pacific-american-heritage-month-celebration-tickets-45057305614?aff=es2

 Taken from the Ascend New England event page

Taken from the Ascend New England event page


 Taken from the One in a Billion Productions event page

Taken from the One in a Billion Productions event page

Live, Love, Laugh Storytelling Salon
Friday, May 18, 2018
6PM - 8:30PM @ 101 Main Street

This month's storytelling salon features Kira Omans, 2016 Pacific Miss Asian American and Zhao Qinghua, Founder & CEO of Chinese dating website, 2RedBeans. For more info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-love-laugh-spring-storytelling-salon-tickets-44565374234?aff=es2


 Image taken from QSAC event page

Image taken from QSAC event page

Queer South Asian Collective Spring Bazaar
Sunday, May 20, 2018
12PM - 5PM @ Urban College of Boston

The Spring Bazaar will have food and shopping with your local queer South Asian community. This event is to help raise funds for QSAC to attend the National Queer API community organizing conference. For more info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/qsac-spring-bazaarmarket-tickets-45209625206?aff=es2


 Taken from the WGBH event page

Taken from the WGBH event page

Celebration of Asian Pacific American Culture
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
7PM - 9PM @ WGBH

This celebration at WGBH is in its 10th year! "This year they'll be spotlighting Asian American entrepreneurs who have risen to the top of their respective industries and remain civically engaged in their communities." For more info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebration-of-asian-pacific-american-culture-tickets-44947941503?aff=es2


 Taken from the USDLDF Dragon Dance event page

Taken from the USDLDF Dragon Dance event page

USDLDF Dragon Dance Competition
Sunday, May 25 - 27, 2018
3:30PM - 5PM @ Empire Garden Restaurant

"This 3-day event promotes the arts of dragon and lion dance as a cultural tradition and sport throughout the United States and beyond." For more info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/usdldf-dragon-dance-competition-tickets-44936184337?aff=es2


 Taken from the Dealmoon invite

Taken from the Dealmoon invite

Dealmoon Asian Street Food Night Market
Saturday, May 26, 2018
6PM - 10PM @ Pine Manor College

This event will feature 15 local vendors who will be cooking and serving over 40 different kinds of Asian dishes and snacks! For more info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dealmoon-asian-street-food-night-market-526-tickets-45398719793?aff=es2


 Taken from the BAAFF event page

Taken from the BAAFF event page

Short Waves: Stories Shaping our Community
Thursday, May 31, 2018
6:30PM - 8PM @ Pao Arts Center

This event is being produced by the Boston Asian American Film Festival, and they will be screening submissions from their Short Waves Open Call for films. For more info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-event-short-waves-stories-shaping-our-community-in-celebration-of-asian-pacific-american-tickets-44539749590?aff=es2

And for more events around town, you can stay in the loop by following our Events page that's updated weekly! 


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.
 

Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Chef Ashley Lujares

By Trish Fontanilla

 Photo provided by Ashley Lujares / Taken at Myers+Chang by  Kristin Teig

Photo provided by Ashley Lujares / Taken at Myers+Chang by Kristin Teig

Before we started BOSFilipinos and I was still in the consideration phase of my Filipino food project, the universe kept asking me, “Have you talked to Ashley Lujares yet?” And by universe I mean, Ashley’s previous colleagues at Myers+Chang, Chefs Joanne Chang (owner / chef), and Karen Akunowicz (partner / executive chef), and Veo Robert (chef de cuisine). Seriously, three separate conversations, three suggestions that I should chat with Ashley. After meeting her at an industry night, and then having a coffee chat that lasted for hours talking about our upbringings as Filipino Americans, I thought she’d be perfect for the blog!

Ashley is one of the amazing chefs in Boston that is bringing Filipino food to the masses by highlighting special dishes wherever she goes. We’re stoked that she was able to do this interview with us. And don’t worry, we’ll be highlighting more of the amazing Filipino chefs here in Boston throughout the year.


Where are you and your family from?
Ashley
: I was born and raised in Massachusetts, but my parents are both from the Bicol region in the Philippines. Half of my mother's siblings reside here as well as the west coast. And my maternal grandfather was in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was stationed here in Boston and in San Diego, CA.

 Photo provided by Ashley Lujares

Photo provided by Ashley Lujares

What do you do?
Ashley: I am the savory chef at Flour Bakery + Cafe in Fort Point.

What inspired you to become a chef?
Ashley: Many situations in my life have inspired me to become a chef. The first inspiration came from a day I was watching cartoons and my dad said, “Why don’t you watch something that you can learn from. You are rotting your brain.” He put on PBS, and Julia Child’s show was on. I was instantly hooked!

Soon after that I moved to the Philippines for 3 years, and one of my earliest memories is going to the market with my grandmother. My cousin Joy and I would take turns going there with her, and I would throw tantrums when it wasn't my turn. I loved how full of life the market was; I loved the smell of the street food and seeing fresh produce.

My grandmother owned a pancitan (noodle factory). She also had a green thumb and planted all of the fruits and vegetables in our backyard. Any exotic fruit you can find at your local market in the US, my grandmother had in her backyard. My grandfather owned a balutan (balut factory), and my aunt raised pigs and sold meat at the town market. She also helped my mother prep for parties. Through those parties my mom taught me the importance of eating with your eyes first.

Well we know that Flour is one the best places to work in Boston (like really, not just because of the sticky buns), but how did you end up working there? 

Ashley: I was the sous chef at Myers+Chang for a few years and I needed a change. I love Joanne Chang’s management style, and I felt like I would learn a lot about how to be a better manager from her as well as the business aspect of the food industry.

On Boston...

 Provided by Ashley Lujares

Provided by Ashley Lujares

How long have you been in Boston?
Ashley: I have been in Boston for the majority of my life. I briefly lived in different places like New York City, the Philippines, and San Diego, CA.

What are your favorite Boston spots (could be restaurants / parks / anything!):
Ashley: My favorite restaurants are Sarma, Coppa, Toro, and my best friend’s family restaurant in Chinatown called Wai Wai’s. I frequent the back of the ICA overlooking East Boston, and I love going to museums like the MFA, ICA + Isabella Stewart Gardner. Mostly I'm in the South Shore where the Lujares family compound is located.

 

 

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Ashley: I really love my mom’s palabok (variation of Filipino noodle dish, pancit). It’s so rich yet so bright! I also love my mom’s lumpia shanghai (spring roll). Through the years she developed these recipes and made them her own, and both are her signature dishes.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Ashley: I love making Filipino barbeque and my grandmother’s atchara (pickle made from grated, unripe papaya). These components complement each other well, and they remind me of summer. I often make these at Flour!

On staying in touch...

 Photo provided by Ashley Lujares

Photo provided by Ashley Lujares

How can people stay in touch?
Ashley: My Instagram account is serajul. It’s my last name backwards if you are wondering where I got it from.

 


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

Your English is So Good! (First of All, I’m a Native Speaker…)

By: Christine Del Castillo

It's the ambiguous melanin. The Spanish surnames. But most of all, the English. This, I think, is why it's so hard to track Filipinos down, especially when we're not congregating in an enclave like those in California or New Jersey. We're self-reliant because we're not speechless in this place; even recent immigrants come with a firm grasp of the English language.

Those who do are lucky. English speakers are much less common in poor and rural areas. I grew up in Metro Manila with parents who taught me both English and Filipino at home. Nevertheless, English is a co-official language of the Philippines, and many of us speak it in addition to one or more regional languages.

In this sense it's surreal—and offensive, in professional circles—when people exclaim “your English is so good!” First of all, I’m a native speaker. Secondly, the Philippines was an American colony for decades, ceded from Spain for a cool $20M back in 1898. Finally, this may mean that people have ideas about What Native Speakers Look Like, and that I don’t look like that. I won't pursue that train of thought. It’s more constructive to share the ways we remix and play with this language - the ways we make it our own.

Anong tawag doon, yung code-switching

Code-switching, or adapting your speech to build rapport with different groups, has a wide spectrum when you speak two or more languages. In Manila, that can look something like this: English with an American accent, when you’re at a call center talking to Americans at midnight. English with a Filipino accent, if you want to sound educated but approachable.

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“Let’s tusok-tusok the fishballs.” Chart via Wikipedia

You might switch to Taglish, if you ran into some people from high school and that’s how they speak. You may also toggle back and forth between multiple regional languages depending on where you are. Here, for example, are some words for “love” that differ wildly from language to language: mahal, langga, gugma, boot, ayat, hirang.

We’re so punny

In the Philippines, you’ll find a proverb like “every cloud has a silver lining” transformed into its gallows humor doppelgänger, “every cloud has a silver lightning.” Whether it's intentional wit or a misheard phrase, who knows? But we’ve been known to embrace our misheard English too, with expressions like “what do you take me for, granted?”—a combination of “what do you take me for, a fool?” and the idiom “to take for granted."

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“Take me into your eleven arms…”

Bilingual punning is rampant, often leaning heavily on English words said in a Filipino accent, or English words with a phonetic sound that translates to something else in Filipino.

  Ako wala = A koala.

Ako wala = A koala.

We also love our acronyms. “N...P...A? Nice People Around?” quips Imelda Marcos in Jessica Hagedorn’s novel, Dogeaters.

NR, or No Reaction, is something you might call your most deadpan friend: “That’s so sad. Aren’t you sad?” “I am sad. This is my sad face.” “Wow, you’re so NR.” The Tagalog opposite of that, by the way, is KSP, "Kulang Sa Pansin,” a person acting out because they're starved for attention.

I have a Taglish favorite that I probably learned in seventh grade: HHWWPSSP. Holding Hands While Walking, Pa-Sway Sway Pa. This refers to the public displays of affection of a couple in their honeymoon phase. Picture it. Murmur “eeewww.”

Fluency and industry

Speaking and teaching English is big business in the Philippines. There’s a massive population of young people who speak fluent, lightly accented English, which is why so many American companies outsource work to Filipino call centers. The country has become the call center capital of the world, generating about $25B in revenue.

English language education is also booming. According to Jose L. Cuisia, a former ambassador to the United States, “there are more and more Koreans that are studying English in the Philippines. In 2004, there were about 5,700…The following year, it tripled to about 17,000, in 2012 it was about 24,000. So we’re seeing an increasing number of Koreans. But they’re also from other countries: Libya, Brazil, Russia.”

Can't you just take a compliment?

Yes. Thank you. But there's a shade of difference between "You speak so wonderfully!" and "You speak like a native." If one feels a bit wrong, there's always the option to start some cultural exchange. Or you can just do what my dad does, which is so beautiful in its subtlety. When someone says, “Your English is so good,” he responds, “Thank you. So is yours.”

Learn a more about Christine on our About page.