Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Multimedia Producer Hyacinth Empinado

By Trish Fontanilla

 Photo provided by Hyacinth Empinado

Photo provided by Hyacinth Empinado

I had the pleasure of meeting Hyacinth at the last BOSFilipinos meetup. As we were chatting I thought she’d be a great person to interview for our Filipinos in Boston feature, as she’s done an awesome job of combining her passions.

I hope you love learning about Hyacinth as much as I loved meeting her.


Where are you and your family from?
Hyacinth:
I am a proud Cebuana. I was raised in a town called Minglanilla. Our claim to fame is an Easter festival called Sugat-Kabanhawan, which commemorates Jesus’ resurrection. Festivities start at dawn on Easter Sunday. There’s pyrotechnics, street dancing, angels on harnesses, and a giant eagle. It’s pretty awesome.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Hyacinth:
I am a multimedia producer at STAT, an online news publication that covers biotech and research. I create mini-documentaries, often profiling scientists and their work. I also create animated explainer videos that walk viewers through how something works. Occasionally, I also produce The Readout LOUD, a weekly biotech podcast.

Tell us a little more about your path to becoming a multimedia producer.
Hyacinth:
In second grade, I was telling everyone that I was going to be a TV journalist -- mass communications was going to be my college major. This baffled my teachers because I was a pretty shy kid, but I knew that I was destined to wear a press badge.

But in high school, I fell in love with biology, so I decided to study bio in college and spent many hours gently poking glowing worms under a microscope. (I was studying aging and longevity in a nematode called C. elegans and had to poke the older worms to see if they were still alive.)

All the while, my interest in television never waned, and I started volunteering at my school’s student-run TV station. Amidst the tangled cables and cameras, I never felt more at home.

Sometime between microscope-induced eye strain and tripping on cables, I found out that there’s such a thing as science journalism, which allowed me to meld my love for science and television. I got a master’s degree in health and medical journalism from the University of Georgia, and now I get to produce my own videos and show the world how cool science is.

 In the lab / Photo provided by Hyacinth Empinado

In the lab / Photo provided by Hyacinth Empinado

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Hyacinth:
I have been in Boston for over three years.

What are your favorite Boston spots:
Hyacinth:
I love getting ramen at Santouka. You can also never go wrong with dumplings at the Gourmet Dumpling House.

I also enjoy seeing strange and quirky films at the Coolidge Corner Theatre and watching plays and musicals at the Huntington Theatre and the American Repertory Theater.

Are there any Boston-based programs that you love?
Hyacinth:
When I first came to Massachusetts, I got involved with Catholic Charities. They do amazing work helping refugees navigate life in the United States. I got assigned to help a refugee learn English, and it’s been great seeing his language skills improve over the past couple of years.

 Cape Cod / Photo provided by Hyacinth Empinado

Cape Cod / Photo provided by Hyacinth Empinado

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Hyacinth:
My mom’s dinuguan. Hands down. A very close second is sisig.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Hyacinth:
I like to make lumpia shanghai and bistek. I also like making leche flan. It’s my go-to potluck dish.

I don’t really know how to make a lot of Filipino dishes yet. But since moving to Massachusetts, I’ve been craving a lot of my mom’s cooking. So, I often FaceTime with her, and she walks me through all the steps. Recently, we made pancit and chicken tinola together. I’ve yet to have her teach me how to make dinuguan, though.

Video provided by Hyacinth Empinado, made for STAT

On staying in touch…

How can people stay in touch?
Hyacinth:
Check out my latest videos on Twitter and find out what my latest plant baby is on Instagram, both @sayhitohyacinth (Twitter / Instagram). You can also find my latest stories at www.statnews.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.