Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Doctor Manny De La Rosa

By Trish Fontanilla

Well it’s been almost 2 years of Filipinos in Boston profiles (I started this a few months after we started the organization), and we’re finally interviewing a doctor! I met Manny at the BOSFilipinos meetup at Parsnip in July (amazing food and crew over there!). He’s super new to Boston, so I figured why not introduce him to the BF community more formally? After all, we’re all about storytelling and community!

Thank you to Manny for taking time to chat with me, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know him!

Where are you and your family from? Also, feel free to share more about your family’s background and ties to the Philippines.
Manny:
For Fil-Ams like ourselves, the story really began in the Motherland. My mom is originally from Bataan and grew up in Quezon City, and my dad in Candelaria in Quezon Province. My maternal grandparents were physicians; Lola (grandma) was a psychiatrist and med school professor and Lolo (grandpa), a pediatrician. On my dad’s side, my Lolo was the Vice Mayor of Candelaria, while my Lola stayed at home to support the kids. My parents are from huge families! My mom grew up with six sisters and two brothers, and my dad has two brothers and two sisters. Starting in the 70s, my parents, titas (aunts), and titos (uncles) on both sides of my family gradually came to the U.S. to pursue their professional careers and start their branches of our family. I have relatives on both coasts and in the Midwest. My dad settled in Iowa for his first job as an engineer for Case before moving to Indianapolis to work for General Motors. My mom finished high school in Ohio, studied nursing initially, but then moved to Indiana, where she switched her major to respiratory therapy and was later hired by one of the local hospitals in Indy.  My parents met through mutual friends in the small Fil-Am community in Indianapolis, where I was born, raised, and educated. I have a younger brother who lives in Orlando and runs his own social media marketing firm called Vadela (check it out at www.vadela.co). After graduating from medical school at Indiana University in 2016, I moved to the D.C. area for internal medicine residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital. I finished residency this past June, and here I am now!

So tell us a little more about where you work and what you do.

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Still looking alive after a night shift!”

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Still looking alive after a night shift!”

Manny: I’ve worked as an internal medicine doc at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a part-time instructor at Harvard Medical School since July. My job at the Brigham is to admit patients to the various medical and oncology floors at night, whether they come in as transfers from another hospital or through the emergency room. At the same time, I am available for any overnight needs for about thirty to forty patients who are assigned to me for the shift. At Harvard, I teach med students how to interview and examine patients at the hospital, and I am one of the proctors for the clinical skills exam they take at the end of the course. I am a tough grader… muahahaha. 


For most Filipino families, having someone working in the medical field feels like a pre-req, but when did you decide to get into medicine? 
Manny:
I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My mom kept many of her college textbooks around the house, and I remember browsing through many of the pictures and diagrams. I thought that the human body was the coolest thing in the universe! Particularly inspiring for me as a kid was how my own pediatrician listened and observed carefully to address my concerns. Every time I saw him, I was curious about why he was asking so many questions, and what he hearing with his stethoscope that helped him come up with a diagnosis to restore my health when I was sick and keep me well when I was healthy.  Combined with the fact that I always naturally enjoyed my science classes, loved working in teams of all kinds, and engaged in philanthropy, I knew that medicine was the perfect career for me. Even though a handful of my relatives are physicians, nurses, and medical lab techs, I never experienced family pressure to pursue a career in healthcare. Now that I am a fully practicing physician after many years of school and on-the-job training in residency, I believe that the same things that drew me to the profession as a kid are why I still enjoy coming to work every day! 

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “This is from my residency graduation banquet. My colleague and I shared the award for Resident Scholar and Teacher of the Year.”

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “This is from my residency graduation banquet. My colleague and I shared the award for Resident Scholar and Teacher of the Year.”

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Manny: 
I moved here at the end of June, and I live in JP. 

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)
Manny:
My favorites are Fenway, Newbury Street, Seaport, the Boston Common, and Quincy Market. In terms of food and drink, James Hook & Company has the best lobster rolls I have ever had, but if you know of a better place, let me know! The Liberty Hotel is my go-to for upscale drinks and dining. Last, but not least, JP Licks in Brigham Circle is where you will frequently find me for a cup of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream before work!

This town is great for fitness too! I often take my bike out to Cambridge and ride along the Charles for the great views and fresh air. Before I moved to Boston, I took up powerlifting. I hired a coach based at Rx Strength Training in Somerville, but I now do most of my workouts at GymIt near BU since it’s in a more convenient location for me, while my coach works with me remotely. 

What’s your community superpower?
Manny:
Large-scale philanthropy! I was the Vice President External for the Midwest Association of Filipino Americans (www.wearemafa.org) from 2011 to 2012. As part of my role as VPE, I organized a school supply donation competition between the MAFA member organizations (all university-based Filipino clubs) called the Balikbayan Box Project. We sent a wide variety of items to the Philippines-- everything from pencils and books to old computers.     


On Filipino Food...

 What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Manny:
I am thinking about this while my mouth waters… tinola

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Manny:
Beef Kaldereta

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Last Fall, we went on a triple date with my girlfriend and friends from Indianapolis who were visiting D.C.”

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Last Fall, we went on a triple date with my girlfriend and friends from Indianapolis who were visiting D.C.”

On staying in touch… 

How can people stay in touch? (Social, email, website, whatever you’re comfortable with)

Manny: Instagram and Snapchat: mannydlr, and email: mcdelaro2@gmail.com

I will be starting a vlog and health/medical education channel on YouTube in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!


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 Artist Lexi DeLeon

By Trish Fontanilla

A couple weeks ago I wrote a bit of a rally cry post to invite more of the community to share their stories with us. It’s. Been. Amazing. Please, please keep the stories comin’ by nominating a Filipino you know / nominating yourself.

This month’s Filipinos in Boston post came to me thanks to Alex Poon who nominated his girlfriend Lexi DeLeon. Lexi is a super talented artist and - well, I’ll just let you read the interview below!

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

Where are you and your family from?

Lexi: I was born in the U.S., but my parents are both Filipino and both have family in the Metro Manila area (specifically in Marikina). I visited the the Philippines for the third time in my life last year, the first two times being when I was quite young. I don’t speak Tagalog, unfortunately, but it was really amazing and humbling for me to visit there, especially at an older age. I was also shocked at the amount of cousins I had that I never knew about. It made me realize how much of my culture I’m unfamiliar with, which was kind of sad and alienating at times. One thing that I really loved about being there was just the strong sense of community and family. Even though there were many titas / titos (aunts / uncles) that I had never met, they never hesitated to show me anything but warmth and hospitality, and always sought to make me feel included. I felt like I was never alone there, which was a really comforting feeling.

Where do you work and what do you do?

Lexi: Honestly I’m kind of shy about it, and it’s kind of surreal to write out, but I’m an artist. I do a lot of commission work and I also work a part-time job.

Can you tell us a little more about the art you create and how you got started?

Lexi: As a kid I was always drawing and doodling. My mom told me that when I was young I would take markers and scribble the brightest colors in different patterns until it filled up the whole page. I didn't take it seriously until I moved from New York to a random suburb in Connecticut during my teens. I was really shy and quiet, and I moved at a very weird point in the school year, so that was definitely a very isolating time for me. My mom had signed me up for an after school program which had a focus on the arts and I think that's when I really got into it because the teachers there were extremely supportive and encouraging. They were always willing to lend me art materials that I didn't have at the time or take the students to different art galleries in the area. And I dove head first into art as a means of trying to deal with this difficult transition in my life. Also because I’m shy and internalize a lot of my thoughts, art provides a way for me to express my emotions or how I’m feeling in a way that I can't articulate through conversation.

As for the art I create, I don't think there's a real deep meaning or grand message that is the driving force for the imagery. I think my art is really more emotion based and is inspired by whatever media I'm interested at the time. I'm really drawn to vivid colors at the moment so I'm always trying to incorporate as many colors in one illustration as I can, and there's always a lot of florals and nature. I love honing in small details or intricate line work as well, because my mind just gets lost in it. I feel like the way I make art now is definitely very similar to the way I made art as a child - just picking random colors that catch my eye and filling up a page with different intricate patterns until I feel it’s finished.

On Boston…

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

How long have you been in Boston?

Lexi: I’ve been in Boston for about 5 years now I think? I came here for college and have pretty much stayed ever since.

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)

Lexi: Ooh, I love visiting different places for food and coffee especially. I’d have to say my favorite place as of now is definitely Solid Ground Cafe on Huntington. I saw an ad for it on Instagram I think, or maybe it was on the BOSFilipinos Instagram page (the only time I was ever actually been enamored by an ad on Instagram), and it was for a coconut pandan latte. I haven’t had pandan since I visited the Philippines, so once I saw the post I made it a priority to try and visit before they closed that day. I was running really late (in typical Filipino fashion) and I think I made it at 2:55PM, and they close at 3PM. I felt so bad being *that* customer, but they were extremely kind and made me a latte anyway. It was single-handedly one of the best lattes I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve honestly had a lot - I worked at a coffee shop for like 3 ½ years. They also make this amazing ube tart and bibingka (Filipino bake rice cake), which makes me really happy because finding Filipino food in Boston can be really difficult. The owners themselves are just really sweet. When I can, I love just sitting there to have those nostalgic flavors and write / reflect / sketch. Oh, and I am a hardcore stan for Coreanos in Allston.

My long winded love letter to Solid Ground Cafe aside, I also really love sitting on the benches of the Charles River Esplanade during the Spring / Summer and walking along the river and people watching. The reservoir by Cleveland Circle is also a really lovely spot to go to on a nice day. I’m not a very talkative or outgoing person, so finding these spots / areas to just sit and reflect in the midst of everything means a lot me.

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish? (Feel free to link up some recipes, otherwise I’ll find them around the web)

Lexi: This is so hard, wow. I think it has to be kare-kare (Filipino stew with peanut sauce) maybe? Growing up, I only had it during special occasions, so I would eat 3 servings of it as a kid and even now. I have to say lechon kawali (deep fried crispy pork belly) is a really close second though. After that has to be tapsilog (beef tapa, garlic fried rice, and egg). And anything ube flavored. Honestly, I love all Filipino food so much and it’s so rare that I have it so it’s very difficult for me to pick.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?

Lexi: I’m sadly not very blessed with cooking skills but either sinigang (Filipino tamarind soup) or tinola (Filipino chicken soup). They’re just really comforting foods to make, especially in the wintertime. Oh and arroz caldo! I like to make it in a big batch so I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had a dream that I made an ube cheesecake. I can’t really bake but I’m determined to learn now since I clearly prophesied this concoction.

Art by Lexi DeLeon

Art by Lexi DeLeon

On staying in touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / programs / even work things that you’d like to mention?

Lexi: I’m part of a group show at MECA gallery in Lowell , and the reception is this Wednesday on April 24th. I post a lot on Instagram but this is really one of the few times I’ve ever showcased my work in a gallery setting so it’s pretty exciting and anxiety inducing for me. There’s definitely a lot of fear with putting your work out there. At the same time I’m really excited to meet other artists and cultivate those relationships with creatives who may face similar struggles, and to help each other grow.

How can people stay in touch? (Social, email, website, whatever you’re comfortable with)

Lexi: I’m most active on my art Instagram, which is @lecksydee, and a lot of my work can be seen on my website at lexideleon.com.


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

Help Us Tell More Filipino Stories

By Trish Fontanilla

Trish as a hand model with the program from Dragon Mama.

Trish as a hand model with the program from Dragon Mama.

Last year when I saw Dragon Lady, the first piece in Sara Porkalob’s Dragon Cycle, I was completely blown away. And so this past Sunday when I had the opportunity to see Dragon Mama, the second installment in the trilogy, I was super excited. So excited that from the moment the lights went down, my mouth was embarrassingly wide open in awe. I may have whispered, “She’s so talented,” once or thrice to myself. By the end of the show I was crying (as much as I let myself in public) and in between my low key eye dabs, Sara came back out for some final words since it was the last night of the run. Honestly, I was so high up in the feels, I don’t quite remember everything she said, but there were two things that really stuck out. First, American Rep commissioned Sara to write Dragon Baby, a full cast musical and the final installment of the Dragon Cycle (cue a million screaming emojis and GIFs). And second, if we don’t tell our stories, who will?

Since we formally launched BOSFilipinos almost 2 years ago, I’ve been connecting with everyone’s “one Filipino friend” in Boston pretty much every week. And it’s been awesome, but I want more.

Next month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. A month meant to celebrate everything API (Asian Pacific Islander) in the history of the United States. So I’m taking a cue from Sara, and pushing to share even more stories than we ever have before. I’d love to highlight, at least, 31 new stories of Filipinos around Boston, one for each day in May. That’s a lot of content, which means we’re going to need your help!

So, here’s my call to action:

  • If you have an awesome Filipino friend / partner / colleague / acquaintance in Boston or you’ve got a Filipino story to share that has something to do with the history of Boston, we would love to hear from you. You can either pass along our email address, info@bosfilipinos.com OR you can share their email address (with their permission) and I’ll reach out OR you can nominate them for a profile or interview by filling out this form. Don’t forget to tell them how awesome they are. I’ve found that folks don’t always believe that their story is worth being told. Hint: It is. Another hint: Don’t be afraid to nominate yourself!

  • If we’ve already highlighted you, let us know what’s new! Tag us on social with @BOSFilipinos / #BOSFilipinos on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook, or email us, and we’ll figure out a way to highlight you as well!

And while we’re here, it’s more than just getting Filipinos to tell their stories right? You can also…

  • Be more conscious about amplifying Filipino voices. That could be re-sharing a post from a Filipino artist in your news feed, or taking a look around during a club meeting and letting folks know that we’re missing from the conversation.

  • Support platforms and organizations like American Rep that are investing in storytellers like Sara, so that we can continue to get our voices and messages out to our community and beyond.

Thank you, as always, to our many supporters, sponsors, allies, and friends for continuing to support BOSFilipinos thus far. We wouldn’t be here without people like you. And if you'‘d like to get involved in any way (volunteer / sponsor / amplifier), please send us an email info@bosfilipinos.com.

We’ll see you out there!


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 Account Executive Sunanda Nair

By Trish Fontanilla

I’m super excited to introduce you to, Sunanda Nair! Sunanda and I were trying to remember how we first met, but settled on some networking event many moons ago. The funny part is I’ve known her wife Melissa way longer since we were both among the early users of Yelp when it first launched in Boston almost 15 years ago! Sunanda and I recently reconnected on LinkedIn when I gave our previous Filipinos in Boston women a shout out on International Women’s Day because I wasn’t seeing many Asian / Filipino women being highlighted on speaker’s lists in Boston and beyond.

Thanks again to Sunanda for being a part of Filipinos in Boston, and I hope you all enjoy reading her interview!

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda (far right) with her parents.

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda (far right) with her parents.

Where are you and your family from?
Sunanda:
My mother is from the island of Bohol in the Philippines, and immigrated to the US after nursing school. My father is from Kerala, a state in Southern India. The majority of my mom’s family is still in Bohol and Cebu. When we go back, we always stay in Bohol but we stop in Cebu to see extended family on the way.

Both my mother and father are close with their families, so as a child I visited their homelands every other year on a rotation. I was born in India but truly feel close to both my Filipino and Indian sides. I grew up around a lot of Filipinos and Indians in the Detroit area, and most of our meals were either South Indian or Filipino cuisine. It was a treat when we got “American” foods in the house for dinner. Although I still prefer the food I grew up with. I could eat rice with literally every meal.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Sunanda:
Currently I work at Privy, a tech company in downtown Boston. I am a Senior Account Executive on the team.

You’ve got an interesting resume that’s taken you from non-profits to for-profits, startups and public companies. Can you tell us more about your career journey and what led you to Privy?
Sunanda
: So my career trajectory is a winding one. I went to school for cognitive science and landed my first job abroad in India doing  HIV / AIDS research at the largest government hospital in the country. After that I came back to the US and split my time between playing poker online and working for non-profits and NGOs. I landed in Boston accidentally because my close friend was moving here, and I came along for the ride on the moving truck. I hung out here for awhile before deciding to take a summer certificate program at Boston University in public health. After finishing the program, I found myself working for an organization called Massachusetts & Asian Pacific Islands for Health (MAP for Health) doing program management, and research with the Massachusetts Department of Health and the CDC. The focus was on HIV / AIDS awareness and prevention in the Asian community. After MAP I worked for MataHari, a local Boston organization that works with diverse communities with a mission to end gender based violence and exploitation. While I was there I started to really enjoy marketing and took on a part-time internship as a social media marketer, which then turned into a part-time job. Because of that I started taking on consulting projects doing marketing and lead generation for various small businesses. While that was great, I realized I wanted some benefits like healthcare so I decided to apply for full-time marketing roles. I was able to secure an interview at a small startup that had no VP of  Marketing, so the VP of Sales interviewed me. Two days after my interview he offered me a sales job and I thought he was legitimately crazy. However, he challenged me to take a risk and I took it. I’m lucky that he was a great coach and mentor. I quickly learned I loved sales, even though it was really hard. That first sales job was all cold calling and even door-to-door sales. From there I went to a few more startups, and landed at one that was acquired by IBM. I spent 2 years at IBM and then wanted to go back to small company life and back to sales. I worked with Wistia for 2 years, which was amazing, but an opportunity to join Privy presented itself and it felt like a challenge so I took it. I love where I am right now, but can’t wait to see what the next 5 years have in store for me!

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda with her 2 y/o son Rishi.

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda with her 2 y/o son Rishi.

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Sunanda:
I moved to Boston in 2009, spent half a year in NYC and then ended back up in Boston. So almost 10 years! Wow, that’s crazy for me to type out.

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)
Sunanda:
I love the Boston Common and Public Garden in the summer. It seems a little cliche but it’s a great place to have a picnic, walk around when the weather is nice, and just enjoy the urban park. Now that I have a son the Frog Pond is the best thing to go to on hot days.

Also, I love love  Winsor Dim Sum Cafe in Chinatown. It’s been one of my favorites for years.

I hesitate to share this secret but in my opinion Charlestown is one of Boston’s best kept secrets. I lived there for almost 3 years, and it’s like a mini town right next to the city. It feels like a community.  I knew my neighbors, some who have lived there for 50+ years. There are tons of parks, a brewery, a growing restaurant selection, and you can walk to the North End in about 15-30 minutes depending on where you are in the neighborhood.

Photo provided by Sunanda

Photo provided by Sunanda

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Sunanda:
Oh, man. It’s hard to pick. I will say my mom’s pancit recipe (noodle dish I would have to write it out), and kare kare (coconut milk or peanut sauce version). I couldn’t pick between the two. I feel like lechon is a given. Does it even need to be said?

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Sunanda:
Ok, so full confession I am not really the cook in my house but my goal is to perfect my mom’s version of pancit.

On staying in touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / programs / even work things that you’d like to mention?
Sunanda:
I love a good side hustle and started investing in real estate in 2016. I am always down to talk to people who are interested in it, currently doing it, or both. I consider myself a novice still so the more I talk to people about it the more I learn.

Also, I am working on a product with my first sales boss which you can view at suvliner.com. Yes, we definitely know the website needs work. I would love to connect with people who have a background in consumer goods since we both are learning as we go. The website just got launched, but we aren’t in full selling mode yet, but we do have inventory.  Right now we are testing a new prototype for a smaller version of the product so we can offer 2 sizes. We are still very early in our journey and we aren’t looking to be millionaires just trying to have fun and keep learning new things. Although, if we hit it big neither of us will complain. :)

How can people stay in touch?
Sunanda:
sunanda.nair@gmail.com / https://www.linkedin.com/in/sunandanair/ (if we haven’t met just leave a note introducing yourself and I am happy to connect) / and Twitter: @snaps4life

I am open to grabbing coffee with people all the time so don’t hesitate to reach out!


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 Events Administrator Desiree Arevalo

By Trish Fontanilla

With the Filipinos in Boston series, not only do I try and find people from all different backgrounds and professions, I also try to find people that I don’t know. However this month, I decided to highlight my friend Desiree (Dez) Arevalo because she’s going to be the ring leader of the BOSFilipinos salsa meetup next week. I’ve known Dez for almost 10(?) years now, and she was even a consultant at one of my first startups (not the one mentioned below), something I totally forgot until I was looking through emails and wondering why I asked her for a copy of my license. Dez is a ball of energy and bright light around this community, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about her.

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

So where are you and your family from?
Dez:
My mom is Puerto Rican and my dad is Filipino, from Davao. He immigrated here when he was 14 with the rest of the gang, and he sadly has never been back to the Philippines (which will hopefully change this year!).

This is extra exciting to ask because I know you just started a new job, but where do you work and what do you do?
Dez:
I’m 8 days into my new job at WBUR and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s really a dream come true to be able to work with people who are as excited and passionate about community engagement, politics, and bringing unsung stories to light, as I am .

I’m specifically working for their newest arm of programming, CitySpace, which is a new venue for public conversation. It’s a space where we will bring content that you hear on the radio to life - think interviews, podcasts, performances, discussions, debates, etc. It’s also a rentable space, so along with companies and organizations, we’re encouraging community organizers and artists to utilize this space to elevate and showcase their work.

I know you studied Political Science, but most of your roles have been in operations or events. What inspired the switch?
Dez
: I actually became an event person by accident. I was working in sales at a diversity and inclusion media start-up, and I had helped with very small event tasks (aka wore many hats as one does in a startup) like registration, helping with speakers the day of, etc. It wasn’t until the event manager unexpectedly moved out of state that I was asked (or pushed) to take a bigger role in the event planning of their signature event, which snowballed into conceptualizing other events and managing those. For the record, I was terrible at sales and sold basically nothing and they probably forced me into the events job as a last hurrah.

Another reason I’m excited about this WBUR job is I get to marry my love of politics and what I’m good at (events) for a living!

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Dez:
Born and raised woop woop!

What are your favorite Boston spots?
Dez:
Too many. I think we are blessed with an amazing food scene and cultural scene. Wally’s is one of my favorite places to go on a Thursday night for their Latin Jazz. Best Puerto Rican food is at Vejigantes in the South End. If you want really amazing but cheap Latino food though, East Boston is the place to go. Endless restaurants of authentic dishes and for super cheap.

Coming from the events perspective, are there any events / spots around town that you love?
Dez:
I tend to be a small community event go-er and Dudley Cafe is my go-to and always has some poetry slam, author reading, community forum, or paint night going on. They’re also in my hood and (sadly) the only non-franchised coffee shop in Roxbury right now. AMAZING coffee and quick food, BTW.

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Dez:
SINIGANG 100%. I was vegetarian for over a year at one point in my life, and my lola’s (grandmother’s) sinigang was the dish that broke me!

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Dez:
Ube anything. I usually make a large batch of regular ube, then make ube cakes or ube ice cream, straight ube on a spoon. Can’t go wrong with that purple root of pure love, man.

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

Photo provided by Desiree Arevalo

On staying in touch…

How can people stay in touch?
Dez:
I’ve recently returned to the Twitterverse! I’ll be mostly posting about cool events and happenings at WBUR and the greater Boston area there. I can be found at @iamDEZisme on both Twitter and Instagram. Holler bizzle peeps!

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!

PA310606.jpg

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

WRITER’S NOTE - March 2019: Trish Mullen just started her own business! To learn more check out: https://www.sunandstarshair.com/

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

Boston.jpg

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.