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Our History, Our Vision: Kicking off Filipino

Hi there. Kumusta po kayo?

We’re MAFA. And to help kick off Filipino American History Month, here is our first blog post on our new blog, WeAreMAFA! Since the ushering in of social media into our everyday lifestyles, we thought it was time to revamp the MAFA newsletter and express our too-long-for-Facebook thoughts into this blog.  Here you’ll find anything and everything under the Filipino (American) sun from food and YouTube videos about your Filipino mom to more contemplative matters like colonial mentality, cultural awareness, Filipino-American activism, and Duterte’s politics.

But before we get into any of that, let’s start by introducing ourselves.  We are your MAFA Executive Board for the 2016-2017 term.

{From left to right: Myself - Kathleen Guytingco-Secretary (I obviously was not at MAFA Board Transition); Julia Saito-Events Coordinator; Kayla Arquines-Treasurer; Kenny Stamper-Vice President-External; Cat Taylo-President; Trini Roxas-Vice President-Internal; Allan Mendoza-Media Master; Nina Cedro-Co-Outreach Chair; Madelaine Isobal-Co-Outreach Chair}

Apart from being the lovely faces you’ll see spamming the MAFA Members Facebook page, we’re also a team of hardworking, driven individuals that are committed to serving the Midwestern Filipino community.  To start, we’d like to break down the vision statement for our board.  While the MISSION statement of MAFA as an organization remains the same, this vision statement that we meticulously devised will function as our mantra that will guide us throughout our term as your executive board.

What does this all mean? Apart from the seemingly political correctness of this, there’s real content here that we are genuinely passionate about working toward:

“To foster a safe, inclusive space for members in the Midwest...”

Self-explanatory. We’re in the Midwest, so we’re serving the Midwest. Let your voice be heard, let other voices be heard, and respect opinions brought forth to the table.

“ engage in social consciousness regarding Filipinx culture and issues”

HOLD up. Filipinx?? “Are you illiterate”? “Is that a typo” “That’s a bad typo, ‘x’ is nowhere near ‘o’ on QWERTY keyboard”.

No, no, and no. Quick flashback to middle school algebra: x can stand for anything and everything: Filipinx is an up-and-coming term that the Filipino community is using to capture a wider net of people that do not identify under heteronormative standards. The "X” is gender neutral and encompasses all genders that Filipinx people may identify with. *end middle school flashback, no one needs to relive those days.*

Now that you know what Filipinx means, we as MAFA Board want to help you all engage social consciousness regarding Filipinx issues because of two things: 1) it’s about us as Filipinos, yes, but 2) there’s so much more to know beyond our little Midwestern bubble. Intersectionality is abound, so understanding the intersections that the MAFAsphere is caught between gives us valuable insights about who we are as a community as well as knowledge about other communities.  Think about the Filipino-Americans out on the West Coast, the Filipino food movement that’s dawning on the US, or even how Filipino-Americans relate to the history of marginalized minorities in America like the Latino farm workers, how 1 in 5 Filipino-Americans are of multi-racial descent, or the Black Lives Matter movement.  We’re everywhere, and it’s awesome, and you should know how awesome we are.

“...therefore defining and cultivating a Midwest Filipino-American identity.”

A lot of the research regarding what a Filipino-American looks like is dominated by samples from West Coast Fil-Ams. While we all share similar experiences being Fil-Ams, we Midwesterners don’t have the luxury of hitting up Jollibee for those ChickenJoy cravings or picking up a mocha roll from Goldilocks after school. If you were like me, you probably grew up being the only (or one of few) Filipino, Asian-American, or even minorities in your hometowns.  Often times, many Midwestern Filipinos may not have had access to a Filipino community outside of immediate family; thus, what we experience being Filipinos in the no-coast Midwest is very different than FilAms in Cali. In the Midwest, we lack a wealth of resources to connect to Filipino culture earlier in our lives, so your college’s PSA or MAFA is the perfect place to come to explore that.

The importance to define ourselves is even more crucial now that Filipino culture is moving into the public eye.  Did you see news on that show called Mail-Order Family by NBC?  It was going to feature a mail-order bride from the Philippines ordered by a white American widower to help raise his family (read more about it here).

Doesn't this just SCREAM problematic??

EXCUSE ME, I would rather not have the portrait of Filipinos to be painted in an imperialist, human trafficking-sympathetic, stereotypic image, thank you very much.  Thank goodness they pulled it after receiving heavy backlash on social media. Because of instances such as these, it is all the more important that we define ourselves before we risk having other people misrepresent us.

“Through this dialogue, we aim to bridge members to a greater network of the Filipino diasporic community...”

What's so great about the Filipino Diaspora is that we're literally everywhere - apart from being the 12th most populous country in the world, Tagalog is the 4th most commonly spoken language in the United States. Being Filipino is far from an isolated experience. Every time we encounter Filipinos somewhere else, there need be no other criteria for us to connect other than the fact that we're Filipino.  And with over 10 million Filipinos abroad, you're likely to run into a couple fellow Pinoys trying to offer you food just about anywhere.

“...and to explore personal and professional opportunities and resources”

PSAs are great because they help educate us on the Filipino culture and surround us with a network of Filipinos. However, there is MUCH more that goes beyond only learning about the culture.  The most powerful way to learn about the history and culture of the Philippines is when you learn directly from the connections made with fellow community members.  How much better do you actually learn something when it was taught to you by an Ate, Kuya, Lola, or Lolo rather than you trying to Google search the same information?  There are many passionate individuals in the diasporic community that we aren't taking advantage of as much as we could be.  Sometimes, the Midwest can isolate us from the rest of the Filipino community. Imagine how much we could benefit if we shared our experiences with those other people? Outside of the Midwest, there isn’t much recognition of what goes on in our Midwestern Filipino community - how established and well-connected MAFA is as a community, the prestige of Battle of the Bamboo, the huge turnout at FACT - and why would they know about these things if we only keep to ourselves?  

As we start off Filipino American History Month, let us continue to circulate articles about the rich history of Filipino Americans, but let us not forget the people behind those stories and the power and feasibility in connecting with them.  MAFA, let yourself learn about the greater Filipino community, and let them know us. We as MAFA Board recognize that the point of MAFA goes beyond connecting other schools within the region. Who else better to connect our schools to other organizations and entities in the Filipino Diaspora than MAFA itself?

This is our vision for MAFA this year. You ready?

On behalf of MAFA Board,


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