I didn’t know that Filipinos had any influence on Seattle’s history, let alone the significance. Being born and raised Filipina-American, I was surrounded by a lot of Filipinos. My aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, etc., all came here from the United States together. I got to grow up with basically all of them and even though my family is great, I couldn’t help but feel like the Black Sheep. I was different. I cared about politics… not nursing school. And I’m pretty aggressive in my values, too. I was going to protests, rallys, town halls.
My involvement in politics became so important that I started organizing campaigns as well. But even with my extensive activism, I noticed something important: I was usually the only Filipino present. This occurrence became disheartening to me as I began to reject my culture. Why was I fighting so hard for others like me when there was no one else but me? This is why the Empowering Pilipino Youth Through Collaboration Program (EPYC) was such a wonderful surprise.
Through this program, not only was I able to be in contact with other Filipino youth around the country, but they were youth who were active in politics like me. They were youth that cared. When I finally landed in Seattle and got to meet everybody, I started to realize that I am not alone. That was a really powerful feeling because I’ve been involved in politics since I was 14 years old, feeling like I was all by myself.
While in Seattle, there was a lot of bonding. We were able to all “live” in one house together. From games to activities, we also got to explore the city of Seattle. I have been to Seattle a couple times before, but after this trip, I had a new found love for the city. One of my favorite activities was going to Seattle’s Chinatown and learning about how Filipinos, especially Carlos Bulosan, influenced the workers unions and seeing how and where they influenced the community. This trip showed me that there was others like me, and I hope that this program continues to bring more Filipino youth together.