Week 3: Reconnecting with My Filipino-American Background

Jordan Agricula, 2018 CAUSE Leadership Academy

When it came time to accept an internship for this summer, I had the fortunate difficulty of choosing between two amazing opportunities. The first was to continue working within the student veteran community, which I had been dabbling in over the last four years, or to accept an internship with the CAUSE Leadership Academy, which I had zero ties to. One of the major reasons I decided to accept my internship with CAUSE was the opportunity to reconnect with Filipino-American community, and to expand that connection to the broader Asian Pacific American (APA) community.

On July 6th, I had the opportunity to meet up with CAUSE staff members Miko Jao and Audrey Soriano to talk about our individual experiences as Filipino-Americans, how we each got involved with the Fil-Am or APA communities, and our general love for Filipino food. This also served as an amazing opportunity to share the Filipino culture, history, and food with several of my fellow cohort members.

That evening, we decided to meet at Unidad Park, which falls on the edge of the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles. Along the entire length of one edge of the park is a beautiful mural portraying Filipino and Filipino-American historic moments and key figures. On the far left was a portrait of Datu Lapu Lapu for being considered the first Filipino hero due to his actions of resisting Spanish colonization, in the middle were portraits of Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong for their instrumental rolls in forming the United Farmers Workers throughout California, and on the far left were portraits of modern day figures like Manny Pacquiao and Allan Pineda Lindo aka apl.de.ap. This mural helped launch conversations covering topics that ranged from what it was like growing up as a Filipino-American, what it was like being Filipino-American within the broader APA community, and representation of Filipino-Americans within media, as well as prompting us to share our personal journeys of becoming advocates and getting involved with the CAUSE Leadership Academy.

From there, we went to Bahay Kubo Restaurant a couple blocks away to bond over some amazing Filipino dishes like Laing, Chicken Adobo, Kaldereta, and so much more. This part of the evening was very important to me because the atmosphere, smell, food, and conversations all helped me reconnect with my roots of being Filipino-American. This reconnection made me feel empowered to represent my community because I was able to learn more about the Filipino-American community.

“It is important to find your reason for being. That balance of what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.” – Miko Jao, CAUSE Manager of Voter Engagement.