One year and one day ago, Mallory Valenzuela asked me to proofread the very first piece for Kubo’s launch. And it’s been one year since that piece went live. What started as a simple favor for a friend turned into 365 days of me following one of my own dreams: writing. When Mallory first questioned me about what it means to be a Fil-Am millennial who spends so much time online, I never dreamed that a 3-hour phone call would lead to me becoming Kubo’s Editor-in-Chief.

What exactly does an Editor-in-Chief do? This is a great question. Especially because I have no idea in any other context. I know what Kubo’s Editor-in-Chief does and I’ve had to navigate these waters with very few precedents or examples. And that’s how I imagine it is for many of Kubo’s contributors and readers. As Fil-Am millennials navigating unfamiliar waters in our identities, education, industries, and day-to-day life, there is no instruction manual for how to do this thing correctly. The lack of representation in mainstream media does nothing to help our plight.

But storytelling has always been a part of our DNA. It’s how we’ve passed down our history via ancestral tales and family gossip. It’s how we keep our recipes alive and trace where we get our personality traits. It’s how we’ve been able to explore our identities despite the historical injustices that deemed our history unworthy of textbooks.


Shrine of Valour Memorial Cross, Mount Samat National Shrine — Pilar, Bataan, Philippines

Content creation, on the other hand, is not a daily practice for most of us. It’s certainly not a career path prescribed to us by our parents or educational system. But it’s 2018, Kubo is one year into its existence, and there are a multitude of ways that folks in the diaspora can connect with each other. We live our daily lives focused on the hustle, simply hoping to survive. We may work on those big dreams and do our damnedest to leave our mark on this world. And we may never find the time to write it all down or produce a video about it. We might not even think it worth sharing — rather that it’s simply part of the struggle on the way to success. Part of the road on the way to revelation. Part of the journey to feel joy.

As Kubo’s Editor-in-Chief, I know one thing for sure. I am here to tell you that your voice matters. There is power in your story.

I think it helps that I think almost everything is interesting. Not necessarily with a positive or negative connotation. But in a way that just about every part of our lives is worth a deep dive. Especially whatever aspect is most salient to us in 2018. As a Filipino-American woman, I find these facets of my identity coloring my everyday experiences and the choices I make in pursuit of my goals. I want to know what stands out to you, too. What gets you out of bed in the morning? And how you are you making meaning of all of that? I am here to help contributors share their stories. And before that, I want to help Fil-Am millennials believe that they have a story worth sharing. Our communities are filled with folks from all corners of identities, industries, and experiences. And there is so much to learn from each other. While Kubo doesn’t seek to persuade people one way or another, we are here to provide a platform where we know there is power in our storytelling. And in empowering ourselves, we can create social change and free ourselves from the weights that have been holding us down. I hope to make space and give voice for Fil-Am millennials and also those who have valuable lessons for Fil-Am millennials.

Abeyance (Draves y Robles y Vargas), 2017 — Jerome Reyes, as seen at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

I’ve made more connections that I would have ever imagined from working with a platform that exists completely online (for now). I’ve gotten to explore the depths of our community’s experiences and felt the gravity of how much potential we have. While the magnitude of our experiences runs deep, it’s true that our world is really small. And I’ve learned to find the value in that, too. Our connections act as both support system and social capital, if only we let them. As I make my way to the next milestone in Kubo’s journey, I want to share three musings and three motivations I have for the next year.

Three Musings

  1. Our stories are powerful beyond measure.

This is a truth that we need to own for ourselves AND be validated by others. I hope that in living my own journey as a writer, educator, and Filipino-American woman, I can be a shining example of this truth. I also hope that as Kubo’s Editor-in-Chief, I can validate the power in others’ stories and compel others to share with the world.

2. It’s okay that I am not an expert. At anything.

In a world where I am chasing titles and where status implies power, I feel the pressure to know it all and be an expert before I’ve even give myself a chance to speak. When Mallory, Conrad, and I first released this passion project into the world, we discussed at length our fears and apprehensions. I constantly live on the edge of feeling like I haven’t done enough research and that there is always someone more qualified than me. The root of our worries being “Are we sure we know what we are doing?” Here’s the thing: how could we if this has never been done before? The biggest piece of this sentiment is that I am always learning and growing. And that I grant myself grace, allow myself to be confident, and trust the process.

3. There is a shadow side to the work I do here.

The stakes feel high when I am responsible for putting a contributor’s story into the digital abyss. When I agreed to take on this role, I did not anticipate the internal turmoil I would experience in shaping and sharing the narratives of others. I did not foresee the lengthy texts and hours-long conversations about policing content, moderating disagreements, and entertaining the haters. I had no idea how heavy I would feel doing work that I know is meaningful.

Three Motivations

1. Increase Kubo’s reach and the diversity of stories told.

I want to put you on to the 960,000 Filipino-American millennials in the States.

2. Turn our digital connections into real-world relationships.

Lifting each other up is tiring. And it sucks that we have to take on this burden on top of the hustle required to survive daily life and reach our goals. I’m hoping that the connections made through Kubo turn that burden into a sense of belonging and support.

3. Foster a space in which our community is free and encouraged to hold multiple truths.

Remember that shadow side? I want to bring that darkness to the light — where each of our experiences is validated, yet we a striving towards a world that is equitable and just. One of my favorite phrases currently: “Both, and.” I find myself using this phrase dissolve binaries of “right” and “wrong” and arrive at a place of complexity and nuance in our various experiences.

These past 365 days are merely a jumping off point. An amazing, lesson-filled, better-than-I-could-have-imagined, jumping off point. As we find our footing in both the digital sphere and the community, I continue to be overcome by love, gratitude, and motivation for my people. The Kubo team is ready to bring you more content. And I hope you’ll be a part of that journey in more ways than one.

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