I was lucky enough to be a part of a community while I was in college, specifically UCLA’s Samahang Pilipino and a cross-community coalition of diverse communities we were in. I felt community. I learned from people who shared similar experiences and identities — I had mentors/femtors, kuyas/ates (big siblings), adings (little siblings), and pamilyas (families). I engaged in difficult conversations, unlearned difficult concepts, and defined my role in this world . And because of these experiences, I’ve become a better person. I know how to lead with both my heart and my mind.
I know many of my friends attribute their growth to similar experiences too. Being a part of the Pilipin@ community at UCLA has been transformative. Here are some lessons I’ve learned by listening to other people’s experiences:
- Becoming happy about the field of study we pursue — sometimes this is completely different from what our parents expected of us!
- Unearthing the root causes of our insecurities — i.e. our skin color, the appearance of our nose, our height, and characteristics that don’t fit what is considered “normal” in the United States.
- Becoming happy with who we are based on our gender expression, sexuality, religion, and identifying as Pilipin@.
- Realizing that Pilipin@ love is beautiful and wanting our life partner(s) to share the same identity, experiences, and love — not just for compatibility but because it’s the ultimate declaration of our love to our identity.
- Knowing that we are not alone, and thriving by learning from the people who have come before us. It’s one thing to learn from an expert, but it’s next-level growth to learn from someone who shares similar conditions and attitudes because of our identities as Pilipin@s.
- Discovering that we are a damn powerhouse when it comes to art and entertainment, activism, the medical field, and every thing we are a part of.
We find out a lot of amazing things about ourselves. Why did it take going to college to experience the self-love every one deserves at a young age? Why does that experience often leave as we leave those spaces in college? And why does it feel like we are so damn invisible? Does mainstream media see us?
I think about the many Pilipin@s who may not have access to higher education. I think about the Pilipin@s who may not have time to join an organization because they have to work to afford school. I think about the high school students I used to mentor and my younger family members. Some of them are able to learn these concepts on their own. However, I believe we can do more.
Gaining the tools and concepts to thrive and love ourselves shouldn’t be a privilege only to those who can afford to go to college. How do we make them more accessible to the larger community?
My vision is for Pilipin@s to have access to the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in the world. I see a world where all Pilipin@s are fully empowered to prosper and shine in whatever path they choose, i.e. politics, fashion, art, entertainment, health . The possibilities are endless! We can start by building a platform to share our voices and experiences. Thank you, internet!
This is why Mallory Valenzuela and I are building Kubo. Kubo will be a place where Pilipin@s of our generation can share our stories with each other — a content engine for us and by us.
We hope this can be a platform where Pilipin@-Americans can gain the knowledge, attitude, and skills they need to continue thriving whether they’re in high school, college, or the post-graduate working world. We also hope that this opens the doors to mentoring and networking opportunities.
Our Pilipin@ community is a powerhouse. Let’s house and build more of that power within Kubo.