I am a devourer of words.
I have always consumed books as if they were able to sustain life. They can, in a way; knowledge is its own sort of nourishment.
As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on, sometimes going to the library twice a week because I read through the books I had checked out so quickly. I read books, magazines, encyclopedias, anything that could tell me more about life and the universe around me.
I have read millions of words in my lifetime, but I cannot think of many that have been about the Philippines or about Filipinos.
I had a few magazines I read that were sent to me by family in the Philippines, but American bookshelves were sadly lacking in anything that pertained to my culture.
Being Filipino in America is like living in a cultural black hole. We are swallowed up by the society around us, obscured by its magnitude. If you look at the media, you might think that there is no such thing as a Filipino community in America.
Because of this, I grew up not knowing how to define my ethnicity. How could I know what it meant to be Filipino-American when nothing I read showed me?
Who would have thought that it would be a newspaper that would change my trajectory in life? I never could have guessed that a newspaper would help all the pieces of my heritage fall into place and help me harness my voice.
Yet that is what the Filipino Star News has done. I had no idea that writing this column would be such a transformative experience, but it has brought me into the Filipino-American community and helped me to fall in love with my culture even more.
There still may not be many books written about Filipinos, or television shows or movies featuring Filipinos, but together we can change that. The Filipino Star News is the first substantial American publication I have known that has given our culture a voice. Without it, I may have accepted that we are doomed to remain on the fringes of American society. But now I am committed to rewriting the narrative to include Filipino voices.
I hope that this newspaper inspires you, as it does me. I hope that it encourages you to be active in our community, and to love our heritage. For seven years, the Filipino Star News has served as a written record of Filipino-Americans, a significant accomplishment for our community. My hope is that this newspaper blazes a trail that other Filipino-Americans will follow. Our community is important. Our heritage is important. Our voices are important.
Thank you to Tony Antonio for providing me with this wonderful outlet and for guiding me and inspiring me. And thank you to all of you who have read my words and supported this paper. Whether you realize it or not, you are changing the course of Filipino-American history.