The FilAm celebrates a Happy 4th: It was a very good year

The FilAm featured in an interactive exhibit at The Newseum in Washington D.C. The exhibit on ethnic media publications was curated by the Smithsonian Institution. The FilAm photo

The FilAm featured in an interactive exhibit at The Newseum in Washington D.C. The exhibit on ethnic media publications was curated by the Smithsonian Institution. The FilAm photo

By Cristina DC Pastor

The past year began quietly enough in March of 2014.

And then sometime in April, I got this email from The Newseum’s Visual Resources Assistant Colleen Bernhard asking for photos and a headshot.

“The Newseum, in partnership with The Smithsonian Institution, is working on an exhibition on the origins and influence of the Ethnic Media in the US. One Nation with News For All opens May 16th of this year and runs until January 4, 2015…One of the papers included in this interactive (exhibit) is online magazine The FilAm.”

My heart skipped a beat after reading the words ‘Newseum’ and ‘Smithsonian.’

With goodfriend and The FilAm D.C. editor Maricar Hampton, I trekked to The Newseum to find where our magazine might be. On the 6th floor was the “One Nation with News for All” exhibit with a chronology of the ethnic media publications and a history of how the ones who came before us made their mark in American journalism.

In one corner of the hall was an interactive screen where we found The FilAm “among 100 of the most influential ethnic media publications in the U.S.” I scrolled down to ‘Filipino’ and The FilAm appeared with two print publications. When I searched ‘New York,’ The FilAm showed up again. I had a little emotional moment where I just caressed the screen like it was some religious icon and all will be well just by the awesome power of touch. I said my quick ‘thanks,’ and left. actors

Has it really been four years? Time went by so fast and not only because I am having so much fun but because I am transported from one experience to another, much of it enriching, but also sobering in some instances.

While The FilAm continues to meet exceptionally gifted Filipinos – such as the New York Stock Exchange’s highest ranking FilAm executive Elizabeth Arreglado, Mixed Martial Artist Phillipe Nover, and ‘food tripper’ Yana Gilbuena – we have also been savaged on Facebook by a teachers group following an Investigative Reporting Project we initiated in August. All that is in the past now. An article was later published reflecting how all the teachers involved have move on toward a path of healing.

Through it all however, it’s been a very good year, and I am understating. Here are some milestones:

• We launched a crowdfunding campaign in June for an Investigative Reporting Project. This led us to a produce series of in-depth articles, such as the largely unheralded history of Filipino artists in NYC theater; the San Lorenzo Chapel and its estrangement from the Filipino community, FIND Inc. and how campus organizations seem to have lost their way; the plight of bullied Filipino nurses, and that rift among the teachers. More long-form articles are on the way.

• We have an intern. His name is John Sapida, a student at The New School. John is pursuing a Master of Arts in International Studies at the Milano School. He did a fantastic interview with Mixed Martial Artist Phillipe Nover , who is, incidentally, also a nurse. It is one of our most shared and widely republished stories.

• We introduced a regular feature called ‘Where I Live,’ where FilAms talk about their neighborhoods and their attitudes toward what makes an American address ‘home.’ We spoke to, among others, Sharon Adarlo of Newark, N.J., and Cicero Oca of East Harlem, who walked us through their decisions to live in neighborhoods one would consider rough and gritty.

• We welcomed long-time reporter Jannelle So who began writing columns for us in January 2015. This California gal is one heck of a journalist. She initiated the TV show ‘Kababayan L.A.,’ and singlehandedly nursed it to its best ratings as the host, producer and advertising manager. After almost nine years and with the show at its crest, Jannelle moved on to pursue other interests. One of them is writing for The FilAm. greta

• And how can we forget the many brilliant and selfless Filipinos we met along the way? Among them, Juliet Payabyab, who was honored with a TOFA-NY and AARP award for advocacy for seniors; Vivian Talambiras-Cruz, whose diligence at the UN’s peacekeeping efforts won her a Nobel Peace Prize; Greta Lood, whose love for Central Park moved her to almost obsessively paint its every bridge, tree, and lake; Father Patrick Longalong, who helped toward the restoration of the Simbang Gabi tradition, florist Dennis Josue, who mourned the death of a long-time client, the beloved poet Maya Angelou; Mithi Aquino, who married former U.S. Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas in Catholic ceremonies in Manhattan ; siblings Jeffrey and Lia Cirio who are principal dancers of the Boston Ballet; the beauty queen-turned-LGBT advocate Chelle Lhuillier; Nancy Bulalacao who is reacquainted with her community in her quest to create a Filipino American Museum. We even tracked down Philippine actress KC Concepcion who denied rumors she was hiding out a pregnancy. sexiest

• Finally, we did our own Top 10 Sexiest Filipino Men, borrowing a standard BuzzFeed formula. Our views just went through the roof!

On a sad note, we mourned the passing of caregiver Lorna Sun, Queens driver Robert Martirez, Jaycee George Daco, and publisher Bert Pelayo. As we look to the youth for our strength, we request prayers for 3-year-old Richard Aiden Sy of Bergenfield, N.J., who was diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. The community has been with RJ and his family throughout their ordeal.

We celebrate our fourth year on March 15, 2015 with a pledge to tell more stories of remarkably bold and brave people who make us proud to be FilAm.

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