Noel Quintana’s New York City

“A manager from another location came to my shop and asked me how long I’d been working as a barista. After I answered, she said to me, ‘Well, the smile still hasn’t worn out.’ That’s probably because I smile a lot, even if customers are difficult to handle.”

Noel Quintana is a Filipino American non-profit worker who has been vocal about combating Asian hate after surviving a violent hate crime in February 2021. He’s a man of faith, and one of the reasons he ultimately moved to the U.S. from the Philippines over a decade ago was because he asked God for a sign—and once he saw it, he moved.

Prior to his current job, he spent seven years as a barista and became known for his perpetual smile and positive attitude.

Lydia Ortiz is a Filipina illustrator, designer, and art director based in San Francisco whose work spans from editorial to book design. Her positively charged colors and layouts imbue all of her work with an optimism befitting the way Noel carries himself.

“I was able to get a job as a barista, and I stayed there for seven years or more. I was so happy because there was no pressure. I would go home more peacefully and lighter than I was in the Philippines. I enjoyed being a barista. I read in the newspaper about a broker who became a barista who was happier preparing coffee than he was being a stockbroker.”

Together, Noel and Lydia collaborated on a series of posters that “feel like a topographical map of Noel’s New York.”

“I drew everything within Noel’s portrait. He has such a nice smile and it’s quite prominent in the art. Like Noel, I also grew up in the Philippines and lived in New York. The lettering I created is inspired by the hand-lettering found on public transportation in Manila and signage from Filipino American restaurants in Woodside, Queens.”

Get Noel’s poster as a gift with a donation to Hope Against Hate. Digital downloads start at $25 and printed posters start at $150. All contributions, regardless of amount, fund critical programs that keep Asian Americans safe in New York City and beyond. Go to this site to download:

“I like trying other cultural foods. My coworkers and I will sometimes eat Lebanese, Polish and Thai food. We also tried tilapia at an African restaurant.”
Noel Quintana was attacked inside a subway train on February 3, his face slashed from ear to ear. He is now speaking out against racial violence.

From the Asian American Federation

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