We’re one year old!

Interviewing lawyer and public policy consultant Irene Bueno

Interviewing lawyer and public policy consultant Irene Bueno

By Maricar CP Hampton

Twelve months ago, I took on a challenging task in my decades-long career as a journalist. I became the editor of The FilAm Metro D.C., an online magazine that showcases the accomplishments of Filipinos in every aspect of American life.

I’ve never looked back since.

Though I have always practiced journalism – from my time in Philippine Star in the early 1990s to managing TFDC and freelancing in between — I can now truly say that “the news never (truly) sleeps.” As a reporter covering Filipinos in the Nation’s Capital, so many events and activities are simultaneously happening within the community and around town, it’s hard to keep up. The Philippine Embassy alone is one arena that overflows with news and announcements that keep me on my toes.

It’s not just getting the assignments and writing it. As editor, I would be searching for stories and looking for that Filipino with a unique story worth sharing. I have learned to be receptive to people I meet and listen closely not just to what they are advocating for, but also to find out how is it that they came to live in the D.C. area. What was their immigration journey like? Just like the original The FilAm, that’s a question we always ask. We believe that every ‘arrival’ story is unique and that everyone has his/her own story to share. It could be selling the family ancestral house, marrying an American pen pal or fleeing the dictatorship.

As The FilAm Metro D.C. officially turns a year old this month, I would like to share some valuable lessons learned since thefilamdc.com went live on April 21, 2013.

I now know how to use WordPress

I’m online 24/7 but I have always wondered how a website is created and how it is managed. With TFDC, I learned how to use WordPress and gained an understanding of how to make content that is engaging and visually appealing to readers.

Networking is important

Since the site is all about the Filipino Americans in the Washington D.C. area I have met and developed friendships with key people who do great and wonderful things for the community. I got to meet the likes of Pulitzer Award-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, Maryland State Delegate Kris Valderrama and White Advisor on Asian Americans initiatives Jason Tengco, and many more.

Write the story as though you’re telling it to a friend

Do I have what it takes to be a good online writer? Well, I found out the decision lies with my readers and how much of my stories are being read, liked, shared on a daily or weekly basis. I am proud to say TFDC has steadily growing unique views with stories that appear in major news sites, such as GMA News International and Rappler.com.

Making the site work for me

Starting a site brought my career into the next level. It has made me consciously entrepreneurial. I am looking to grow my advertising and to pitch the magazine to businesses that would like to reach the FilAm community in the District of Columbia and beyond. Also, I would like to thank the companies who have placed ads with us and entrusted TFDC to carry their message to the community.

Social Media is my BFF

Aside from our content partnership with major news organizations, Facebook brings in readers to our site. Analytics shows that our readers belong to the 18-65 age demographics. We have more female readers (55 percent) than male (45 percent). Our readers come from the U.S., the Philippines, Canada and the United Kingdom.

TFDC continues to be a work in progress. I would love to see more members of the community write for us about themselves, their families, their ideas, their hopes and dreams. Maybe that will take time. Whatever it takes, TFDC will be around for a very long time.

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