Sleeping Grass

Although pleased to be under the sunlight,
Leaves still retreat
to its brittle spine
by one swift, gentle touch

Like sleeping grass,
I react to love just the same
Delighted by radiance around me,
I cannot wrap my head around
Why I fear closeness
from the compassionate,
why I choose to
strap down my heart
to keep from being
worn on my sleeve

To touch is to trust
To trust is to love
If there’s one thing
I need to work on,
it’d be to
let people in,
let people love

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Story-Sharing: Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Freedom School

I tend to doubt myself and question whether or not I chose the path that was right for me. At those times, I later realize that I seriously don’t give myself enough credit for what I have already done. I am a second-generation, woman of color hailing from Kalihi, an inner city neighborhood in Hawai`i. I am the first person in my family who had the opportunity to finish high school and attend college on the mainland.

I blindly walked into this confusing, American education system, latching onto teachers, counselors and mentors who guided me through all the obstacles that my hard-working, busy immigrant parents knew nothing much about. I worked HARD to make ends meet and I can’t let anyone invalidate my experiences. For the past two years, I have learned how to define my struggle and learned to overcome layers upon layers of self-hate and self-doubt.

This healing process has helped me find my inner peace. My goal in life is to bridge the understanding gap between people through storytelling and the best way is to do that is to start with my own story. I am planning this ADPIA Freedom School Symposium because I am interested in hearing the many ADPIA stories that go untold in mainstream media. In order to make any kind of progress in this world, we must learn to listen to each others’ stories and to understand them.

When self-doubt starts to rear its ugly head, I must remember to hold on to my roots and in what I believe in.

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Hey everyone!
The UO Multicultural Center will be hosting its first undergraduate ADPIA Freedom School on April 26, 2014! This will be a one day symposium designed to create local, national, and global connections for the U of O that will build infrastructure necessary for the development of stronger ADPIA communities.
By bringing together community members, professors, cultural workers, and activists who are engaged in social justice work, we will provide the space for students to learn how to put our education on ADPIA issues into practice for the rest of our lives.
In preparation for this event, we are asking you to come share your ideas with us! We’ll be hosting an ADPIA Freedom School planning meeting on February 25, 2014 at 7pm at the University of Oregon’s Multicultural Center (Next to The Break).

Free Food!!!

We want your input! See you there! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/events/626526857414337/

Coming soon: Interview with T-Shirt Theatre’s George Kon

During my Winter Break, I visited my Alma Mater, Wallace Rider Farrington High School,  and met with my former Theatre Director, George Kon. I began writing and acting for T-Shirt Theatre when I was an 8th grader and continued working with the troupe until I graduated high school. With each rehearsal, workshop and showing, the cast and I learned to “Rehearse for Life” with George and the late Walt Dulaney (Co-Founder, playwright) guiding us through each lesson.  T-Shirt Theatre encouraged me to chase after dreams and to break out of my comfort zone. This program inspired me to do things that scared me, go above and beyond and ask for help when I really need it and that the world is my oyster when I truly believe it is. During work days, George and Walt asked questions such as, “Where do you want to see yourself in 20 years?” or “What would you do in this situation?” and felt that my answers were surely important.

Without T-Shirt Theatre, I really don’t know what would have become of me, an at-risk youngster. I am a second generation student and I struggled with finding out how the American education system worked. I had no idea on how to pave the pathway to academic success for my younger sisters. My parents are blue-collared workers just like many other adults who lived in the Kalihi community. With mom and dad constantly working many hours at their two–sometimes three– jobs, I  did not want to depend too much on them for fear of causing them more stress (and causing myself more stress). I refrained from asking my parents questions about school (homework, SATs, college etc.) especially when they didn’t understand them. How could they? Because of my hardworking parents, I am blessed with educational opportunities that they’ve never had the privilege to experience. I grew up with so many obstacles that discouraged me from progressing academically but T-Shirt Theatre was among one of the many programs that helped me overcome them all. 

I interviewed George because I wanted to learn more about the birth and purpose of this amazing program that helped mold me into this person I am today.  His take on teaching “poor theatre” to at-risk students is beneficial to student excellence. I like to believe that I’m living proof of that.

George Kon is a co-founder of the Alliance for Drama Education. Since 1985, ADE has continued to work with every incoming FHS student, inviting the most talented and generous ones from Farrington, Kalakaua and Dole High Schools to audition for ADE’s flagship, T-Shirt Theatre of Kalihi. This low tech, high zest company of performers embodies our mission to help Hawaii’s youth rehearse for a life full of jobs, justice and joy. 

“We want to change the perception to more accurately reflect the wide array of positive talents, accomplishments and possibilities of our urban youth.” 

Winter Break: Back to the Rock! Pt. 1

After not returning home for one year, I finally spent my winter break in Hawai`i. Once I became an Oregon resident this past summer, all I thought about was getting past Fall term as quickly as possible so that I can once again be reunited with friends, family and island life fun. On the plane ride home, I told myself that I was going to make the most of my winter break. Reflecting on my trip, I can proudly say that I lived up my trip to the fullest with no regrets.

When waiting for my sisters and our puppy Mocha to pick me up from baggage claim G, I stripped my heavy jackets from my body to resist them from sticking to my skin. Although I had only been away from home for one year, the humidity felt familiar yet foreign to me at the same time.  I knew that it was going to take time to be accustomed to Hawai`i’s weather again. When my sisters pulled up to the baggage claim curbside, I heaved my luggage bag into the trunk, jumped in the backseat and embraced my sisters from behind as Sara drove towards home. That moment felt unreal especially when I had only seen my sisters in pictures and videos on FaceBook and Instagram in the past year. When Sara pulled up to our parking stall, we hurried upstairs to our apartment to greet my parents. My family was just as thrilled as I was to see them!

That night, my mother invited me to her work place’s Christmas party. My mother is currently employed at Job #1: IBM Maintenance Company as a janitor and Job #2: Nippon Restaurant as a cashier. Each year, my mom looks forward to attending her work places’ end-of-the-year parties. That night was the IBM Christmas Party. As a child, I enjoyed these parties and later grew tired of them as an adolescent. In high school, I was reluctant to attend these parties but now that I’m older, I now understand that I need to be there for my mom and support her and the events that she wants to go to. I understood that the reason why my mom loves attending these parties was because she rarely has free time to relax and have fun. With that, I willingly told her that I would love to attend her party. I ended up having tons of fun! It felt nice to be around a diverse crowd of people again. I was happy that I ate lots of good, legit Filipino food!

The next day, I woke up early to attend Grace Bible Central’s 9:30 am Sunday service. This was located inside Honolulu Community College’s cafeteria. I saw my sister Sara sing for their worship team for the first time. Sherina and I walked in on them practicing before service started and I decided to snap a few shots of their rehearsal. I watched her in admiration as she sung songs of praise and glory to God. She sung to the heavens with her eyes closed and hands raised high. Passion. I looked to my left at Sherina and saw that she did the same thing as well. In retrospect, I was in awe of how “free” they both were and pitied myself for not feeling the same way.

My sisters and I were raised knowing God and His teachings. A few years ago, my faith was rocked with conflict and I strayed away from Him. I have to admit that as much as I love the college culture, it has taken a toll on my spiritual wellbeing. I came back home to Hawai`i with critical mind and weak faith. The things I’ve learned in college had kept me from experiencing the same kind of spiritual liberation my sisters felt. Having to struggle with the question, “What is truth?” placed me in discontentment with myself. I wanted the same kind of freedom my sisters have which is why I promised myself that before returning to Oregon, I wanted a closer relationship with God. This marked the beginning of my spiritual healing process.


I also recorded their performance during the service. Click on the link below to view.

Shout to the Lord- Grace Bible Central Oahu

Took a quick picture with my sisters after service.

Later on that night, Sara and Sherina invited me to their YoungLife Christmas social where people shared food, sang Christmas carols praising the birth of the King and read aloud bible scriptures. The last time I sat in a large group reading bible scriptures was back in high school when I had Confirmation classes. I first felt kind of awkward because I hadn’t been very involved in Christian communities in a while and on top of that, I barely knew anyone. Overall, I ended up having a great time especially at the end when people were dancing and taking lots of pictures. This was a high energy crowd and I was honored to be part of it.

Part 2 coming soon.

PACAlliance Social Awareness and Leadership scholarship

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Earlier this term, I received the Pacific and Asian Community Alliance Social Awareness and Leadership scholarship. I spoke at the Multicultural Alumni Reunion this past October about why servicing the Asian and Pacific Islander is valuable to me. Below is the speech I gave to those who attended the dinner:

Thank you so much for awarding me The Social Awareness and Leadership scholarship. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined receiving this award. Before “getting off the rock”, in other words, moving from Hawai`i to Oregon, I honestly did not know how it felt like to be proud of my identity as a Filipina from Hawai`i. Growing up, I was given the expression that the more “white mainlander” you are the more valuable you are to today’s society. In my experience, having lighter skin and pointy noses or being “Hapa” made you more attractive than the average Filipina. I was taught that restricting yourself from using Hawaiian slang or pidgin and going to the mainland for college to be surrounded by students there were signs that you were more intelligent than people who do speak “broken English” and stayed home after high school.  I grew up in Hawai`i and for years I struggled with the concept of identity.

I thought distancing myself from the Filipino-Hawai`i culture and assimilating into the white-mainland culture would make me a more content person. Today, I am finally content with myself, not because I distanced myself from my culture but because I learned that clinging to it is vital in a less diverse space. This past year, I was actively involved  in the UO Kultura Pilipinas, the UO APASU, the UO Multi-Cultural Center, The DisOrient Asian Pacific American Film Festival and The Philippine American Association of Lane County. These communities have helped strip away layers upon layers of self-hate with education and have filled me with love for my identity. I have learned that the struggles I had faced links back to oppression and I am slowly in the process of decolonizing my mind.  I am slowly healing and I thank these groups for molding me into this proud Filipina I stand before you today. I want to help others just like how the API community has helped me.

My goal in life is to bridge the understanding gap between people through storytelling and the best way to do that is through Journalism. I will use this scholarship to help me fund my education in Journalism and Ethnic Studies. I believe that these concentrations will help me better serve people of color.

I want to give a special thanks to Dr. Anselmo Villanueva who has helped mentor me in branching out into the community this past year. I came to Eugene not knowing anyone. Now, I have a community behind me. Again, thank you so much PACAlliance for awarding me this scholarship.  I will be a scholarship recipient that will make you proud.

I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I intend to stay true to my word.

How To Attain Oregon Residency (UofO)

I am excited that I am nearing the end of this journey to receiving Oregon residency! By the beginning of this upcoming Fall Term, I will finally be studying Journalism with a double emphasis in Public relations without having to worry about having too much student debt. University of Oregon’s Residency Officer had shared with me the guidelines on how to attain residency to get in-state-tuition. The following bullet points can be found here: http://admissions.uoregon.edu/apply/residency.

  • Establishment of a domicile in Oregon for a period of twelve months or more prior to the beginning of the term for which residency is sought

You must be living in Oregon for a year or more before attempting to achieve residency. It is discouraged for those seeking residency to visit places outside of Oregon for long periods of time. The last time I visited home was during winter break for one and half weeks. The next time I get to visit is this winter break, so yes, I did sacrifice spending a summer back home in Hawai`i Nei with the family and friends.

  • Financial dependence on an Oregon resident, or financial independence

You can’t rely on mom and dad to pay your bills. If your parents provide for more than half of your income, you will not be seen as financially independent in the eyes of the residency officer. Over the past year, I have worked 4 different jobs to support myself.

  • Primary purpose for being in Oregon other than to obtain an education

Education cannot be the main priority when trying to receive Oregon residency. I was only allowed to take 8 credits per term. The residency officer encouraged me to participate in activities outside of school such as work or volunteering in the community. I guess I’m partially annoyed by this guideline due to the fact that taking this route had pushed back my graduation year. Instead of graduating in 2014, I will be graduating in the Spring of 2015. When looking on the brighter side, this guideline wasn’t too bad. Because I had fewer classes, I had more time to work and build my income and participate more in the Asian Pacific Islander community of Lane County. For people pursuing Oregon residency, keep in mind that this route might lengthen the time of graduation (and that may be something you might not want to happen).

  • Nature and source of financial resources

Like I said earlier, make sure that you’re the one providing most of your income in the 12 months of pursuing Oregon residency. The residency officer will ask you to name all of your financial resources. Just be ready to tell him that you’re independent. *snap snap*

  • Various indicia of residency, such as ownership of a primary residence, permanent Oregon employment, payment of Oregon income taxes

Self-explanatory stuff.

I have to admit, this process wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. Although I had less class time, it was still somewhat of a struggle to do good in school and be working at the same time. With some nights, I used to get frustrated with the fact that I was burning my fingers slicing fresh out of the oven cheesy grillers and serving them to drunk, belligerent  Freshmen at the dorms instead of gaining more work experience in my desired career field.

I still have a few more months left until the end of this journey. I did have low points but I also experienced high points along the way. This year, I created new connections with people, in school, at work and in the community, learned more about myself and became more confident in my skills as a communicator and a writer and developed a burning passion to live life to the fullest doing what I love no matter what others may think or say.

Attaining Oregon residency was a long and trying process. When I get it, I’m going to make sure that time was surely well-spent.

Willamette River Dreamin’

Hey everyone!

School’s out and summer has just begun. My friends and I spent some time at the river the other day to get our feet wet and reflect on our highlights of this past school year. I barely have time to hang out by the river during the school year which is why I decided to capture this moment. This is the best time of year to visit the river because it’s warm out! From my experience, Oregon weather is usually cold and rainy 9 out of the 12 months of the year. I want to take advantage of the sun this year more than last year. I don’t know what possessed me to stay home majority of the time last summer but I’m definitely not going to make that same mistake again. I’m going to make sure to soak up as much sun as I can possibly get this summer!

Please enjoy the vlog and some of the pictures I took down at the river!