I was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour back in 2015. Before that I had the so-called “Made It” career having the corporate 9-5 gig. I wasn’t happy. At that job I didn’t feel truly me and that corporate culture is quite the contrast of my own personality. I knew I wanted something else but I didn’t know what or how? All I knew is that I was miserable in this comfort zone.
Shortly after my Cancer Treatments I went back to work and I can tell you that it sucked! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the people I worked with, but I just didn’t want to do work like that for the rest of my life. It didn’t motivate me. I had to find a way to get out. So I just ended up taking a leap of faith and left the corporate world without knowing what I was going to do. All I knew was that I suppressed my gut & heart for years and now was the time to just let go and follow those instincts!
I was offered employment as a cold-caller in venture capital at first. That word alone would always put some nasty feeling in me, but my gut told me to just do it. I ended up getting good at it and without having to be a sleazy salesman! I learned how to build relationships over the phone with that gig and I developed really tough skin. It’s a skill that I don’t regret learning. After a while I realized that in the type of work I was in, there was no other Filipino doing it. I was the only one. That thought and along with others triggered something in my mind.
Looking back at the things I was working on, again I had this feeling to reboot a project I put on the shelf. When I re-looked at it, I saw a small but growing community on the rise. I knew that if I really focus on this, I can really help make it grow and make it look good while doing it. It gave me a purpose to want to live and the belief that I could do this was there.
That target market is the Filipino Canadian’s.
Growing up there weren’t many so-called mentors to look up to, I remember PJ Phil from YTV, I remember him saying on an episode with SNIT that he’s Filipino, and to me, that was cool to see on Canadian TV in the 90’s. There was the Group Kuya from Toronto that had their music videos on MuchMusic, being featured in a Dreams Warriors video and their own hit “Southern Girl”. I even remember this group called the Earthtones from Calgary and the one member, Chris Liscano, is Filipino too. They had a feature on Tarzan Dan’s Music Video Show. Comic Ron Josol is a good friend of mine.
When I googled Filipino Canadians now, I saw that the community was way under-repped. The Filipino Americans had a long list of them and they are really making it! Then I thought, now is the time to really stand up and represent hard because our community will continue to grow and it will need new leadership. So I decided to stop thinking and use the new found courage to take action. I just had to do it and embrace all the outcomes. I wanted to become that new Leader in the Filipino Canadian Community. One that a younger generation born into North American Pop Culture can relate too.
I really looked up to Chef/Influencer Eddie Huang. Loved his book and totally related to it. I really liked what he was doing, representing his Chinese Heritage as an American Born in the US eating all types of cuisines. He had it right about food as the gateway to having more fun getting to know other cultures. Without really trying to bite his style, he inspired me to start creating my own VLOG Videos, but doing it the way I wanted to do it.
My pathway was to showcase our food, along with my local community and post them on youtube. I know that the majority of Filipino Canadians already have a developed Palate from eating our own kinds of food that we’ve already embraced other cultures' food like it’s one of our own. We tend to love Canadian/American Style Chinese Food such as Honey Garlic Spare Ribs and Beef & Broccoli. Can’t beat that feeling of slurping those noodles drenched in that aromatic flavor of Pho on a rainy day. Showcasing the Filipino Canadian Palate is only one of many parts to represent the culture I’m proud to be in.
It excites me that I get to showcase our community by way of food to the world and if it wasn't for Cancer waking me up to take these leaps of faith, I wouldn’t be here as fast as I would be now. One thing I learned is that the feeling of embarrassment and humility is so much easier to handle than the anxiety of worrying about Cancer. With a new lease on life and a found purpose, nothing is going to stop me from doing what I need to do to represent my culture proudly!
I’ll be honest with you, I was feeling lazy/scared to write this article when it first came to me, but to get myself motivated, I watched a Nate Diaz fight and now this article is done.
Do what you feel is best to motivate you and only you!