Whenever I think about the meaning of being Filipino, I think of a Balikbayan Box. Filipinos are some of the warmest, welcoming, hard working people within a community. No matter the struggles we face we always try to give back to our family and our people. I remember growing up helping my mom pack Balikbayan Boxes to send back to my family back in the Philippines. I never understood the importance of it until I got older. For my parents, they sacrificed so much to allow my sister and I to have more opportunities in the United States. A balikbayan box was a way for them to not only give back to the family we left back in the Philippines, but also a way to return their in spirit. Filipinos. Being Filipino to me is a balikbayan box. No matter where you go you always have the memories from the motherland. Your spirit always encompasses the rising sun. While we carry on with our lives and travel around the world, we always make sure to remember where we came from and give back.
Miss Filipino Community of Seattle 2019-2020
Support and Training Manager for the Office of Admissions at Western Washington University
Student in School for International Training’s International Honors Program: Cities in the 21st Century
American Planning Association NW Section Scholarship Winner
Resident Camp Counselor for the Associated Washington Student Leader’s Chinook Middle Level Leadership Camp
Luminaria Event Coordinator for the Western Washington University Relay for Life 2016-2019
Something that motivates to keep going is remembering the sacrifices my mother and father had to make in order for my sister and I to have a successful life. They left behind family members and their homes to come to a country unknown to them. When figuring out where to go to school, I was able to attend a university rather than the colleges near my home. My parents told me to go where I wanted to, and they’ll be able to figure out how to pay for it. They had to take out a lot of loans, and my father decided to put aside his retirement to be able to work more in order for me to go to school. I know after I graduate, it will take a long time for them to be able to pay those off, but they did it because I was able to have this opportunity that they could not have. They wanted me to be able to have the best future possible because I am exposed to these opportunities here in America.
America is known to be the land of opportunity. Everyone comes here with the promise of the American Dream. Owning your own house, getting an amazing job, and growing a family with a bright future. People often forget that there are a lot of things that need to happen before that American Dream can really come true. For immigrants, there are a lot of battles in order to achieve that. Building a life from basically scratch is hard. Getting a job without knowing a lot of English is hard. Many immigrants are forced to assimilate to a Western lifestyle in order to be able to achieve these things in life. That’s dressing the part, speaking the part, becoming as "American" as possible. My parents are my motivation, and their hard work and sacrifice inspires me to contribute the same amount into my own careers and life choices.
When I was in middle school I attended a leadership camp, where we got to learn different leadership and event planning skills. At this camp, there was a part of the curriculum where they talked about the word “agapé.” Although this word is often centered around religious views, they taught it with a leadership perspective. The word is defined as “unconditional love.” We learned to use this type of love in our communities, and to love the people around us for existing. That even though we may not agree with someone, we still love them no matter what. This word means a lot to me, and has gotten me through a lot of tough struggles and problems throughout my life. Whenever I have an issue with another person, or feel myself getting down on myself, I remember the love the I am able to give. Agapé love has gotten me through so much that I even have it tattooed on my foot.
I think my greatest leadership trait is my ability to be open to different perspectives and opinions. A team is full of many different people, therefore there will be a diverse collection of mindsets. I always take the time to put myself in other people’s shoes and see their ideals. I am definitely not a “my way or the highway” kind of person. I like incorporating other people’s ideas into projects. I am super flexible and enjoy collaborative work as well. I think all of these things make a leader successful because they are being respectful and considerate of other people’s ideas.