Roots and malunggay ukoy, Sama Sama eco-chefs,
Do you have an old friend, a beloved friend, that you haven't seen for so long yet still feel utter closeness to? Unspoken conversations wind their way through your head for months. Memories resurface while doing laundry.
When the time comes and you finally see that face again, all you can do is hold back a yelp of joy mixed with anxiety, uncertain how to begin. You can attempt to stutter over months or years past, laughing all while swallowing a sense that too much time has passed. Talking through the "resume" of life events is surface level, unable to get to the heart of the matter. Asking how your day went feels like small talk, too mundane for the layers of time placed between your last meeting. It is an impossible task, done imperfectly.
This happens far more often than I would like, transient or far-flung as today's communities and relatives can be. And it's somewhat similar to the feeling I for this blog. Since there's no way to "catch up" - let's just start with bulletpoints, and then be exactly right now.
UC Berkeley - I finished a Masters in Public Health Nutrition - life goal, check, done! Despite my love for wielding knives and digging forks, I went to graduate school to grow the tools and language to link food and health issues faced by communities of color - specifically, Filipino Americans. It's all here.
What I took away was this: yes, gaps exist in the data. What we know is both disheartening (nutrition transition! chronic disease!) and hopeful, knowing the work ahead is real and we have the resources of ancestral knowledge and innovation to do this. I didn't realize how special graduation would feel, but it did. My parents, who live in the Philippines, were there. It felt truly "adult" - crossing the stage with peers dedicated to health along many pathways.
Speaking of innovation, I fell in love with Eat.Think.Design. It fueled Sariwa (Fresh!) a popup linking storytelling, health and community through food. We had writeups in Asian Journal, coverage on KPFA, and perhaps most surprisingly and excitingly, the American Journal of Public Health. And on a related note, this also pushed forward Bahay Kubo - Kitchen Gardens of Living Tradition, which placed first in Food Systems Innovation (including fund$) at the Big Ideas contest. Excited to break ground with the powerhouse Filipino Advocates for Justice this month!
Summer has been dreamy - I joined the teaching team to further the vision of Sama Sama Cooperative and this summer's theme of Food and Land, "judged" (stuffed my face) dumplings for the annual KSW Dumpling Wars, and did a Filipino/American farm-to-table culinary demo at CUESA and Unearthing Roots: Real California Cuisine. I've also begun to experiment with the interest in Filipino-inspired foods in a place like North Berkeley, through the new platform Josephine.
More has happened, and more is to come. Through it all, I learned to embrace more strongly this purpose in life: to somehow move the needle and be part of changing this story of food.