Angelo Lirazan is a Filipino American entrepreneur based out of the 626 region of Los Angeles, CA—land of the boba. He currently runs Absolve Gaming, an online reseller of trading cards, while also consulting on website development and marketing projects. In this episode, we go over his history of being born in California, moving back to the Philippines, spending a few years in Hawai'i, and returning to Los Angeles for the remainder of his primary schooling. After graduating high school from Don Bosco Technical Institute in Rosemead, he ended up joining the US Army Reserve in order to pay for college. Once entering the professional workforce, he reached the position of Marketing Director for a large tent-manufacturing company, managing a budget of up to $1mil/year for advertising. After working this job and a few others, he decided to pursue running his own business full-time. We talk about this journey, the ups and downs, the challenges, and the reasoning behind his decisions.
MC Zuko is a FilAm rapper and Hip Hop artist based out of Los Angeles, CA. Born Carl Viray, he's lived in both NorCal and SoCal, eventually graduating from Cal State University, Northridge. He recently released his "Respect the Hustle Mixtape" and it's officially flames. In this episode, Zuko performs a number of his tracks and talks about his journey towards pursuing music full-time. Through the lens of the 5 stages of grief, Zuko tells his story from childhood to present-day, relating his journey through music as a process of decolonization. We also get personal—deconstructing family dynamics, infidelity, and reflections of what type of men we want to be. This is a beautifully introspective episode with a lot of gems and little nuggets of wisdom. Go shoot him a follow, listen to his music, and get inspired.
Raquel Calara is a student organizer currently majoring in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. She is the SHADOW Coordinator for Pilipinx Academic Student Services (PASS) and is also one of this year's Pilipinx Cultural Night co-producers. This last summer, she traveled to the Philippines with Kabataan Alliance for a community immersion trip where she visited striking workers, fisherfolk communities, indigenous Aeta groups, and activist organizations. In this episode, she reflects on the significance of this trip—being only the 2nd time she's been in the Philippines—and the various takeaways she's gotten from the experience. She explores the implications of the striking NutriAsia workers, the importance and relevance of activism, and the shifts this trip has had on her future trajectory as both a student and community organizer. There's also a lot of reflections about growing up as a Filipina in the United States, the initial distancing from her culture, and the rediscovery and acceptance of identity while in college.
Kevin Bradley Paule is a Pilipinx community organizer, political activist, and storyteller who's currently in the Media Studies program at UC Berkeley. He is this year's Recruitment Director for Pilipinx Academic Student Services (PASS) and we was last year's Co-Producer for UC Berkeley's Pilipino Cultural Night—Umaalab. In this episode, Kevin talks about his experience growing up in Southern California and his transition into UC Berkeley as a first-generation Filipino college student. He explores the intersection between identifying as queer and Filipino—both the struggles and the support he's received—closing with how he's been able to find a sense of self and stability.
Jed Lee is a Chinese-Filipino Taiwanese-American who's studying at UC Berkeley. He's currently majoring in Society & Environment while also minoring in Global Poverty & Practice, Food Systems, and City Planning. This summer of 2018, Jed traveled to the Philippines and worked with the IBON Foundation for the Practice Experience component of his GPP minor. Jed shares his reflection of being in the Philippines, seeing the differences and inequalities, especially from a privileged first-world perspective, while also trying to find ways to advocate for both the environment and marginalized communities. He talks about his experience within the Global Poverty & Practice minor, in addition to some reflections regarding "sustainable development," activism, and other complicated topics related to poverty alleviation.
Jon Tulio is a Filipino American educator, father, and director of the Nothing to Lose (N2L) Foundation, which operates in the Philippines. N2L runs a scholarship program where the top basketball and volleyball players in the Romblon province are brought together for an all-star camp, in addition to offering full-ride college scholarships to selected leaders and community members. John co-launched this organization in 2006, alongside a fellow educator and high school basketball coach—Michael Ferolino. The two started a summer all-star camp in Romblon, and their initiative has expanded to include a volleyball program and medical missions throughout the area. N2L has also been able to successfully support numerous scholars throughout their college education—covering costs—with some scholars coming back to work as staff for the organization.
Niko Stephen is a Filipino American / Pilipinx producer, DJ, and singer who has grown up in Union City, California. As a musician, he has a background playing brass and bass instruments, with a solid background in Jazz and competitive marching band. He is an alumni of UC Berkeley, having graduated in 2016 with a degree in Public Health, and was active in on-campus organizations such as PASS (Pilipinx Academic Student Services). He's a member of the music collective Soul Vision, and is currently active as musician in the bay area—producing, performing, and DJing music. In this episode, we talk about range of topics from music fundamentals to our thoughts on love and masculinity. We go over Niko's reflections about being a man of color in America, along with lessons learned from his time in student organizations. Throughout the session, Niko also drops mad musical skills, performing three songs (he produced all the instrumentals) and freestyling over one his beats in the end. Come listen, tell us what you think, and be inspired to get your music game up.
Joy Ng is an Asian American writer, community service worker, and events organizer from San Francisco, California. Born and raised in The City, she’s worked with numerous Filipino American organizations, ranging from PACE at SFSU to the Veteran’s Equity Center in SoMa. She actively works within the world of Asian American hip hop, most recently working with Ro3lay to coordinate the Native Immigrant album launch at the I-Hotel Manilatown Center. With a wide range of experience in both academia and hip hop, she connects both worlds through her writing, publishing pieces such as “Friscopinos & the Native Immigrant” and “Re: CIRCA91.” In addition, she contributes to the telling of Asian American narratives through her “High Tides” series—a set of non-fiction short stories based on her Chinese American mother’s experiences in San Francisco.
Richard "Ro3lay" Olayvar is a Filipino American rapper and artist born and raised in San Francisco. He recently dropped "Native Immigrant," a collaborative album with Mister REY that explores the duality of his experience as a Filipino American. In this episode, we dive deep into his album, talking about the motivations and meanings behind each track. He talks about the struggles of an artist in "Simula," the effect of savory but unhealthy Filipino foods in "Kawali," the intersectional experience of being a Filipino American in "Native Immigrant," the changing state of San Francisco in "Playaz," and a bunch more. Take a listen and soak up some reflections about poetry, rap, music, and hip hop. Ro3lay also shares about his family's history, specifically his mother, who also writes poetry and raised him in a very creative household. Overall, Ro3lay is a seasoned artist and performer. He has a few more upcoming projects to keep an eye out for, so listen and get connected!
Dre "Dre?Who" Cuevas is a Bay Area Filipino American music producer, DJ, event organizer, and all-around creative. He runs Homeroom Radio, interviewing local artists and creatives, and has also released two production EPs—LETTERS and Love Without a Limit. He's performed at numerous venues over the years and has recently begun organizing his own events and parties. In this episode, he shares a little bit about his production process as we listen to tracks from his most recent project. He also opens up about his growth as a producer and his experience of expressing emotions through his music. Dre opens up and is honest about his struggles as a student, especially in regards to moving to Southern California, away from his family and community. He found solace through music and has intentionally created his tracks to evoke certain emotions and feelings when listening. We talk a lot about personal growth, love, relationships, and creativity throughout this oped. Take a listen!