A year ago today, on March 25, 2020, I left NYC thinking I’d be back in a few months later.
Little did I know that would be the last time I’d step on a plane for awhile.
Like many people, I thought we would have the pandemic under control, slow the spread and that “work from home” would be temporary and we would be back in the office in a “few weeks.”
A few weeks became months and eventually indefinitely.
Once it became clear that this situation wasn’t going to resolved quickly, I effectively became part of the COVID-19 diaspora.
During elementary school, a constant question that was asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of my classmates said they wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or astronaut. None of those quite set my heart on fire.
By the time college rolled around, I still didn’t know how to answer that question but I did know what I excelled at — writing and telling stories. So when I decided that’s the direction I wanted to go, I turned to journalism.
You can say a lot about the year that was 2020.
There’s one thing that’s undeniable, for better or for worse — this is the year that no one will ever forget.
Yet, there’s been no year that has taught, challenged me more than these past 12 months.
I started off 2020 with a personal breakthrough, fueled by the momentum that was ignited in 2019.
If 2019 was about finding clarity and 2020 was executing on that, then 2021 is about rallying and leading the way to a future that builds upon the “I”’s — Integrity, Innovation and Impact.
(video by Reanna Felix)
When we started this journey in April, most of us were strangers.
Some of us knew each other through other organizations or other prior interactions or collaborations.
Or we’ve traveled together to the Philippines through the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO).
But the reality is that we have not all been in a room together physically. And we may not be able to anytime soon.
However that didn’t stop us.
We responded in the most Filipino way possible. We adapted and innovated.
We met virtually, used group texts, chats and slack to coordinate and communicate.
Ten months ago, none of us could have imagined we would be in the middle of a pandemic, a social justice movement and the election of our lifetime.
And more so, none of us could have imagined how much our community would be hit with an enemy we could not see — COVID19.
Filipinos have been disproportionately impacted by COVID19.
There are 4 million people of Filipino descent in the U.S. And 500,000 are hospital and health care workers — that’s 12.5% of our population. And 520,000 are seniors, which is 13%.
Together that’s over 25% who are vulnerable to…
Every year around this time, I think about the story that has had a profound impact in my career.
This story took me months to research and report out. Originally it was slated to be a Sunday A1 centerpiece (a prized and prominent position for any story in print) but Hurricane Katrina also rolled through the same weekend. But my story still made column 1, which is still a prime spot on the front page.
Today, September 8, marks the 55th anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike started by AWOC, AFL-CIO (Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee), comprised of Filipino workers.
I’m used to dealing with the unpredictable and spaces of uncertainty.
My 16-year career in journalism has taken me around the world but most of all, it’s taken me on a journey into the human condition.
All of us are on an incredible transformative path made from our choices and decisions.
More than ever, it’s important to embrace the known and unknown.
Both serve a purpose in our evolution and growth.
In this age of COVID19, the graduation ceremonies may be canceled but graduating into the world is not.
There will many challenges ahead but you are not alone.
It’s fair to say with absolute certainty, that nothing will ever be the same again.
When we look back at this unprecedented moment in time, we’ll always see it in two chapters: life “BC” or before COVID19 and life “AC” or after COVID19.
But things are not that simple.
Just like the anatomy of a story that has a beginning, middle, and end — what we’re all going through right now is that uncertain middle.
It is during this stage where we experience the seasons of “G”s: grief, gratitude, and growth.
Anytime we experience a loss, we experience grief.
In this age of COVID19, there’s only one thing that’s certain — uncertainty.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, it can be tough to know when this will subside, when officials can get it under control and when life goes back to “normal” as possible.
So much is still unknown about COVID19.
How do you combat something that doesn’t discriminate and spreads like wildfire?
I’ve been a New York resident since 2010.
But home for me is Southern California.
I was born and raised there and it is where my immediate family established their roots and lives in America.
NEW YORK — Today would have been any other Tuesday in March.
People would have gone about their day.
They would have probably raised a pint or two after work for St. Patrick’s Day.
But today is not any other Tuesday.
An unprecedented global event has completely upended life as we know it.
“Social distancing” and “quarantine” have taken over our vocabularies as we do everything to flatten the curve of COVID19 and its death grasp.
And yet I’ve never been more thankful to be alive.
Not only because it’s my birthday, but also being alive to witness and experience…
Director of Audience Insights & Innovation @thepointsguy | Host @blooddebts | Project Director @tayohelp | Alum: @huffpost @ap @cnnbusiness & more