Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May kicks off Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, an opportunity to highlight the contributions of the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in history as well as modern society. This is an important time to celebrate the accomplishments and highlight the cultures of our Asian American & Pacific Islander Employees and Customers.
I am a first-generation Filipino American born and raised in Houston. My parents were born and raised in the Philippines and came to the U.S. back in 1970. In addition to my three siblings, I have an extra-large family as my dad was one of 16 siblings and my mom was one of nine siblings. I have lots of aunts and uncles or ‘titas’ and ‘titos’.
My whole career has been in the airline industry and I have always had an affinity for Southwest. As a kid, I was drawn to the fun-loving Culture and even loved the hot pants. Southwest was one of the first companies that I had looked into working for after high school. My father worked as a computer programmer at Continental Airlines and had always encouraged me to join the airline industry.
I’ve been at Southwest for five wonderful years and I support the Marketing Department as a Sr. Program Manager for the Southwest Vacations Team. My job is to work across Teams to help plan and deliver key initiatives. It’s a highly collaborative role that aims to serve the needs of others, a common characteristic of Filipinos.
I was raised to be American first and Filipino second. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t teach me Tagalog, their local Filipino dialect. The high school I graduated from outside of Houston also did not have many Asians so I grew up favoring the American culture and often-times hiding the Filipino side of me. It wasn’t until after college that I started to embrace my Asian heritage after getting involved in the local Dallas Ft Worth Asian community and organizations. In my free time, I also volunteer within the local Dallas Asian community and serve as a Board Member and Past Chairwoman of the Asian Chamber of Texas. My husband and stepson are Caucasian and I’m always looking for ways to connect us to my native Filipino culture.
My experiences straddling both American and Filipino cultures have helped me to respect and appreciate the differences found in all types of cultures and people. In fact, when people ask me what it means to be Filipino American, I find it hard to define because Filipinos tend to adopt what they like from all over the world. I find myself easily adaptable with a strong desire to serve others. I know much of this I get from my parents. I was raised to be friendly, hardworking, and follow the golden rule and I’m very proud to be working for a Company that shares the same values that I have.
The Philippines is a melting pot of Spanish and American traditions. The first Asians to come to North America were Filipino sailors and slaves who came aboard Spanish ships landing in California back in the late 1500s. Filipinos are the only Asian group to be colonized by the U.S. and this colonial history has had widespread implications on identity, racism, colorism, and ability to assimilate to different cultures. This is similar to what other ethnic groups such as Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans have faced. Filipinos are one of the largest Asian American groups making up almost 20% of the Asian American population. Filipinos are also the largest Asian group in some of our key Southwest markets including California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Washington.
Filipinos will go out of their way to help you out. They are known to be incredibly hospitable, hardworking, religious, and respectful. Filipinos also love to party, especially with music and singing. My dad is like the Filipino Neil Diamond with a keyboard who loves to set up Karaoke music and sing/play songs for our family parties.
My favorite thing about my heritage is most definitely the food. Food is about sharing and caring. It’s what brings people and family together and we often express our love through food. My mom will go out of her way to cook for you, and there can never be too much food because who doesn’t want leftovers? It’s a gift that keeps on giving. My favorite dishes are Lumpia (Filipino eggrolls), a noodle dish called Pancit, and the sweet sticky rice cake called Biko.
One of my favorite places to travel to where I can reconnect with my roots is Hawaii where Filipinos are the largest Asian group. I also have cousins that live there who make me feel like I’m returning home whenever I visit. Not only is Hawaii absolutely beautiful, but I also love experiencing the many Filipino influences within the food and culture.
The month of May is a great time to connect with Asian cultures. It was proclaimed by our U.S. President as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and there’s always a festival or event around town that I often attend or volunteer to help host.
It is a time to reflect on the traditions of the many Asian American & Pacific Islander cultures, as well as pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian American & Pacific Islanders who have made our American history, society, and culture. I feel that it’s important for us to take the time to celebrate and learn about the various cultures so that we can share our experiences and points of view. This will allow us to better serve each other and our Customers.
Lumpia (Filipino Egg Roll) Recipe:
- Three Celery Stalks (Finely Chopped)
- Two Carrots (Finely Chopped)
- Half of a Yellow Onion (Finely Chopped)
- Three Garlic Cloves (Finely Chopped)
- Half Cup of Cilantro
- One Pound Ground Pork
- One Package of Spring Roll Shells
- One Teaspoon of Chicken Bouillon
- Canola Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Sweet and Sour Sauce (for serving)
- Cut Spring Roll Shell sheets into triangles (just cut the squares in half once)
- Mix all ingredients (except for the Spring Roll wrappers and sweet and sour sauce) into a mixing bowl
- Take one spring roll wrap, lay out in a diamond shape, and fill the bottom portion with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture, leaving about an inch and a half of space from the bottom point
- Fold it up like an envelope and roll it tightly
- Add a little water to the end of the wrapper to seal it closed
- Add about 2 cm of canola oil to a medium-sized skillet on the stove over medium-high heat
- Once the oil has heated, place the egg rolls in the skillet
- Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown on both sides
- Dip the Lumpia in sweet and sour sauce and enjoy!
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