I’m so stoked about this one! New character unlocked: Lalaine Ignao (she/her). During my spring break, I got the opportunity to catch up with my Ate Lalaine. As an alumni Ate from my sisterhood, Pi Nu Iota, it’s amazing to see the network of Ates so strong regardless of where we’re at during this time in the world. Ate Lalaine is currently in my home state, Hawai’i, on the island of O’ahu. Major takeaways from our conversation related to the different Filipino communities that she’s come across and has been a part of. As someone who’s from Hawai’i and has moved to Seattle, I definitely agree that the Filipino community differs where you’re at, but always united by the culture and family.
Ate Lalaine is originally from Lakewood, Washington. She is a proud alum of Seattle University (sko hawks!) and has a BA in Strategic Communication, then received a Masters in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University. We stan an educated QUEEN! Throughout her educational career and beyond, Ate Lalaine has put her intentions into showcasing and embracing her Filiipino identity and culture. As a big goal setter, she is constantly trying and learning new things to make herself a better person and pursue her dream life.
Ate Lalaine now resides on the island of O’ahu. In search of being a part of a bigger Filipino community and connecting with where her mom moved to when she first moved from the Philippines to the United States. Right now she is working as a Multimedia Journalist as a news reporter for TFC’s Balitang America news program and a writer for the Fil-Am Courier. She is also a former radio program host for KNDI 1270AM. If you’re not fangirling as hard as I am right now, she is also the Founder of Pusong Filipinx, a market event that showcases and promotes Filipinx and Filipinx American owned small businesses and creatives. Not only that, but Ate Lalaine is the owner behind Sipag+Tiyaga, a small business that started to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to her goals of becoming debt free. She is now gearing up to launch her boba shop pop-up, Sama Sama, with her partner, a dream of hers since she was 12. The Filipino themed boba shop pop-up will be making it's official launch this month on Mother's Day. WOW! The Ate energy is so real!
Community Growing Up
Throughout our (virtual) meetup, we related a lot on the different types of Filipino communities. At a young age, Ate Lalaine found that she was one of the very few Filipinos at her school in Washington. Being into Filipino dramas on TV and the wonderful world of Filipino celebrities and culture, she found that she couldn’t really relate to the majority of her classmates. Of course, she was able to come together with her family and embrace the Filipino love for Christmas and the holidays. This made me reflect and think about my own experience of growing up as a Filipino in a predominantly Filipino school in Hawai’i. Still, I was blocked from learning about my Filipino culture and finding being Filipino not as relatable as I feel like it should have. Just as Ate Lalaine explained, embracing and learning about Filipino culture is something that is usually kept at home, separate from school life. Growing older, Ate Lalaine talked about how exposure to Filipino communities becomes more recognizable and accessible. Although, looking at youth environments, especially in early learning, opening a space for embracing individuality and growing pride in community is so important. Even as one of the few Filipino’s at her school growing up, Ate Lalaine didn’t hide or shy away from her passion for teleseryes and her Filipino culture - a strong driving motivator throughout her life.
Seattle: The Filipino Community in a University Setting
I was lucky enough to be a part of the Filipino community throughout my college career, and it has given me the opportunity to cross paths with Ate Lalaine. As a person of color, coming into a predominantly white space, like many college universities, finding community can provide a sense of home and belonging. Ate Lalaine describes the Filipino community in Seattle as “quiet” or “hidden”. I completely agree. As you come into different Filipino areas and organizations, you realize how connected and strong these bonds are. Everyone knows someone, the chain never ends. No matter where you go, you’ll find comfort and solidarity with the Filipino community members you cross. This is just getting your foot in the door. Finding this sense of belonging has helped Ate Lalaine become more confident within her Filipino identity. This independence in this realm was a spark lit by solidarity and togetherness. Moving to the next chapter of her life: moving to Hawai’i and navigating through the Filipino community is a new space.
Hawai’i: From Shore to Shore
Ate Lalaine now lives in O’ahu, Hawai’i and has become a part of the Filipino community there. Being where her mother first came to from the Philippines, Hawai’i is a space where she has complete control of her growth and so much to learn about her roots. Coming into a space with a new community, one thing stays constant, Ate Lalaine’s passion to stay connected to her Filipino identity. We both agreed that the Filipino community in Hawai’i is much different from that of Seattle. This has a lot to do with the background and history of Filipino presence and roll on the Hawaiian Islands. Even though we are from different islands, there is still a common bond. The way Ate Lalaine described the community reminded me a lot of the ocean (super on theme with the Hawai’i aesthetic). You have to be constantly present in the work you do and the movements you support as an individual. As a collective, the community is there, but as the islands are so small it also comes with a fast moving pace. This is where Ate Lalaine’s work becomes very essential and important, even beyond the islands. As a news reporter for TFC’s Balitang America news program, Ate Lalaine is able to draw the connections between what is happening on the home land to in the US. News that is rarely talked about in the US. As a writer and host, Ate Lalaine holds the power to amplify the voices of our community. Projects that uplift others and promote what’s important - solidarity without boundaries.
I would like to thank you, Ate Lalaine, for being a part of Collective Highlights. Your work is seen and very much making a difference. From one young creator to another, I appreciate the work you are doing. My Filipina identity is something that I once used to question all the time, but becoming a part of the Filipino community (both in Hawai’i and in Washington) has boosted my confidence and contributed to my entire brand. I’m so grateful for you and the support that you provide for this community, future Ates, and for yourself.