Isang Mundó

I’m still floating from the weekend’s events. I attended this:

Phew. I walked among giants this weekend. So many brilliant Filipinos. I’m so happy.

I feel like I’m literally glowing right now. Malaka Gharib expressed it best.

I, too, am swelling with pride.

I can’t begin to describe the warm sense of community, of family, that I felt this weekend. Growing up, I always felt other. I didn’t fit comfortably into any of my “obvious” identities: as a Filipina, as a girl, as a daughter, etc.

Finally though, I feel like I’m growing into who I am. Not necessarily who I wanted to be, or who I’m supposed to be, but just me. (I’m puzzling over whether that makes sense.

But now it’s behind me so I won’t worry about it.)

This weekend, I was surrounded by Filipinos. Brilliant, brave, imaginative, innovative, romantic, warm Filipinos.

The Filipino diaspora feels like one giant family.

I’m all muddled and happy.

I’ll have to finish later.

It’s later! There is something wonderful about being in a space where I don’t have to explain myself. A place where I don’t have to question whether I belong, or worry about fitting in.

Such negative thoughts fleetingly snaked through my brain, but the people I met stamped them down just by being so welcoming.

Imposter syndrome is so real though. Did I really deserve to be hanging out with so many bright, caring people? What was I actually bringing to the mix?

But again, it was all in my own head. I did belong there. Not just because I’m a librarian with the San Francisco Public Library, but because I’m Filipina, love good literature, and appreciate my culture.

Here are a few photos from the weekend’s events:

I was finally able to meet Malaka Gharib in person, writer/illustrator of “I Was Their American Dream.” She is such a sweetheart.

I also met or re-met a number of other writers, all of them very affable and just as excited to be there as I was.

I had a lovely breakfast with Grace Talusan, author of the memoir, “The Body Papers.” She was instrumental in getting me through my DC conference trip this past June, when I was feeling so low and was plagued by suicidal ideation. She was virtually a stranger when I approached her in tears, yet she sat and talked with me for hours until I felt more stable. I like to think I made a friend for life.

During his keynote, Jose Antonio Vargas remarked that out of the 1,800+ events he’s done, this was the first that was strictly Filipino. It was an honor to have him as our keynote speaker, and I always inwardly fangirl whenever I get a chance to talk to him. (And he now follows me on Twitter!)

Here is a full list of who attended as speakers or moderators.


Rin Chupeco
Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta
Angelo R. Lacuesta
Criselda Yabes
Alfred A. “Krip” Yuson

New Zealand
Ivy Alvarez

United Kingdom
Jacqueline Chio-Lauri

Yves Lamson
Eric Tigley

E.J.R. David

Ramon Abad
Rodelio Aglibot
Don Ellis Aguillo
Walter Ang
Arlene Biala
Jason Bayani
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Aileen Cassinetto
Elaine Castillo
Ethan Chua
Rene Ciria-Cruz
Melinda Luisa de Jesus
AJ Dungo
Troy Espera
Henni Espinosa
Juanita Tamayo Lott
Cindy Fazzi
Yana Gilbuena
In Hiatus Studios
Maria Carmen Kirk
Karen Llagas
Joe G. Mendoza
Melissa-Ann Nievera-Lozano
Christina Newhard
Benjamin Pimentel
PJ Gubatina Policarpio
Giovanni Ortega
Randy Ribay
Rick Rocamora
Tony Robles
Rafael Salazar
Anthony Santa Ana
Janice Sapigao
Ricco Siasoco
Janet Mendoza Stickmon
Leny Strobel
Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales
Jose Antonio Vargas
Justine Villanueva
Lily Ann Villaraza

Christina Querrer

Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo
R. Zamora Linmark
Maharaj “Raju” Desai

Eugene Gloria

Grace Talusan

New York
Jan-Henry Gray
Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino

Washington D.C.
Malaka Gharib

I will try my hardest to carry with me the energy and compassion I felt during the last two days.

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