When Josie Moralidad Ziman launched her new book, The Filipino American Journey, on April 6, 2019, she wore a pink dress. Friends, subjects, supporters of Josie and the Manila Mail, the Washington DC-based paper for which she writes, filled a room in the Philippine Embassy’s annex on Massachusetts Avenue, across the street from the embassy, where protesters against Duterte chanted in rhythm. Manila Mail president and publisher, JG Azarcon, spoke in honor of Josie. And Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Jose “Babe” Romualdez, sung the praises of the FilAm community in the US—how much we have accomplished, how much we are loved, the hardships we’ve endured. Rightly so, because that is what Josie chronicled in her new book that is now available for sale on Amazon, among other outlets.
The Filipino American Journey is a compilation of 32 FilAm immigrant stories and their challenges. Some were personal challenges like overcoming cancer. Some were relatable stories of success like the mother of a successful child (Jokoy). Some were downright tragic like the story of those left behind by Kaitlyn Trinidad, who was killed at the age of 20 years with her sisters and father by a head on collision with a Ford pickup truck on a Delaware highway during the summer of 2018. The collection, by design or not, covers various tales of the journey from Philippine province to American life—of a pivotal life event in the otherwise disparate collection of stories. The other common thread is endurance. Filipinos are often described as cheerful, warm, hard working. What is often missed is how much we’ve endured.
Washington DC weather is erratic in April—cold one day and summerlike the next. My family and I went to bury a close family friend at Arlington National Cemetery. It is impressive to see how the American military pays respect to one of its own with the full gravitas of the country to invoke. Americans are tribal in their own ways. Watching a military burial crystallizes that notion.
We toured the White House, which consisted mostly of waiting in a security line. Hard as it is to get this tour (you typically have to contact your Congressperson or Senator), I suggest skipping this if the weather is not summer-warm, especially if you are used to the heat of the Philippines. Even if I didn’t visit it, I have to mention out of impulse that on Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland and Virginia, wild horses still roam free.
The East Coast, especially the Virginia area, has a thriving Filipino community and Washington DC has the restaurants to prove it. While not as dense as the communities in the Bay Area or Hawaii, it is close and it is thriving. Thanks in no small way to the contributions of people like Josie Moralidad Ziman, our writer warrior in pink, who chronicles their stories for the Manila Mail once every two weeks. Her book can be purchased for $14 by clicking on this link: https://www.amazon.com/Filipino-American-Journey-Josie-Moralidad/dp/1726724972