This past month I was very fortunate to get in touch with another inspirational Filipina, Krizia Medenilla. Krizia Mendenilla is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Redefined Magazine, which will be the first cutting-edge, editorial magazine of its kind designed specifically for the Filipino-American community.
Krizia was kind enough to share her experiences as a Filipina in the states with us, as well as more information on the official launch of Redefined Magazine.
Please tell us who you are.
My name is Krizia Medenilla and I am a second generation Filipina. I have lived and worked in southern California my whole life, but that doesn’t keep me from embracing my roots. With my mom coming from Quezon City and my father from the beautiful island of Negros Occidental, I have forced myself to understand my family history and what battles they had to conquer in order to give me the opportunities they never had. Through college, I studied Political Science and Marketing with the notion of pursuing a career in law, but something in me changed. It was through a series of soul-searching revelations that I realized my calling. I feel a need to channel my energy towards working for our Filipino American community through a project that came to be known as Redefined Magazine.
What is Redefined Magazine?
Redefined Magazine is designed for our Filipino American community and is set to be published on a national level where we can, not only promote pride within our community, but also educate non-Filipinos about our culture. We want marketers and advertisers to know WHY they need to target the Filipino American market, seeing that it is essentially untouched by marketers. We feel that the only way to do that is to focus on collaboration over competition. We see the need to meet with, work with, and feature as many of our Filipino leaders in the nation. Through these collaborative efforts, we strive to redefine what it means to be Filipino American today. We are planning to launch early 2012, so stay tuned for our official launch date!
Why do you think it’s so important to emphasize a positive exposure for Filipino-Americans and the role they play in the world?
This is a question impacted with a heap of underlying issues. I’ll try my best to keep it minimal.
The Filipino American market is a group that has been overlooked in a number of ways. By saying this, I am not placing blame in any direction. What I’m saying is that we have been assimilated into a stagnant position. When it comes to Filipinos in America as a target market, are we considered Asian? Pacific Islander? Spanish? Who knows? Even marketers don’t have the answer to that. What I do know is that we have the numbers and stats to prove why we need to be differentiated from the typical stereotypes placed on us.
We are the second largest Asian American group in the United States. Filipino Americans hold a notably high household income, on average. Most importantly, Filipino Americans have a fairly strong buying power. And to top it off, not only are we prominent in America, but there is also a high number of Filipinos outside of the States (i.e. Canada, the U.K., Italy, Saudi Arabia, etc.). It’s time for our global community of Filipinos to be represented in a positive light outside the limited categories we are placed in.
I feel that when it comes to how we are perceived by Pinoys in the Philippines, we can be viewed as ignorant, neglectful of our roots, and “too Americanized”. On that same note, if we are really involved with the Filipino culture in the States, other Filipino Americans view us as “too Filipino”. There is a disconnect here and it needs to be resolved. I believe that the root of this issue stems from what being Filipino actually means to each person. Because our people have assimilated into the American lifestyle, some have forgotten (or never embraced) the essence of what it means to be Filipino.
What does being Filipina mean to you?
Growing up in southern California and being raised to believe that what beautiful and successful meant was to be tall, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed, I used to hold a very skewed understanding of what it meant to be Filipina. As a kid, I wasn’t apt to proclaiming my Filipina identity with pride. It wasn’t until after I visited the homeland that I FELT what it meant to be Filipina. I smelled the suffering my parents had to endure. I could hear the discomfort when I saw the scrapes of metal arranged in the most efficient way so that a family of six could find solace. After experiencing this moment, being Filipina to me became a completely different thing. It now stood for an unnerving strength, patience, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt to every situation and plow through it because that’s the only option there is. There is no option for giving up. To answer your question in not so many words, being Filipina means carrying that silent strength and proving our resilience through our actions and not on empty promises. Like the saying goes, “Being silent and doing nothing are two completely different things.”
What do you feel needs to change with Filipinos and how we can better represent the community?
What needs to change is the perception Filipinos have of themselves, which I believe will ultimately change the perception other cultures place on Filipinos. This is huge. If you engrain it into a child’s head that she is a strong, independent, beautiful, and worthy Filipina, she will grow up emulating that energy into the world and the perception others have on her will be nothing but positive. Perception is reality and I feel that this is the root of our issue when it comes to how we are represented in the community. It’s up to us to change our perception of ourselves and then take the initiative to act on that perception in order to shift paradigms.
When was the last time you visited the Philippines?
I actually just returned from a month long visit to the motherland. It was a visit that completely renewed my vision. Each time that I’ve gone back, it never ceases to amaze me how happiness can be governed by so little. This past trip, I fell in love. I fell in love with the smile on the children’s faces when we gave them new tsinelas or new backpacks for school or toys that weren’t comprised of sticks and rocks. It’s so easy when you’re in the States to acknowledge how simple life is in our third-world counterpart, but to personally look into a child’s eyes and feel the gratitude through a smile is an irreplaceable experience. I will never forget those kids (Rheyna, Anna Kia, Jeremy, Bertito, and River) and will visit them again soon. Hopefully through Redefined and other non-profits that we are working with, we can find a way to give back to these kids on an exponential level.
Who are your role models and people in your life who helped shape you into the woman you are today?
I find new role models every time I meet with our Filipino American organizations nationwide. The past few months have been rewarding and inspiring in a number of ways, but what reassures me of my goals is the passion I see in our up-and-coming leaders. We have so many inspiring Filipino American leaders that don’t have an avenue for recognition on a national level. The goal for Redefined Magazine is to alleviate this problem. We’re here to work with each other so that we expose these leaders to the public eye.
One specific role model I can think of that needs special attention is my partner, Krystal. If it weren’t for her equal passion to get this magazine running, I don’t know if I would be here pursuing this dream.
What are your favorite Filipino dishes?
Sinigang all day, every day! If I had the option to have sinigang and rice every day for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly content.
Is there any additional information that you would like to share?