AS 2016 draws to a close, it important for us to reflect on the year that was — the triumphs and struggles that our community has gone through as Filipinos here in America.
I truly feel fortunate to have an opportunity to contribute to community service by hosting and producing LA18’s only daily talk show for Filipinos in America, Kababayan Today!
As I end my second year in this position, I wonder where all the time went as the daily gruel of broadcast deadlines turn into weeks and then, into whole months of thematic content. And alas 2017 is upon us. If you missed the year-ender of 2016 on Kababayan Today, I wanted to share with all of you what personally were the best moments for our show.
My 38th birthday this year was quite significant because a story I had been following intently was finally resolved: the Filipino bakery workers case against L’Amande Bakery. The court ruled in favor of the 11 Filipino workers with a settlement of $15.3 million. Of course, the owners were nowhere to be found, which validates what I was suspecting from the beginning that the workers were being forced to work under minimum wage and were being discriminated by their very own kababayans. I was personally attacked by the owners when I posted online how I felt on the issue and was cyberbullied repeatedly. So the bakery workers winning the case felt like a personal triumph.
Another issue that was extremely relevant to the community was the “Mail Order Family” issue with NBC. I had community leaders on the program to share and voice their concerns that Hollywood’s depiction of human trafficking was to be made a comedy and meant to entertain. Gabriella LA started a Change.org petition that garnered 13,000 signatures overnight, which prompted the network to cancel what they had already greenlit. It makes you wonder how truly important proper representation is to the media conglomerates of Hollywood.
A highlight of the program was also going to the Philippines via Eva Airlines with a stopover in Taipei. Camera in hand, my associate producer Nicanor Evangelista and I did a whirlwind trip that felt like the amazing race on steroids. Coming back to LA, we still had deliverables to produce what we had already shot, which really tested my follow-through as a producer. Shooting is only one small part of the puzzle. It was certainly a lot of sweat, blood and tears to make it happen and the segment shows the passion we have for our work. My only hope is that the community sees what we do to give them relevant and meaningful material, all through entertainment, of course. It is on television after all!
And lastly, my exclusive interview with Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach in New York, which was sponsored by Island Pacific Supermarket. Another feat in the making to assemble an all Filipino-American crew in New York was made possible by Nicole Ponseca of Jeepney Restaurant, Christina De Haven of NYU and Clar De Los Reyes, my cinematographer. My family even pitched in to be production assistants. So many people rallied, all in the name of representation. I am eternally grateful to the people behind the scenes that make my job a meaningful experience.
Here’s to more in 2017!
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Giselle “G” Töngi is the host and producer of Kababayan Today, a daily talk show that features relevant topics for Filipino’s living in America. Her aim is to bridge not only the cultural gap between America & the Philippines but to help with the generational gap between our own people. She is married with two children and is based in Southern California and makes frequent trips in the Pacific Rim to Hawaii and Manila to feature fellow kababayans who are empowering the FilAm community.