Photo by Emily J. Davis
T.The couple started the podcast in 2017 with friends Joseph Bernardo, a second-generation Filipino American, and Ryan Carpio, a Manila-born man who immigrated to the US at the age of 7 for recent shows on topics as diverse as a popular Filipino one Burlesque artist, urban gardening and the journalist Maria Ressa, an outspoken critic of the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
FROM SOZAL INTO THE WORLD
Nailat: What surprises us most – there are people who are listening from other parts of the country, the South or the Midwest, including the Philippines, Australia and Europe. You’re starting to think about the Filipino diaspora, and where do they end up? We’re getting people from Iowa.
Dolalas: And Arkansas or Wyoming. You think, oh, there are Filipinos? We get a lot of feedback from listeners who say we are their cousins. It’s like a family celebration and we’re the cool cousins hanging out. I love that because whatever we say we’re coming from a very much Southern California perspective, and people hear and hear our stories.
DOCUMENT AN OVERVIEWED HISTORY
Dolalas: For so long, Filipino American history has been ignored. It’s a footnote in a US history book. You only know the Philippines from one line about the Spanish-American War. You would never know about the Filipino landings in Morro Bay or the settlements in Louisiana. We want to be able to create a space to document our history and our presence. I watch “Hamilton” and I know the song “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story” and it’s so true. In millions of years, when robots take over, maybe they will find these files and know our history.
HIT THE RIGHT BALANCE
Nailat: I think the biggest challenge was finding the right tone and approach. When we started it was like, oh let’s record our conversations. But doing it in a way that is compelling enough that people want to hear it and feel like we are real and authentic, and also a balance between intelligent and funny – it took us a while to get the right voice and Find sensitivity. At first we were very stiff. I would say it took us a good year to talk like we always do, but also to get people talking.
Seeds planted at UC IRVINE
Nailat: Both Elaine and I have degrees in Asia-American Studies from the UCI. Growing up, I understood my community to the extent that it is of course related to being Filipino American, but I didn’t have a critical framework until college to understand it better. When I was getting my degree in Asia-American Studies, my mother said, “Why do you need a degree in this field? You are an Asian American. “I think it helped bring that lens into my life and I got to think about what these stories mean and how we put them together to advance our community and culture.