Every October, Filipino American History Month (FAHM) commemorates the arrival of Filipinos in the US and celebrates their influence, impact, and contributions. Carried by hope for a prosperous future, the first recorded Filipino immigrants to the continental US arrived on the shores of current day Morro, California, on October 18, 1587. The brave souls who came here – and others who followed – multiplied through the generations and now represent roughly 4% of immigrants who make up America’s population. We are proud to have Filipino representation at Twilio, and we took this month to share Filipino history and culture throughout the company.
Connecting through community
Everywhere we go, humans look for connections and affirmations that we belong. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) unite Twillions around shared identities and foster friendships and social connections by eagerly welcoming and creating space for members and allies to foster connection. They reinforce and express our Be Inclusive value. And in October, Filipinio culture took center stage at Twilio through arts, culinary, and educational activities led by our Twilipino ERG in celebration of Filipino American History Month.
Christianne Abad, Twilipinos ERG leader, says that most people she meets have little knowledge of Filipino culture. A few may know a Filipino, have tried Filipino food, or have heard of the country’s history of colonization. But the insight usually ends there.
The purpose of the Twilipino ERG gets straight to the point. “Our mission looks to highlight our hard-working community and bring awareness to the Filipino culture by both empowerment and bringing in representation to Twilio. Despite our country being colonized by three different countries, we’re welcoming, hospitable and still proud of our culture,” says Christianne Abad, Senior Programs Coordinator, Global Real Estate & Workplace. As a leader of the Twilipino ERG, she highlights the hard-working nature of the Filipino community and creates a safe community where members network with employees at all levels and have opportunities to grow in their skills through coaching and leadership development.
As part of the month-long celebration we hosted virtual events that gave us experiential understanding and insight into Filipino culture. Fun facts shared on Slack educated us and provided connections points that strengthened bonds within the organization and grew the community to nearly 110 members.
We banded together in support of the Filipino community outside our doors as well, inviting local small businesses in California to lead artistic and culinary events during the month.
“To celebrate this occasion, it's important to open the circle and support and showcase small Filipino businesses especially during this time of COVID. The opportunity to hear more about someone’s experience and expertise as a Filipino entrepreneur in their field is something we want to share with everyone," says Regina Ramos, Onboarding Specialist and External Engagement lead for Twilipinos.
Exploring artistic and culinary culture
Orange Moon Floral in West Oakland introduced us to the tropical-romantic style of dried flower arranging. Owner and floral designer Veronica Llave believes celebrating special moments in life with florals transforms emotions around those events into something tangible. Twilipino members and allies across the company tuned in to learn the art of assembling an arrangement, discovering the hows and whys of color theory and placement as well the proper use of dried flowers.
Flavors of the Philippines came to life in cooking classes led by local culinary experts. From her Cookery in Old Tacoma, accomplished chef and teacher Jan Parker taught us the ins and outs of making tortang talong (omelet eggplant) — a smoky and creamy dish eaten as a side dish or along with a bowl of garlic fried rice and fish sauce.
Chefs from Virtual Table in the Bay Area took to the stove and showcased the depths of flavor in Bicol-style chicken adobo. This is a regional variation of the Philippines’s national dish that uses coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, and achuete oil. “I grew up eating Chicken Adobo regularly, and it was so exciting for me to share similar familial experiences with other Filipinos and to share a piece of Filipino culture with our Twilio teammates,” says Courtney McGrain, Workplace Operations coordinator.
Sharing our lives and the things that shape who we are strengthens our bonds and gives us empathy for one another. At Twilio, appreciating differences and valuing each other creates a culture of caring and strong allies throughout the organization. “Celebrating FAHM is the perfect opportunity for us to reflect on the collective progress Filipinos have made as one of the largest immigrant groups in the country. We want our history to be recognized and our stories to be told,” says Regina.
And that’s exactly what happened in October.
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