Meet a group of “Fil-Ams” modernizing what it means to be Filipino through their creations

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HONOLULU (KHON) – October is Filipino-American History Month, and there is a group of “Fil-Ams” who are modernizing what it means to be Filipino. Lalaine Ignao moved from Seattle to Honolulu six years ago.

“It was in search of a bigger Filipino community. For me, I didn’t get to find the community I really wanted,” said Ignao.

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The 27-year-old wanted a space that embraced creativity and empowered Philippine culture. So, she struck a deal with Bishop Museum and created “Pusong Filipinx the Market.” Click here for the event’s Facebook; here for Instagram.

The market, held on the grounds of the museum on Atherton Hālau & Hale Waʻa, is held every few months.

Pusong Filipinx derives from the phrase “Pusong Pinoy.” When translated to English, it means “heart of the Filipino.” Ignao explained the name represents the millennial generation of Filipino Americans to include all individuals of different backgrounds.

“We’re raised to be nurses, doctors, engineers, when we want to do a clothing brand or a small business. I really wanted this to be a safe space for us to support those Filipino small businesses.”

Lalaine Ignao, Filipino American

Within the two years since the market was created, Ignao convinced 60 Filipino-American creatives across Oahu to showcase their wares.

“I like the idea (of the market). The (Filipino-American community) is not represented well. That’s why I love this,” said 26-year-old Ersa Millon, owner of Cosmo Sweets. “Growing up with the traditional Filipino expectations, you’re expected to be an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer. A lot of us are here to show it’s normal to do other stuff. And we’re doing great!”

“I grew up with a lot of anxiety,” explained 28-year-old Carlos Fajota, who designed his own streetwear clothing line, Defensive.

“I’ve faced mental health issues I had to deal with on my own. The stigma where men have to be strong — not only that, but being Filipino, Asian, we have to put our problems away. I started “defensive” during the pandemic. To fight for a cause. I’m fighting for me and what I want.”

Carlos Fajota, creator of Defensive

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“As long as we put our mind into it, our passions into it, we can achieve anything. And with this market, you can already see that with all the vendors, and I hope that it sparks something in everyone,” Ignao added.

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