Dheza Aguilar and I first met in Amsterdam, when I was attending a socio-religious event and she, as a journalist for a known local TV program back home, was on an assignment. She came to interview me, asking about my personal stand on the reproductive health bill, which was apparently a hot topic at that time in our home-country. “Oh boy, how strong-willed she was to get a scoop here to create an interesting build on the story,” I told myself. Well, it really should be the case and I liked it.
Dheza came for a visit together with her husband, Robin, in Geneva a few months back and from there we came to know more about each other. Over time I came to realize how much we have in common, given particularly our experiences living in Europe, outside the Philippines, being in an intercultural relationship, and our penchant for writing.
There are lots of stories to tell, sentiments that are unheard of, and lessons worth to share for our fellow Filipinos – here in Europe and back home – to know. By the time Dheza invited me to be one of the Filipino expats to be featured in the maiden issue of the Filipino Expat magazine, I still didn’t hesitate. It is the same streak of a lady-journalist I came across with; this time around with a more noteworthy mission to fulfill.
About the Filipino Expat
“The idea of working together had basically been set aside until March 2013. I realized that there are many people who want to read stories about our community in Europe. Initially, I wanted to start publication for the Filipinos in the Netherlands but Chris said that we should go for Europe.” – Dheza Aguilar in an interview, The Story Behind: The Filipino Expat Magazine
Dheza Marie Aguilar and Cris Sta. Brigida are the creators/publishers of the Filipino Expat, a lifestyle magazine which aims to feature relevant and in-depth articles on Filipinos living in Europe, from moving to a new country, intercultural relationships, finding a job, integration, travel and business.
For Cris, it all started with a simple need, particularly some relevant information on where he can find anything Filipino; and from there he built up the possibility of creating a platform for Filipino expats. Dheza, on the other hand, dreams of publishing a lifestyle magazine for Filipinos ever since she moved to the Netherlands in 2009. Two heads are better than one, they say. Different ideas go into a much better mix, and these two determined Filipinos took the giant leap, hence the Filipino Expat magazine was born.
Watch here how their ideas evolved and what they aspire to do in the future for the Filipino Expat.
The Filipino Expat magazine officially launched last Saturday, 25 May at the NH Carlton Hotel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The Best in Living in Europe
Consider it as my bragging rights, I would have said that the expat interviews , Living the European Lifestyle, must be the best part in the first issue of the Filipino Expat magazine. Apparently there are even better, meatier, more helpful and insightful articles featured in this first issue.
Dheza elaborates her personal experience on her move to the Netherlands in the article, New Beginnings: Starting Your Life in Europe. It’s a fitting combination of honest insights and sentiments on her struggles and how she was able to manage herself well; and of very practical, straight-forward tips on how to settle in a new country. Dheza did strike a chord. Any other Filipinos in Europe like me can surely relate.
Discrimination is one of the most prevalent and relevant issues every Filipino expat has to face, which I find it a smart choice for a first topic to be featured in the magazine’s Expat Issues section. What is even more interesting about it is how intimate and sincere Ana Angelica Abaya van Doorn is, as she shares her own piece of experience. Again, another practical, straight-forward advice at the end of article, something which will make you think twice to ever ignore this mag.
Personally, the Intercultural Relationship would possibly be my most favorite section in the Filipino Expat. Given of course that I have a non-Filipino partner, it would be motivating for both of us to learn from the stories of other couples, who’d most likely experience the similar ups and downs, the joys and quirks in this kind of relationship we are in. Yet of course, every story is unique, so ours must be just as so. The story of the couple Bart and Wads Wijnberg on their “40 years of wedded bliss and happiness” is striking enough to get really inspired. I won’t spoil the details.
Add to that is another story about Irene, a Filipina whose husband was not a fan of Filipino cuisine until then. It’s a rather interesting twist at The Filipino Kitchen to tell something about how to prepare bulalo a la Europa.
Giving Back, I’d say, is the soul of the Filipino Expat. It intends to provide an avenue for charity organizations in the Philippines to express their intentions in helping our fellow Filipinos back home who need our help and support. Jomel Anthony Gutierrez, who was initially based in London and is now serving in the Philippines as information officer II of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the Cordillera Autonomous Region, wrote a story about the lack of educational facilities in Tineg, Abra, the second poorest municipality in the Philippines to date.
Other equally fascinating articles to read are the practical tips on taking care of Filipina hair from the winner of last year’s L’Oreal Color Competition Grazia Public Award and known salon owner-hairdresser in Amsterdam, Jitty Vasquez Dela Cruz; and the good reasons on why 2013 is the year of Amsterdam from Chris Sta Brigida, co-owner of Tulip of Amsterdam Bed and Breakfast and co-publisher of the Filipino Expat magazine.
A Wish list
A good quality, creative platform that particularly focuses on Filipino expatriates seems to have gone missing in the digital space nowadays. Cris and Dheza are right. I quickly Google’d it, and rarely I was able to find rich, good quality sources of information and insights with enticing, user-friendly, intuitive web portals or tools that merely cater on the Filipino expats. While there’s almost 10 million of us all around the world, living outside the Philippines, we’re such a big audience indeed! This is what the Filipino Expat is trying to achieve. With the best roster of talents committed in this initiative, as also such that despite their busy lives, I feel confident that this initiative will continue to flourish.
In the meantime, the Filipino Expat magazine is meant for Filipinos who are living in Europe. Even with the first issue, you’d somehow notice it is a bit Dutch-centric, which I find fairly understandable because this idea started in the Netherlands. That explains why the Filipino Expat opens opportunities for Filipinos around Europe who are eager to share their stories and insights, promote their products and services, or feature events.
A wishful thinking too, I hope the Filipino Expat won’t only cater our expats here in Europe, but also in other regions as well. Well, taking baby steps for awhile and in perfect time, another one giant leap.
I wish the Filipino Expat magazine the best of luck and I look forward to more issues to come. Mabuhay!