I thought it would be a great series to highlight our voices. I’ll start with my own on a series I’m calling Fil-Am Changemakers.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What’s your profession? What do you enjoy doing?
I’m Jason Vitug, the founder at taglish.com and author of the New York Times reviewed and bestselling book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life (Wiley, 2016). I also founded and run phroogal.com, the best and simplest way to learn about money and access financial services and tools. In the last few years, I completed two massive cross-country road trips to break the social taboo about money and promote financial wellbeing.
I’m a former corporate ladder climber, a former extreme debtor, and a former spendthrift who was seeking validation and acceptance through fancy titles, income, and consumerism.
Today, I’m all about intentional living and purposeful pursuits. I’m an eco-friendly traveler, active in uplifting underserved communities, a certified yoga teacher, and a breath coach, entrepreneur, writer, and keynote speaker. I’ve spoken at 100s of events, including my own, on helping people live more purposeful and experiential lives. I’m all about holistic wellness that includes mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial wellbeing.
What does it mean to be Filipino American to you?
I love my Filipino-American heritage. It informs who I am and how I live in the world. I grew up to understand the strength in family and core values of hard work, perseverance, resilience, and that anything and everything is possible.
What challenges or obstacles have you overcome that’s related to your experience as Fil-Am?
The biggest challenge for me pertains to identity. As a Filipino-American, people often want to categorize me to fit their specific preconceived notion of what it means to be Asian. I felt unable to find my place or my voice as I navigated the uniqueness of my culture and my own family history. Somedays I was the model minority and other days I was an “ambiguous thug”. I didn’t realize it then but it caused a lot of grief for me. Growing up I wanted to just be like everyone else, whatever that meant, and be accepted. But I realize now that owning and accepting my identity solely rests on me.
What surprised you about your heritage when learning about it?
I love the richness and cultural diversity of Filipinos. I understand the impact of 300+ years of Spanish colonialism and almost 50 years of American Imperialism that has influenced Filipino culture and identity. But I am amazed of how much unique identity remains from local languages, ancient culture and customs, food diversity, traditional dress and clothing, and truly fascinating folk stories.
What’s your favorite Filipino food?
I have so many favorites. My comfort food is Filipino spaghetti that uses banana ketchup. It’s sweet and tangy. I love adobo, egg rolls, sinigang, and pretty much anything with ube for desert.
What life, career, social, or money advice or tip can you share?
Our culture is truly special and allows us to easily ingrain ourselves into many communities. It’s important, however, we continue to raise our voices and be heard so we can take on more leadership roles in our communities and in business.
As far as money advice goes (and since it’s one of my expertise), focus on creating generational wealth by investing your money. Learn to make money with money.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Fil-Am community?
I hope to see more representation in government and in media.