October is Filipino American History Month and, here in Juneau, residents have the chance to dive deeper into the history and significance of the Filipino community in the capital city thanks to an upcoming event, exhibit and podcast set to take place later this week.
Mga Kuwento — which translates “the stories” in Tagalog, one of the major languages spoken in the Philippines — is a local multi-faceted project that has been in the works for months and examines the history of the Filipino community in Juneau. The project includes the release of a five-episode podcast, the opening of a museum exhibit and a community celebration all set to take place Friday and Saturday.
Tasha Elizarde, executive producer of the project, is Filipino American and was born and raised in Juneau. Elizarde said while growing up as a Filipino woman in Juneau she did not get much exposure to the history of her community — which is Juneau’s largest immigrant population — or the significance behind its stories and influence. Elizarde said she hopes the release of the project can open a door for Filipino residents in Alaska like her who want to know more about their culture and the impact it continues to have in Juneau.
“I would love for the entire Juneau community to acknowledge and understand the Filipino community at that deeper level,” she said. “I think it’s also important that first and foremost my community, the Filipino community, knows about this history and knowledge.”
The podcast, produced by Elizarde with reporting from the KTOO newsroom, examines different facets of the Filipino experience in Juneau, touching topics like how the community came to be, its connection to the Philippines today, and how the community interacts with Alaska Native people and culture.
Elizarde said she thinks the project can serve as a way to get the conversation going about what the future of the Filipino community can look like in Juneau and shed light on the often-overlooked contributions this community has made.
“I think that this project is important because it confronts people within the Filipino community and says, ‘Hey, this is the time to start, we are at a turning point,’” she said. “This is the time to look at ourselves and say, ‘Is this who we are? Where should we move forward?’ And I think the only way we can move forward is to look at the past to see what our identity has looked like before.”
Dara Lohnes-Davis, curator of collections and exhibitions at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, said the exhibit is significant for the museum because to her knowledge she hasn’t seen the Filipino history in Juneau be highlighted in a large-scale way like this before.
“I’m excited to showcase the Filipino community here at the museum, it will be fun to show off some of the things that we have here,” she said.
Know & Go
What: Mga Kuwento podcast, exhibit and community celebration.
Where/When: Podcast premiers on ktoo.org and streaming platforms Friday, Oct. 6. Exhibit opening 4-7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, Juneau-Douglas City Museum, 114 W. 4th St. Community Celebration 12-5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, Filipino Community Hall, 251 S. Franklin St.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 528-1807.