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Daily Inspiration: Meet Alfredo Leano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alfredo Leano.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve always loved stories of Philippine and Philippine Americans. Pilipinx-American Stories is a product of many different influences in the greater community like DJ Kuttin Kandi, Mark R. Villegas, and Roderick N. Labrador’s “Empire of Funk” and FANHS San Diego’s “Images of America: Filipinos in San Diego.”

It fascinated many how many Philippine Americans were doing amazing work for the community, and that was something I wanted to highlight. I started off making featured tweets back in 2016 of Philippine Americans in Hip-Hop culture, which I now see as prototypes for the first book I put out called “Representation of Over Pure Visibility: Stories of Pilipinx-Americans in San Diego (2018).

I loved doing those features, but over time, I felt it was necessary to cater the brand to the people I want to learn about. After those first two projects, I refined my storytelling to create platforms for people in the community to tell their stories. Currently. I’m using my podcast platform to hear the stories of many people from San Diego any beyond. It’s been amazing using these spaces, but this is just the beginning.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The beginning of the journey was definitely the least smooth out of all of it. I was dealing with lots of imposter syndrome. Despite the fact that my work was getting validating as “something the community needed,” I still felt like it wasn’t enough. Or rather, I felt even though I was doing this with genuine curiosity and love for my community, there was something in my brain that was telling me I was doing this for attention.

There are still bits of that here and there, but it’s definitely eased up from the beginning. I know that what I do is important, and it’s something that I plan on continuing for a very long time.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Like I said before, I’m work under my brand Pilipinx-American Stories. It is a multi-platform space for people in the community to tell their stories. I was doing work that set the foundation back in 2016, but the actual brand didn’t come about until 2018.

Within this brand, the thing that I’m most proud of was the second book I put out called “Stories of Pilipinx Americans: Understanding the Process.” This was one of the first few projects where I had to the chance to interview and hear the stories of people outside of San Diego. It wasn’t fully the fact that it crossed San Diego’s border, but it was the work that came prior that was building up to it.

I credit a lot of that to the community organizing work I’ve been doing over the past 12 years with organizations like the Philippine-American Youth Organization, the Kuya-Ate Mentorship Program, Pilipino American Unity for Progress San Diego Chapter, and Asian Business Association of San Diego, just to name a few. The work I’ve done actually extends to more organizations that just these four, along with the many individuals I’ve worked over the years.

How do you think about happiness?
I am happy when people see themselves in the work of other. Representation is such a big thing for me because growing up, there weren’t too many shows or any pieces of media that portrayed Philippine Americans. Sure there were plenty of pieces of literature, but I wanted to see more of it.

Seeing things like Trese on Netflix and people like Joshua Dela Cruz on Blue’s Clues is so validating. I loved seeing Philippine Americans on other platforms like YouTube and literature, but seeing those names and projects on platforms that have wider audiences, shows me that our representation is versatile and can exist anywhere.

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Image Credits:

KAMP, UniPro

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