Text and images by Rawmags Team in Austria & contributors
Our very own Philippine National Hero Jose P. Rizal, once said, "Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan," (The youth is the hope of the nation). As we become more globalised, we find that young Filipinos can make impacts of hope and pride both in our homeland and overseas.
With more than 13,000 Filipinos born in Austria, many of whom see Austria as their home, these Filipinos continue to trace back their roots of being Filipino by learning more of their heritage and sharing their culture through different media such as arts, business, music, literature, education, public service, and more. This article aims to showcase the advocacy and talents of young Filipinos and hope to establish a series of recognition for these young role models from different parts of the world in the future.
Here are some young, astounding Filipino voices born and/or residing in Austria:
Alfonso Joaquin De Jesus De Vera, 19
Born in Quezon City, Philippines, Alfonso Joaquin De Jesus De Vera grew up and studied in different parts of the world such as Sweden, U.A.E, the Philippines, and Austria, making him a certified Third Culture Kid.
In his first year of residence in Vienna, Alfonso was able to participate and compete in a nation-wide bilingual speech competition called "Sag's Multi" in 2017, wherein he demonstrated how social media is connected to our identities as individuals. With basic knowledge of the German language, he was able to finish as one of the top finalists speakers. Today, he is fluent in German, French, English, and Tagalog.
He is currently enrolled in the A-Level Matura Exam in Advanced English, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, and German at the Bundesoberstufenrealgymnasium 3 in Vienna, Austria. He is 19 years old and is a strong proponent of racial equality, specifically Asian equality, which is reflected in his thesis: Rassimus gegenüber den Minderheiten der Asiatischen-Amerikaner und Pazifikininsulaner in den USA / Racism against Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders in the USA.
His paper focuses on the inequalities and prejudices Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders have faced throughout US history. Alfonso tries to educate his peers on Filipino culture, through deliberative discussions and sharing everyday experiences about its national and cultural identities, in addition to talking about other Asian cultures. He has also helped and supported local Filipino church communities in Vienna.
In his spare time, Alfonso enjoys reading, online gaming, computer programming, and fashion.
Marilyn Velasco Magoo, 26
Born in the USA, with her mother from the Philippines and her father from India, Marilyn Velasco Magoo grew up in Vienna, Austria. Marilyn currently works in Public Relations for Union of Youth Centers as well as being an independent (video-)journalist.
As a half Filipino and half Indian growing up and living in Austria, she was always seeking a way to connect with her cultural roots. It started when she was 18 years old, when she and her family participated at various events for the Igorot Cordillera community through dancing and performing arts.
In her early twenties, she gained a lot of experience in the media field and event management. With that knowledge, she was able to contribute to the Filipino community. In February 2020, she and other Filipinos in Austria co-founded RAMBAK Austria, which hosts Gag-Ays (meet-ups), workshops about Filipino culture and participate in larger events like Pamana Parade and KUBŌ Festival. She was also able to shine a light on the Filipino diaspora with her video report about the second generation living in Vienna for „die_chefredaktion. Just recently, she became a Community Communicator for the city government where she acts as a bridge between the Filipino community and the city administration.
She aspires to continue representing our roots and our community to highlight the unique stories of our people in Austria.
Christel Joy Labino Gaño, 28
Christel Joy Lambino Gaño is currently a Marketing Manager for a global tech company in Austria and Switzerland. At 28 years old, she's already making an impact in the tech industry by often times being the only Filipino and person of colour in decision making meetings or tech conferences. For this, she has rightfully won a few awards.
Graduated in the Undergrad Program and successively the Graduate Program at FH Wiener Neustadt. One of her proudest moments during her studies, is to be able to pioneer and establish an Exchange Study Program for Filipinos from the University of the Philippines Diliman to go to an exchange to Austria, and Austrians to go on exchange at UP likewise.
Even more inspiring is that she’s the owner of the Filipino clothing brand Ligaya Apparel, seeking to drive support amongst the Filipino community and different cultures. Although Christel was born in Austria, she is actually a global citizen, having worked for countries like the Philippines, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Morocco, Germany.
Looking at the bigger picture, she tries to support the Filipino community by communicating the importance of Filipino cultural identity and by volunteering at Filipino events. Outside the community, she tries to help organize charity activities.
Christel finds a balance by playing tennis, the piano or spending time with family and friends.
Representation is a significant aspect that these young Filipinos value and they have expressed its importance in both their personal, academic and career lives. They continue to amplify social awareness regarding the Filipino diaspora in their own unique work and support local community-building between Filipinos and other nationalities for us to live in cultural harmony. We are honoured and proud to be able to showcase these young and bright Filipinos in this special issue of Roots & Wings Magazine and would like to especially thank Marilyn, Christel, and Alfonso for their voluntary enthusiasm to be featured in this series.
We hope to see many more young Filipinos dedicate their work in appreciating Filipino culture and communities in different parts of the world.