According to Manila Oriental this is how they started... Around 1983, The relatives of Olivia and Kathrine opened Manila Oriental Food Store in Phoenix, Arizona to cater to a growing presence of Filipino and other Asian communities.

The grocery store sold everything from bags of rice to their mom's homemade Filipino treats such as: hopia and kutsinta, to sinigang packets and botan rice candy. The store even sold newspapers from the Philippines, a VHS rental system for Tagalog classics, and a balikbayan box shipping service.

Having this grocery store be a part of Olivia and Katherine's lives taught them family roots, community, and culture. Now their online store Manila Oriental is their modern heritage gift shop celebrating the (tough Asian) love and food that shaped the two. It’s their homage to the family who has paved the way for them, who introduced them to the foods they now crave, and the values that make them proud to be Filipino. They just started the beginning of this year and now their store is up and running! When it comes to the two sisters working together, they think it's great because they get to have the chance to work with someone who knows you and to share a foundation of trust in each other's capabilities. 

Kathrine explained that what made them venture into the appeal business was the concept for the catchy phrases and heritage-inspired themes that Olivia (Kathrine's sister) have created. "We see the interest of people in wearing their hearts and heritage on their sleeve like our Mahal tee as an opportunity to introduce a lifestyle of incorporating products that showcase and educated about Filpino-American culture", Kathrine stated.

When it comes to branding, it's very important when owning a store or a business. The reason that they chose the three stars as their icon to their online apparel store is because it tributes to the Filipino flag.

Branding can be very important to a brand and/or business. For Manila Oriental they chose the three stars (picture on the left) as a tribute to the Filipino flag.

As in any store there are favorited items that the buyers just love. The proud Filipina sisters said that their "UBE IS MY JAM" tote and shorts and their "MAHAL" shirt (which is particularly great as a portion of these sales benefit charity) and the "Kain,tulog, tae" line are the favored products. With all the products they have in their online store, they do not have any favorites because they ALL are their favorites and because they are all labors of their love, younger sister Kathrine said.

The owners of Manila Oriental enjoy making new connections with other Fil-Am business owners who share the same vision of sharing their unique culture. They are particularly excited about their holiday collaborations; with Creme Caramel LA to bring you a Lil' Bahay Kubo: Mini Gingerbread House Kit and Storybook and Instagram sensation @HungryHugh to bring you a limited edition tee. 

Each Lil' Bahay Kubo purchase benefits making homes in the Philippines. The collaboration will donate $5 of each Lil' Bahay Kubo to Habitat for Humanity Philippines and Gawad Kalinga. Gawad Kalinga is aPhilippine poverty alleviation and nation-building movement known officially as the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation. Its mission is to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024.

This collaboration is something the sisters are very stoked about because they are bringing a Filipino twist to a Christmas tradition. Katherine pointed out how Christmas is huge to Filipinos and , "We start celebrating as soon as the  "-ber" months begin. Alongside the gingerbread house kit, we're also including a storybook about bahay kubos so that kids and adults alike can learn about this traditional Filipino house", Kathrine said.

Even though it's not FAHM anymore Fil-Ams are constantly celebrating and embracing their Filipino heritage. The two sister are proud to have come from a diverse background, rich in unique culture. Kathrine continued, "Filipino-Americans ha so much to offer, we're Americans, pursuing the dream, we're islanders, we're Asians, we're a mix of so many wonderful things."

27 views0 comments
  • BeaReyes

Happy FAHM! I have Michelle Balingit who is an a content creator and lifestyle blogger.

The content creator and lifestyle blogger was born in Apalit, Philippines but raised in Los Angeles, CA and currently residing in San Fernando Valley.

She was a creator from the beginning... at a young age she learned how to draw which lead to something more. Following her interest to draw passion for art grew. She then tried painting, sculpturing but photography was where it all started.

Balingit started as a freelance photographer in 2009 then she was a social media consultant in 2015. The proud Filipina is always willing to learn new things even after she graduated with honors at Mount Saint Mary’s University with Bachelors for Business Marketing and minor in Film & Media. Now as a entrepreneur, creator and blogger she utilizes her skills to help brands and businesses connect with their audience.

When it comes to being a content creator, Balingit enjoys that she challenge herself for coming up with new things for creativity. Balingit said, "There is always something I can do different and I research on what other skills I can learn and implement. For example: Creating GIFs, adding drawing to a photo, and more."

On the other hand, what she enjoys about being a lifestyle blogger is that she is able to connect with other bloggers, and entrepreneurs as well as brands and businesses whether they reach out to her or she reaches out to them. At the end she stated that the most important thing is building a connection and relationship.

When it come to anything, difficulties may arise and when it comes to creating content, "The difficulties I encountered when it comes to creating content is having a creative block when my passion to create is gone or at an all-time low. This happens to a lot of creators and there’s always different ways to get out of it. From journaling, going out for a walk, or just simply rest. Now as a lifestyle, the difficulties of being a lifestyle blogger is growing as a blogger. The industry is very saturated so making sure that you are different from anyone else but also to not lose authenticity when it comes to collaborating with brands/businesses", according to Balingit.

It takes a lot of work to be both content creator and lifestyle blogger. Balingit stated, "Jeanne Grey of @thegreylayers, Mariel Cornel of @polydeux and many more but they are the top ones who inspired me. Also, fellow Filipina at that too! From starting small to where they are now, reminds me that you can’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter."

Balingit is a proud ambassador for Green Turle Company's reusable straws. The reusable straw ambassador loves working with sustainable brands/businesses. Whether it is makeup, clothing, or something we use every day, she loves being able to promote a product that helps saves the turtles and mother earth!

The ambassador said that the way she became an influencer for them after buying one of their straws at a networking event called A Rare Day, and started taking photos and promoted them on her Instagram. Balingit saw that they had an affiliate program, applied and now she is an influencer for them. They are also one of her clients when it comes to product photography or content creation.

When it comes to taking pictures and shooting products she enjoys products and looking for inspiration and letting her vision along with her clients’ vision come to life! "Something that I see in my head, and the end result is what it is – plus letting others see it to Is the best part. It takes some direction when I am in the shot as I am directing either my boyfriend, friends or moving angles in tripod if I am taking the photos myself", the content creator said.

Out of all the things she has taken pictures of, she enjoys shooting products, because she can try out the product for herself and also she can help promote it if she like sit and believes in the company’s mission.

When it comes to posting on Instagram, she plans her post only when it comes to a brand/business collaboration to meet the deadline. Balingit will send them photos beforehand and if they approve she can then plan it on but recently she has been posting on real time.

In social media nowadays, branding is very important. On the matter Balingit said,

"My brand is a lot of things. But all in all, I’m a creator. I help develop and create content for brands/businesses that resonates and connects with their audience. I do photos, videos, stop-motion, graphics, you name it!"

She currently works at Real Good Foods as their marketing operations manager. She makes sure that deadlines are being met, whether it is a social post, collaborative giveaway, events and so much more. Also she has to Look over all the creative and technical side of things on how she can help improve our marketing.

Everyone has dreams and goals and hers is to be her own boss someday and get paid to travel as well. "I haven’t seen much of the world but hope to soon. Trying to incorporate travel in my blog to possibly collaborate with hotels and help promote them. Life is short but there is so much to see", Balingit said.

With it being FAHM, she is proud to be able to understand Tagalog even though she is not fluent in it (she left Philippines when she was 5) and also to be able to cook Filipino dishes.

Even though she was born in the Philippines, to see a lot of Filipinos in LA makes her happy. "I love seeing the community grow in LA! Connecting with other fellow Filipinos is comforting and doesn’t seem as lonely or challenging. I always support fellow Filipinos I meet", she exclaimed.

As for the future she is hoping to be her own boss someday Another things is she wants to help her boyfriend get his business off the ground once he’s a licensed physical therapist. Get married in a few years. Just living life and in the moment as everything else will fall into place.

That's Michelle Balingit for you, click her name and it will take you to her instagram.

32 views0 comments
  • BeaReyes

Happy FAHM! For today I have Paola Olivares who is an artist and the owner of Art of Pao.

Paola Olivares is a proud Filipina who is the owner of Art of Pao. In 2011, the artist

received a scholarship award for Excellence in Drawing and Painting from the Peter and Masha Plotkin Memorial Foundation. Also, she graduated from California State University Fullerton, and attained a degree for Bachelor of Fine Arts in Entertainment Art/Animation.

The illustrator has a background in animation but, she has become well known for creating illustrations that display her artistic style which is a combination of a proud Filipino, animated, and cute.

Olivares studied entertainment art/animation art in college and what inspired her to do that was no other than a popular Disney classic animated movie, Toy Story. "Ever since I saw Toy Story as a child when it premiered in 1995, I knew that I wanted to learn and create animations that would make people happy. It was only when I was in college that I realized that I wanted to be in storyboarding rather than doing 2D/3D. I simply loved the idea of being able to help create the stage for the storytelling aspect of a film or show, so I focused on building those skills before I graduated from California State University-Fullerton", Olivares stated.

October is the month of FAHM ( Filipino American Heritage Month) and whether it's something that everyone knows or that Jo Koy jokes around with, traditional Filipino parent are known to strongly tell their kids to be in the medical or business field.

Although most of the illustrator's family are in the medical and business field, she expressed how fortunate enough she was because her parents were supportive in her pursuit in following an art career. The owner of Art of Pao stated that Even though she had many relatives who tried to dissuade her otherwise, she stuck her ground, and pushed on ahead towards her goal because she wanted to be happy in something that she is passionate in versus being forced to do something that was never her dream.

On her Instagram and website, she posts a lot of her artwork. A lot of what inspires Olivares to create the art she does is her love for all things cute and she tries to capture that in her artworks. She also draws a lot of her inspiration from her Filipino roots.

All artists favorite their favorites and pieces they has struggles with, for Olivares her favorite artwork she created is the first Maria Clara piece (picture above) that she did for her first art show at Leanna Lin's Wonderland back in 2017. According to the animator, it is her favorite because it captures the traditional dress as well as the various Filipino desserts that she had grown up with.

While a piece that was a challenge for her was (posted above) "Ellie The Jellyfish Princess. She was in a group art toy show called Custom Art Show at Woot Bear. Her friend, Mei-Jean Hsu, created the design of the Ellie doll along with UVD Toys. Since her friend knew that she loved to create and paint kokeshi art toy dolls, Hsu included Olivares in her group art show, and had a blank doll sent to Olivares to work on. "It was definitely a challenge for me since most of the artists in the group show were toy designers whereas I am an illustrator and story artist. It was a little nervous whilst working on my custom doll, but it was also a ton of fun. I just drew a lot of my inspiration for my doll with fashion designs from Rodarte and Giambattista Valli. I would love to try to do another art toy custom hopefully in the future", the story artist said.

The owner of Art of Pao has become a staple art at art conventions such as WonderCon since 2015 and DesignerCon since 2016. Additionally, she also showcased her creations

in competitions and galleries which included UNESCO, The Perky Nerd, the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles’ Pop Secret Gallery, POPzilla, and fan*alley’s The Artist Lodge. As well as launching her creations she also participated in solo exhibits with Leanna Lin’s Wonderland for her art show “Lovelies” in 2017, and with Kape Republik for her art show “Dreamscape” in 2018.

With such a calendar of events, she claimed how extremely fortunate and grateful she is to receive support for her art, and grow a following throughout these years that she has been doing conventions and gallery shows. Olivares said, "Seeing how much joy my artworks bring to my clients is a big motivation for me to continue on my art journey and grow my art business."

With any path, there are always risks in whatever one does in life. Being a freelance artist is definitely no picnic. "The beginning of the journey may be discouraging, but the path to success is usually a slow and steady climb with hard work and perseverance. Nowadays, things are going quite well for me with my art business, but there are still some new challenges that I face from time to time. It's just a matter of how one handles it. Since most of my creative process is in tune with my emotional state, I channel a lot of positive energy in any project I do rather than dwell on the negatives", according to the story artist.

Everyone has goals an aspirations and for the owner of Art of Pao, she would love to continue to grow her art business, and do more conventions and gallery shows every year. She also would like to create her own animation studio one day because she would still love to create story driven films and shows that are filled with joy and have a lot of heart in it.

Being it FAHM , the proud Filipina artist wanted to showcase the Filipino culture in her art because as she started to do more conventions, she got asked a lot by people if she would ever do Filipino-inspired artworks. It then made her realize that there was a big market for the Filipino community, but very little Filipino art available out there. "I'm a Manila girl at heart, and it only took moving here to California to realize how much of my culture that I took for granted. This is why I make sure that I create artworks that are inspired by my Filipino roots because it not only is a way to contribute to the Filipino community, it is also educational for those who want to learn more about their own roots," the proud Filipina artist explained.

Currently, she is working on illustrations for an upcoming 3rd solo art show as well as a new book for an author that will be released in Fall 2019. In addition, she is creating new artworks and merchandise that are inspired by her Filipino roots in an effort to further expand culture awareness for her upcoming art events.

Whatever nationality you may be I am for sure you are definitely proud, for Olivares it is a big deal! "I am proud to be a Filipino because of how warm and talented our community is. It is great that other cultures and ethnicities are finally learning about how much more we can offer with our history, food, art, music and much more", according to Paola Olivares.

44 views0 comments