Pinoys on Parliament (PoP) is a conference networking Filipino Canadians with one another. In a way, it’s a TED talk featuring Fil’ Can’ speakers who have found success in the fields of academia, business, entertainment and politics and want to give back to the next generation. It’s also an incubator where these same speakers connect with attendees through workshops and a mentee-mentor relationship. If you love listening to stories, if you feel encouraged by civic engagement, and if anecdotes motivate you to action, I know you’re going to love PoP. Participation is a no brainer, and that’s not including the scheduled tours and plenty of opportunities to socialize with Fil Cans from across Canada in Ottawa!

But to be honest, most of that didn’t interest me. I came on a whim with sister, more interested in supporting a hometown friend who co-founded Pinoys on Parliament than networking with strangers. I think we felt intimidated and out of our element seeing and listening to young men and women who looked like us but seemed infinitely more comfortable at the conference.

Personally, I was jealous. Growing up, ignorance towards the culture I grew up in and the colour of my skin rattled my self-esteem and made me feel isolated. If you understand what I’m talking about, I hope you’ve found ways to address these frustrations. For me, hearing the perspectives and experiences of my PoP peers towards the culture I grew up with was an incredibly validating experience. And while I don’t think it will appeal to all of you, I’ve heard and felt enough to advocate how empowering this conference—its coordinators and its attendees—can be.

Your vibe attracts your tribe. I hope you feel the same energy and affirmation I did when you arrive in 2020. See you then!