About Me

I was born in the Philippines but due to political and economic reasons, my parents emigrated in the 1970s and settled in New York City when I was a toddler. I grew up in Elmhurst, Queens surrounded by people from all over the world living as neighbors. When I was eight, my mother took me back to the Philippines to visit our family. That trip was the first time I got on a plane (that I could remember) and the first time I traveled overseas. Visiting the place of my birth was so strange because everything was so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I confronted poverty for the first time, permanently altering my outlook on life leading to a lifelong curiosity about how other people live.

As I grew up in America, I was raised in a traditional Filipino household. This experience developed my ability to see the world simultaneously through two distinct cultural lenses. Yet being bicultural created great emotional angst especially as a teenager when I rebelled against my parents’ Filipino worldviews. Relief came when I attended Mount Holyoke College where I discovered anthropology.  The discipline helped me intellectualize the turmoil I felt inside. I studied foreign cultures of the past and present, learning how people around the planet come to understand the world they live in. I finally discovered how my bicultural identity could be useful and began to accept it as a blessing rather than a burden.  At Columbia University, my masters thesis focused on the global movement of people, things, and ideas.

Travel brings to life the cultures I’ve read about in books and quenches my thirst for knowledge about other people. I love to observe how others behave, taste the food they eat, and participate in activities important to them. I seek to understand the factors that influence their behaviors. Yet my impressions are not reserved solely for foreign cultures. I also observe my own. This blog not only covers the places I visit but also the place I call home: New York City. I place special emphasis on Queens because it is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.  I show you how people in New York City live.

Culture is the glue that binds a group together. It is complex, contradictory, and messy. My job is to capture its vividness, make sense of it, and share with you my thoughtful impressions. I hope to increase your curiosity about others and inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and experience the world beyond what you know.

As a yoga teacher, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone to help stretch both your mind and body.  I teach Bikram yoga, the original hot yoga, which is the practice of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stop by Hot Yoga 4 You Rego Park and check out my class!

EMAIL:  actionjojo@gmail.com
TWITTER:  action_jojo

14 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I love that last paragraph, the one that starts off “Culture is the glue that binds a group together….” So True!

    Glad to meet you. I’m almost your opposite — I was born in Queens but ended up in the Phils hahaha. Anyway I’m back in Texas now but just wanted to say hi and I like your blog. Best wishes on all your future travels!

    • Hi Derek, so nice to e-meet you and thanks for dropping a comment!!! That is so funny that you did the reverse migration…how do you like Texas? Where in Queens where you born? So happy to meet a fellow Queens native. Cheers!

      • I love Austin, but it truly is the only place in Texas worth visiting and generally regarded as a “fantastically artistic Democratic bubble in a staunchly Republican state.” I was born in Cambria Heights but left when I was eight, two decades ago… ended up at a small barangay outside of Infanta, that was fun. But I will also admit, I never was brave enough to try balut despite all the good things everyone had to say LOL.

        • Derek, so cool. I love that you have circumnavigated the world and have in lived in so many places. Cambria Heights, whoa! I had friends in HS who were from there. How long did you live in the Philippines?! That’s funny about balut…you can always try it now!!

          Yes, Austin is truly the small blue island in a sea of red. Glad you are enjoying it there. I love Rudy’s BBQ! I use Rudy’s dry rub every time I BBQ here and my guests always ask the seasoning I use because it is sooo good!

          • About a year and a half altogether. I enjoyed it. The thing I miss most is the culture. So many times my Filipino friends would say “I may not have any money but I’m happy” yet I know so many Americans who are unhappy, even with their money. Money is not everything. Too many Americans that have never traveled fail to recognize that. Food, culture, family, experiences… that stuff is! And that is why I am a perpetual traveler and global citizen.
            P.S. Oh, you’ve been to Austin? Well you just went up another notch in my book for liking Rudy’s BBQ! I have one a cpl miles from my house and I am a sucker for the moist brisket “outside cut”

  2. Hi JoJo- glad to have found your blog! We met in the lounge at TBEX and I just discovered that you did your grad work in anthropology– me too! I’ll look forward to reading more of your adventures (I love the Sunday/sign day feature) :)

    • Hey Kat, woot woot for us! We are a rare breed in the travel blogging community so it’s always so nice to meet another anthropologist. Glad you like the Sunday Sign & Symbols theme. I wanted to be sure to highlight my anthro background somehow on my blog and I think this is a good way to do it.

      So nice to meet you at TBEX and I too look forward to reading more about your adventures.

  3. Pingback: Sunday Signs & Symbols: Hindu Temple? | Action JoJo

  4. Hey Jojo!
    It’s been ages since we were in class together at Columbia. I’m really enjoying your blog and you look amazing. In fact, I’m planning to take my first Bikram class tomorrow. Not going to lie, i’m kind of nervous. Any tips for a beginner who would love to get her pre-baby body back?

    • Hi Lizzie,
      It’s been so long…so great to hear from you. Wow, our days at Columbia feel like a million years ago!!! Congratulations on having a baby too!!

      I’m so thrilled that you are going to try Bikram yoga. If you’ve taken other forms of yoga, just throw your expectations out the window. It will be a unique experience especially since you will be practicing in the heat.

      First, hydrate a lot! Drink a lot of water before you get to class. If you can down at least a liter of water, that would be great! Also, don’t eat up to 3 hours before your first class. You want to go in on a relatively empty stomach.

      Once you are in the room, your two goals: breathe and stay in the room. Everything else is bonus. The heat will make everything challenging but if you can breathe through the entire class, you will be great. Pace yourself, try your best, and breathe. If you need to take a break, then do so! You can learn a lot just by watching. Have fun, drink lots of water, and replenish your electrolytes after class. Let me know how it goes! Remember: BREATHE. 😀

  5. That’s what I really appreciate about people like you.

    It’s no longer just about mere tolerance, or even acceptance. It’s about reception and reciprocation. Seeing different cultures and seeing how they’re not really distinct and different, just uniquely the same in different perspectives (okay I’m not making sense now), but hey gotta say it’s always awesome to see people with bicultural views, especially from a fellow Filipino. Mabuhay!

    • Mabuhay Photoblogger! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It is so important to see the world from various perspectives. That ability helps transcend the divisions we humans like to create. Take care!

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