Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is excited to celebrate Filipino American History Month this October! We are fortunate to work with so many Filipinos as co-workers and clients. Recently we shared the story of our Of-Counsel Verna Polutan and our client Dr. Pia Mendoza during Asian-American Heritage Month and today we will share the story of how our Marketing Director, Mea Matsuoka, also stays connected to her Filipino roots!
Mea Matsuoka has been with Garvish Immigration Law Group since 2021. She is originally from Pennsylvania and has lived in Georgia her entire adult life. Mea currently resides in Atlanta with her husband and 3 children.
Understanding her family history has always been important to Mea as the daughter of a first-generation Filipina mother and an American father. From an early age, Mea understood that diversity was an integral part of every community and she was proud to be able to add diversity to her own community. She even attended Filipino Heritage Festivals as a young girl and was able to watch traditional Filipino dances and totally immerse herself into the culture.
“I remember showing friends my mother’s photo albums from the Philippines and them looking in disbelief asking ‘How is this real? Are there jungles in the Philippines? Look at those boats!’ It was a long way from Pennsylvania and to my young friends they could only imagine that type of nature or see it in a movie.”
Mea’s family in the Philippines is large, she has 11 aunts and uncles and 38 first cousins! The three times she’s been to the Philippines have always included a huge family celebration with a traditional pig roast (called Lichon) and some form of cultural event such as a Barrio Fiesta (a traditional neighborhood celebration) or an Easter procession during Holy Week.
Visiting the Philippines is always exciting as most of Mea’s family lives in a fishing village called Naungan on the island of Leyte. Her uncles and cousins have taken her on paraw rides (the traditional canoe sailboat) and they’ve ventured to nearby islands for a beach day. She has also taken motorcycle rides up the mountain to visit rice fields owned by her mother’s cousin (and tasted fresh cacao) and visited Masaba Falls, one of the many waterfalls in southern Leyte. Her favorite memory is watching her mother take off her shoes and climb a coconut tree to bring down the fresh fruit.
Facts About the Philippines
7500+ Islands make up this archipelago
120+ Languages are spoken in the country
Largest producer of coconuts
The Philippines is home to 3 of the largest shopping malls in the world
Largest supplier of nurses worldwide
“It’s my dream to take my children to the Philippines very soon so they can experience another culture so close to their heart and to also meet family they don’t know they have!”
Being a Filipino-American has always been a treasure to Mea and she tries her best to incorporate her culture into daily life. She learned to cook traditional Filipino dishes and is constantly learning new cooking skills when she’s with her mom, who ironically is in the Philippines right now!
This monthly blog series on Filipino American Heritage Month is produced by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee led by our Senior Attorney, Nadia Deans Kalata.
The DEI Mission is: To create and promote a diverse, equal, and inclusive work environment where all individuals are valued and respected and allowed to attain their greatest potential (professionally and personally) to work towards achieving the greatest benefits for all our clients.
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