POMONA, CA — Dwight Ong is set to graduate from Cal Poly Pomona in the spring with a degree in business administration.
But as the Cebuano-immigrant enjoyed his college years, especially with the Filipino club Barkada, he noticed there was something missing in the shelves of most libraries.
“There is this gap especially in Filipino literature, where it kinda stops around our newer generation. If you look back it’s mostly of older generations when they first kinda came here to the U.S., and then the stories kind of just stop. It’s nice to have something to look back to something to reference especially in this newer generation.”
He decided to self-publish his own book: Voices of the New Generation Filipino American Community.
“There’s immigration, culture, racism, LGBTQ; it’s pretty much all the different categories that Filipino Americans face here in the U.S. that don’t really get heard or told in mainstream media news.”
Ong, who has no writing experience and has worked as a graphic designer, spent 7 months talking to different people throughout the US and collecting their stories.
“That’s when it really opened my eyes and it made me realize that I should be more proud of who I am and what my heritage is, instead of trying to run away from them. In this particular story it was really interesting because charisma was afraid of her heritage.”
For Ong, who migrated to the U.S. at age 10, and grew up as one of the few Filipinos in Olivehurst, about 40 miles north of Sacramento, he had trouble finding ways to connect with his roots.
“I didn’t actually have a chance to find a Filipino community, there wasn’t really this Filipino community that I could go to or reference — so when I came down here it was kind of like a culture shock, for me to see this many Filipinos around the LA area and I got a chance to know more about the culture here.”
The book is available on paperback and as an e-book through Amazon, and he plans on bringing it to other communities and doing a book tour.
Ong will graduate in the spring and is already planning on a second book that he hopes to publish by then of this year.