This month, we are featuring the amazing Ria Pretekin – educator, counselor and coach. She is a Filipina American mom of two, originally from Los Angeles and currently lives in the city of Chicago. Ria’s passion is to create community through cultural awareness. She is helping her children discover their Filipino American identities through adventures and storytelling.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your cultural background.
A: I am a Filipina American. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, the first few years of my life in HiFi (historic Filipinotown). Both my parents were born and raised in the Philippines and came to California in the late ’70s.
Q: What do you want others to know about the Fil-Am/Filipino culture?
A: That there is so much beauty and richness to our culture. To be Filipino is to almost be a mystery because we don’t really fit into any category. We are Asian Americans but our culture is so heavily influenced by the 300 years of Spanish colonization. I read the book the “Latinos of Asia” by Anthony Christian Ocampo and that book helped me understand how Filipinos are the invisible Asians.
Q: What do you currently do or have you been doing in hopes to contribute to the Fil-Am/Filipino community?
A: I started a blog and Instagram (@urbanohana) to begin documenting my family’s adventures. I want to help educate others on what it means to be Filipino American and to help shift the narrative of American history to include the many amazing contributions of Filipinos to this country. I want to share the beauty of our culture through my stories and through the family programming I am hosting.
Q: What or who is your inspiration behind what you do?
A: My children and my parents. I want my children to know that they are Filipino American as well as half Jewish/white. I believe it is my responsibility as their mother to help pass along the stories of their ancestors down to them so that they may understand their roots. It is also just as much about my parents and honoring their legacy, who they are, and the country that they came from.
Q: Any other additional thoughts you want to share that we didn’t ask you yet?
A: My family is a multi-generational, multicultural, interfaith family. I am trying to ensure that my children are exposed to both the Catholic faith, Jewish faith, and Filipino culture. I am so fortunate to have my parents living with us, which is very nontraditional in American norms but common for Filipinos. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
(Related post: Latkes & Lumpia – Learn more about how Ria celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas with her family, for a beautiful blend as an interfaith celebration).
Upcoming Special Event
June 27 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Conversations & Cocktails (at Storefront Events in Chicago, IL):
Join Ria Pretekin & WE Events to discuss Raising Cultural Awareness in Families. An amazing panelist of women in Chicago will share stories and start the conversation about race, culture, and raising cultural awareness with intentionality. Their hope is to build a positive awareness of diversity in the community. If you are interested in an evening of discussion, journaling, and cocktails, find out more about the Conversations & Cocktails event here.