Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

June 12, 2015

No Longer Invisible: Daniele Meñez

This personal submission is a part of the “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words” project, a story series established to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month at the UW.

Daniele Meñez

Name: Daniele Meñez

Identity: Filipino American, Pacific Islander (Chamorro)

Major: Public Health

Personal Interests: “Favorite foods (Filipino): sinigang, adobong, pusit, fishball, dirty ice cream, lumpia. Favorite foods (Chamorro): kelaguen, tinaktak, and bbq & red rice.”

“When someone asks, “What are you, really?”, I confidently tell them the truth – not of what I am, but of who I am. I am an empowered, aware, and unique Filipin@ American and Pacific Islander youth. I am not a “what,” but a “who.” I am not an “other.” I am what I am, proudly and confidently because I have the inherent right to be.”

“My parents were both overseas Filipino migrant workers (OFWs) who met while working abroad as waitstaff at the Dai Ichi Hotel in Saipan. Although I was born in Saipan, my sister was born in the Philippines. We lived in Saipan for a year but spent about three years in the Philippines. When I was 4 years old, we moved to the beautiful Pacific island of Guam, where we have lived and settled since. Although my immediate family and I have lived in Guam for many years, much of my extended family are still in the Philippines. However, many of them have spent the past decade migrating to countries like Saudi Arabia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Canada to work abroad in hopes of attaining a better life. This pursuit of better living and working conditions is a common thread amongst all Filipinos and Filipino Americans, and for other Asians and Pacific Islanders as well.

Although I was personally raised in a diverse island community, I’ve felt the invisibility that comes with being a Filipino American and Pacific Islander youth. It led to a sense of doubt, internalized oppression, and self-defeat that I couldn’t define or pinpoint for years. It was an invisible epidemic that plagued my being, but I couldn’t voice it because I didn’t have the words to express what I was feeling.

It’s crucial for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to be visible because it is an inherent human right. Visibility is a necessary birthright that should be granted to every person regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, and identity. Unfortunately, many of our people are robbed of the freedom to live freely in a supportive environment that encourages our success and growth. The invisibility that we face as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders contributes to our lack of cultural awareness, identity, and empowerment. If our invisibility persists, then our problems will as well. We must confront the former to solve the latter.

For myself and for my community, I envision self-aware, confident, visible, and empowered Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals. They make up a united community that can stand in solidarity with one another and still appreciate the unique differences and struggles we each face. I envision a safe space where all identities are welcome and represented; a place that embodies a sense of understanding, a willingness to listen, and a freedom to forgive and love.”

View mores stories from the “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words” project.