Just in time for Filipino American History Month, the first episode of a new podcast, Long Distance, is now out for listeners everywhere. Asked to give an elevator pitch of it, creator and host Paola Mardo describes it as “a narrative podcast about life in the Filipino diaspora.”
A more fleshed out description on the podcast’s website reveals how the episodes will take it beyond immigrant stories; by way of accounts on what it’s like to be Filipino outside the Philippines, on having to leave the Philippines after growing up there, and even how it is for those who’ve never been there before.
The idea for Long Distance came to Mardo a few years ago. Despite having been born in Los Angeles, she lived abroad up until high school when she moved back to the United States. It was during that time when she first learned about Historic Filipinotown.
“I had no idea what that was, and being a Filipino American person, I was super curious and I just thought it was super interesting,” she recalled in a phone interview.
Mardo learned about the community and its history over the years, and it was two years ago when she started recording interviews with different people there. Then she started learning about similar communities outside of LA, and realized how this project she was working on is bigger than just the stories found in Historic Filipinotown.
“I’ve always been interested in LA and Filipino history, and so I think at some point, I’ll do something more specific to that,” she said. “Overtime, I started to realize that there’s a need to tell really thoughtful stories about the Filipino American community, specifically in the audio space, because those don’t really exist.”
For the premiere episode, Mardo travels to Stockton, in the aftermath of the vandalism of the Little Manila Center last October, and explores how that occurrence connects with the past.
Finding the time and help to make Long Distance a reality have been two prominent challenges for her, especially with it being an independent podcast.
“Being an independent podcast producer, you don’t have a big marketing budget or [have] a big company help you get the word out,” she explained. “There’s just you.”
That’s why she started an Instagram account for the podcast, in an effort to get the word out about it and connect with people she otherwise wouldn’t have gotten in contact with.
“So that’s been great, and hopefully it will get others to tell their friends about it,” she added.
Episodes will be released on a monthly basis, which is a different schedule from Mardo’s previous podcast, F This Weekly. Time, resources, and wanting to have fun with the project are the main reasons why.
“It’s not something I can produce on a weekly basis or even a bi-weekly basis right now,” she said. “But this is just my plan for the first season.”
For future seasons, she hopes to get more funding to make it a more frequent project, especially with her interest in exploring other Filipinotowns both around the country and abroad.
Mardo recommends Long Distance for anyone of the younger generations of Filipino Americans, younger Filipinos in the diaspora, college and high school students, and anyone who has an interest in Filipino stories or podcasts. Already, people have been reaching out, saying how they’re starting to learn this history, and through listening to her podcast, Mardo hopes that people will both learn and be entertained.
“I think starting this, I knew I wanted to tell these stories of Filipinos in America and beyond,” she reflected. “I didn’t know how much people would want it. When we started posting about it on social media, there seems to be a real interest in connecting with your cultural roots.”