I am from the Philippines and was a community organizer prior to immigrating to the United States. I followed my ex-husband to Madison when he came for grad school. It was here that I brought my three biological children from the Philippines in 2001. Being new in town and having a young family, I saw the need to get involved in the Filipino-American community to help my children assimilate and to keep them connected with our culture.
I took a leadership role with the Philippine-American Association of Madison and Neighboring Areas (PAMANA). I served as president 2002–05 promoting cultural awareness events and spearheading discussions and actions. In 2004, Senator Tammy Baldwin gave me the rare opportunity to represent the Wisconsin Asian-American community in Washington, DC during the Democratic Party Caucus Convention.
My family was one of the many faces who represented Fair Wisconsin in its fight against a statewide referendum banning same sex marriage. Door-to-door, we worked hard to educate many. I spoke at the State House Committee hearing opposing the ban. Sadly that referendum was a massive loss to the LGBTQ+ community and to liberty as a state.
Protecting LGBTQ+ rights is always at stake, as the extreme-right’s on-going disarray is looking for an excuse or wedge issues to rally their base and stay relevant. Their repeal of Roe vs Wade, is a testament that all the gains from years of fighting for equity and equality for the LGBTQ+ is always in danger.
Of the numerous possible career-change options I explored in order to move on from my previous dedications to social work, my hunt led me to massage school in 2015. Becoming an Ashiatsu Deepfeet Bar practitioner and instructor gave me more than a new start. I now know that the “air of freedom” is loving what you do. When I’m on the massage table, it means I’m doing Ashiatsu. I am humbled to be the first to introduce Ashiatsu Deepfeet Bar Therapy in Madison.
I was to sublease a space in spring of 2020, but lockdown stopped that plan in its tracks. Two years later, a friend told me that a spa business was leaving a move-in ready space but the agent suggested taking a look at another unit 3 doors down. Despite its dirty and neglected condition, the moment my son Kaimo and I walked in, we knew we had found our home. I wasn’t aware until later that this was previously the location of OutReach.
It is heartwarming to know that Barefoot Hands’ current location was the home of Outreach and adds even deeper meaning to a space providing support in healing for so many members of our community. I think of our body as the vessel where we unconsciously store all the stresses and burdens we carry each day. LGBTQ+ people face tremendous challenges personally and socially. Our body needs our attention. When we ignore our body, we pay the price for neglecting it. Receiving massage, along with other approaches to allow our body to reset itself, should be an essential part of our self-care. When every member of our community is healthy, together we can do more and we can give more.
2022 Pride in Color
The Change-Maker: From his time with the City of Seattle to his new role at Promega, Christopher Peguero has always advocated for equitable change.
The Frontrunner: Fifteen-year-old transgender track star Ayden Yee will be profiled in Here-TV’s docu-series, Road to the Runway, premiering August 1.
The Pastor: Cameron Overton (he/him) is the executive pastor at Zao MKE Church and a Black transman called to build the church into an intersectional and queer liberated space committed to the liberation of all people.
The Ancestral Flame: Maria Paula Lujum is the Youth Programs Manager for Centro Hispano of Dane County.
The Educator: Stacy Clark is a Community Health and Equity champion whose mission is to provide services and education to others that he may not have had as a young, black, gay male.
The Good Foot: Al Poliarco is the force behind Barefoot Hands Bodywork
The Dynamo: Clyde Mayberry is the CEO & Founder of the first African American Performing Arts Center in Dane County.