Filipinas in the blogosphere: top 10 Filipina Blogs

This has been the most time-consuming article I’ve written thus far. I had to compile the list, research the bloggers’ bios, contact them for photos and verify all the links before the article went to print.

If you’ve spent any time at all on the Internet during the past few years, you’ve probably heard of the blogging phenomenon. Whether you’re visiting an online news source or Lindsay Lohan’s website, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon a blog or two along the way.

Blogs evolved from simple online journals on personal websites into political, social and marketing tools incorporating text, pictures, sound and video. Unlike traditional forms of media and journalism, blogs reflect people’s thoughts and opinions. They’re also interactive, allowing readers to comment on what’s been written and bloggers to respond and update their blog entries as needed. Technorati, arguably the most popular blog index on the Internet, estimates that a staggering 175,000 new blogs are created every day. With blogging platforms more accessible and easier to use than ever before, it seems that every woman and her cat has one—yes, even the cat.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Filipinas are making their presence known in the blogosphere. Let’s face it—we have a lot to say! But finding these blogging gems can be a hard slog. So to get you started, here is a selection of top 10 blogs written by Filipinas from all over the world. In no particular order, these blogs span a variety of topics, personalities and voices that showcase what Filipina women are concerned about. Some are notable for their notoriety, others for their creativity, some for their content, and others just because they put a smile on your face. What they do have in common are Filipina bloggers who aren’t shy about being heard. Check out what they have to say.

#1 Miss Popularity

For sheer popularity alone, it’s hard to go past Michelle Malkin, a US political blog with a heavy conservative bias. Michelle Malkin is listed in the top 20 most popular blogs according to Technorati—a huge achievement considering Technorati tracks over 70 million blogs. Blogger Michelle Malkin’s background as a journalist and published author is evident in her writing. Although she identifies herself as American, 37-year old Michelle’s parents are both Filipinos. She has written articles about her Filipino heritage both as a blogger and as a professional journalist. Whether or not you agree with her politics, there’s no doubt that Michelle’s opinions carry weight—Forbes magazine listed her blog as one of the best political blogs in 2005. Visit Michelle Malkin at www.michellemalkin.com and be prepared for controversy.

#2 Happy-Go-Lucky

Video blog—or vlog—Happy Slip is the brainchild of New York-based actress Christine Gambito. Happy Slip features short, quirky videos ranging from a parody of reality TV show The Bachelor to a heartfelt ode to the Mac computer. Happy Slip clips are cheerfully low-budget—most of the time, Christine does her own script writing, directing, editing and acting. Sometimes she even creates the music. Christine’s videos are also available on YouTube where Happy Slip Productions, with over 28,000 subscribers, is listed in the top 15 most subscribed channels of all time—arguably qualifying Christine for online stardom. Her video, Mixed Nuts, was nominated for Best Comedy in the 2006 YouTube Video Awards.

Christine’s creativity and humour shine through her work, as does her Filipino heritage—starting with the site’s name. ‘While growing up,’ Christine writes, ‘my mom was always quick to remind me to wear a half slip with my skirts. She would say “Your hap eslip!! Be sure to wear your hap eslip!!” So I grew up thinking the term was always “happy slip” until I was corrected by classmates who asked me if I had a sad slip as well.’ Though born and raised in the USA, Christine’s wry yet affectionate attitude towards her Filipino identity results in some hilarious skits, such as Peelings and YouChoob, which unerringly capture the dynamic between second-generation Filipino Americans and their parents. Visit Happy Slip at www.happyslip.com. You’ll need a decent Internet connection, preferably broadband, to view the videos.

#3 Aussie Achiever

Shai Coggins is the personal blog of Australian Filipina and blogging bigwig Shai Coggins. Shai, an Adelaide-based blogger, offers insights into professional blogging (also known as problogging), social networking, technology and multimedia, which are interspersed with personal anecdotes. A savvy businesswoman and technology enthusiast, Shai is the Vice-President of Community Services for and co-owner of popular blogging network, b5media. In 2005, she was named one the Top 10 Most Powerful Women in Blogging by Jack of All Blogs. Shai also writes for a variety of other blogs, including FreshWave.TV, a video blog collaboration with former ABS-CBN reporter and fellow Australian Filipina, Bern Relos. A practising psychologist, exhibited artist, published author and mother, Shai is most definitely a powerhouse in the blogging community. Visit Shai Coggins at www.shaicoggins.com and FreshWave.TV at www.freshwave.tv. Shai’s personal blog includes links to her other blogging projects.

On the subject of tech savvy bloggers, an honourable mention must go to Caterina.net, the personal blog of 37-year old San Fransisco-based businesswoman, Caterina Fake. Caterina.net covers topics such as Web 2.0, social networks, Web design, the technology industry, women in business, and interesting tidbits from Caterina’s personal life.  Describing herself as being ‘half Filipino, half WASP’, Caterina co-founded Flickr, one of the most popular photo sharing applications on the Internet. Caterina has been featured on the cover of Newsweek and, in 2006, was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Visit Caterina.net at www.caterina.net.

#4 To Dine For

If there’s one thing Filipinos have in common, it’s the love of good food. Whether we’re eating it, cooking it or just talking about it, food really is the lifeblood of our culture. It’s hardly surprising to learn that there is a huge number of great Filipina food bloggers, and it was a challenge to choose just one. Milk and Cookies, by Sydney-based blogger Jen Oh, is a foodaholic’s delight filled with recipes, restaurant reviews, delicious culinary descriptions and food photography so stunning it will make you drool. With her Filipino and Chinese backgrounds, it’s no wonder that Jen—known as JenJen on her blog—has a flair for food. Born in Quezon City, Jen’s family migrated to Australia in the late 80s. She admits to only recently developing an interest in food but adds that ‘coming from a Filipino background, food was always an integral part of [her] culture.’ Although Milk and Cookies doesn’t focus solely on Filipino cuisine, you can’t help but get goose bumps when you read a blog entry titled, ‘Vanilla Bean Leche Flan with Creamy Hot Cocoa’. Visit Milk and Cookies at ilovemilkandcookies.blogspot.com—but not on an empty stomach.

Because there are so many other food blogs worthy of recognition, a few honourable mentions are in order. If you’re looking for a blog dedicated to Filipino-style cooking, Pinoy Cook by Antipolo-based blogger Connie Veneracion includes over four years’ worth of recipes in its archives—and she keeps coming up with more. If you’re looking for something more Western with a Filipino twist, English Patis features recipes by Cecile Samson-Aquino, a Filipina blogger based in England. For more tropical fare, The Scent of Green Bananas features delectable delights from Guam-based Filipina blogger Karina Santos. Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, try Dessert Comes First by Manila-based blogger Lori Baltazar. Lori’s photo essay on the Guadalupe Public Market is so vivid you can almost smell the palengke (market)—it’s no wonder some people consider this food porn! Visit Pinoy Cook at www.pinoycook.net, English Patis at desarapen.blogspot.com, The Scent of Green Bananas at scentofgreenbananas.blogspot.com and Dessert Comes First at www.dessertcomesfirst.com.

#5 Secret Women’s Business

The Parenting Weblog, managed by Frankfurt-based problogger Melissa Atienza-Petri, tackles issues faced by mothers from all walks of life. The Parenting Weblog explores issues such as parenting theory, travelling with kids, parents in the media, children’s products and advertising, as well as snippets from Melissa’s life as a wife and mother of two. Melissa is a prolific blogger and active supporter of Filipino online communities. She co-founded the Bayanihan Blog Network and PINOYexpats, an e-zine for Filipino expatriates. She also writes about travel, technology and business on other blogs. Visit The Parenting Weblog at www.parenting-weblog.com and find out how other mums are coping.

Perhaps not as polished as other blogs but still worthy of special mention is WifeSpeaks, a group blog by Filipina wives from different backgrounds. Most of these bloggers are not professional writers—the entries may appear a little raw and are often interspersed with Tagalog—but there’s no denying their willingness to be brutally honest. Drawing on their personal experiences as wives and mothers, these Filipinas really do talk about ‘secret women’s business’—from romance and sex to infidelity and divorce … and everything in between. Yes, they even discuss living with the in-laws. Visit WifeSpeaks at www.wifespeaks.com and click on ‘Topics’ to see what they’re talking about.

#6 The Body Beautiful

Back in Skinny Jeans features the slogan, If love is blind, why is Victoria’s Secret so popular? The blog gets its name from the idea that every woman has a secret pair of skinny jeans in her closet. She keeps these jeans, convinced that one day she will fit into them again and, when she does, life will be perfect: ‘There will be world peace, and the end of starvation. And most of all, I will be able to walk into any clothing store, and everything I try on will look fabulous on me.’ Second-generation Filipino American blogger Stephanie Quilao questions women’s preoccupation with achieving the perfect body. Stephanie comes from a large extended family—she’s one of sixty grandchildren—and has built a successful corporate career in the technology industry. Her own personal battles with bulimia, rape, depression and anxiety, and the subsequent healing process inspired her to start Back in Skinny Jeans, which explores how society measures success and discusses eating disorders, self-esteem and how beauty is portrayed in the media. Visit Back in Skinny Jeans at www.cravingideas.blogs.com and throw those langgonisa (sausage) pants away for good.

#7 The X-philes

With the huge number of Filipino immigrants and workers overseas, there is an abundance of blogs by Filipinas dealing with expatriate life. Alaism chronicles the experiences of 24-year old Filipina blogger Ala Paredes, including the joys and challenges of being a Filipino immigrant in Sydney. Sometimes light, sometimes poignant and always deeply honest, Alaism resonates with Filipino expatriates around the world, many of whom share their own struggles and successes by leaving comments on Ala’s blog. A model, VJ and celebrity back in the Philippines, Ala recently celebrated her first year in Australia and is now a postgraduate student at the University of Sydney. She’s also Australian Filipina Magazine’s very own illustrator. Visit Alaism at ala-ism.pansitan.net* and remember what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land.

The expat experience is shared by millions of Filipinos worldwide. An honourable mention must go to Kauderwelsch, ranked at just under 600 in popularity by Technorati, by 45-year old blogger Beng Hafner, who is based in Germany. X-Pat Files by J.D. Redondo, known as Jayred, includes wry observations—on being married to a Swiss and outrageous Swiss prices, among other things—that always end with five things to be glad about. Finally, A Perfect Day for Bananafish used to provide whimsical glimpses of life and romance in Paris by 27-year old Web designer and artist Kala Barba-Court. Having recently moved to Qatar, Kala is now preoccupied with sandstorms and the mysteries of laundry. Visit Kauderwelsch at www.lukaret.com, X-Pat Files at www.pinoysphere.com and A Perfect Day for Bananafish at belishabeacon.free.fr/bananafish.

#8 Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Manila Daily Photo, by Filipina blogger Analie Astorga-Motilla, is a photo blog updated everyday with photos of Manila and beyond. Manila Daily Photo documents Analie’s travels and observations of life in the Philippines. Visit Manila Daily Photo at www.maniladailyphoto.com and soon you’ll be planning your next balikbayan (homecoming) trip.

For photography closer to home, check out Mga Hulagway, the photo blog of Australian Filipina Magazine’s Associate Editor, Kristyn Maslog-Levis. Kristyn’s work has been displayed in various exhibits across Australia. Visit Mga Hulagway at www.kristynmlevis.com/blog.

#9 Pumping Irony

Jessica Rules the Universe has no particular theme; its appeal lies in the personality of Filipina blogger Jessica Zafra. Jessica Rules the Universe can be sarcastic, fun, dark and whimsical. Anything is fair game—from movies to random conversations with taxi drivers. Jessica is a magazine columnist and published author. Her short stories have earned Jessica three nominations for the Palanca Award—considered the Pulitzer of the Philippines—which she won in 1991. Visit Jessica Rules the Universe at www.jessicarulestheuniverse.com. Just remember: she doesn’t mince words.

#10 Smorgasboard

Some of the most interesting Filipinas in the blogosphere are neither photographers nor video producers. They’re just ordinary people whose insights into life, love, getting older and everything in between touch a chord in others. Gigi Goes Gaga is a thoughtful, honest, sometimes cheeky and often introspective blog by US-based blogger Gigi Santos-Castaneda, who was born and raised in Makati. Gigi Goes Gaga is like talking to your best girl friends about shopping, romance, wrinkles and, of course, all the men you’ve loved before. Visit Gigi Goes Gaga at gigigoesgaga.typepad.com, pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in for a good, long read.

If you haven’t already developed a squint from reading all these blogs, you might also like to check out blogs by Australian Filipina Magazine staff. Editor Michelle Baltazar’s very dignified blog, The Unbearable Lightness of Blogging, is at www.michellebaltazar.com. Besides photo blogging, Associate Editor Kristyn Maslog-Levis keeps a compilation of her published columns at Diskurso, www.kristynmlevis.com/diskurso. Fashion editor Erica Paredes recently ‘decluttered’ her old blog and is now blogging at Rhymes and Ammo, hopefulrealist.blogspot.com, where she competes for the limelight with her daughter who wants to be a ‘modol’. Staff writer Lizza Gebilagin is over at www.myspace.com/lizzagreens where, at the time of printing, she’s focusing on her campaign as the Greens candidate for the seat of Fairfield. Staff writer Kat Mayo blogs about food at Coffee Habits, coffeehabits.blogspot.com, and about all sorts of random things (don’t tell her Dad) at Ménage à Kat, katmayo.blogspot.com. Come and visit us, leave a comment and, most importantly, let us know what you have to say.

This article was first published in the May/June 2007 issue of the Australian Filipina. I have revalidated the links included in the article, so if you find one that doesn’t work, please leave a comment to let me know.

* These links no longer work.

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