Blog Count: (8) Meet Sampaguita Girl | Pinay.com
We love working with passionate people. Sampaguita Girl or M.T. Vallarta or Maria is one of them. At 22, she is not afraid to take on big topics; her stage is the Internet; and her community are all of us Pinays who sometimes forget to celebrate who we are and where we came from.
M.T. Vallarta, who is taking her Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside, started writing for Pinay.com last May. She has since delved into sensitive and personal topics regarding identity and relationships. We applaud her for it. We also appreciate her informative features, such as “5 Pinay Stellar Novels You Need to Read” and “Pinay Voice: Watch 5 Amazing Musical Talents.”
If you have been following M.T. Vallarta’s writings, here is a glimpse of her as a person. Below is our conversation:
Why Blog as Sampaguita Girl?
I started my blog because I wanted to create a platform for Pinays to read and talk about issues that are normally overshadowed in our communities. Issues like feminism, racism, and sexuality are usually difficult conversations. I wanted to demystify and address these topics in a way that is transparent and accessible for Pinays. I also wanted to celebrate being Pinay and highlight our many triumphs and contributions. I chose to refer to myself as “Sampaguita Girl” because of a short story I read (“Deflowering the Sampaguita” by M. Evelina Galang) and because I love being a girl!
Tell us about your favorite topics in your blog?
I love writing about feminism (Pinayism in particular). Womanhood is definitely up there, so is literature, and everything and anything that has to do with being Pinay. I think this hashtag (which is circulating around Twitter for Filipino American history month) sums it up: #allpinayeverything.
Who is M.T. Vallarta?
I am a 22-year-old Ph.D. student in Ethnic Studies. I go to school in Southern California, which is where I also grew up. When I’m not blogging, I spend 90% of my life reading, writing, and studying. My skin isn’t so tanned anymore because I’m always indoors working. I love school though—I get to research and write about Pinays, so it’s definitely a dream come true!
What’s with the whole Literature on your blog?
I started the Literature section on my blog mostly because I’m a bookworm and I wanted everyone to become bookworms too! (Just kidding.) Mostly I wanted to create a resource for folks. There is so much Pinay literature out there, but oftentimes people don’t know the titles or even where to look. Pinay literature is wonderful, and I wanted to make sure people knew that.
So, you consider yourself an activist?
I started organizing for Asian and Pacific Islander communities in college. Now, most of my organizing work is Filipino-based, although I do solidarity work with other multicultural communities as well. I am a member of Anakbayan, a youth and student organization, and right now I am developing an interest in labor organizing. Activism is a very important part of my life, and it is something I am determined to commit to, even while getting my Ph.D.
What is in the near future for Sampaguita Girl?
For now, I just hope I have enough time to keep my blog active. I am working on transcribing my college thesis (an interrogation of what it means to be a dalaga) for a blog post. I definitely want to have more conversations on Pinayism, and I want to create a more interactive feature for my blog. I don’t know any html though, so we’ll see how it turns out.
How do you like writing for Pinay.com?
I love writing for Pinay.com! I am really grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts and my story on such an amazing website. I hope to keep dedicating a portion of my time to Pinay.com. Thank you for letting me be a part of such a wonderful community of Pinay writers.
Blog Count is a series of conversations with Pinays all over the world. We think these Pinays sparkle and shine. If you are a member of Pinay.com, we can feature you too. Can you inspire us? Do you have something to share? Email Tish Leizens, chief editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s start a conversation.
Tish Leizens is a great believer in asking lots of questions. That was how she was trained as a business journalist for newspapers and magazines. That was how she survived trying moments in her personal life and how she navigated a successful career and business in media. In 1997, she asked, “Why not?” And so, she moved from Manila to New York City. It was and continues to be a great adventure. After stints as a reporter for Manila Chronicle and Manila Times; correspondent for The Straits Times and Gulf News; Tish worked as editor for Conde Nast, and later edited and published her own regional magazines, OurHouse and Excursions. OurHouse, sold in bookstores chains in the East Coast, was nationally recognized for its innovative approach to magazine publishing. Tish has lectured at the New York Public Library on how to launch a magazine and other topics related to publishing. She was featured in CNN Money in 2010.