California is home to one of the largest populations of Filipinos in the world outside of the Filipines, so it’s fitting that a California-based producer is the first to start a podcast dedicated to stories of the Filipino diaspora. Long Distance moves beyond typical immigrant narratives to share thoughtful tales of love, loss, history, and humor. In its first season, the podcast featured stories about a hate crime in Stockton, a Filipina American rapper’s immigrant journey, and an undocumented couple's love story in Los Angeles. Long Distance is also one of six podcasts selected for the first cohort of the Google/PRX Podcast creator program.
The California Report Magazine’s host Sasha Khokha sat down with Long Distance's producer and host Paola Mardo in Los Angeles. What follows are excerpts of their conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
What made you want to start a podcast focused on the Filipino-American experience?
I was born in L.A. but I grew up in the Philippines, the Bay Area, and Kuala Lumpur. So when I moved back to L.A. after college, I got really interested in just learning more about the community here. If you drive around L.A., there are all these signs that say “Historic Filipinotown.” I wanted to know what that meant. So I started interviewing people in the Historic Filipinotown community to learn more about their stories. And as I started listening, I realized I could relate to their stories because of our diaspora connection. I decided to make a podcast about the diaspora that includes stories about places like Historic Filipinotown, but also other parts of the country and the world.
How does a story about a tiki bar fit into a podcast about the Filipino diaspora?