APAHM Stories: Q&A with Camille CustodioAngie Tran
May 22, 2019
To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Sparks Magazine is featuring Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) student leaders across different campuses. Look out for more features from your campus throughout May.
Camille Custodio just graduated from the University of South Florida majoring in Psychology.
What does it mean to be APIA/your ethnicity?
CC: Coming from one of the poorest countries (Philippines) in Asia, I stop to think of how strong my countrymen and women are. They work night and day, leaving their families to work in Manila or even the United States. Their hope for a better future gives them strength. As one of those children whose mom had to leave home to give us a better future, I am forever inspired by these men and women. Being Filipino, for me, is more than just something I received as a birth rite. Being Filipino means that you’re a strong fighter. Going back to the early ages, you can trace Filipino heritage to a royal line of voyagers. They sailed sea to sea in search of a land and created their own civilization.
Filipinos are resilient against those who conquered their paradise. From Spanish colonization, American colonization, to Japan’s occupation, Filipinos showed the world that they are a breed of fighters who will forever be proud of where they come from. Having said this, we are not afraid of any challenges that comes our way. We take everything by the horns and charge on. This can be seen through our work ethic, our leadership styles and our charismatic personalities. Coming from a small island in the Pacific, we are neither intimidated by storms or floods. We move forward with a smile. I believe this is one of the reasons as to why I am proud of my roots.
You can’t always please everyone with every decision you make. That’s why it takes a noble person to be a good leader.
Was there a specific moment when you claimed your APIA identity?
CC: I believe I have always had this sense of pride in being APIA in me. I come from the Philippines, and everywhere I go, I always have to make a point to people where I come from. My experiences growing up is what shaped me into the woman I am today.
What are some of the challenges in being a student leader on campus?
CC: What my Tatay (father) – bless his soul – always said that politics is dirty, and it’s always a “damn if you did, damn if you don’t” type of situation. You can’t always please everyone with every decision you make. That’s why it takes a noble person to be a good leader. Looking at where I am now, I still can’t believe that I am the 12th annual “Journey to the East” (JE) director. It truly is an honor to hold such a prestigious title. Being JE Director, you hold a high standard for yourself and those around you. You’re basically a symbol of unification. The biggest challenge that my executive board and I have to face is to get the USF Asian American community together and be equally represented. Even though we say that we are united, there are only three big main organizations that are well known. Other than that, for an event that has been continuously promoting Asian awareness for 12 years, why aren’t we funded by the university? I believe in order for this problem to be solved, we must humble ourselves and put culture and advocacy at the heart of this year’s “Journey to the East”. For this years “Journey to the East,” I will be applying the concept of family. I plan to reach out to all organizations and hear what they want to see for “Journey to the East.” I want them to know that their voices matter. I also plan on reaching out to South Asian organizations. I want them to know that they are part of this celebration as well. I will also encourage the increase of multicultural Greek involvement. Lastly, I will get alumni involved. I want to show them that this is the legacy that they have left at USF and their hard work is still going strong. I plan to make this year’s “Journey to the East” louder and bigger as we knock on our USF’s doors to get JE onto a university scale. And I know this doesn’t happen overnight, and I know it will take time, but it takes one match to keep a candle burning.
What’s your comfort food?
CC: My favorite comfort food is chicken and pork adobo with hard boiled egg. It is very easy to make. I believe my not-so-secret ingredient to my chicken adobo is using a lot more vinegar than you should and adding a little bit of sugar.
Is there a taste, smell or something you see that immediately reminds you of home or gives you a sense of comfort?
CC: The smell of rice and mangoes together gives me comfort. It reminds me of going back to my mom’s childhood house in Zambales, a province in the Philippines farther down Luzon (an island in the Philippines). I remember playing paper dolls with my younger sister, Nicole. Nanay (mother) would always call us for lunch. Since my younger sister is such a picky eater, she would just eat rice and mangoes together for her meals.
What/who inspired you to be involved in the APIA community?
CC: A particular person from my sorority inspired me to be involved with the APIA Community, and that is none other than my sorority twin, Ash Alonzo. I joined Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc. fall of 2017. I remember going to my first Association of Filipino Students event and seeing her standing there. I knew I wanted to join Kappa at that time, so I took initiative and introduced myself to her. And the rest was history after that. Ash held multiple positions in the USF Asian community. She was part of older AFS eboard, a sister of KPL, and she was previously part of Sparks Magazine at USF. Along with that, she was assistant director of multimedia for “Journey to the East” 2017. Ash’s involvement along with her pride as an advocate for APIA issues is something I will always look up to. She is outspoken and driven, and she stands up for what she believes in. And that is something I aspire to be. I remember her cheering me on as I told her I plan to become AFS’s Internal Vice-President. The passion that she has for her heritage is truly something that I will take and pass down to my “Journey to the East” e-board.