Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month: Interviewing Sarah Mae Dizon
Published June 2, 2020
I found Sarah Mae Dizon on Instagram when I was viewing the story of Lithium magazine's account. I came across her when she took over their IG to introduce herself as a new writer and to answer questions about the magazine and working for Lithium. Immediately from her selfies, I recognized a Filipino - I don't know how I, or many Filipinos, are able to do this, but I feel that we are all somehow interconnected and are able to see the Filipino in one another. Do you agree? Anyways, because of this, I had to follow. From a little stalking, I found out about a project she was starting: the here-after zine. I conducted an interview to discuss her project, the inspiration and ideas that started it, and why its purpose is important, especially for those who are in Filipino diasporas.
ME: What is the inspiration behind here-after?
SARAH: I came back home in March when my university suspended in-person classes. I started spending a lot more time on social media. On Twitter specifically, I started following so many cool Filipinx folks who created art and writing. At the same time, I became more exposed to online collectives and zines created by young people. In high school, I spent three years on my school’s art and literary magazine. I had so much fun judging pieces and designing spreads. I missed doing that kind of work, so I figured “why not create my own magazine?” here-after sprang out of that.
Why is it important to disrupt, dismantle, decolonize and redefine the Filipino-
Filipinx people carry the burden of colonial subjugation in our bloodlines and histories. Many of us have to unlearn the “colonial mentality” that has been passed down to us as a result of Spanish colonization and American imperialism. Our culture isn’t perfect; it is mired in anti-Blackness, anti-[Indigenous], colorism, and patriarchy. To uplift our cultural heritage without acknowledging this would be a disservice to many Pinxys that have felt alienated or isolated because of their own families and communities.
How has being part of the Filipino diaspora affected you in any way?
Growing up in the US, I struggled with connecting with my heritage but, I also acknowledge the material privilege I have with being born here. I used to feel very
inadequate for not speaking Tagalog fluently or not knowing my parents’ regional languages (my mom is from Cagayan de Oro and my dad is from Pangasinan). But I’ve learned that being Filipina isn’t just about speaking the languages or eating the food. I became involved with my university’s Filipinx student organization as a freshman and joined the National Federation of Filipino American Association’s Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration program in 2019. I also love talking with my Titas and Titos. I’m very blessed to have so much family living near me. They tell me stories about their lives back home and that helps me feel connected.
Are there any Filipinos who inspire you?
So. Many. I feel so inspired by my own family members, peers and mentors. A few I’d like to name are Justine Suegay, Kylie Stamm, and Krystle Canare. They’re three Filipina women based in the DMV area who do amazing work! Individually, they do amazing work and I’m so amazed by their abilities to uplift and empower those around them. Also, I feel so inspired by the many Filipinx organizers in different advocacy organizations like Garbiela, Anakbayan and Migrante International—just to name a few.
Is your zine going to be physical print, or will it all be online?
The zine will be online! I’ve been toying with the idea of a physical print, but I’m not exactly sure how that process goes. The first volume will definitely be in .pdf form online, but I might look into getting volume two in print.
Will you continue this project and keep expanding and evolving here-after in the
Yes! I started here-after as my EPYC capstone project, but I’ve decided to continue the magazine. Around this time next year, I’ll be working on a volume two! I’ll be looking into printing physical copies and inviting more folks onto the team. In the meantime, I want to open up submissions to be published on the website’s blog.