Photo of Mariana Abigail Tamayo

Filipino American History Month: Mariana Tamayo

Photo of Mariana Abigail Tamayo

October is Filipino American History Month, which commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States. To learn more about Filipino culture, The Daily is putting the spotlight on Filipino American members of the Case Western Reserve University community to celebrate their accomplishments—and shed light on their experiences at CWRU.

Mariana Tamayo spent much of her time as a child watching her mother do administrative work in Excel for her parents’ bakery in Guam. Now, it’s only fitting that she’s majoring in accounting. 

A fourth-year student at Case Western Reserve University also majoring in music, Tamayo will soon move on to earn her master’s degree at the university, ultimately planning to earn her certified public accountant credentials to work for one of the big four public accounting firms. 

“Since high school, [becoming an accountant has been] my goal,” Tamayo explained. “I want to work enough so that I can provide for my family back home and hopefully a family of my own.”

For Tamayo—who was raised in Guam and has family ties in the Philippines—choosing to attend CWRU was a big gamble, both for her and for her loved ones. The decision not only meant she would be moving far away, but she’d be living on her own. 

“I was fortunate to have a high school teacher, who is a close family friend, check out the campus for me,” Tamayo said. “He expressed his impression of the school and the campus and told me to ‘give it a chance.’” 

Family business

For as wary as she was to live on her own, Tamayo is happy to report she found her community at CWRU—one that reminds her of home, where they joke saying “everyone knows everyone” because Guam is so small. 

“On campus, I’m the president of the Filipino Student Union (FSU)—I love that it’s a small community, a home for me and other Filipinos at CWRU,” she said. “Being in FSU has allowed me to share my identity and food with others.”

Tamayo said this month, for her, is about celebrating her identity, educating people about it, and reconnecting with who she is and her family in Guam. Coming from one family in the bakery business and another in the restaurant business, food has always been a way for her family to bond.

At the bakery, Tamayo would help her grandparents make their seasonal desserts, silvanas, while listening as they shared stories of what their life was like in the Philippines before they moved to Guam. 

Back home, Tamayo connects with her dad through cooking the Filipino food essential: chicken adobo; and with her mom through working on perfecting their lumpia recipe.

“Watching [my dad] make adobo and other foods for the family and making it on my own now in college has been a way for me to connect with my culture,” she explained. “We show our love for one another through food, so if I ask my friends if they’ve eaten today or if they want some of my food, it’s a very open and loving moment for me. We are raised to be caretakers.” 

Also at Case Western Reserve, Tamayo is involved with Newman Campus Ministry and Beta Alpha Psi; and this summer, she completed an internship with Ernst & Young in Guam, so she could be close to her loved ones—including her dogs. 

Stay tuned to The Daily through Oct. 28 to learn about other Filipino American members of the Case Western Reserve University community.