A child in 1943 hides in the lilies of a lake in the Philippine village of Tarlac as the Japanese occupy his village. He goes on to move to Detroit and become a doctor. This story fills Alex with awe and inspires him to take his child to a lake in Michigan, years later, infusing him with the wisdom he’s learned.
Alex was born to Filipino immigrant parents just outside Detroit. He read a poem that inspired him to become a featherweight boxer in Mexico and later to become a Zen Buddhist seminary student for almost ten years at a small temple in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
He left Michigan to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing in Poetry at the University of Montana. While there, the residents of Troy, Montana named him 2002’s Poetry Slam Champion of Montana, and he very quickly found himself a wife, a mortgage, two kids, two cats, and a dog.
In order to pay for all that, he joined forces with the Missoula Writing Collaborative as a Poet in Residence in 2004 and has served various schools on the Flathead Indian Reservation and Missoula. He also has served for almost a decade as full time faculty at Salish Kootenai College where he was given the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Award for the founding of Ten Sticks Lacrosse, the premier youth lacrosse program of the Flathead Indian Reservation.
When not teaching or tending to his kids, Alex launches small experiments that attempt to bring together his interests in art, entrepreneurship, and education. Currently, he is working on a graphic novel, and he is training as a Graphic Facilitator to help educators and businesses clarify their communications through hand drawn images.
Alex spoke at TedxArlee. You can hear his Tedx talk here.
This edition of Tell Us Something was recorded on June 9th, 2015 at the Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT. The theme was Oops! I Changed my Mind!". Alex's story is called "The Worst Asian Ever".