We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenah Maravilla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenah, how do you think about risk?
Ah, what a wonderful question! I believe that risk is hardly ever spoken about in a day-to-day context, but rather, through one big pivotal moment –when that simply isn’t true. Risk is all about self-empowerment, reflection, and reward. This was most apparent when –from an outsider’s perspective– I had seemingly dropped my nursing career in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. If you didn’t know me, you would assume I quit in capricious temper, instead of what had actually occurred: I finally listened to what I truly wanted.
During 2016 up until the hurricane, I had been taking small risks outside of work to figure out my voice within the larger context of community organizing. I was building relationships with those who found importance in my story, with those I realized were important to learn from as well. I was observing what kinds of lives other people live outside of my comfort zone in STEM, how rewarding and fulfilling I can still be regardless of where my energy is spent. Dominoes were carefully put in place, even unbeknownst to me. I had always wanted to be a writer, to uplift stories of those who feel voiceless. But nursing had been the more ‘practical’ route, the more ‘safe’ option. Maybe without Harvey, I would have stuck it out longer, maybe risk would not be such an apparent influence in my life. But I can’t think about that now. I just know about what actually happened.
One of those people who believed in my risk is my mentor and fellow-community leader, Christy Poisot. Upon hearing about my leaving nursing, she invited me to co-author Filipinos in Houston. She knew of my recessive talents, my eye for detail, and my passion for storytelling. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Every day I meander farther from that life in healthcare, every day is a risk –a life I could not have imagined for myself. It’s amazing.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am a Holistic Editor for BIPOC. This means that alongside the services a typical Editor offers, (copy editing, proofreading, and overall structure), I make sure every interaction with me reminds you of your humanity throughout this shared experience. I show up wholly, in the hopes that we learn more about ourselves by the end of our partnership!
My business is forged from my experiences as a woman of color, a nurse, a community organizer, a creative writer, and learned self-care practices. I am a strong believer in storytelling, community healing, and empowering those in spaces where they feel marginalized. You will not hear anyone else refer to themselves as a Holistic Editor. I created this position. However, getting to this place where I confidently live in my truth and acknowledge my worth is a continuous process. I did not wake up with the epiphany to do what I do, in the way I believe I can best carry it out.
In 2017 when I left nursing, I was poised to work on Filipinos in Houston right away. In 2018, I had to figure out what it meant to no longer be a full-time nurse. I checked out piles of books from the library about Editorial Services and Creative Writing Practices. I asked myself, “What do I bring to the table? What’s stopping me?” In 2019, I realized I was the one stopping me. So, I simply started following my YES.
From editing projects to spoken-word performances, I began pushing the boundaries of my comfort in order to truly understand what my next steps are. On a personal note, I still have a far way to go before imposter syndrome is fully shaken off, but professionally, my exposure to people from all walks of life inspire me to release self-limiting beliefs and simply go for whatever stirs my soul. In 2020 you’re witnessing the table I’ve been building for myself these past 3 years. You are witnessing the manifestation of my YES, of my purpose.
Despite these strange, and downright enraging times, I find empowerment in the collective, rather than the individual –I make sure that my services are accessible, equitable, and intentional. If you have words, if you have a mission, I am here to help. You are not alone.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Someone visiting from out of town or even out of state would definitely love to experience Shady Acres Saloon –with a small-town feel still within the loop, it’s close to other bars and eateries while remaining being quaint and charming. Don’t forget to hit up Willow’s BBQ truck before it runs out for the day.
Houston is definitely the place to eat, and should not go without saying to visit Bellaire’s Chinatown for authentic East Asian cuisine and a couple of the food halls popping up for a taste of everything (Finn Hall, Underground Hall, Blodgett Food Hall, and Understory). You also can’t forget BBQ while visiting Texas– The Pit Room and Killen’s Barbecue being a couple of notables. With COVID-19 though, be sure to stay safe.
For art and music, you just have to know where to look. The art scene in Houston is poppin and live music can be found during summer nights at the Miller Outdoor Theater (pre-COVID). Drive-in theaters have made a reappearance, so check out Sawyer Yards, Rooftop Cinema Club, and Showboat Drive-in, for showtimes.
For spectacular views within the city, the parks (Hermann, Allen, and Memorial) are always Instagram-ready. Just make sure to be hydrated!
And last, but not least, my dad’s longstanding Filipino restaurant in Pearland! TJ Filipino Cuisine. Right off of 288, since 2006, it has become a staple for the local Filipino-American community. That place will always taste like home to me. Nearby is a mom-and-pop owned Filipino store, Pinoy Store, Atpb. Grab some hard-to-find snacks and imported groceries!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In this unpredictable journey, I meet more and more people to thank. But first of all, I am grateful for my parents and brother: My parents have always instilled in me hard work, honesty, and resilience. My brother has always inspired me to live authentically. I am grateful to them that they are able to grow alongside me and the changes I’ve made for my life, that they are supportive even when some of these things are hard to understand.
In my search for community, I owe a debt of gratitude for the teams and creatives who pour into me– from Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc Texas (UniPro TX), to Filipino American National Historical Society of Houston (FANHS-HTX), to the newly formed Filipinx Artists of Houston (FxAH). The grass is greener where it is watered, and I am an everglade.
Although I’ve clearly bonded with these people due to a shared identity, it’s really the complexities born outside of, in constant conversation with, and continuous learning/unlearning of this identity that keeps us together. Special thanks to Anthony Guevara, Christy Poisot, and Patlindsay Catalla, for their faith in what the next generations can and are doing.
Personal Photograph and Group Image (FxAH) by Christian Toledo. FANHS-HTX and UniPro TX Photographs by Trisha Morales.