What does it mean to be Filipino? Join host Jim Agapito's cultural quest in Recovering Filipino

New radio series and podcast follow Filipino-Canadian Jim Agapito’s recovery mission to learn about his heritage. It debuts on CBC Radio One on June 28.

‘I want to understand why we do the things we do,’ says the Filipino-Canadian

Recovering Filipino host Jim Agapito with his grandmother, Epifania Bulaong, 97. Before she left for the Philippines in December 2019, she called out her Filipino-Canadian grandson to learn more about his culture. (Submitted by Jim Agapito)

Filipino-Canadian Jim Agapito is on a mission.

It all started when his 97-year-old lola (grandmother in Tagalog) called him out for his lack of connection to his heritage.

"'What are you going to do when you can't speak the language and know nothing about our culture?'" said Agapito, quoting his grandmother, Epifania Bulaong.

"I love you but you are a bad Filipino," she told the Winnipeg filmmaker and writer.

How to find Recovering Filipino

  • Tune in on CBC Radio One, starting June 28 at 11:30 a.m. across Canada. New episodes will air Mondays at 11:30 a.m. throughout the summer, and on Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. 
  • Listen anytime on
  • Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts.
  • Join the conversation at #recoveringfilipino.
  • Send us an email.

That was in December 2019 before Bulaong left for the Philippines. Now Agapito is on a quest to learn more about his Filipino identity and culture.

Born in Canada, Agapito admits his cultural roots don't run very deep: he has visited the Philippines only once; he doesn't speak Tagalog fluently; he isn't the biggest fan of Filipino food (spoiler alert: he was a vegetarian for about a decade — "dark, dark days" for lola and the rest of the family); and he's also baffled by some of the things Filipinos do and believe.

"I want to understand why we do the things we do," said Agapito. 

"For example, why do Filipinos love the three Bs: basketball, boxing and beauty pageants? What's up with our sweet spaghetti? What's behind our elaborate superstitions and crazy nicknames? So many questions." 

He's one of an estimated 10.2 million Filipinos living outside the Philippines. If you're not Filipino yourself, then "you're likely Filipino-adjacent," said Agapito.

Jim Agapito hosts Recovering Filipino, a new show on CBC Radio One. Pictured right: Agapito's grandmother and his mother, Yolanda, who acts as his unofficial guide during his cultural mission. (CBC/Submitted by Jim Agapito)

Join Agapito in his cultural quest to understand and embrace his heritage as he hosts the new CBC podcast and radio series Recovering Filipino.

"I'm on a recovery mission — a mission to recover my Filipino identity, one question at a time."

His goal: "Make my lola proud." 

Available episodes:

Jim grew up playing basketball. He grew out of that passion, but his Filipino friends and family haven't. Why does the sport get his aunts (titas) yelling and flashing fists? Jim discovers the surprising origin of this love affair with basketball. 27:26
Jim isn’t a big fan of Filipino food, especially sweet spaghetti. Jim digs into the yuck and yum of Filipino cuisine with the help of expert Patricio Abinales; delves into his relationship with a popular bee; and gives a hated dish one more try. 27:26



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