Come June, actress G Tongi will be the Philippine flag bearer when she graduates - with honors - at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she is getting a communication studies degree.
"There's no better culmination for me because I worked so hard going back to school, having two kids, it's a lot of work. But it all seems worth it knowing at the very end, dala-dala ko yung flag ng Pilipinas."
An active member of the Filipino student group in UCLA, G is a big part and promoter of "Samahang Pilipino Cultural Night", which will be staged on May 21.
About 300 Pinoy students will present Filipino dances, songs and skits at this annual event.
Its leaders were happy when signed on for the show this year. Many were even star struck, but quickly found out how Tongi wanted to treated just like any other student.
"She has a huge network of people that support her and we're very grateful to have her on board with us," Jessica Gin, executive producer of Cultural Night said.
Tongi also produced "Pinoy Tango" and "Pinoy Grease", student films that allowed her to work on a passion project: working with fellow Filipinos in Hollywood.
She says she wants to bridge the gap between the creative communities in the Philippines and in the U.S.
“Living in America has definitely taught me the value of humility, the value of camaraderie, of making connections with people, networking with people for a common goal,” Tongi said.
The star is now leading an organization of Fil-Ams working in Hollywood.
Although the number of Pinoys working in front of and behind the camera is already sizable, Filipinos in Hollywood remain unrecognized as a group.
Tongi, a devoted wife and mother to two kids, recently did a cameo for "America's Next Top Model".
She will be collaborating with one of the show's producers, fellow Pinoy Michael Carandang, on an upcoming talk show for TFC.
Tongi is also the emcee of the search to involve Filipino American's gala in Los Angeles and teaches acting for the International Academy of Film and Television in Hollywood.
Despite all these accomplishments, the actress says there are still kababayans who criticize her, but she has learned to brush them off.
"Hindi naman matatanggal sa Pilipino ang tsismis. But at the end of the day, if I live here, my life revolves around my family. Maski anuman sabihin nila, 'ay si G, walang nagawa, ganyan, ganito,' ika nga, success is relative. In my almost 33 years, in my heart, having my children, being able to have the opportunity to come to ucla has been a success and achievement that i never dreamed possible already," Tongi said.
Despite thriving in the US, Tongi says Manila will always be home to her.
She's coming to Manila after graduation and she will bring her kids along so they could learn their Filipino roots.
“Ako naman never ko naman tinalikuran ang showbiz sa Pilipinas eh. Pag maganda ang project at kung may time ako, sige gagawin ko. In fact after I graduate, I intend to come visit because nami-miss ko ang mga kaibigan at kamag-anak ko so dadalhin ko ang mga anak ko dun para maturuan ko rin silang maka-pag tagalog kasi importante sa akin yun," Tongi ended.