We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.
The Secret Life of RV reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind.)
Secret Life: Leezel Tanglao
Director of Audience Insights and Innovation at The Points Guy / Project Director of Tayo Help
By day, RVer Leezel Tanglao connects the dots for various functional groups within The Points Guy team, keeping them on track to reach their collective brand goals – but behind the scenes, she’s trailblazing efforts to stop the spread of COVID and misinformation within Filipino communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Learn more about her incredible work below!
Q: Hi Leezel! Thanks for the virtual catch-up – the pandemic has made it so hard to shoot our shot, you know?
A: Hi there, thanks to you too! Was that a… vaccine joke?
Q: You’re right, that totally didn’t stick. ANYWAY — tell us about your role at RV!
A: I’m the Director of Audience Insights and Innovation at The Points Guy. I love my role, as in many ways, it’s something I’ve done all my life as a daughter of Filipino immigrants – being a “bridge person” who must translate things between several worlds. At TPG, I help bridge the gap between data, editorial, and revenue and connect the dots across the teams. My editorial background has helped me surface the stories behind the data and discover how teams can take action to hit all our goals.
Q: Help us bridge your story to Tayo Help – how did it all start, and how did you get involved?
A: It started with my involvement in the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), which I found by happenstance. I noticed a call for applications for an immersion program that would select 10-15 leaders across different industries to bridge and connect Filipino Americans with communities and leaders in the Philippines, and decided to apply. I saw it as an opportunity to reconnect with my roots, as it had been more than a decade since I had visited the land of my ancestors. I was accepted in the 2019 class and that life-changing trip became the last major excursion I took before the pandemic. It reignited a fire and passion to help my community.
While Filipinos make up 4% of registered nurses in the United States, they account for more than 30% of all COVID-related RN deaths.
Tayo’s origins started with conversations among the alumni of the FYLPRO immersion program in spring of 2020. We were all trying to figure out how to respond to the pandemic, as Filipinos were being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 by nature of being medical frontliners and essential workers, and by living in intergenerational homes. While Filipinos make up 4% of registered nurses in the United States, they account for more than 30% of all COVID-related RN deaths. In addition, we saw a lot of misinformation being shared within the community by our lolos/lolas (grandfathers/grandmothers) and titos/titas (uncles/aunts) which was alarming and dangerous.
We came up with the idea of developing a COVID-19 help desk. We decided to go after grant funding and we were able to get $25,000 from the Booz Allen Foundation’s innovation grant. Out of 3,000 applications, we were one of 21 organizations awarded an innovation grant. With this seed funding, were able to launch Tayo (www.tayohelp.com) in the fall of 2020. Tayo in Tagalog means “us” — so we like to say we are powered by us, for us. We were able to get both local and national news coverage and we’ve formed partnerships with media orgs to help syndicate content.
Q: That’s Tayo-tally cool! How has the initiative grown since it began last fall?
A: Since launching, we’ve published more than 500 Q&As, both in English and Filipino (Tagalog language-based), along with several culturally-tailored webinars, vaccine clinics in Chicago and Los Angeles, and a vaccine education campaign geared towards parents and Gen Z. We are also about to launch a nationwide survey led by one of our medical advisors, Dr. Melissa Palma, which will look at Filipinos’ attitudes around vaccinations. Even though we’re the third-largest APA group in the US, there’s very little disaggregated COVID data around Filipinos, so we decided to take matters in own hands and collect it ourselves.
Q: Why is this work meaningful to you?
A: I’ve seen the impact of COVID-19 on my community — we’ve suffered devastating losses. But I’ve also seen our resiliency. I’m happy to see the community come together to help each other during this time of crisis. In the Filipino culture, we have a value called “Kapwa” which roughly translates into the shared self — so by helping others, we also help ourselves.
I’m currently the chair of FYLPRO’s COVID-19 task force and the Project Director of Tayo, and it’s incredibly uplifting to me that all of the members of these organizations — despite coming from different industries and, for some, having never even met their teammates in person — can work together under a shared vision and goal to help our community. Anything is possible, even during a pandemic!
Q: What has been one particularly inspiring moment during your time working on this project?
A: There have been several inspiring moments while working on this project, but the most empowering part for me has been seeing how our work has inspired others to take action, too. Since there was no resource that catered to Filipinos during COVID-19, we decided to create one, first by doing a pilot in Los Angeles. Once we launched, other Filipinos in the US saw what we did and decided to create similar resources in their own communities, like the TX Filipinx for Public Health group.
Q: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! So what’s the Tayo team up to now?
A: We have a current campaign aimed at Gen Z and parents on the importance of getting vaccinated. We took 3 very different approaches in delivering the same message — it’s a great example of how to culturally tailor your content to your audience, and I’m really proud of the work our team has done. It’s not enough to just present the facts and call it day. You must know who you are talking to and meet them where they are at.
Here are the videos for the vaccine education campaign:
- Vaccine Webinar: https://youtu.be/BhiLNC5tAFg
- Viral Dance Video: https://youtu.be/F4ChktV6QWs
- PSA – We Can Do This Safely (English) https://youtu.be/6y_spTE99XQ
- PSA – Kaya natin’to (Tagalog) https://youtu.be/9lSNplTNvAE
We’re also always looking for support for the The Filipino Young Leaders Program, which advocates for initiatives, programs, and causes that advance US and Philippine relations. If you want to donate to the program, check out this link!
Q: Got it! To wrap things up, What tips would you recommend to someone who wants to help fight misinformation during the pandemic?
A: Care before you share. Stop and consider the source before hitting that share button. If something gets your emotions riled up, pause and see if other news organizations are reporting the same thing. Better to be right than first.
Q: Great advice. Thanks for talking with us Leezel!
A: Thank you!
Don’t stop here! Check out Leezel’s blog post from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, where she broke down the history of the observance and chatted with some of the amazing RVers within our AAPI community.