Today, we’re talking to Terrence Santos, the local filmmaker and restaurant owner documenting Seattle’s Filipinx food scene. Santos is in the process of making a documentary about the community behind our city’s Filipinx restaurants, and he started an Instagram account to document all the people and places he’s discovered along the way.
Terrence is also an Emmy winner, toy creator, longtime Seattleite and all around go-to guy for food recs. Let’s get to know him, shall we?
Thanks for talking to the Evergrey! Tell our readers a bit more about the Filipinx Food Seattle Project.
Filipinix Food Seattle is an Instagram page that began as we progressed with filming a documentary on the FIlipinx food scene here in and around Seattle. I quickly realized that there were many like myself who wanted to know about all the Filipinx food businesses and professionals in the area, so I began to focus primarily on advocacy for our community’s businesses. Since its start, the page has grown into a good-sized community of people interested in learning about and supporting the many food businesses and chefs that hail from the Filipinx community!
Tell us about the documentary you’re working on. What’s it about and how’s it going so far?
I’m a former restaurant owner (Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade Kirkland, which closed in February of 2020) and because I was in that world and grew up in Seattle, I quickly connected to the other Filipinos in the industry. However, my actual education and passion is in filmmaking. Prior to owning a restaurant, I was the Design Director of Video Production at UW Athletic’s Marketing Department for four years and had been awarded a regional Emmy for work I had done as a co-producer and director of photography for a documentary named The Otherside, a documentary on Seattle’s contemporary hip-hop scene.
With my background in both industries, I was in a special place to be able to document what was going on with our Filipinx food community here in Seattle. Given the many relationships I had made with other owners and professionals in the food industry, I decided to take an intimate and familial approach to the documentary. Family is so important to the Filipinx community — not only our family by blood, but also the families we create with our staff at our restaurants. We want to share the many stories from within each family.
Outside of your work with Filipinx Food, what keeps you busy?
In fall of 2020, after taking the whole summer to process the closing of our restaurant, I created a toy line called Anak Toy Company (follow us on Instagram: @anaktoykompany) to help teach kids their native languages and culture. It started with three of the Filipino languages spoken amongst my family members: Tagalog, Ilocano and Bisaya. I had searched for these types of toys each time my boys were born and couldn’t find anything so with the time I had I figured I’d just make the toys myself.
I also got back into film, working on another documentary for a local non-profit, called South End Stories; teaching film and video production for the same organization; plus keeping one foot in the food industry working to build a following for a concept Melissa Miranda of Musang and I created.
What’s a project you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
I’m really trying to raise funds to complete this documentary as its progress stalled once COVID hit. I’m on a break right now as I wait for word on some grants, so I’ve been able to dive into the pre-production stage and really gather my thoughts on how I want to tell each story. I’m taking this time to build story structure first so we can be more targeted when we continue filming.
How can our readers support you and tune into future happenings?
I’d definitely appreciate a follow on Instagram and for any people who would like to see the documentary completed, and who have the financial ability, contributing to our GoFundMe campaign would be so awesome.
What are some local places you think every Seattleite should know about?