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Celebrating the ‘Auntie Community’ Through “The So-En Chronicles”

Photo: Chris Tumakay
(Top Right) An illustration from “The SO-EN Chronicles.” (Bottom) gale.minna in downtown Sacramento, CA. Photo: Chris Tumakay

Gale.minna, a first-generation Filipina American based in Sacramento, explores mental health through poetry, short stories, and digital art.

Mental health is deeply personal to minna, who has experienced extreme dips and debilitating lows throughout her life.

“For a long time, I believed I was broken, and I still feel that way at times. It wasn’t until I started working in mental health advocacy that I realized there was value in my truth and experience,” she said.

Over the last few years, minna began embracing parts of herself that she had previously suppressed for decades. The journey gave her the grace and space she needed to move forward.

“Creating has directly motivated and continues to motivate my mental health journey and recovery and vice versa,” minna said. “Through writing and art, I hope to encourage others to honor and address their needs and promote self-determination.”

With a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a focus on intercultural communication from Sacramento State University, minna’s creative work has become an outlet for expression.

Her latest project is “The SO-EN Chronicles,” a zine celebrating her late mother’s sisters, cousins, and friends. Currently, one volume is out, centering themes such as Nostalgia, Panty Timeline, and Celebrate.

“It’s a dedication to my ‘auntie community,’” minna said.

SO-EN refers to a Filipina undergarment collection made exclusively in the Philippines in the 1960s. More than a quarter of a century later, SO-EN remains a staple for Filipina women across generations.

So why a zine about SO-EN panties?

SO-EN panties were the one thing minna was guaranteed to receive from an auntie who returned from a visit to the Philippines. Her auntie would bring stacks of SO-EN panty boxes of varying sizes to give to the children in the family.

“I didn’t want them growing up, but I couldn’t escape them. As I worked on my zine, talking about the iconic SO-EN panty with friends and family often led to lots of laughs,” she said.

Since its debut, minna has received much support and love for “The SO-EN Chronicles.”

“A few months ago, I visited some of my aunties in Baguio City and gifted them copies of the zine. Seeing their joy as they read and reminisced through “The SO-EN Chronicles” were some of my favorite responses so far,” minna said.

Readers can purchase the “The SO-EN Chronicles” at A Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove and Beers Books in Sacramento. The zine will also be available through the studio damili website beginning in March 2023.

minna hopes readers walk away from her work feeling seen and appreciated. Her next zine is forthcoming: notes to self. Readers may also expect volume two of “The SO-EN Chronicles” in the near future. As for minna, she is ready to embrace what happens next.

“Personally, I’ll continue to absorb, learn and create. I’m not sure what’s next, but my mind is open, and I’m ready to embrace it,” minna said.

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