Flerine Crystal Cruz Atienza is a Brooklyn-based Pilipinx passionate about intersecting identity politics with brand strategy and multimedia innovation. She is an active kasama of GABRIELA New York, regularly writes “Lit Lit(erature)" articles for TheGIRLMOB, and coordinates monthly community service events with The Black Pearl Project. Born in Subic Bay with an insatiable appetite for adventure, Flerine is a SoCal reared, NC bred, Vegas made PR + Communications strategist with a capacious heart fiercely exploring & celebrating sensory stimulation from local & global interactions. Outside of the office and frontlines of marches, she is a singer/songwriter, world traveler, and curious cook welcoming all opportunities to creatively collaborate with artists and empowering organizations worldwide.
In 1991, a tiny baby and her mama escaped the volcanic catastrophes of Mt. Pinatubo and landed in the USA. Fast forward to age 7 with a borrowed VHS recorder, Flerine filmed her first cooking show making stuffed mushrooms out of random ingredients in her mom’s fridge...and a tip from an infomercial lulling her to sleep (it was a tactic she learned at a young age to battle anxiety-driven insomnia). But she accidentally recorded over the talent show in which she won 1st place singing Spice Girls against 8th graders singing Jackson 5. To this day, her mom is still pretty annoyed about the oversight. Not at all camera shy and a natural entertainer, Flerine hopped along the Southern California coast juggling between her dad and her mom, singing at restaurants, and you know, eating in them, too.
But being the only child of divorced immigrant parents, Flerine was set on a path to focus on studies. Her mom remarried a US Marine which meant a complete uprooting - leaving behind the California sunshine and her vibrant Filipino family for Carolina bbq, and along with it, the many deep tensions and provocations of growing up an Asian-American female in the South. Channeling rage and loneliness into productivity, Flerine dedicated herself to making good grades + friends, but never stopped performing or eating, and soon found herself fully obsessed, studying cookbooks after school and singing jazz in the shower while playing lead roles in musicals. Everyone thought she’d end up on Broadway.
Still, she went off to attend UNC Chapel Hill, because that’s what you do when you get crowned prom queen and deliver a valedictorian commencement speech quoting the opening lyrics to “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Unwaveringly passionate about equality and social justice, she envisioned her English degree in Women’s Studies and Art History would take her through an unconventional track to law school. But soon found herself dreading the idea of 80 hour workdays buried in legal textbooks and jargon that would leave her with no time to sing the entirety of Beyonce's 4 nor perfect the technique of hard-boiling an egg.
Flerine landed in Las Vegas and met the world of restaurant public relations, one that would soon plant the seeds of something more. And after a year and a half, felt her vocal chords and creative juices drying up in the desert, and decided it was time to rehydrate in New York City, where concrete jungle wet dreams are made of.
Nearing five years now with no end in sight, Flerine has been crafting award-winning campaigns and telling the stories of brands and personalities making up a diverse client roster ranging from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's Morimoto Asia and Rudy Ruettiger’s Rudy Foundation to Library Hotel Collection's Aria Hotel Budapest and La Chine at the Waldorf Astoria New York.
A casual scroll through her Instagram feed will reveal that she’s a near clairvoyant wordsmith, a transatlantic David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust foster parent of an elephant named Mbegu, a curious world traveler, a hip-hop fanatic, a fierce friend, and a passionate purveyor of Pilipinx identity politics, gender equality, and race relations.
So what’s she up to now? Beyond making music and trying to put a soulful blues-meets-pop album together, Flerine is currently writing a diasporic book she calls a “grimoire” of recipes, provocations and life stories - a first person anthology of anecdotes exploring the intersection of racial + gender dynamics and how those lived experiences manifest through food. Full of bold ideas and thought-provoking concepts with plans to one day open up a community 'kamayan' kitchen herself, just one coffee date with this bite-sized visionary babe will leave you wanting even more than just a friend request, front row tix to her (future) concerts, or a piece of the pie. She'll ignite in you a desire to want more out of your own life, unapologetically.