Away from home

Laguna, Philippines
Interviewed by Jane Pacaldo

“I came to America to seek for greener pasture and I will always be a Filipino and will not forget where I came from.” -MP-

            Most of us want a better future ahead of us and I'm one of them. I was born and was raised in the Philippines in the province of Laguna.  I lived in a simple and happy life, yet is was tough. Like  a roller coaster, it had ups and downs. My dad was worked as a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was a soldier battling for his beloved country. We lived through life by his low income. He was paid very little, just enough to buy and pay our daily expenses such as food, electricity and water bills, and tuition fees of my brothers. Planting vegetables out in our own backyard and selling  them in the market, was something that my sister and I strived for. To help out my father, my mom owned a mini store.  We didn't have a permanent place, moving from place to place. My dad was assigned into different places.

            Living inside a camp,  an army base, gave me the freedom to enjoy my childhood.  I was free, playing with my friends and siblings out in sun, running around, jumping and laughing with smiles on our face. We would play educational games, such as translating Tagalog words into English or vice versa. During my early years, I already have responsibilities to make. My mom made us to become responsible at home and at school. We we weren't allowed to watch the television until we were done with chores and homework. First, we had to do household chores. Cleaning the houses, mopping and sweeping the floor, washing a stack of dishes lying in the sink, and doing our laundry with my tiny hands with the help of  my sisters was my daily routine. As I grew up, I came to realize that education was something I can say a great heritage from my parents and will always value. I was able to complete my studies with the help  of my parents and just being there for me. By the way, I was already a mom before I finished college. It didn't interfere with my studies and actually it motivated me to go on with my studies.  Staying up late doing a pile of homework, reports, thesis and projects during my college years with my daughter on my side paid off. I graduated with a bachelors degree in business management. Even though I didn't achieve my dream of becoming a successful businessman, my degree helped me out with my current job as a customer's service associate.

            What was my dad making was not enough, so he decided to leave the Philippines with my mom. I was marriedthen, so I was not able to go with them. My dad had petitioned my whole family hoping that someday my family and I would feel the life in America. After fourteen years waiting, a man knocking on our door made a delivery. It was our visa. We flew to Manila to prepare our papers, which was far from where my family lived. “ Parang dumaan kami sa butas ng karayom” [It's like going through the hole of a needle]. It was hard yet it was worth it. We had to give up and pledge some of our lands we owned. We loaned just to have sufficient money that we need to fly here. Also, we owed from my brothers and sisters.

            Being able to come here in America was like a dream come true. I've heard so much thing s about here. They said it's the land full of opportunities. Plenty of jobs, high standard of education, and you are most likely to get whatever you want. Financial problems was one of the major things that pushed me to leave the Philippines. Providing my children with a good quality of education was another. I don't want them to suffer  like I did when I was a child selling vegetables.

            I had face so many problems after getting here. At first, I regret just being here. One reason was that It was not easy for me to adjust the way of living here. I was used to being a house wife, staying at home taking care of my kids, preparing food for my family and doing household work.  I was not able to express myself because I didn't know how to say it. It was like a language barrier between me and the people I'm talking to. I end up missing my daughter and son I left back there. Week by week I would spare my time buying phone cards to call them.  I miss being in a house with a complete family, and eating together. I was also forced to work two jobs, in order to pay off house bills, food, credit cards, gasoline and other daily expenses.

            The biggest sacrifices I had to make was probably leaving my son and daughter behind. I will no longer have the chance to be with them and help them, in times of problems. My family and I also sacrificed moving to a country. It's like not knowing how life is like here and not knowing a lot of people, starting from scratch. We didn't know if it was hard or easy and if we will able to survive.

            I still practice and keep traditions from my country. We still celebrate everyone's birthday and grant them parties. We would prepare food and fill the table. You would smell the delicious scent of Filipino dishes once you enter the door. As a family, we would attend church mass every sunday. After the mass we would visit my mom who had passed away at the cemetery, with flowers in our hands. I still practice the holy rosary at night before I go to bed. We also celebrate christmas. We would wrap gifts for every member of the family.

            There are many people who are longing to come here in America, hoping to land a good job and a have a better future for them and their family. Im one of those who  are given the chance and I'm thankful that I'm here. Throughout my journey I learned how to become stronger in every obstacle that come my way. It may be financial, family or work problems. I learned how to learn from mistakes. Just keep your feet on the ground. Be thankful for what you have and you don't have. Try to grab the opportunities that comes around because its not something that lasts forever. I also learned that its not easy to be on a foreign land and you have to work strive  hard for everything.