Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bernardo De Mesa: Home Away From Home


For this oral history project, I interviewed my dad, Bernardo Manankil De Mesa. He was born on September 4, 1954. He was born and raised in the Philippines, specifically in Manila. He was the third youngest sibling of eight children. Sadly, one brother passed away after immigrating to the United States. My Uncle Edgar passed away in his sleep. From what I've heard, he was a loving brother and father to three of my cousins, Vladimir, Christine, and Charlene. 

Life in the Philippines and the Move to the United States 

As mentioned earlier, my dad was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. His childhood was rough because he grew up without his mom. His mom passed away when he was about 5 years old. Him and his siblings were under the care of one parent, who had trouble financially to support all his kids. My dad and his siblings had to go to school and work at a very young age. Years later, my dad attended Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) in Manila. He majored in industrial engineering. He had found a job after he graduated but he received news that him and his family could come to the United States. My dad and his family then moved to the United States in 1980, when he was only 25 years old. In my interview, my dad mentioned it wasn't very hard for him to find a job here in the United States rather he found a job quickly. He had a job where he had to count parts in the factory. My dad mentioned he felt racially discriminated because of the color of skin and also the accent he had. At that time, my dad couldn't speak English very well. Then later on my dad found another job, which he currently still works at, called L-3 Communications. L-3 Communications is a company that manufactures aviation parts to buyers like the U.S. Military and NASA.

Expectations and Looking Forward 

My dad last visited the United States when my brother was born in 1991. My dad felt the need to "show off" his first born to his friends and other family members that were left behind in the Philippines. Also in the interview, I asked my dad his expectations of the United States and if those expectations were met. He said yes. He said working hard will always get you somewhere. He knew that American culture was idealized and people can over exaggerate, but he knew that he could do it. And as to why he wanted to move to San Francisco specifically, most of his family that arrived before him chose San Francisco. I'm very thankful that my family settled in San Francisco because it's unlike any city in the world. Its diverse cultures and city scenes cannot be found anywhere else, and I learn more and more every single time I step outside. 

Reflecting Back (Conclusion) 

When leaving the Philippines, my dad and his family were very happy. They were moving with their lives, onto a better life. He didn't quite say he'd miss anyone because there was no one else left to miss. All of his immediate family like his dad and brothers and sisters were coming along with him or already in the United States. When asked if he'd ever move back to the Philippines, he said no. He wouldn't go back unless it was for a visit. He made it very clear he had two homes: Philippines and here in San Francisco. But for many years now, his home has been San Francisco. He has his home, cars, his family and friends here and pretty much nothing left back in the Philippines. Lastly, I asked my dad if he ever regrets moving to the United States, and he quickly responded no. As mentioned before, he has his life here. All his family and resources are here. Also, he says he wants his children and grandchildren to have better lives. He said the Philippines wouldn't provide his family with any resources and opportunities to succeed. 

"I'm a U.S. Citizen, but still, I'm a Filipino in blood and looks." 

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