For this project I chose to interview my mom, Myrna Castaneda. Throughout my entire life she has told me stories about her journey to the United States and I have always admired her for all the struggles and sacrifices she has had to go through. Without those sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to receive the opportunities so many immigrate to America for. During the interview she discusses her past life in the Philippines, early beginnings in the United States, and plans for the future.
Table of Contents:
- Life in the Philippines
- Leaving the Philippines
- Settling in America
- Being Filipino in America & Final Thoughts
1. Life in the Philippines
My mom was born in Binangonan, Rizal and was one of eleven siblings. She comes from a poor family in the Philippines and is the first and only in our family to immigrate to the United States. As a kid her goal was to finish high school in order to help her parents. My mom always wanted to work in an office because the idea of working in a professional environment and wearing a uniform on the daily was so appealing, it also meant more money to provide for the family. She stopped her schooling for three years after graduating high school to work in a sewing factory, but would eventually go to Wesleyan University in Cabanatuan City, Philippines. There she would take secretarial courses, however never got to graduate because the opportunity to work in America came up.
2. Leaving the Philippines
Myrna moved to America in 1989 with the hopes of providing more money for her family back home. Her first job in America was being a housekeeper to another Filipino family in Hillsborough, California. This was very different from the job she left in the Philippines, which was a secretary and aid for the Regional Trial Courts. She went from typing and doing paper work in an office in the Philippines to cleaning houses and taking care of two kids in America.
3. Settling in America
My mom talks about getting off the plane and knowing absolutely no one when she first came here in September of 1989. Before coming here she expected tall buildings everywhere and that finding a good job would be easier. However, where she lived had a lot more trees rather than tall buildings, so it reminded her of the provinces back home. She was only in America for barely a month when the Loma Prieta earthquake happened. It gave her second thoughts about living here, but she decided to stay because there are more opportunities here. She got really homesick in the beginning because she was used to such a big family, but eventually finds a family to call her own in America.
4. Being Filipino in America & Final Thoughts
*(This part of the video was lost)
Myrna has been a caregiver since 1993, although different from her original choice of career in the Philippines, she says she loves her job in America more because she gets to help a lot of people, like the elderly.*
My mom says going to church, cooking Filipino food, watching Filipino news and shows, having Filipino coworkers, sending money and calling her sisters back home is how she keeps her Filipino culture in America. Her final answer really surprised me, because I did not expect her to want to live in the Philippines forever. In previous conversations she said she would only like to visit, but during the interview I found out that she wants to live in her own country when she gets older. While working in many nursing homes she has seen how miserable it can be to grow old here. America has opportunities, but the Philippines has family.