May 24, 2007
Filipino Life, Struggle, and Success
Living in America for many Americans is already tough economically; therefore life for undocumented individuals, such as Filipinos, is guaranteed to be even more difficult. Not only does an immigrant have to come from another country, but they have to get accustomed to a different way of living. They have to be accustomed to the language, and way of life. Interviewing Ester Baldovino for my English 165AK class was of amazement to me. Being of Mexican descent, I would have never thought that other races besides African Americans and Mexicans would have gone through racist discrimination. English 165AK with Liza Erpelo has taught me many things about the Filipino History and struggles. Not only did I learn that Filipinos went through discrimination, but I also learned about their history and their struggles of being invaded by Spain and sold to the United States. When I had to interview Ester Baldovino I never realized the new things I would learn about being a Filipino during the time Marshal Law was declared by the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. This is why I thank Ester’s niece, Cynthia Esquieres, who I have known for about two years now. Cynthia was the reason I could interview Ester, but also was the reason as to how I perceived her family. Looking at what they owned I assumed that her aunt had a high paying professional career. Cynthia lives with Ester, her parents, and her brother who is younger. They own cars, travel, and they live in their own home. With all these things in mind I came into the Interview expecting to hear that Ester came to America because the United States needed another nurse from the Philippines. Instead I got a very interesting story that left me ecstatic. Not only did she speak to me about why she came to America, but she spoke to me about her beliefs of America. The interview I conducted not only taught me new things, but it expanded my knowledge about the Filipino struggle. Ester was forced to leave her home in the Philippines and came to the United States. Ester Baldovino, one of many foreigners, migrated from the Philippines to overcome a new way of life for the “American Dream”.
Personally I had never interviewed someone before Ester Baldovino. I was having a little trouble finding someone to interview for this project. After a long search, Cynthia helped me by asking her aunt if I could interview her. If it wasn’t for Cynthia’s help I would not have had someone to interview for this project. At first I was supposed to interview her mom, but she was always busy so plans changed and Ester accepted the interview. The interview was made at Ester’s house. We sat in the living room, which was quiet and comfortable. To prepare myself for the interview I made questions and practiced them so it would look like I knew what I was doing. I was a little nervous at first, but as the interview continued, Ester made the interview easy for me. I realized that some questions I did not need to ask because some of her answers answered two of my questions beforehand. Since Ester was giving me a lot of information I had a chance to think of more questions I could ask her. Sometimes I would think of the next question and her story would lead to answering the question I had in mind. The interview ran well and I got the information I needed for my project.
Ester Baldovino was born February 14, 1948 in Lucban, Quezon. She has three brothers and one sister. Ester lived in the Philippines with no plans of ever leaving her home. She worked as an auditor in the Philippines. Around 1971, a year before Ferdinand Marcos had declared Marshal Law, Ester was forced to leave Lucban, Quezon. Ester did not want to give me full details, but she told me why she left. Ester had found out her manager was stealing money and reported her. Ester did not know that her manager was well connected with some bad people. Ester’s life was soon threatened by one of the bad guys. She told me that a man had came into her office one day and the man pulled a gun out and set it on the table pointing towards her. They spoke for a little while and then the man left her office. Ester told her friends, but she never told her parents what happened that day. Her friends feared that the man would hurt Ester and her family so they saved money for Ester to go to America. Ester applied for a visa even though she had no interest in coming to America. She waited two years with no expectations of ever getting approved. After waiting a long time she was finally approved for her visa. Ester caught an airplane to Chicago, Illinois and lived with some relatives living there. She got a job as an accountant and worked for a couple years. She told me that getting a job was an easy process for her. She was interviewed over the phone and had to come in for a quick test. When they found out she knew what she was doing she was hired on the spot. She eventually brought her brothers and sisters from the Philippines so they can work in the United States as well. Ester later moved to San Bruno, California because of a better job offer she received. She works as an Accountant and her brothers and sister got good jobs as well. One brother became a Doctor, one an Accountant, one a Postal worker, and her sister works for United Airlines. I had asked Ester what she wanted her profession to be when she was younger. She told me she wanted to be an Artist. I asked her why she became an accountant instead of an artist and she told me a funny belief her father had. She had said her father told her that if you are an Artist that you will die with your eyes open, but if she was an Accountant she would be counting a lot of money. She then said she believed what her father said, but her father never told her she would be counting other peoples money. We had a good time with the interview because of the stories she had and how they relate to the books we read in class as well. Though she did not go through discrimination or racist acts she still had to immigrate to another country and start a new life. Her story relates to many immigrants who also did the same.
I had made Ester questions during the interview that brought my attention towards parts of Yen le Espritu’s book “Home Bound”. I asked Ester “What was your view About America when you still lived in the Philippines” she said, “Everybody who was coming from the United States was saying that the streets in America are painted in gold and that money grows on trees”. This answer made me think of the Immigrant belief of America. It is the belief of one person who has never traveled to the United States. In Home Bound Nicholas Azores, an Immigrant says “Because of the American Influence, everything American was considered to be the best. It’s like if you made it to America, you were in heaven, and certainly that was prevalent in my family because of my sister sending Sears & Roebuck catalogs, money, packages, and stuff, and just the smell of things makes us want to come to America badly”(Espiritu 23). This reminds me of the reason why my father came to America. Though we are not Filipino, I came to learn that everyone wants to live a “better life”. Everyone who has lived in another country wants to go to one that is perceived to be “better”. The reason I quoted “better life” and “better” is because when I had interviewed my father why he crossed the border to get to California, he said in Spanish “In Mexico there is no future and the United States is ‘better’ in making a future for people. It also helps people have a ‘better life’ economically, working hard is what gets you far and America has a lot of work”. This reminds me of the immigrant workers who come to America from all over the world to work in the United States. They all come because they want to live a better life in a country they only hear about. According to a website called Wikipedia, under Origin, the Census shows the top ten foreign countries that come to the United States every year. The Philippines is one of the top ten who have people coming into the United States. It shows 1,222,000 Filipino immigrants coming to America in the year 2000 and predicts that in the year 2010 there will be 1,700,000 Filipino immigrants in the United States. Another part of the book that came to my attention was Chapter One in “Home Bound” where Espiritu talks about “Home making”. I had asked Ester “Did you have family in the United States before you came? “ Her response was “I had relatives who lived in the United States, but not my immediate family”. Her answer made me think of Chapter one because Espiritu talks about different ways people make themselves feel at home away from home. She explains how some people bring home with them by having thoughts about home. There is also a quote from Gloria Anzaldua in Espiritu’s book that says, “I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry ‘Home’ on my back”. This made me think of Ester and the reason she brought her family to the United States. I believe bringing her family from the Philippines so they can live with her was a way for her to feel at home. Having someone she can relate to was of comfort to her and she probably felt happy like she did when she was back in the Philippines.
Though sometimes life can be difficult for many immigrants, life can not be impossible. The interview with Ester Baldovino expanded my knowledge about Filipino immigrants who struggled to get to America. The interview also reminded me of the book Home bound by Yen Le Espiritu. Interviewing my dad also made me think of how all immigrants have the American dream in mind. It showed me different situations immigrants go through to adapt to a new way of life and how they succeed by working hard in America. Many immigrants come to the United States in search of a better life. The ones, who find it, prosper for themselves and for their family. Ester Baldovino is a great example of Filipinos who had to leave their home to start a new life in another country. Her life experience shows how her prospering brought her brothers and sister the same virtue. Not only did she get what she wanted, but her brothers and sister got what they also wanted; a better life.