Raz Quema                                                     

Final Paper                                                      

Ms. Erpelo


English 165

One Big File of Life

                Immigrate, emigrate, and migrate. These are words that we normally use when we talk about Filipino-Americans. These words remind us of the Filipinos who came here and paved the way for succeeding generations of immigrants. Almost always, we use these words in the same fashion, without being precise in the use of each. All of these three words appear similar, but what makes the meaning of each word different is simply the point of reference – the use of to and from in more appropriate manner.  Dictionary.com, one of the most reliable sources for word definitions, defines immigrate as the act of coming to a country of which one is not a native, usually for permanent residence. Emigrate, on the other hand, is the act of going from one country, region, or place to another.  Finally, migrate is the act of leaving one country or region to settle in another. From these definitions, migrate seems to be the general term, as it encompasses the acts of movement regardless of the point of reference. For Filipinos who came here to the U.S., we say that they emigrated from the Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. They came here mostly for adventure, experience, or opportunity. But out of the three, the latter is the most common since the Filipinos were convinced that they could find better jobs in the U.S., as was also the case for my interviewee, Mr. Leopoldo Hosalla, my grandfather. Although it was his daughter who first migrated in the U.S., he followed his daughter after he was petitioned by the former and by virtue of Immigration Act of 1965. He came here with hopes of gaining better life. However, while in the U.S., he discovered that it was not easy to achieve the good life that America promised. Even in his old age, he had to work in order to fulfill him and his wife’s basic needs. As a result, he developed dislikes with the U.S. and would prefer to move back and forth than simply staying in the U.S. Prior to my interview, I wanted to know the educational and occupational background of my grandfather. I was hoping to know my grandfather more through the interview. The interview was conducted at the interviewee’s residence. I conducted the interview in more informal and less structured ways. Before the interview itself, I briefed him on the purpose and the process of the interview. I told him that I would be asking some open-ended questions, primarily about his life, and that he was free to answer those questions the way he wanted. Because the interviewee was someone related to me, the interaction was comfortable, and the interviewee was able to provide enough information.

                One of the first things that I learned about him was his job in the Philippines. I did not know that he actually worked as a radio announcer in a prominent network in the said country. Although his job did not give him big salary, it put him in a position in which many Filipinos back then would long for, as it gave him money to provide the needs of his family and popularity that could further his career goals. Leo was a responsible man and took care of his family. He made sure his family ate three times a day and had all what they needed. He worked really hard to uplift the status of his family. Status then was important because since back in the Philippines, levels or classes were still prevalent due to the influence and colonization of the Spaniards.

                Because his salary could not provide all the needs of his growing family, being fourteen in the family (himself included), one of his daughter decided to move here thinking that she would be able to make good amount of money. He allowed her daughter even though he knew that his daughter did not know anyone in the country.  While working here, his daughter met an American, a database analyst in Alameda County, who later became her second husband.  After ten years of staying in the U.S., his daughter petitioned him and his wife to migrate in the U.S. and stay with her.

                As Leo was convinced of the American promise of better life, he retired from his job and processed his wife’s paper. He and his wife successfully migrated in the U.S. But, while in the U.S., he did not want to depend on his children for support. So, he looked for work and ended up becoming a security at San Francisco International Airport. Although the job was considered unfit for his qualifications, he accepted it because he did not have much of a choice. Even his daughter, who at first did not want him to work, eventually agreed with his decision because she knew her parents would need more than what she could give.

                Soon, Leo found himself quitting his job because his body began to deteriorate. He started experiencing ailments that made him incapable of performing strenuous work from his job. He had lived in different places in San Francisco, and finally in 2002, he permanently stayed at 155 Turk street San Francisco where he mingled with other Filipinos residing in the area where most of them are veterans of World War II.

                While living with Filipino veterans, he learned one important thing about them  – the U.S. government did not give them support that they deserved, ignoring their contribution to this society. Before the interview with my grandfather, I thought that the U.S. government gave sufficient support to Filipino veterans because they contributed greatly to the military efforts of the U.S. during World War II. Leo expressed disappointment about how the veterans have been treated by the U.S. government. Unlike other veterans of World War II, who were given full benefits by the said government, these Filipinos were only give some type of a Social Security Income. They have been given promises that are not fulfilled as of writing this paper. Most of them have already returned to the Philippines very disgusted about their experiences in the U.S.  Others have died in frustration.

                In fact, Leo related a story about a very disgusted veteran who died of cancer. This person, when first arrived in the U.S., loved America so much that he had the U.S. flag at his door and a loyal member of the Veterans Legion. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he was still hoping that the government would assist him in his medical needs. But when recognition of their service and the promise of full equity were not given, his hope slowly diminished. He returned to the Philippines and died there. Despite this tragic story, there are still many other veterans who still hope for the government’s support. They continue to believe that one day they will be recognized and will be given what is due for them. This only confirms what Yen le Espiritu argued in her book Home Bound that “most immigrants in the United States are here to stay, regardless of their initial intentions and their continuing involvement in the political, social, and economic lives of their countries of origin” (4).

                From Leo’s story about the veteran, I realized how the U.S. government ignored the efforts of Filipinos during World War II. Now, I understand why Filipinos continue to struggle for recognition. I can grasp why Filipinos here always try to do something that marks their uniqueness as people – all for the recognition that lures them for a long time.

                Even though Leo has found convenience in living here, he sometimes longs to go back to the Philippines because he feels that he will not be taken care of when he is already very old. He thinks that if the veterans, who contributed much to the American society are not given adequate support, how much more for someone like himself, who seems more of a nuisance to the government? But, when asked which between the U.S. and the Philippines he would stay if he were to choose one, he answered that he would stay in the U.S. because he still believes that he had better chance of getting help from this country than from the Philippines.

















Works Cited

Dictionary.Com. 24 May 2007 <www.dictionary.com>.

Espiritu, Yen Le. Home Bound. Berkeley and LosAngeles: University of California P. 4.

Hosalla, Leopoldo O. Personal interview. 25 Apr. 2007.