Maria Santos

English 165 AK
Ms. Liza Erpelo

Essay #4

Final Essay

“Immigration: Tatang and Ima”


            Filipinos are one of the largest groups of immigrant in the United States. According to the Asian Population: 2000, “Filipinos and Asian Indians were the next two largest specified Asian groups. There were 1.9 million people who reported Filipino alone and an additional 0.5 million who reported Filipino in combination with one or more other races or Asian groups. This gives a total of 2.4 million people who reported Filipino alone or in combination with at least one other race or Asian group” (Asian Population:2000). They migrate to different parts of the world but most of them tend to migrate and stay permanently here in America. “American Dreams” this is one of the main reasons as to why Filipinos and other races migrate here in America. Before anything else, let us define “American Dreams,”- it is a belief where the United States is considered a place where, as long as a person worked hard, he or she will have a better chance to live well and could even get rich. It is not a bad idea at all because it gives the newly migrate person hope to reach his or her goal, besides America is really a great country. It gives us freedom to pursue a better life and good career, especially for our children. For some immigrants, success and achievement are their main goal, but some of them just wanted a better life. Many Filipinos migrate to America not because they were attracted to the unlimited mobility or promise job but because of the big in earnings in the United States compared to the Philippines. They were unlucky to find it in their homeland, maybe by migrating to another country like the United States they might find their luck.

            Many Filipinos migrated to the United States to claim for themselves the promises of the “land of opportunity” (Espiritu). Before the research project that I did with Mr. and Mrs. Bartolome and Juanita Valete, I did not know anything about the “Occupational Immigration” and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The interview was taken last November 20, 2005 in San Francisco, where the couple resides. Simple questions were asked during the interview: When and where they were born; where did they grew up; and why they came to America. However, I found out more information after the interview while we were chatting on a party last Thanksgiving.

            On this essay I want to focus more on what motivated the couple to come here to America; the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965; and the “Occupational Migration.” Mr. and Mrs. Bartolome Valete, decided to migrate here in 1988 so that they can petition and bring all of their children and grandchildren here in America so that they could have a better life and brighter future. Allow me to use the names that we call them, Tatang for Mr. Bartolome Valete and Ima for Mrs. Juanita Valete. One of the questions that I asked the couple was, “What motivated you to come here in America?” “… The reason is that the life in the Philippines is very hard and I want all my children to bring them here in America (California) because they have a better life here not like in the Philippines” (Tatang).

            With the end of organized Filipino labor importation, the increase in the number of Filipinos migrating to the U.S. in the 1950s was as a result of petitioned spouses and children. But the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed for a new and different wave of Filipino migration. The law allowed for a "dual chain" system of immigration consisting of the "relative-selective" and "occupational" migration. Under "relative-selective immigration," Filipinos came as petitioned relatives of previous migrants who have become U.S. citizens. As a result of this dual chain of immigration, the number of Filipinos in the U.S. multiplied. Steffi San Buenaventura claims that in 1970 there were 343,060 Filipinos in the U.S; in 1980, it rose to 782,895; and in 1990, it was 1,406,770. She notes that this post-1965 immigration had few links with the pre-1965 immigration experience. In the 1990s, California and Hawaii continue to host the largest number of Filipinos in the U.S. This is followed by Illinois, New York, and New Jersey which absorbed much of the post-1965 immigration. But, by and large, Filipinos can be found all over the fifty states of the U.S., making them the fastest growing Asian community in the U.S. (Philippine History Site).

            The Immigration Act of 1965 gave a lot of Filipinos a chance to migrate to the United States, and they were also given a chance and opportunity for a new life, but it had also opened the eyes of many Filipinos to the reality of life here in America. The act also known as the Hart-Cellar Act abolished the national-origins quota system that had regulated the ethnic composition of immigration in fair proportion to each groups’ existing presence in the population. With the act, priority was given to families, so that immigrants could sponsor family members under certain conditions. Priority was now given to family members to U.S. citizens, and permanent residents so they could sponsor the following types of immigrants: Unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. citizens; Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents; Professionals, scientists, and artists "of exceptional ability"; Married children over 21 years of age and their spouses and children of U.S. citizens; Siblings and their spouses and children of U.S. citizens; Workers in occupations with labor shortages; Political refugees ( Preferences such as these made migration to the United States far less difficult than it had been in previous years (David).

            The "occupational immigration" section in the 1965 immigration law was in response to the need for more professionals, specifically in the medical field, in the U.S. Thousands of Filipino professionals, mostly doctors and nurses, arrived in the U.S. as complete families, i.e. with their spouses and children. Most of them ended up in the east coast, thus creating an occupational distinction between Filipino communities in the east coast and in the west coast including Hawaii.

            With the passing of the Immigration Act of 1965 began the 4th wave of the Filipino immigration to America. As many as 20,000 mostly professionals, such as doctors and nurses, immigrated annually it is also known as "brain drain". This wave of immigration continues to this day. Occupational preferences enabled many professionals, especially nurses and physicians, to qualify for entry. Over time, however, family reunification provisions became more significant in enabling the migration of extended family units (Posadas).Between 1968 and 1975, 25% of Filipino immigrants admitted to the U.S. were health professionals, engineers, lawyers and accountants. The "brain drain" effect on Philippine society became a serious concern for policy makers. In the U.S., their entry into the Filipino American community may have contributed to the "identity movement" of the 1960s (Filipino American Elders).

            Many immigrant Filipinos have to deal with being different from the rest of society. Living in a white dominated country left many immigrants and different ethnic groups to feel a sense of exclusion, because they were now a minority. Making the move from a country where everyone shares the same language and traditions, to a place diverse in cultures made many Filipino feel out of place (David). “…And I didn’t know that much English. I worried that people might not understand what I say,” according to Felicia,(Espiritu). Same experience as Ima’s, she did not know much English and afraid that people might not understand her that’s why work was not easy for her to find, but this did not stop her to look for a job. She worked in a laundry shop while Tatang worked as a construction worker and does “Hilot” as his part time job.

“I don’t think so because I have my sister there, my cousin, my sisters-in-law, maybe…Every year we go home so we don’t know if we will die there” (Ima), this was the reply of Ima when I asked her if she is willing to stay here in America for the rest of her life. The couple are also consider as transnational because they tend to go back and forth to the Philippines and even keep the culture alive in their hearts and within their family.

            Migrating to America is not that easy because there’s also a lot of changes and adjustments that you will encounter; family, lifestyle and adjust with the new culture without forgetting your own. Most of the Filipinos back in the Philippines dreamt of coming here to America but most of them get disappointed when they are already here, because they see the reality of life in America. They thought that America is a great country; I would say that it is indeed a great country so long as you are a hard working person and you are well determined to be successful and to have a better life. After doing this research project, I learned a lot of things regarding the Immigration Act; the “brain drain” effect on the Philippine society; and that the Filipinos were given a chance and opportunity to have a better life and future here in America.



Works Cited:

David, Ciana. Post 1965 Filipino Migration. 2004.

Espiritu, Yen Le. Home Bound. Los Angeles: University of California Press,2003.

Lee, Joann Faung Jean. Asian Americans. New York: New Press, 1992.

Philippines Historical Site. Filipino Migration to U.S.,

Posadas, Barbara M. The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Filipinos. 2005. The            Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Valete, Bartolome and Juanita Valete. Personal Interview. November 2005.

Wikepedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Filipino American. 2005.   

Yeo, Filipino American Elders. Cohort Analysis as a Tool in Ethnogeriatrics:    Historical Profiles of Elders from Eight Ethnic Populations In the United States.         1999.