Anonymous, Philippines
Interviewed by Patrick Villanueva

"Right before everything happened, it was perfect. I called this place my home. The Philippines."
My life originates in one of the many Chinese villages we have here in the Philippines. I was born, raised, and lived out my childhood dream here. There were Chinese people shouting at passersby trying to sell their goods. As you walked further in, it smelled of fresh rice, fish, and vegetables. The fish were as fresh as a just picked apple right off of the tree. I had everything here and there was a lot to do. Playing tag and playing stone toss, where you try to displace your opponent’s stone, are few of the many free time activities we “mga bata” could do. Helping the workaholic adults was just another option, though most of us preferred the previous. If my parents weren’t home, I would go to my grandma’s house and stay with her until my parents pick me up. She was a very smart woman and taught me a lot of what I know now. A lot people in our community were well-educated thanks to our education system. On weekdays we had to go to school. The school was for the locals and was where I met Justin, a light-skinned Chinese boy, who became my best friend. We basically did everything together—went to school together, ate lunch together, and played at the playground together. Also, we would play practical jokes on people. That is unless they became useless. In that case, we would just grab handfuls of toys, such as Legos, and take them to the playground. I would live here all my life until one depressing day.

After attending school, I walked along the paved sidewalks heading home to finish up on homework that I hadn’t yet completed. I thought of the homework as I was walking. Math, English, and science were the subjects in which I had assignments. I began approaching the house that read 2574. That was my house. Waiting silently in the living room, my parents awaited my presence to tell me of the news. I thought to myself—this could be good news, or this could be bad new. Eventually, I made it home and sat down in our Chinese-style decorated living room. The room was white-walled and had varieties of imitation trinkets on the shelves. My parents and I had a lengthy conservation, but long story short, my mom and dad told me we were relocating to America. I was shocked to hear this. They briefly explained what great opportunities I would have. Leaving my friends and family was the worst thing I thought could happen to me. I knew I would miss going to school, visiting my grandma, and most importantly, Justin. Despite, leaving the mentioned behind, going to America would be what’s best for me. I spent my last couple of days saying farewell to my family and friends. Then it was time to go.

I packed all of my belongings in one of the rolling suitcases we would take along. Soon enough, the big day came. My family, which consisted of mom, dad, brother, and me, were prepared and set to move and not look back on the life we used to have. The old Plymouth Voyager van was waiting outside of our house that would be no longer ours. It will just be “a house.” We got to the airport hours later passing through many mountain ranges and the day was shining brightly. PAL was our plane, which people know as “plane always late” because it was never on time. We waited about 2 hours in the airport when the plane was supposed to arrive in 1 hour. The smell of coffee filled the place with its pleasant aroma and kept me calm while we waited. After the long wait, PAL started to call people for boarding. We were one of the first ones because I was young and families with young children had the privilege to board first. I took my seat in 26A. Luckily, I got the window seat—my favorite place to sit. About 3 hours later, we landed in Taiwan for the stopover. When I got off, it was so different. Everything was in a different language. I know one language, Tagalog, and that was it. I never learned how to speak English. I thought the people in this airport were comical because they were shouting throughout the day. I knew this from the 8 hours we waited. Following our wait time, the plane whose name I didn’t know came. In a few minutes, I would no longer be in Asia. I once again boarded the plane and departed 30 minutes later. The 11-hour flight seemed like nothing because the flight attendant took care of their passengers well. I heard pilot say “We are now getting ready to land. Please stow your trays and footrests, move your seat into an upright position, and fasten your seatbelts.” That’s when it really felt like I was in America. I was there. I made it.

Life wasn’t horrible, despite the fact that I had kainophobia. I was afraid to see things I wasn’t used to—walking around and seeing so many Caucasian people. It felt as if they wanted to eat me because I’m an outcast. A Filipino. But things seemed to be ok because there were other Filipinos in our community. I lived in Daly City, the gateway to the peninsula. The only middle school close by was either Alta Loma or Westborough. I was enrolled into Westborough. Speaking my dialect in public locations was frightening for me because I might embarrass myself. That’s when I met another Filipino girl named Angelique. We talked everyday and became friends soon after. She was able to speak English and Tagalog. “Taglish.” English wasn’t the easiest language for me to learn, but she had confidence in my ability to try to learn. I learned English gradually, and became fluent. I could finally talk in public because I knew the language. I usually lived in simplicity. I woke up, ate, went to school, the mall, and then returned home. It was my daily life. The first time I tried to cross the street I walked straight across without using a crosswalk. The people in their cars started banging their horns at me. They shouted saying to use the crosswalk. But, how would I know? I’m not from here. I got used to pressing the button at the stoplights for crossing the street after the second time I did it. That’s how I lived life. The same thing over and over unless we have parties, such as New Years. Everyone ate “ticoy” for traditional purposes. In my families parties, we serve lumpia, palabok, adobo, and many other traditional Filipino dishes to our visitors. During my stay here, I learned many lessons from life.

The very first is to listen to what the elderly have to say. They sometimes teach good life lessons and can be applied to daily life. Secondly, never ask a drunk person for directions, they’ll lead you in the wrong way. This is very similar to choosing your friends. If you make friends with the wrong people, they’ll lead your life in the wrong directions. So make friends with people you think will be successful in life. But most importantly enjoy where you’re staying now. Everything perfect could change, like having to move as I did. Having said that, here is a quote people should know. “There is no place like home.”