I am currently in the province of Naga City.
This is where my parents grew up. I haven't been back here for 17 years! After my mother's passing, I knew it would be important to come to the Philippines and reconnect with my family there.
My mother had 12 brothers and sisters. Of all of her siblings, only 6 have survived her. The first born male died from birth complications and a set of twin sisters died from malnutrition and not enough milk during the war.
My mother grew up in extreme poverty and survived through World War II when the Japanese occupied the Philippines. Both of her parents were illiterate and had not formal education. Despite the fact that they could not read or write they still worked very hard to provide for their family and make sure they did everything in their power to give their children an education. Every single one of my mother's brothers and sisters graduated from college. There is a 25 year age difference between my mother's eldest sister and her youngest brother. The elder children were taught to deligate and take care of the younger children. The elder children were also responsible to get a job and work in any capacity in order to help the younger kids go to school. My mother sold everything from vegetables, water at the bus station or snacks. The family was a well-oiled machine. Every child had a task weather it be taking care of the younger children, washing, cooking or selling goods and food in the market.
My mother was a very quiet woman who liked to stay at home. She pursued her degree at Chinese General Hospital in Manila and became a registered nurse. In the 60's, she went to Chicago on a work visa and continued to support her family in the Philippines. During her first year in Chicago, her father had a heart attack and passed away. Her siblings discussed it and decided it would be best not to tell my mother of her father's death because they knew she would run back to the Philippines which would forfeit her visa and stay in the United States. They knew that my mother would come back to the Philippines and not want to go back to the U.S. so they felt it would be in her best interest if she did not know. My mother's income in the states was desperately needed to help the remaining brothers and sisters finish school as well. Everyone cried when my mother would call to speak to her dad so they would make excuses that he was busy or out and about. My mother did not find out until months after my grandfather had died. In the end, we all look back in retrospect and realize that they made the right choice including my mother. Our family would not have had the opportunities given if my mother would have come back to the Philippines.
My father knew my mother back in Naga and visited her in Chicago on a tourist visa. When his visa ran out, they hid for a while so he wouldn't get deported. They eventually got married and had my brother in the states. Since my brother was born an American citizen, they were permitted to stay in the U.S. The rest is history.
|I went to visit my dad's sister.|
|My Aunt Matilde's house|
|My father was the youngest of 8. This is my aunt Matilde. This is his only surviving sister.|
|My Lolo and Lola's grave site.|
|My Auntie Glo's tomb|
|My grandparents' tomb|
|My Uncle Badong's tomb|
|inside of my uncle's jeepney|
|Colegio de Santa Isabel: I tried to go to high school here when I was 14. I lasted 3 months before returning back to the U.S.|
|My Auntie Tita's house|
|Auntie Tita and her living room|
|My cousin Arnel and I|
|Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia|
|Our Lady of Penafrancia|
|Auntie Tita, Gigi, Auntie Trining and myself|
|My cousin Amy|
|My cousins Gigi, Amy and Majo|
|My school uniform at Colegio De Santa Isabel|
|My mother's home where she grew up|
|Manoy Alan (cousin) and Uncle Jun|
|Auntie Trining, Auntie Tita and my Manoy Alan's family|
|Auntie Trining ( My mother's eldest sister who is 80 years old )|
|The bathroom: We fill large garbage cans at night for taking a bath because there is no running water during the day. There is no hot water in the house so we must take cold baths but it's so humid, that it's not so bad.|
|My mother's nursing picture|
|Picture of Auntie Trining's graduation. She was valedictorian! My grandmother is sitting to her left. My mother is the second from the right standing up.|
|My mother's diploma in nursing|
|Auntie Trining and I! She looks fabulous for 80!!|