Hazel from the Philippines
Interviewed by Stephanie
“ As I was watching my Lola I noticed she was using some medal rigid thing to scrub the clothes and I didn’t know what it was. I asked her in Tagalog, “Lola anong ginagawa mo sa manga damit” [Lola what are you doing to the clothes?]. She told me it made it clean but I said, “How does it make it clean when it’s just rubbing against the medal thing?”, but she just laughed at me.”
Coming to America was something I don’t think I would forget. During my trip here, I didn’t understand much about where I was going. I was only four years old when I was leaving the Philippines and I remember my mom saying that I would make new friends and go to a new school when I got here. I remember going through the hallway leading to the plane and the sound that it made. It was all pretty scary because it was my first plane ride. I remember the sound of all the carry on luggages being piled into the storage place while I was sitting there observing.
When finally we got to America I was really excited. Living in America is different from the Philippines because in the Philippines it’s very cramped. In the Philippines people are all very well known with everyone else. No matter how dirty or poor the people are they are still always really happy, but in America families are not as close because parents need to go to work more.
If there was something I could change about living in America it would probably be the way that people act towards others because some people aren’t as friendly. There’s also a lot of judgment because people have accents and everyone is different. [A stereotype] that I’ve heard is “Filipino people eat dogs”, which isn’t even true. I guess people made up stories and people believe them. Maybe it’s like how French people eat snails, escargots.
I think that I would go back to the Philippines to visit for a while. I would like to see how it is to live there again. Me and my family in the Philippines are still close because we try to keep in touch and not drift apart. My family and friends are the ones that have shaped my life and taught me the most. Especially my cousin Rich, he taught me how to speak in English. I’ve learned a lot from him. Things that he helped me to understand, like that people will make fun of you because you’re new or because you have an accent, that’s how he helped me.
Someone else I look up to would be my Lola. She’s someone I remember really well. There was one time back in the Philippines when I was watching her do the laundry. I was standing inside one of those huts made out of bamboo and banana leaves called “bahay kubo”. As I was watching my Lola I noticed she was using some medal rigid thing to scrub the clothes and I didn’t know what it was. I asked her in Tagalog, “Lola anong ginagawa mo sa manga damit” [Lola what are you doing to the clothes?]. She told me it made it clean but I said, “How does it make it clean when it’s just rubbing against the medal thing?”, but she just laughed at me. I also remember that my Lola would always chew ginger while she was doing the laundry. When I asked her why she did that she would tell me for flavor, but I didn’t understand.
There was this little store in the Philippines I remember and my dad would always take me there. He would buy me a lot of little jell-o packets and corn nuts. In the Philippines the corn nuts were called “bor balang”, which in English it means something like “garlic boy”.
Another day I that I remember in the Philippines was when me and my Lola went to visit my dad at work. I was so excited to go see him, I was “maculate”. But the night before it was raining so the ground was all wet and slippery. I actually tripped and I pulled my Lola down with me and we both got really dirty. She got mad and when my dad saw us he started to laugh but I was crying because I didn’t know what was happening. At the time I was only three. When we got home there was a barrel of water ready and I was dunked into it. I was like “wow!” because the water was so cold, but the weather there is really hot so it balanced out.
I do miss the Philippines and my family there. I do want to go back to visit sometime, and I’m glad I have all these memories of it.