I feel my heart beating fast. The tears started to fill up my eyes as I look out the window. Philippines looked so tiny down there. I started to miss it. Goodbye to my friends, my whole family, and the country I grew up in. This was a really long flight to the United States, but the closer I got, the more it would hit me that I would be in America. It will officially be 16 hours behind Philippines time, not 100% Filipino anymore, different foods, different weather, and being without my parents and siblings. It all kept hitting me increasingly. Did I save enough money to survive until my first American job? Will anyone hire a small, Filipino woman? Will I have enough clothes? The only thing that’s keeping me going is this “American Dream” everyone talks about in movies and the books I’ve read. I am almost there. “Hello Filipino Airlines, we all should be landing shortly. Keep your seatbelts fastened until we reach the gate. Thank you for riding with us. Welcome to Delaware.”
Since I only brought my whole life in one luggage, going through customs was easier than I thought. Afterwards I spotted my grandparents and my uncle at the entrance waiting for me. “REMEDIOS!!!” Yelled my grandmother as she ran towards me. Seeing them made me feel more excited and relieved to be here. My uncle migrated here first and petitioned my grandparents after, then they all became American citizens in the 60s. By 1989, they petitioned me and my siblings to migrate here, but my siblings were too comfortable with their lifestyle in the Philippines. As for me, I wanted more. I needed more. America has far more opportunities than the Philippines and I am now here to take them.
My uncle brought me to his house, where my grandparents were also staying at. It was late and I felt so jetlagged. I shared a bed with my grandparents. I was exhausted, yet overwhelmed that, not only was I not in my own bed anymore, but not in my own country anymore. The next morning, I immediately looked at any job openings in the newspapers, in my field of accounting. Using the landline, I called many companies, wrote down their addresses, and figured out how to mail my resume out to them. As I wait for any responds, I became a tourist and explored the state with my uncle. I would also spend time with my grandparents. Every night, I would call my family in the Philippines to update them.
My grandparents thought I should probably get an ID card and social security number for work. They took me to this overly packed place called, the DMV. I didn’t think it would take hours just to get a little card with your name and face on it.
Two weeks later, a boss at a medical building I sent a resume for, called me for an interview for a “medical data entry” job. I accepted the offer and started to plan how I was going to go to my interview the following morning. I wrote down and studied what bus routes to take to successfully land at the building. I then prepared my outfit, which I had trouble with. People in the Philippines dress more superfluous, but heard Americans dress more casually. The morning of my interview, I put on my best, yet casual outfit, natural makeup, and a pin in my thin, short, black hair. I left two hours before the interview to make sure I would make it. On the bus ride there, I started to feel nervous. This might be my very first American job. I have lots of experience in the Philippines, but this was an entirely different country. I began to feel scared of being late and started to cry. Everything hit me at once.
I got off the bus, took a deep breath, and wiped my tears away. The building was right in front of me. No one could miss it, it was all white with a pretty garden. I walked in and told the secretary at front desk why I was there. She had me wait in the waiting room for about fifteen minutes, which gave me some time to catch my breath. She then led me to an office where three people sat, waiting to interview me. A white man, and two Hispanic men. I was confident about my answers, but insecure about being a Filipino woman. Yet, seeing diversity in the room helped me a little. The interview was 45 minutes long, but felt like 5 minutes. It went by quick. At the end of it, the white man said he will call me in two days.
I got home feeling anxious, yet accomplished for doing my first task here in America. The phone rang. I thought, there was no way that’s the company calling. “Congratulations! You got the job! Can you start Monday?” I felt relieved. “YES! Thank you thank you I will be there!” I replied with excitement. I couldn’t believe it. This is now the beginning of my American Dream.
My boss and coworkers were all so nice to me. The job was easier than any job I had in the Philippines and payed me more too. I am truly loving it here. After a while, I decided to move in with some friends at this apartment. I felt uncomfortable barging in my uncle’s house. I didn’t have to pay him rent, but nothing was mine. This apartment complex had mostly Spanish speakers, but they all were kind I can tell. Expect for this one woman, Quisqueya, (Henriquez. ) she’s a grouch and probably the only bad interaction I’ve ever had. She was just not as welcoming and would be negative about everything and everyone. The landlord, Adolfo Angelino, (Henriquez. ) was thankfully so nice and funny, that he even challenged me to an arm wrestling match for fun when I signed the confirmation. I won of course.
I payed $300 to share a bed with my two girl friends. This was my way of being more independent. As the year went on, I worked multiple jobs, even “McDonalds” part time, but kept the main accounting positions, to save money for my own car and eventually a house. Along the way, I met many White men who were all my suitors, but I was too scared of the culture change. I was scared to adapt to another race. I started to fall in love with one of them, but I just couldn’t do it. I was not discriminating them though, just scared.
I then found Daniel Reyes. He goes to the church everyone at the apartment complex keeps inviting me to. He plays piano beautifully without reading notes, and takes care of his family so well. I fell in love with this Filipino man, married him a year later, had a son named Reniel, followed by a daughter named Ryann. But Daniel couldn’t commit. We divorced as soon as Ryann was born. Though that wasn’t going to stop me from living my American Dream that I worked hard for and came all this way for. Now I couldn’t be happier. My American dream. I got a great job, two amazing kids, a nice house. What more can this Filipino woman, in the United States, ask for?
Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage Books, Alfred A. Knopf, 3 May 2014