For The Beauty of The Future

Remy Lagman, Macabebe, Pampamga, Philippines
Interviewed by Jennifer Lagman
"You wouldn't have to worry about anything
- from the clothes you wear to the food you eat!" - R.L.

There were ten of us. We were all raised in Macabebe, Pampamga, Philippines. You know there,
everyone felt like family to one another. Everyone knew each other. In other words, we all treated
each other with fictive kinship [acts of calling and feeling like family]. I lived there ‘til I was twenty-four, ‘til I finished college. While taking up college, I also lived in Manila for a good four years with my family. I had two sisters who both died of congenital heart disease. They were still so young. I was the fifth child of Arsenia [my mother] and Jesus [my father]. 

 I remember my childhood as if it were yesterday. I was responsible for washing the dishes and sweeping the fallen leaves from the yard. As a child, I liked to do nails, manicures. I was in the fourth grade when I enjoyed playing the piano. My fingers had a special bond with the keys. School wise, Tata (term for father) was my teacher in the sixth grade and treated me like all the other students. I obtained no special treatment whatsoever. Inda (term for mother) was the one who taught me how to do household chores, cook, and play the piano. I remember her wanting everything perfect. I joined a [piano] contest which fortunately was televised! Everyone was watching me at my place. It was live and different. Unluckily, I didn’t get the first prize. I was very sad… I was only 12 years old at the time. Remembering my heart drop as they announced the winner was such a downfall in my piano career.

My life was content. They [my parents] were able to send us [my siblings] to school with the hard work of Tata and the help of my grandparents. My grandparents helped us a lot. We were right in the middle. I mean, we were not wealthy nor were we poor. We owned a moderate house. It was about three bedrooms, two stories, and one bath. It was made of the basics, concrete and wood.

I moved to the United States of course for a better future. My parents told me to. Coya (term for older brother) [my eldest brother] migrated here first. He told Tata it was simply... for.. for the beauty of the future. The U.S. is a much better country than all other countries. Why? Because it was the United States! My expectations were a beautiful country with a lot of opportunities. It was to be a free country, a country that you would be able to have a good start; a good start for your family and their future.

It was after two weeks of arrival from the Philippines, when I encountered a job that both supported my family and helped my extended family in the Philippines. For twenty-seven years, it has been my first and only job from my migration, I came from a sterilization technician tested and promoted to being a school nurse. Up to this time, I have the same employer (this was actually way back in the 80’s). There certainly is a difference between the lifestyle here, in the U.S. and the Philippines. Here? You have to do it [everything] by yourself. There, you have a maid that can do your household chores. You wouldn’t have to worry about anything – from the clothes you wear to the food you eat! It took years of adjustment, you know. I was not strained, but it was difficult. It was a big difference!   

            I faced some challenges and accomplishments. My greatest challenge was when both my parents passed away. Tata died back home [Philippines]. Inda? She passed away here [America]. It was really hard. I would constantly feel tears run down my face. Everyone noticed I did not talk much. All I could see was memoirs together back in the Philippines. I couldn’t accept it. It took awhile to realize they were to be forever in a better place. I was close to each of them. I loved my parents. In turn, I definitely had accomplishments and successes. I had children; I bought houses, and PASSED the Board Exam becoming a registered nurse. I cannot explain the joy I felt when a letter arrived certifying my achievement. My eyes started to water. My heart was throbbing at a paste that was ridiculous. My husband was questioning my emotions. I either thought I fell in deep sleep or was going to have a heart-attack. I jumped for joy accepting it was legit. With no questions asked, that was my biggest accomplishment. 

It was really true! I learned the values here. My values. America led me to newer opportunities. America has been showering me with a great life. I’ve became a wife, a mother of two children, and a hard worker. With a good job, I become happy when I can afford what my family wants. I try to give them the best I can. Rewards? I obtain full support from my husband and my children obeying me. I would never have lived such a life without this migration. My life has went through drastic adjustments you know, but that’s alright. I am thankful for the life I have today.