“I cannot live like this anymore, we cannot live like this anymore, we have to do something about this,” I said to myself as I look at my struggling family. This marked the start of our pursuit of happiness in America.
My name is Doris Perez, and I was born and raised in the Philippines. I met my husband here and we are living an amazing, loving life together. My husband was a struggling electrician, and he did not earn enough money to provide for our family. We had three young children, and we were also taking care of two nephews and nieces about the same age. We struggled to feed our household very often, and we were beginning to give up our own food to provide for the children. Living in these conditions for years made my husband and I agree upon making a change in our family’s situation.
We began to really dislike the way we were living, so we began to think of various ways to fix our situation for several weeks. Initially, we did not immediately decide to move to America. In fact, there was only a slim chance that we would move there when my husband and I were discussion options. WE had benefits, however, if we did decide to go to America. My mother and other relatives were already in America, so we did not anticipate any severe struggles if we decided to go to America.
We discussed many options. We went back and forth, saying things such as, “I want to go here” and “No, we should go here.” As time went by, we began to consider going to America and starting over as a primary option. We knew that America is a very promising place when it comes to looking for opportunities. America at the time was very open to taking in immigrants of all kinds, and trying to let them live the way they want if they are willing to work for it. Eventually, we finally decided to go to “The Land of Opportunity.”
The day I will never forget is May 21, 1969. This day marked the beginning of a “new” life for our family. My husband, our three children, and I were so excited to go to America. My husband and I were 29 years old, and we were prepared to live in a new country.
However, there was also a lot that we would be leaving in the Philippines. We were leaving a lot of our relatives, good friends, and the unique, fresh Filipino food. My personal favorites that I would be leaving are the juicy mangoes, delicious meats, and the fresh seafood.
All I can hear is the loud engine and my husband’s snoring, and although that does not sound so pleasant, this made me feel a sense of hope. It also rejuvenated me out of our struggles, because our dream is finally coming true. As we were on the plane, we did not have any problems or issues to worry about. The children were quiet and behaving, and we were all so thrilled to go to America and see our family and live a better a life.
As soon as we arrived, we immediately felt at home. We had no issues getting out of the airport, and we were reunited with our family right at the exit of the airport. We felt so welcomed here, and we were so happy to see our family reconnect as one again.
My husband immediately got a job at the airport because our relative, who works at the airport, brought my husband with him to the airport to see if the manager would allow him to work there. He was accepted on the spot. From that point on, our lives were very easy. We were making a lot more money than we were in the Philippines and all of our children were receiving good education.
When my husband and I received our first American dollars that we earned, we were so proud of our accomplishment that we wanted to frame our first dollars, and we did!
Today, in 2017, we have an amazing, large family that is very close and loving. Our grandchildren are all doing very well in school and have moved to various places throughout California for school and family. My husband and I are so proud for our four children and all of our grandchildren for being so successful, and we would love to see our family keep growing and becoming successful as a unit. My husband and I have learned that you will always face struggles, but the way you handle it is the difference-maker.
This story was written by Jared Perez, the immigrant’s grandson, a student in the Bay Area.