In the year 2017, I am able to have the opportunities I have today because of my ancestors. They worked hard to get to a place where I, a third generation child, can go and be whatever I desire to be. I was lucky enough to get to interview my Lola Maxima about her experiences. (Lola means grandmother in Tagalog.) My Lola Maxima Baccay was born on September 2, 1927. For most of her childhood she lived in Taguig Rizal, Philippines along with eleven other mga kapatid (mga kapatid means siblings Tagalog). She was ate Maxi to nine mga ading (ate is a respectful way to say older sister and mga ading is younger sibling in Tagalog). However, because of WWII and the lack of medicine about half of her kapatid past away. With the rest of her family when she was about 36 years old, she moved to the United States and has been here ever since. Today, she lives with her husband, my Lolo, Romey and her daughter, my Tita Joyce in Daly City, California. (Lolo means Grandfather and tita means aunt).
During the second World War children were not allowed to go to school because the schools were closed. There was no school for about five years in the Philippines. When it was time to start back up at school, Maxima was about 18 years old and had to pick up where she ended off five years earlier and go back to eighth grade. Many younger students would tease her because of how old she was compared to the other students. In fact, one of her younger sisters did not go back because of the embarrassment she felt being older.
Moving to California at age 36, was absolutely a big deal for Maxima. “I was sad, scared, unsure of my future and excited”, Maxima said despairingly. When she left she had no idea what to expect, no plans, and no clothes but fortunately she had her tatay, nanay, and five of her kapatid to rely on (tatay means father, nanay means mother and kapatid means siblings). Maxima took a long, lonely plane ride to the United States and when she got off the plane her father was the only familiar thing in sight. She attended college in her 40s. Luckily Maxima had taken English classes back in the Philippines so that when she went to college it was easier.
After finishing with school Maxima, got a job with Hartford Insurance as a coordinator along with another ading Josepha.
The opportunities in America is what Maxima strived for. Maxima wouldn’t have left the Philippines if it were not for her father. Maxima’s Father was a Soldier for the United States and was stationed at Fort Mckinley, Maine. He wanted to become a soldier for two main reasons. One was to open opportunities for his family, and two, to help people. He wanted the best for his children and expected a great deal from his children especially from Maxima because she was one of the oldest.
Also, when World War II hit the Philippines in the mid 1940s, families all over the island were traumatized. Maxima’s family, the Baccays, were affected greatly. They lost five or six siblings and had their father taken away from them and tortured by the Japanese. They fled to get seek new opportunities but also because they wanted to get away from the mournful losses of the family members.
Today Maxima has eight grandkids, one of them being me, who she loves dearly. She was also able to make her family proud by providing for them and caring for them. She really appreciates all that her father has done for her. She also believes that he is the reason that she was very successful. She was also able to adjust easily to the culture although she still gets homesick and misses the food and people she has her family to fall back on. In 2011, Maxima said, “I love that now that I worked my butt off I can retire and live a happy life with my family.”
This story was written by Jillian David, a student at Eastside College Prep, in East Palo Alto, CA.