For Richer or Poorer
Charles Lorenzo, Phillippines
Interviewed by Vina Lorenzo
" The one mistake my father made, had changed our family's lives for real. I had a chance to start anew, in the United States."
Imagine yourself being the youngest son out of six children, who had a father working for the United States Army during World War II. Picture living in a small barrio[village], where you live with your siblings and your mother, while you went to an exclusive academy. Though, soon you lose what you had, after your father stopped giving money to support the family. You were forced to leave school behind, because you needed the money just to survive. Even after he left, my father had a fairly good reason why he left his beloved family behind. I realised it now, and couldn't regret the hatred raging within myself about his absence. The one mistake my father made, had changed our family's lives for real. I had a chance to start anew, in the United States.
It was a sad day for our family, particularly for my other siblings. I had to give up my glory in a private school, in order for us to save more money to feed us properly. Other than myself, my four sisters and my brother had to quit school for a semester, so my mother can work. Despite that, I still went to a public school, where I became a proud honor student. After all the mess with our financial difficulties, I had the chance to apply for a scholarship to private high school, where I passed. Yet, my new high school, had gotten myself more accomplishments than what most people had expected from me. Being the President of the Student Catholic Action, Glee Club President, Sports Editor, Filipino Editor, one of the ten outstanding students of the year, I knew doing this wasn't enough for myself. I needed to accomplish more.
I'd never knew it would happen. Every person in the Phillippines wanted the chance to go to the United States, to start a new life. I was one of the lucky children. After the war ended, I found out my father was naturalized to be a full American citizen. I remembered about hearing him already being naturalized, right
before my birth, and I decided to help support my family anyways.
I had to finished college in one of the famous schools in the
Phillippines, where I majored in Political Science, and immigrate
to the United States with my older sister Gloria. I knew leaving
my homeland behind was a major step in my life, I was overjoyed,
to go to another country, but the feeling of leaving a home,
somehow tugged my heart. Now going to America, wasn't as hard
as I thought.
Before leaving my home, I had to survive the tropical storm that
came to our area. Our despideda party(farewell party) hosted at
my sister's house, created sweet memories, as we spent our time
with our family and friends. The storm still brewed by the time we
left, but Gloria and I didn't want to miss our plane. We had to
take two jeeps(similar to a van) to the airport, but since it
supposed to take twenty minutes there, the storm had us arrive
there an hour later. Of course, we didn't have too much problems
when it came to going there, except for our anxiety, that had us
nervous. No longer we could feel the tropical weather, or see our
siblings, though the only family we have now, is each other.
During our flight, all I did with my sister was talk. A sixteen hour
flight that had us reflect the memories of the Phillippines. The
Luneta Park where we hung out with her friends, the beach where
we had a picnic, eating our cusine, the tropical fruit known only in
our land, the happiest days back there. It was a good thing we
stopped in Tokyo, to refuel, though it was a shame we couldn't
leave to go look at the city. We had to sit for another ten grueling
hours, and still my heart was beating rapidly. I was nervous about stepping onto another country, though I was sure, I wasn't alone.
Finally arriving at Seattle International Airport, our journey wasn't
close to finishing. The security there, were suspicious of the tupig
(a sweet rice dessert wrapped in banana leaves) that I carried in
my luggage, and I had to clear it up with them. With the airport
being large, and all, my sister and myself got lost and missed our
flight, after we claimed our luggage. We were disappointed with
that fact, and had to catch another plane to Kansas City, that
stopped at Denver. Ever since we arrived, our Aunt and Uncle that
had to pick us up, was long gone to their hometown of Junction
City. Even though they shown up the next day, we were overjoyed
to see them after twenty long years.
After coming here, I wanted to continue my education even more.
I finally went to Brown Mackie College, in order for myself to get a degree in Accounting. Even after getting a degree, yet again, I
had a job as a department store janitor. Though, fortunately, I
moved to California where I got a better job as a Claims Auditor at the Advertising Checking Bureau for five years. The company had to move to Santa Clara, and I couldn't afford to go there, so I decided to find a different job. That is when I became an Assistant Bookkeeper for a short time, and I finally moved to State Fund and stayed there for twenty long years.
Living a life for over fifty years, it still feels like I'm the young man who just moved here. The only difference is that I'm married and have two children, that cares about me. I hoped they would be as successful as myself, and it came true, as my daughter and son are working hard in school. My children reminded me of my own siblings back when they were their age, and I had realised that my son was as athletic as my father, and my daughter was as hardworking or probably sometimes as lazy as myself. After these years, I wanted to accomplish more, not in school work, but in my work.