Interview by Stephanie Loleng
(Sounds of walking into building…elevator…introducing myself to Max, TV sounds in the background…first 6 minutes)
— Max talked about working in San Francisco in a restaurant and then working on the farms in Salinas, etc. , his wife Jean comes inside…sounds of her talking to us.
Start here: (no TV sounds) (Track 2: .50 seconds remaining)
[When did you move to American from the Philippines?]
[And how old were you?]
Around…I was 17 years old, but I told them I was 18. (can hear Jean in the background)
What did you do when you got to the US?
I worked in a restaurant, Filipino restaurant, sometimes other nationality restaurant.
[How was it? Did you do dishes?]
Yeah, I served people,
Track 3: the dishes, I put the dishes on the table that’s what waiters do at that time.
[Was it hard work?]
Oh, it’s not counted hard work.
I was young, that’s why. [How much money did you make]
Oh, not so much, enough for paying the monthly rent and for a good time.
[How much was your rent? Where did you live?]
In San Francisco. I lived in a small apartment down there before.
[How much was the rent?]
Around $30 that was cheap then during those years 1930.
[Do you remember what area of San Francisco you lived in and worked in..can you describe that area?]
I forgot the name of the streets, that was long time ago.
[What did it look like?]
It’s good. It’s not far from the place where I used to work, where I lived at that time. I could easily afford it because it’s cheap and I have a partner that shared with the rent.
[So were there a lot of Filipinos there?]
Yeah, there were plenty. We were all young at that time because I myself was young. And those people were a little bit older, three four years or eight years older than me. That’s ok.
[At the time you were a bachelor? Were you lonely?]
No, because during weekends, I go places also to have good time. Dancehall or ? or what not.
[you said you went to Salinas, Watsonville..why did you go there?]
Work in the farm.
[How was it working in the farm?]
It was good. You get used to it as long as you stay there. You work that time, eight hours and then you go home, rest, then during weekends I go to dancehalls, Dance.
[Did you have a lot of friends there? All Filipinos?]
Yeah, Filipinos or other nationalities.
[Did you have any bad experiences with white people?]
Oh, they are nice also, if you treat them nice. But, I was good to them, so they were good to me. I was young, I was not rough or cruel.
[You didn’t experience any discrimination?]
[So after that, what did you do after working the farms?]
During World War II I was inducted in the army, US Army. I went to Honolulu, we stop there for awhile and then to the Philippines. And we fought the Japanese there.
World War II 1943 I suppose.
[How was it going back to the Philippines and fighting?]
Oh, it was a lot different and (wife talks) my brothers and sisters were married, (Track 4) some of them, some are still single and I told them I want to get married as soon as possible. So they introduced me to a young Filipino woman, I got married. I like her she like me and we get married and we have five children. Three girls, two boys.
[You got married in the Philippines?]
Yeah, married in the Philippines, lived there for how many years and then come back to America with her.
(wife talks…”1982, when all of our children were grown up and finish college…1943 up to 1982 that’s when we came here)
[How many grandkids do you have?]
(wife answers…22, 8 great)
[So then after the war, you stayed in the Philippines]
[Were you a US citizen?]
Yeah, when I was in the service I was citizen already.
When I joined the US Army, I applied for US citizen, then I got married, I raised my children, then I come back here.
(according to wife – we got married in 1955, in Luzon. …The first one to graduate was my oldest child.
When we got married, we stayed there, raised our children, five of them and when the first one graduate in nursing, he was the one, she came here in America. That was 1971 when she came here.
We came here 1982 when all of them had finished college. My uh, my oldest daughter was a nurse, the second one was a school teacher, the third one is an engineer, the fourth one is a nurse and my last, that’s why we stayed there for a long time, is a doctor, doctor of medicine. [They all in the US?] No…three of them are here, the girls are here because one died (Track 5) the engineer. And the boy, who is now 47 years old is still in the Philippines, he’s a doctor. And during our 60th anniversary when we do it September 10, he is coming here to join us.
[After you joined the military you got US citizenship…you also said you got educational benefits]
Yeah, that’s why I finished high school, I was second year, sophomore when I stopped and then after World War II, I went to school, I finished high school.
[Where did you go to school?]
There in the Philippines, I was in the Philippines at that time.
[What else did you get for being in the war?]
I have US Pension, even now.
[What did you do in the Philippines when you were there?]
I have a small dry goods store.
(wife said…San Fernando, La Union…northern Luzon..wife keeps talking about coming to US..off-mic)
[How did you meet?
How did we meet? Oh my God, it was a one-month courtship and at the same time, marry. Because he, I have a co-teacher who is the husband of her oldest sister. My co-teacher introduced him to me.
Max: I like her she likes me we got married!
Wife: Yeah! One month, that month he came to my place then we talk to my mom and to my oldest brother and they asked her if he’s really a bachelor and he said yes, I am really a bachelor, no string attached, nobody in America that I got married with. So he got a furlough for a week and that’s when we got married. September 16, 1945.
[What did you like about her?]
She’s nice, she’s educated, she was a school teacher. Fourth grade and I was a high school graduate, but a soldier, US Army, so…
Track 6: phone ring..
[When you were still in the U.S. was it hard to meet Filipino women?]
Oh, I was young when I left that’s why I don’t know much about women. But I went to dance when I was there before coming here. But proposing to women, I was young, I had no experience with that.
[Were there a lot of Filipino women?]
Yes, there was a lot. In the U.S. and also San Francisco.
Yeah, during weekends dancehall.
(before he said that it’s hard to deal with Filipino women, there are only a few..(Jean said))
Ambi…showing pictures..Jean talking about the pictures. (time remaining..2:00) – Jean talking about how active she was.
[How long have you lived here? In Fuji Tower?]
[Do you like it here?]
Yeah, it’s very good, very quiet, very peaceful. Nobody bothers us here. That’s why we stay here for 20 years.
[What are some of your best memories, growing up when you were young here in the US?]
Oh, I work in the farm in the day time and weekends I attend dances. Satur or Sunday.
[Is that your favorite memory?]
Yeah, that’s the time when I, my loneliness go away because weekends I’m having good time, weekdays I work in the farm.
[So that was hard working in the farm?]
yeah, but it’s nice, I was young so I don’t mind. I didn’t mind at all. I enjoyed working because I was young. When weekdays Monday through Friday I work on the farm, Saturday I have good time, go to the dance.
[Where did you live when you were working on the farm?]
Oh, uh in uh, in farmhouses, when you work in the farm, there are houses where you could live, also your rent.
[So is that near the farm?]
Yeah, it’s close to where you work.
More Ambi of Jean going over family photos.
Ambi: Leaving the building, elevator noise, noise outside at fish pond