My Mother's Journey to America (Eva Fedalizo)


My Mother's Journey to America (Eva Fedalizo)


Oral history interview with Eva Fedalizo, interviewed by Evagail Fedalizo




The Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies and the UC Davis Asian American Studies department holds intellectual control of these recordings. Usage is restricted for educational, non-commercial purposes only. For other uses, please contact archivist Jason Sarmiento at


Audio Recording and Transcript




Evagail Fedalizo


Eva Fedalizo


Evagail: Today is June 8, 2019, it’s 3:41 PM, and I am interviewing…

Fedalizo: Eva Fedalizo

Evagail: … about her experience immigrating to the U.S. from the Philippines. Okay. Alright, let’s begin. So, how old were you when you immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines?

Fedalizo: I was about 22 years old. Just finished college and took summers in between so I can go on time to the U.S. I have a certain period where I can come to the United States, so before it expires, I have to really speed up my college program so I can get my diploma before I go to United States.

Evagail: And why did you want to immigrate to the U.S.? What was your or your family’s specific reason?

Fedalizo: Well coming from a third world country, it is always an aspiration for all parents to give a better life to their children and my mom had that opportunity working as a nurse in a veteran hospital which she was sponsored by this hospital and immigrated to the United States as a working visa. Her main objective is to give us a better life. She has six children. I’m second to the youngest. We’re not that poor, but we’re not that rich, and for her to be able to send us all to college and have a good life, she decided to take that opportunity which I think it’s really, very brave for her, knowing that she is going to a strange country by herself with nobody. There was a lot of sacrifices involved knowing that she was going to leave behind young children, but those are the kind of sacrifices that you have to make, and she did that. She did that for all of us.

Evagail: So you said that your mom had to leave you all behind. Do you remember for how long you had to live without your mother growing up?

Fedalizo: Well I was six years old when she first left, and she came back probably I was already what… Six years after that she came back. And then she got pregnant with my youngest brother. And then after four years again, she came back, and at that time, she brought Noel, our youngest brother, with her. And that’s understandable, because he’s really young, and my father was not that… let’s say not healthy and not 100% present. And with the help of relative likes my aunts and my uncles, they help us out growing up and making sure that we’re okay. And that’s how close our family back in the Philippines. And that’s how you kind of see how strong the bond between families , and the culture itself is that family comes first. Even though the life in the Philippines is hard, it makes it easier when you have people around you, family and friends, that support you and get involved when needed. And I think that’s what made my mom feel a little bit comfortable being away, because she has lots of good relatives like sisters and brothers that can look over us while she’s away.


Evagail: And so you said that your youngest brother had the opportunity to go with your mom first to America. When did you and the rest of your family have that opportunity to meet with them again?

Fedalizo: Well before me, it’s our oldest sister who also, after finishing college, she had that opportunity too just like my mom to be petitioned by a hospital in New Jersey. And then eventually she was petitioned by mom as an immigrant, and they both became citizens after that and so as my youngest brother. So my youngest brother had that opportunity to actually grow up here and have education. Well at first, of course he’s still young and missing all of us, it’s kind of also hard for him. He doesn’t have friends, and it’s a culture shock for him. So eventually like going to school right, so young not knowing people and hardly speaking English although he was

brought in a house or place that we speak English as a second language. It’s still hard to adjust and miss all his friends and his family. But knowing that my mom is there, of course, it made it easier for both my brother and my oldest sister.

Evagail: What was your experience like first coming to the U.S. and seeing it for the first time?

Fedalizo: I’ll be honest with you. It wasn’t what I thought it was. I thought it was like [gasps] all green trees and nice weather and nice houses and all that. Although where I lived- our house with my mom right- I’m one of the lucky people, I guess, that immigrated here that already have a good, stable life because of my mom. We have a house in Staten Island. Nice neighbor. Very quiet. It’s really a good place to be to start with. But you miss the talking. You miss the camaraderie you have with your neighbors back home when you can just say ‘hi’ and ‘hello’.
Everybody’s a stranger to me so I’m shy. I was young. And it’s hard. Because you miss your friends. You miss your home. Like I said, it’s a culture shock. And I don’t know like, “How will I start? Where will I begin?” And it’s nice to have my mom and my sister and my sister’s friends and relatives that are already here in America to advise you where to start, what to do. So that one, I feel grateful, because I already have people around me that can help me not like my mom. She started alone. And she’s a very strong woman. I really admire her for doing all those sacrifices. At first for me, it was hard to start all over again and be… I’m a stranger and it’s hard to start making friends again. I don’t even know where to start, where to begin. It’s hard, because everybody’s busy with their work so I have to find jobs on my own. And then finally meeting people my age and then they help me out: “Oh, you can start looking for this one! You can start looking locally. Don’t go to Manhattan right away. Maybe you can find your… so you don’t have to commute yet until you familiarize with the area and you are adjusted with the weather and all that.” And I said, “Okay, maybe.” I landed a job. I started as a teller. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I know I have to start somewhere. And even though that’s not the profession I would like to be, I have to start. I have to work hard. I started as a teller and then got promoted to accounting which is really a good thing that happened to me. And then after that is like a lot of ups and downs. Yes, I was able to find a better job, but then competing with a bigger company

and well-known company or even just a more stable company I would say, it’s hard to compete with people who had their degree in the U.S. People who been here or were born here which is… I guess, being a minority, it’s hard. No matter how much you work, no matter how much you prove yourself. And for me, I’m proud that I’m able to compete with these people that has Master’s, and I only have a Bachelor’s, but then because I work hard and I like to learn, I have that experience. I build that experience, learn my work. And for 20 years and plus experience on working in accounting and being a financial analyst, I held many titles, but I still can’t move up to a manager position.


Evagail: And so how did that make you feel, knowing that you have a degree from the Philippines, but America, in general, doesn’t really accept degrees that are not received in America, from American education?

Fedalizo: It is a degree. They do acknowledge that, because when you start a job, you actually provide that. They ask you for your diploma. They ask for your educational transcript and all that. So I think that there is a fundamental acceptance, but the thing is there is still discrimination. Being a minority, you have to really work hard- 10 times harder than those that belong here in the United States.


Evagail: Do you remember your first encounter or experience with discrimination and how that made you feel as an immigrant from the Philippines?

Fedalizo: Well I worked for Abbott Laboratories for nine years, and before I got promoted, I had to go and prove myself and went to a school to get some certification so I can be considered as a candidate to a senior level position. And in spite of that, in spite of me getting continuous

education, I still find myself being discriminated. I don’t know whether it’s- is it because I am a woman? Because most of the positions that I didn’t get were given to men. And maybe because they know I am a single parent and my children, I have to take care of them, so I don’t have the time to work more. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a Filipino. A minority. And I don’t know. We can speculate, but for me, having a 20 years degree and lose that promotion to a younger man with a Master’s degree that only has 4 years experience, I think that’s a clear discrimination of being a woman, being a minority, and having an education in the Philippines that you don’t know whether they really recognize it or just like a formality for them to require it from you. So I really don’t, but I do believe in education, and I just think that investing my money and my time to my children are more important. I’m limited in my finances. I know that I can’t afford it, and that’s another reason to why I didn’t take it, but I’m smart enough to go to certificate programs and continue education as much as I can available to me. I took project management and other courses that relate to manager training. But for me, in a way, I’m blessed, and I’m happy, because my life in the United States even though I see… it’s funny, because back home, ‘discrimination’ is not a familiar word, and it just become kind of like evident to me when I started living here in the United States. I never felt so discriminated. So I’m kind of like, “What is this discrimination?” When I feel like I was discriminated, that is when I understood. I feel the pain. I feel… it’s very frustrating and degrading. Degrading in a way that you know the job more than anyone, because you’ve been there for so long, and you’re the one who actually acting as the manager and still didn’t get that promotion. It’s like a slap in your face. It’s more of like, “Okay, so I’m training this new person that you hired as a manager, but then you didn’t promote me.” So that is a very clear discrimination. What are the basis of that? I believe that we know deep in our hearts what that is or what they are, what are those discrimination. So, it’s hard, because being a single parent, it hurts, right, that I was not able to get a job but then yet I’m training this new man, this man to do the job which for me I should have received. Or maybe my age because they like young people? It’s a very tough world. You have to be strong. You have to continuously prove yourself. And like I said, for women, for older people like me, and for the same minority, you have to work 10 times or more for you to be recognized if you are lucky.


Evagail: So coming to this day, all that way, your journey and learning all that you’ve learned, experiencing all that you experienced, what would you tell that 20-something-year-old self when your first came here who was probably very scared, who was probably just scared and confused, what would you tell your younger self as advice or for inspiration?

Fedalizo: Well, let’s say a 20-year-old, same age when I started in the United States, first thing I would advise is don’t… I would probably have pursue another degree or maybe a… What do you mean?

Evagail: What would you tell your younger self who first came here…

Fedalizo: Don’t do that. That’s very hard. So what would I do?

Evagail: Yea. What would you tell her?

Fedalizo: Oh, my younger self.

Evagail: Yea.

Fedalizo: Okay. Well, I will tell my younger self to be strong. And always think of all the sacrifices that my mom had done for us, and let her be proud that I can do it too. So that is my stronghold is to make sure that she’ll be proud of me. That I did it. I made it. In spite of all the struggles, I’ve done it. And there is no shame to start a job from a clerical, non-professional job just to support yourself. And then I will tell my younger self “Go out there. Don’t be afraid. Go for your dreams. Let them know that you are as smart and as good as they are no matter what color, no matter what your gender is or your age. You can do it.”

Evagail: Okay. Well thank you so much for letting me interview you today.

Fedalizo: You’re welcome. And I’m glad that I’m able to share this with you.

Evagail: Okay thank you. This is the end.

Finding Guide

Time when came to the U.S.- mother’s sacrifices- opportunity to come here- first impression, experience of America

Job and degree

Discrimination at workplace

Words to younger self

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