Oral history interview with Katherine Isip, interviewed by Alexandra Fontanilla


Oral history interview with Katherine Isip, interviewed by Alexandra Fontanilla


Oral history interview with Katherine Isip, interviewed by Alexandra Fontanilla




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 ajsarmiento@ucdavis.edu


Audio Recording and Transcript




Alexandra Fontanilla


Katherine Isip


[Session 1, May 30, 2019]

[Begin Audio File]

Alexandra or Alexa: It is May 30, 2019 and it is 2 PM. This is Alexa Fontanilla interviewing for ASA 150: The Filipino American Experience. Today, I am interviewing:

Katherine: Katherine Isip. I’m 27.

Alexa: [laughs] Okay. Um, where and when were you born?

Katherine: Um, May 24, 1992 in the Philippines—in Manila.

Alexa: Um, where were your parents born?

Katherine: When?

Alexa: Where?

Katherine: Where? In Manila, Philippines, too.

Alexa: Um, what jobs—uh, do—did/do your parents do?

Katherine: So my dad is a business man and my mom was an interior designer.

Alexa: Oh, she was?!

Katherine: Uh huh!

Alexa: Oh my gosh! Is that why she was friends with my mom? [in reference to our mom’s being sisters-in-law and interior designers]

Katherine: [laughs] No.

Alexa: [laughs]

Katherine: But she went to Interior Designing school and she, like, designed sets before, but she stopped working because yeah—because of the babies AKA me and Maxine [her sister].

Alexa: Okay, okay. Um, what does Lolo [our grandfather] and Lola [our grandmother] do?

Katherine: Oh, they’re both, um, business people. Businessman, businesswomen—woman? Woman.

Alexa: [laughs]

Katherine: Dami [a lot]?

Alexa: Yeah [laughs].

Katherine: [laughs]

Alexa: How many siblings do you have and do you come from a big family?

Katherine: [sigh] I don’t know if it’s big, but I have two sisters—yeah.

Alexa: Okay.

Katherine: But yeah.

Alexa: Um, did any of your family members move to America before you?

Katherine: Uh, my aunt—wait. My aunt? How do you say it? Aunt? Aunt?

Alexa: Uh, it doesn’t matter. They’re both the same.

Katherine: Okay. Yeah and I’m not sure about my grandparents, but I think my grandparents as well.

Alexa: Um

Katherine: Yeah. They are, they are.

Alexa: Kind of. They have dual citizenship.

Katherine: Yeah.

Alexa: Um.

Katherine: No—no they’re immigrants. They’re not citizens yet.

Alexa: Oh, okay. Okay. Um, what was your academic experience in the Philippines?

Katherine: Um, what was my—it was good. It was fun. Like, I think I learned a lot. Um, it was hella long though because it was 5 years for PT School. The normal like—

Alexa: Mhm.

Katherine: Like um, a bachelor’s degree there would be like 4 years, but my course was like 5 so… yeah.

Alexa: Um, and then what was your professional experience like?

Katherine: Professional? It is different than it is here because over there we don’t have—like here we have PT aids and PT assistants. In the Philippines, it’s just us.

Alexa: Oh, okay.

Katherine: And we’re under doctors.

Alexa: Ohh.

Katherine: Um, here in the States we are as well, but um, we have more power?

Alexa: Mhm.

Katherine: I guess. Like to treat patients, like to determine what the patients need because usually doctors would

just diagnose and send them to us and then we’ll be the ones to evaluate and see.

Alexa: Mhm.

Katherine: But, in the Philippines, it’s the doctors who diagnose and give the treatment plan and we just implement the treatment plan.

Alexa: Oh, okay, okay.

Katherine: Uh huh.

Alexa: Okay.

Katherine: And the pay, and the salary.

Alexa: Okay, do you get paid more here?

Katherine: Of course, yeah. For sure. I think I get paid there a day… if I convert it into dollars. Like, around $11 a day.

Alexa: Oh, wow. Okay.

Katherine: Mhm.

Alexa: Okay, um.

Katherine: So, yeah.

Alexa: Uh, why did you decide to move out of the Philippines?

Katherine: Because I was making $11 a day.

Alexa: [laughs]

Katherine: [laughs] And I like—love it better here in the States compared to the Philippines.

Alexa: Um.

Katherine: I don’t know. The way of life here.

Alexa: Oh okay, yeah. That makes sense. Uh, when did you move to the United States?

Katherine: Last year.

Alexa: 2018?

Katherine: 20—oh, shoot! 2017.

Alexa: 2017. Okay.

Katherine: So, it was like a year and a few months ago.

Alexa: Okay. Um, did you move anywhere else before settling at the US?

Katherine: Like a different country?

Alexa: Yeah.

Katherine: No, just directly from the Philippines.

Alexa: Okay, um. What were your thoughts about America before you moved here?

Katherine: Um, what were my thoughts? I guess I thought that it would be hard to live here because in the Philippines, you know, we got used to having ya-yas, or maids.

Alexa: Mhm.

Katherine: So, like, compared to here you’re more independent. You do everything.

Alexa: Yeah.

Katherine: Like laundry and cooking and everything. Not like in the Philippines, like someone else does it for you.

Alexa: Mhm.

Katherine: So I think that’s like the big, like, thing that people tell me is the difference.

Alexa: Uh huh. And like, those thoughts—have they changed like after you started living here or?

Katherine: They’re still the same.

Alexa: Yeah I was about to say.

Katherine: Yeah, it is true.

Alexa: Do—is it—do you like it more?

Katherine: I mean, it’s not that hard. Like, you have dishwashers and washing machines and stuff like that over here. Well, you have some in the Philippines, but not a lot of people have that.

Alexa: Yeah.

Katherine: So, I think it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

Alexa: Mhm. Okay, that’s good. Um, where did you first live in the United States?

Katherine: Um, Anaheim, California.

Alexa: With who?

Katherine: With Auntie.

Alexa: [laughs]

Katherine: With my auntie and uncle and my grandparents.

Alexa: Um, what jobs did you perform when you moved to America?

Katherine: Well just a PT.

Alexa: Um, so. Did the experiences that you had in the Philippines—did it help you get the job?

Katherine: Yes, for sure.

Alexa: Okay, so I know you went back to school here. Um, what was that like compared to the Philippines?

Katherine: Um, it’s super-fast paced.

Alexa: Here?

Katherine: Like, yeah. Like it’s extra—like in the Philippines it’s fast paced, but here it’s EXTRA. And like your professors here or like instructors are like I feel like they care less. I don’t know. Like in the Philippines they’re like “What do you need? What can we do? Blah blah blah to help you pass.” Or like they really teach. Over here, yeah they teach, but not as detailed or something—like you do all the work.

Alexa: Oh.

Katherine: You know what I mean?

Alexa: Yeah. So like in the Philippines did they kind of, like, walk you through it?

Katherine: Yeah.

Alexa: Oh, okay.

Katherine: Not like when you were in like high school—like it’s going to be step by step. I mean it was a faster pace, but they—it’s like super organized and like you would like get it… unless you’re dumb. Then, you won’t.

Alexa: [laughs]

Katherine: [laughs] Unless you’re dumb, but I mean, if you’re like okay, you would get it.

Alexa: Okay, okay.

Katherine: It’s not that hard.

Alexa: It’s not that hard. Okay.

Katherine: I mean, it’s hard. I mean it’s harder in the Philippines like the exams and stuff compared to here. Like, I think Filipinos who study in the Philippines and who started studying here. Like, even though like in high school or something, like I think they excel in school here more than compared to the Philippines because it’s harder, like the topics and stuff.

Alexa: Yeah. Okay, that makes sense.

Katherine: Like it’s super advanced over there, but they like teach you step by step.

Alexa: Yeah.

Katherine: But over here it’s like okay, but we study by ourselves. You can do that. Like [the professors] explain a little bit, help you a little bit. But not like, you know what I mean?

Alexa: Yeah. Okay, that makes sense. Um, and then just for the record, where did you go to school and what did you study?

Katherine: Over here? Or in the Philippines?

Alexa: Over here.

Katherine: I studied my Doctorates of Physical Therapy in Unica College in New York.

Alexa: Um, and then, last question. Did you notice anything different between first generation immigrants and um, like me, like Filipino Americans?

Katherine: Mhm, like yeah. I think it’s a big difference. Like, I think Filipino Americans are like more, um, how do I say it? They’re like—they’re more [sigh] open? Not open, like more—they express their, um, what they think more compared to the ones in the Philippines. Like me, I can’t like say stuff, like talk back—not talk back, but like, it’s different. [frustrated sigh] How do I say it? Alexie [her nickname for me]!
Alexa: If you want to say it in, like, Tagalog that’s fine.

Katherine: Even with—like, I mean, starting. Like I’m thinking pero parang ang hirap din [but it’s like hard still]—wait. Um, parang mas-- [it’s like more--]

Alexa: It’s just like—do you not feel like you—

Katherine: Vocal yung mga people, yung mga kids here compared to the Philippines [the people and kids here are more vocal than in the Philippines] or like the people in the Philippines.

Alexa: Vocal?

Katherine: Mas like, mas conservative [the Philippines is more conservative]. There you go. I think that’s the word. Conservative.

Alexa: Oh, okay. So it’s more conservative in the Philippines?

Katherine: In the Philippines. Like, not super, but if you compare the two, Filipinos in the Philippines are more conservative than Filipino Americans.

Alexa: Oh. Do you think, um, like now that you’ve, like, lived in America for while that, like, do you think you’re still that kind of level of conservative or like, have you changed?

Katherine: Oh, for sure, I’ve changed. For sure. Yeah. Like, I’m more open to things that are not that open in the Philippines. Like, gay marriage and stuff like that. Like, those kinds of ideas. Like, yes, I accept those more than the people in the Philippines. I guess. Something like that. Like an example. Because it’s very conservative in the Philippines remember because we’re like a Catholic country and like religion is like a big thing. So, like, being gay is like a—it’s not that—I mean it’s more accepted now, but still like, it’s still hard for people there.

Alexa: Mhm, okay. Yeah, I guess. Yeah, it’s a lot more open here and I guess, um, there’s a lot more support for it here.

Katherine: Mhm, I mean in the Philippines they do too, but it’s not as like—there’s still like older generations, who are, like, against that and like thinks that’s like not right. But, like, over here there’s like a lot of people who are accepting it. I mean there’s still people who don’t but you know, most people… yeah.

Alexa: Okay, well. That concludes the interview.

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Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral history interview with Katherine Isip, interviewed by Alexandra Fontanilla,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed November 27, 2021, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/702.