Oral history interview with Dante Gutierrez, interviewed by Kyrene Giezel Gutierrez


Oral history interview with Dante Gutierrez, interviewed by Kyrene Giezel Gutierrez


Oral history interview with Dante Gutierrez, interviewed by Kyrene Giezel Gutierrez




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




Kyrene Giezel Gutierrez


Dante Gutierrez


[Session 1, June 9, 2019]
[Begin Audio File]
GUTIERREZ, K: Alright, it is June 9, 2019 and it is 3:19pm. This is Ky interviewing for the Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project for ASA 150. Today, I am interviewing:

GUTIERREZ, D: My name is Dante Gutierrez.

GUTIERREZ, K: Alright, so let’s start with a little of your childhood and your early adult life. So, where and when were you born?

GUTIERREZ, D: I was born in Manila in 1953.

GUTIERREZ, K: What did your parents do? What jobs?

GUTIERREZ, D: My parents is doing a civil service servant. She [my mother] was assigned in the water works company in Manila, and she has been a cashier there until she retired.

GUTIERREZ, K: How many siblings did you have? Did you come from a big family?

GUTIERREZ, D: On my father’s side, there were 5 siblings and on my mother’s side, there were 8 siblings. I don’t think that was a big family.

GUTIERREZ, K: How about you? Did you have siblings?

GUTIERREZ, D: Yea, I had siblings too. We were 5 in the family. I am the second to the eldest and the rest are three daughters. Yea, three sisters.

GUTIERREZ, K: Did any of your family members move to America before you?

GUTIERREZ, D: No, I did not have any family members that went to America. It’s only us [immediate family members: wife and kids].

GUTIERREZ, K: How did you immigrate to America?

GUTIERREZ, D: We visited America in the year 2000 in November.

GUTIERREZ, K: What was your academic experience in the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: In the Philippines, I’ve been doing the – the profession that I have acquired during college, I’ve been a Certified Public Accountant in the Philippines and worked with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, like IRS here in America.

GUTIERREZ, K: Why did you decide to move out of the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: I decided to stay in America, because I want to experience American life and I think it is peaceful staying here as compared to our country.

GUTIERREZ, K: Why do you think it’s more peaceful?

GUTIERREZ, D: Like for example, there are now many more movements threatening the government to stabilize the situation.


GUTIERREZ, D: And the political parties, they were not coordinating with each other.

GUTIERREZ, K: What did you think about America before you moved here?

GUTIERREZ, D: I was thinking that there are more opportunities in America. There are more job opportunities in America, which is better for our children for their better lives and education if we stayed here.

GUTIERREZ, K: Did any of that change after you arrived? Any of your thoughts?

GUTIERREZ, D: Yea. I’m not thinking for anybody else that harm us, because it’s very peaceful here and the situation here is so secured.

GUTIERREZ, K: What jobs did you perform when you moved to America?

GUTIERREZ, D: I was assigned doing the accounting job like in the Philippines. I’ve been connected with the construction company. I handle the accounting system and the budgeting department.

GUTIERREZ, K: What else were your jobs here in America?

GUTIERREZ, D: After that, I lost my job and I was unable to find a job, because one of my daughters gave birth. I was taking care of them and help raise her child, too.

GUTIERREZ, K: What experiences helped you get the job, like did any of your past professional and academic experience from the Philippines help you get the job in America? How did you get your job?

GUTIERREZ, D: Before, in the Philippines, I was also assigned in the manufacturing company, being the accountant over there. Then, after that, I was doing product management in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia before going to America.

GUTIERREZ, K: Why were you in Saudi Arabia?

GUTIERREZ, D: In Jeddah.

GUTIERREZ, K: Why were you there though, dad?


GUTIERREZ, K: Why were you there?


GUTIERREZ, K: At Saudi? How did you get there?

GUTIERREZ, D: There was a job offering and consequently, the company that I was working before that is going to be closing. And Saudi Arabia hired me for contract basis.


GUTIERREZ, K: How long did you work at Saudi?

GUTIERREZ, D: I’ve been working in Saudi Arabia as a product management. It was two years.

GUTIERREZ, K: What are some of the memories you had in Saudi?

GUTIERREZ, D: The memory… what memory are you talking about?

GUTIERREZ, K: Did you have any memories in Saudi?

GUTIERREZ, D: One thing is the climate. The climate is too hot in there as compared to other countries. The people there, only a few of them understands English.

GUTIERREZ, K: How long have you been living in America approximately?

GUTIERREZ, D: Right now, I’ve been living here for almost 20 years, I think. I’ve been here since 2000 and right now, it’s 2019.

GUTIERREZ, K: Do you notice anything different between you and Filipino Americans? People who were born in the Philippines versus people who were born here in America, like Filipinos. Do you notice anything different?

GUTIERREZ, D: I think the only difference is the culture. Number one is the culture. What they eat here compared to the Philippines, I think they don’t want to eat the Filipino food here. For example, the fish. Most Filipinos who were born here did not want to eat fish. One thing is the Filipino attitude, like saying po in a respectful way, they are doing the same thing.

GUTIERREZ, K: Where did you first live when you were in the U.S.?

GUTIERREZ, D: I stayed in Daly City when we arrived here as a room tenant. After two years, I’ve been renting out an apartment, for a one-bedroom apartment.

GUTIERREZ, K: What are some of the things you remember as a child living in the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: As a child, when I grew up... I think the most memorable thing that I have to…


GUTIERREZ, D: I have to get some money in order to have your [daughter’s] education. Without money, I think you cannot get sent to school. Even though there are some public schools over there, but still you have to pay. One more thing is we came from a poor family.

GUTIERREZ, K: What was the highest education you’ve had in the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: Highest?

GUTIERREZ, K: Like how high did you in your education?

GUTIERREZ, D: I finished my college in the Philippines and took my board exam, also in the Philippines. I graduated in college as BSC in Accounting, Bachelor’s of Science in Commerce Accounting Major. After I finished my college, after a year, I found a job. While in the job, I was planning to take the board exam to be a Certified Public Accountant over there.

GUTIERREZ, K: Did you ever get your Master’s?

GUTIERREZ, D: Yea, one more thing is that I got my Master’s when I already finished my Certified Public Accountant career. I got it October 1999. I got my Master’s Degree in Business Management.

GUTIERREZ, K: Do you use your degree?

GUTIERREZ, D: I never use my degree, my Master’s in Business Administration. I think, only few, when I used it in here, during my budgeting function here in America.

GUTIERREZ, K: What were some of your experiences while here in America?

GUTIERREZ, D: What experiences?

GUTIERREZ, K: Like did you face any discrimination, racism?

GUTIERREZ, D: I think there’s no discrimination regarding the job opportunities. The only thing that I noticed is that you must be flexible in your job when you’re already hired as being a worker. You must do whatever you can do just to help other staff inside the company. That’s the only thing I noticed that I experienced.

GUTIERREZ, K: I remember you talking to me one time about how you lived during the Marcos regime. How was that?


GUTIERREZ, D: During the Marcos regime, I think most of the people were disciplined, especially during the martial law time declared by President Marcos. Nobody was inspired to give a negative opinion on the government and how it ran.

GUTIERREZ, K: What was your opinion?

GUTIERREZ, D: Opinion for what?

GUTIERREZ, K: For the government.

GUTIERREZ, D: The only question I have in my mind is that why are there many political candidates who wants to occupy some position in the government. They were investing more money, billions of money, just to run for a position in the government. That’s the only thing I would have in my mind. Maybe, one of the reasons is that they want to protect their business interests. I think that’s the only thing I have in mind.

GUTIERREZ, K: Do you still participate in voting back home in the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: Right now, I’m not participating anymore since I’ve been living here in America even though I still have rights to vote. With the situation now, it’s so very different. Whatever the people choose, they [the government] are still doing the same thing. They’re still doing their personal interests or business interests.

GUTIERREZ, K: How often do you go home to the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: I prepare to go home now yearly as possible. If I have time or if I have some money to pay for my ticket, I have to go home yearly just to visit any difference or any progress made to be seen with my eyes. Like, the one before when I never went to the Philippines for 10 years, it’s very different now that there are so many… what do you call this one? The areas have too many people now. Place are now overcrowded, more traffic. Even though the road is widened and I don’t know what’s the reason on how they solve the traffic. There are many peddlers on the street. You could imagine traveling for 10 miles away. You can spend 2 hours. That’s how worse is the traffic in the Philippines.


GUTIERREZ, K: Do you have any regrets leaving the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: I don’t have any regrets living in the Philippines, because I was born there.

GUTIERREZ, K: No, leaving, leaving the Philippines.

GUTIERREZ, D: No, no, no. I never regret.

GUTIERREZ, K: Tell me more about Ilocos Sur.

GUTIERREZ, D: Ilocos Sur now is good. There are more roads that were built. Many business establishments were there already. The one department store is already there. Going to Ilocos Sur is more comfortable, because there are more roads built coming from Manila, from the other provinces, like Baguio and Zambales. There are many alternative routes.

GUTIERREZ, K: How is it different from when you were growing up?

GUTIERREZ, D: The only difference is that there was only one road they were using when going there. There’s the national road, the Manila road, but the McArthur highway. They call it the McArthur highway.

GUTIERREZ, K: McArthur, as in General McArthur?

GUTIERREZ, D: Yea, I think that road was named after General McArthur.

GUTIERREZ, K: What did you learn about in school, in terms of the Philippines?

GUTIERREZ, D: Academic or what?


GUTIERREZ, D: I think there’s no difference in learning school here and there in the Philippines, because the adoption is also the same as an American textbook. So, what you learn here is almost the same in the Philippines. The only thing is the way the teacher teaches his class in the Philippines, the way he teaches, the way he wants his class to learn.


GUTIERREZ, K: So, it’s about the same material?

GUTIERREZ, D: Yea, the same material. They are the same books. The teaching method is also in English, but the only difference here is purely English. Unlike there, sometimes they are using the Filipino dialect and English if the class do not understand [the dialect]. That’s the only difference I think. But also, Filipino subject in the Philippines. They also have World History subject and Filipino History, of course. They’re also teaching how to do Home Economics. They also teaching the [inaudible] work, like how to make the tables, how to repair the vehicles. The home jobs.

GUTIERREZ, K: What do you like about America?

GUTIERREZ, D: Number one reason that I like to stay here in America is that it’s very peaceful although there are some crimes. But the police enforcer can resolve it right away. The judicial right and judicial cases are solved right away unlike in the Philippines. Some of the crime cases were not solved until now even though it’s been 10 years above or below. Number two reason is the climate. The climate here. You are experiencing 4 seasons: the autumn, summer, spring, and fall [winter]. On the negative side, the house rental or apartment rental is too expensive as compared to the Philippines. You could imagine if you are the only one working on minimum wage, you can’t live here in America. All your earnings, being the basic earner, only goes to the owner of the house or owner of the apartment. The members of your family or maybe even around 4 people in the family or household would be working in order to live.


GUTIERREZ, K: Were you a part of any labor organizing work?

GUTIERREZ, D: No, I never did that. Even in the labor union, I never became a member.

GUTIERREZ, K: Why not?

GUTIERREZ, D: Because my previous job, they won’t be covered. Under the administration, you are not allowed to be a member of any union clubs.

GUTIERREZ, K: Do you know anything about Filipino labor organizers from back in the day?

GUTIERREZ, D: I know the Trade Union of the Philippines, TUP, and the FFW, Federation of Free Workers, that I know in the Philippines.

GUTIERREZ, K: But you weren’t a part of any of those?

GUTIERREZ, D: No, I haven’t been part of those, because the policy in the Philippines is that if you are under administration, you won’t be able to become a member for any of the labor unions.

GUTIERREZ, K: Is there anything else you would want to share or add about your experiences as a Filipino immigrant coming to America or anything like that?

GUTIERREZ, D: I think the only experience I’d want to add is that I have heard, many instances that Filipinos with other Filipinos are not helping each other. Filipinos want to promote himself as being a worker, but Filipinos should help other Filipinos. So, right now, if there are some Filipinos who want to come into America, they should plan that they have the right home to stay in America, they have the right job to pay for their obligations.


GUTIERREZ, D: I think they have more relatives living here in America. Just in case, if they need help, some of their relatives can help him. I think that’s the only thing I’ve never experienced here. Because we don’t have any relatives living here in America. It’s only us, who started and wanted to acquire those American Dreams.

GUTIERREZ, K: That’s it. That’s all. Thank you for letting me interview you and if there’s anything else, just let me know.

[End Audio File]
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral history interview with Dante Gutierrez, interviewed by Kyrene Giezel Gutierrez,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed June 14, 2024, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/705.