Oral history interview with Noemi Botor, interviewed by Samuel Hewitt


Oral history interview with Noemi Botor, interviewed by Samuel Hewitt


Oral history interview with Noemi Botor, interviewed by Samuel Hewitt




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




Samuel Hewitt


Noemi Botor


[Session 1, May 24, 2019]

[Begin Audio File]

HEWITT: Okay are you ready? [laughs]


HEWITT: Alright my name is Sam Hewitt and today is May 24th. It is currently 7:15pm and I am interviewing:

BOTOR: Noemi Botor.

HEWITT: Alright. So, I have a couple questions that - not a couple, a good amount, I was hoping you could answer for me. First question: Where and when were you born?

BOTOR: I was born in Baguio City, Philippines. And when?


BOTOR: March 1st, 1997.

HEWITT: Where were your parents born?

BOTOR: My parents were also born in Baguio City, Philippines. Yeah.

HEWITT: What jobs did your parents have in the Philippines?

BOTOR: Before I was born, for a while my parents were managing a floral shop. But they decided to move out of the Philippines to find better pay as their main jobs as nurses because they weren’t paid very well in the Philippines.

HEWITT: Okay what jobs did your grandparents do?

BOTOR: My grandma was just like an office worker and then my grandpa - on my dad’s side - and my grandpa was, he was in the, oh yeah, he was in the navy.

HEWITT: How many siblings do you have?

BOTOR: I’m an only child [laughs]

HEWITT: That’s rare for Filipinos. [laughs] Do you have a large extensive family?
BOTOR: Yeah. Actually, even my parents’ families are kind of small. Cause my mom had two other siblings and then my dad has one other sibling but their parents, they had families of like ten to twelve siblings.

HEWITT: Did any of your extensive family move to America before you did?

BOTOR: Some of them, but not really the ones who we’re very close to so I’m not really sure where they're at or what they're doing.

HEWITT: What was your academic experience in the Philippines?

BOTOR: I remember for preschool, it was very - it was a very small class and it was very hands on. And then when I moved to a different school, it was kind of more of what you see here with several classrooms and different teachers and things like that?

HEWITT: Was the different school in the same city?

BOTOR: Yeah it was in the same city. But I think one was private and one was public. So the private one it was really only our class that they had to manage.

HEWITT: Why did your family decide to move out of the Philippines?

BOTOR: Like I said, my parents wanted better pay as nurses cause they don’t pay very well in the Philippines. But also, just like in general trying to look for a better life. So first we moved to England then we moved here.

HEWITT: When did you move to the US?

BOTOR: When I was seven or eight. That’s when I moved.

HEWITT: What year?

BOTOR: Oh god what year is that?

HEWITT: I don’t know [laughs]

BOTOR: I’m twenty-two [laughs]

HEWITT: Alright well some year. Okay did you move anywhere else before settling in the US, other than England?

BOTOR: No, it was just - we left the Philippines, well actually at first my parents left to England ahead of me and it was just my grandparents taking care of me for about two years. And then when they felt I was old enough, then they brought me over to England. But then after that we moved to California.

HEWITT: Okay what were your thoughts about America before you arrived?

BOTOR: I don’t know, I feel like since I was really young, I didn't really have any really big expectations. But I feel like the usual stuff I was thinking about was there. Like “oh I can eat really good burgers” [laughs]

HEWITT: Really good American food? [laughs]


BOTOR: But I didn't really have any expectations on school would be like or making friends would be like. So, nothing really big then.

HEWITT: Did your thoughts change after you arrived?

BOTOR: Yeah, a little bit. I noticed that, for example, a lot of kids would be interested in - especially the first month that I was in America because I still had an accent from England, so a lot of kids were intrigued by me. So, I kind of felt like an attraction to some people. There like “Oh my god look at this Asian girl, she has an English accent. Blah blah blah that’s so cool!” And they would ask me questions like “Oh why do you eat that and why do you do this and that?” I remember being asked those things.

HEWITT: When you say, “eat that,” what do you mean by “that”? Like traditional Filipino food?

BOTOR: Yeah. Like my mom would pack me lunches and I've heard other people’s stories before where they were ashamed to bring it. But I haven't experienced a bad one, people were just wondering what I was eating, and it was never a bad thing to me so I wouldn't stop eating it. I would continue to bring food from home that my mom or my dad made.

HEWITT: That's good. What was different about living in America as opposed to living in the Philippines?

BOTOR: I feel like - I don't know, when I was in the Philippines, I felt more free just because I could go out anywhere with my friends even at such a young age and it would be fine. But when I first moved here, I lived in - I didn't live here in Brentwood. I first lived in Millbrae and it was kind of more like a city. So, I didn't really get to go out and play as much because we lived in an apartment and it was in a city area. So, there wasn't really - I couldn't really go out into the street to play with my friends really because it would be a highway or something.

HEWITT: Yeah like a busy intersection.

BOTOR: Mhmm.

HEWITT: What was different about education in America as opposed to the Philippines? If you can remember?

BOTOR: [clicks tongue] I guess there was less punishments in America. In the Philippines, they would be really strict. I remember that before going into the classroom, they would check how clean out hands were, and we would get in trouble if they were dirty because they were really look for hygiene and stuff. I remember even transitioning from England to America, it was kind of different because I remember my teach asked me how to spell the word color. And in England they have the u in it, but they don’t here. And so, when I was trying to spell it out with the u, the other kids were like “no that's not how you spell it” and my teach had to be like “oh no that how they spell it in England.” So, there was stuff like that [laughs]

HEWITT: Where did you first live in the US? You said you lived in Millbrae?

BOTOR: Yeah, I first moved to Millbrae. And then I think in the fourth grade that's when I moved to Brentwood.

HEWITT: Did you notice anything different between first generation immigrants and the Filipino American community?

BOTOR: I feel like for Filipinos there’s - I feel like there's a lot of insecurities because of all the colonial baggage that we face. I feel like a lot of Filipinos have a lot of trouble identifying themselves because it’s like we’re part of that Asian American model minority. But there are some of us who aren't like that and are into different things. So I just find a lot of Filipinos having trouble identifying with themselves and who they really are. Because there's a lot of outside influences that pressure them to be a certain way.

HEWITT: Do you feel that’s true for the FilAm community at UC Davis?

BOTOR: Yeah definitely [laughs]

HEWITT: Alright well I think that’s about it.

BOTOR: [whispers] Is it long enough?

HEWITT: [laughs] Do you have any more remarks?


BOTOR: I don't know. I hope - obviously with each community, especially one that's like Filipino Americans and things like that, they'll always have their flaws, but I hope that they continue to grow in the rights ways in rather than the wrongs ones. That’s all I have to say about that.


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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 Noemi Botor, interviewed by Samuel Hewitt,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed February 27, 2021, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/707.