Oral history interview with Angelika Villapando


Oral history interview with Angelika Villapando


Oral history interview with Angelika Villapando, interviewed by Tyler Ho




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




Tyler Ho


Angelika Villapando


Ho: Hi everyone it's June 1, 2019 and its currently 12:07AM . This is Tyler Ho, interviewing
for the Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project Today, I am interviewing
Villapando: Angelika Villapando
Ho: Nice to meet you. So we like to start off our questions by trying to get to know you, so I was
wondering where and when were you born.
Villapando: Okay, I was born in August 29, 1998 in Mataas Na Kahoy, Batangas, Philippines.
Ho: Mhm, okay, it's good to hear that. I was also wondering where were your parents born.
Villapando: My mom was born in Quezon City, I have an accent, okay.
Ho: Okay.
Villapando: Like not a Tagalog accent, like an American accent. Um, yeah, she was born in
Quezon City, ugh I hate when I say that. Um and I don’t know where my dad is from.
Ho: mkay, mkay, so you mentioned you had an American accent, where do you think like that
came from, or it first started.
Villapando: Um I know I had um… I know I had a Filipino accent when I first came here and it's
not like that I try to lose that accent, I just- I got teased for it, so like I didn’t talk for a while so I
guess I am trying to- I wasn’t trying to lose it but like it's just harder now after years of speaking
English cause my parent- my mom speaks English to me
Ho: Mhm
Villapando: And so I don’t really and my grandma is the only one who would speak to me in
Tagalog and I would speak to her in Tagalog and now that she's like- like we’re not- she can’t
speak in- like I don’t have anyone to practice Tagalog with, so now I have an American accent.
Ho: Mhm, mhm, okay. So how long were you in the Philippines before you immigrated to the
Villapando: I was seven when we moved.
Ho: Mhm
Villapando: Should I say why?
Ho: Um if you feel comfortable for it.
Villapando: Yeah we moved because- I was going to joke but I was- I’m just kidding. We moved
because um most of my family was already moved up here. Like my grandma and all of my
mom’s other siblings like theres eight of them, five of them already moved up here. So she’s the
only one left. So she moved up here cause she’s also the caretaker for my grandpa
Ho: Mhm
Villapando: And so she was doing that all by herself and she was raising her kid, you know thats
alot for a single mom, so we moved up here. And that was the plan all along.
Ho: M’kay, so um did you, you were- said- you moved here around seven, correct?
Villapando: Mhm
Ho: Um so in your first few years in the Philippines, were you taught Tagalog first, English first?
Villapando: Oh yes that's a good question, because so the Philippines, I told this in another
interview- um that the Phillipines stop trying to be a super power at one point, I don’t remember
what point in history that was, probably after the second colonization. I don’t know, but um they
stopped being- trying to be a superpower and instead their goal is to export like their citizens to
other nations and have their money sent back to the Philippines, that way it can kick up their
economy. So basically, when you go to school, you are taught in Tagalog but you’re not allowed
to speak in Tagalog. Like you have to- um I remember in elementary school, like if you were
caught speaking Tagalog you have to wear a necklace that has a like a plaque that says ‘I don’t
know how to speak English’ and if you do speak English and you don’t get caught, you get like a
little star that says ‘I can speak English’ and there's a smiley face on it.
Ho: Wow, haha.
Villapando: Yeah, that's in all schools too, like I moved- I don’t if I moved from an island to
another island, but I moved very far away and we- that, that was still applied.
Ho: Oh hm, how did you uh feel about like that whole concept like oh, um you would have to
wear like this plaque or you wear a star just based on like how you spoke.
Villapando: Um, I thought that was- I mean I was just a kid, I was like I just want the star, you
know. So it didn’t like- but I felt bad, I felt like that was kinda shameful to a kid, that was kind of
sad. But I mean- like... their more rough in like asian countries, you know. Even in that aspect
and like in an educational aspect like I don’t mean to be rude but like when I got here, I got here
when I was in second grade right? And I kinda had to wait like a year for like for them to catch
up. Like we were already ahead like, by like the middle of like third grade I was like okay, now I
am learning new things, you know. Cause in like the Philippines like I feel like it goes like way
faster, you know. Like they really get you started
Ho: So-
Villapando: and here, it’s like aw.
Ho: Which like subjects in school did you feel like oh this is everything I already bust off-
Villapando: Math.
Ho: Math?
Villapando: Mhm, actually yeah it just math but still, that's still like a good thing to be ahead
Ho: Was there any struggles you faced in school when you moved here?
Villapando: When I moved here? … Honestly, I don’t know if I can remember or if I just don’t
have- No I did, I did. Like I had like, the- I was very nonchalant so I didn’t really care that I didn’t
have any friends, like it didn’t hit me very hard. Probably did, I’m just not remembering, but- I
think it was just not understanding anybody. Like I- I feel like I’m more- I had an advantage
cause I had people speak to me in English. Their English was broken too, like there was like no
English speaking person to like correct us so we were all just speaking broken English in the
Philippines. Um, but it was not understanding like the teachers or like even if they spoke really
basically like theres like intentions and nuances in the way their speaking so even like or
connotations, like I couldn't understand like what someone was saying sometimes so I would
like nod to my homework cause I didn't know there was homework. I just didn’t get it, like it took
me a long time to be like a per- like a student. Like it was a long adjustment period, but I feel
like- I said this in another interview too I was was blessed in the sense that where I moved to
was a good diverse place like- I didn’t see so much white people until I moved to Davis, you
know. And like everyone was very welcoming and like my- I was introduced in all my classes- by
all I mean my main class and my PE class like to my- the entire- my entire grade. I think that's
nice, and it was like, I never felt like I was like isolated by anybody because my race or because
I came from somewhere else.
Ho: Hm, that's interesting. So you mentioned, um um when you moved to Davis there was quite
of a big culture shock, what was that like?
Villapando: I feel like.. Okay, I feel like where I lived, the Asian people lived like white people.
Does- is that- does- you know what I mean by living like white person right? Like it's different.
Oh, okay, oh I have something else to say, I didn’t even like understand words like ‘woke’ and
like- I was always knew I was a liberal person but here I understand why those beliefs are valid
in my head, do you know what I am saying?
Ho: Mhm
Villapando: So, wait where was I going.. White people.. Culture shock?
Ho: Culture shock in Davis.
Villapando: Oh yeah, and I feel like, I feel like I didn’t even like understand like police brutality
and like racism like that- I never, I probably have, I don’t know, systematically probably, but, but
like direct racism, I never experienced that cause I lived in such a diverse area. And then
coming here is when I started to understand like- like ra- like stuff like that, like systematic
racism exists even if you never experienced it, you're experiencing it somewhere else, like I had
to ask Angela if you can be racist to white people. It's a whole different thing.
Ho: Um for our listeners out there, Angela is um Angelika’s housemate.
Villapando: Oh yeah
Ho: Um so you mentioned like you didn’t understand all these systematic racism topics, and um
concepts, um do you feel- uh- what about when you were in the Philippines, do you felt like
there was some type of racism.
Villapando: Oh yeah, Filipinos are super racist.
Ho: What was your experience like with that.
Villa pando: Oh like in the Philippines? What no no no, okay- I think I don’t know if this is racismokay
what I mean by Filipinos are super racist is Filipinos are super racist to every other race
but white people. And I feel like that, that is an effect of- I don’t know, whats it called colonialism
and shit, that's for sure. [gasp] I said a bad word... okay, and then um Filipinos… I don’t know if
this is racism but its like I always got shi.. I always got shit.. Can I say that? I always got shit for
being dark, like I always been dark and then um like my grandma and my mom would be like
‘Stop going out in the dark, you’re going to get dark’ they’re both light skin and I always thought
there as - even when I came here, it's not even from kids from like school or like other people or
like white people, I know that's a whole other thing, but it's always from my family, they always
teased me for being so dark, like I thought it was problem, and I didn’t know I didn’t even think it
was problem, I thought it was just confusing like what's wrong with being dark. But um, I feel like
that racism. Like on TV, like Filipinos only show like skin people, I feel like that's racism right? In
the Philippines, that's here too though, it's in a lot of culture.
Ho: Interesting, okay so one last thing I like to um hear more about is um when you immigrated
here after seven years in the Philippines, what were a couple of the hardest things you
struggled with?
Villapando: mmm, hardest thing I struggled with… Its.. I feel like, I felt.. Oh now it's coming back
to me. I did not, not care that I didn’t have friends. But I was shy, it was combination of being
shy and not being able to communicate with my peers so that feels very like isolating, especially
for a little kid, That sucks. And then um, it was… I think that was really it. Other stuff was like
personal family stuff, but I don’t think it attributed to being an immigrant cause they’re filipino
Ho: so you said you didn’t really care about having friends cause you couldn't communicate with
Villapando: No I got that wrong, I was just not remembering that correctly, I did feel bad I didn’t
have friends, but I Didn't know what I could do, I mean could still play but they need to think I'm
funny or something
Ho: Was there like this specific memory where you feel like you couldn’t communicate with them
and you felt bad.
Villapando: Oh I remember, this is going to seem like anything but this is stuck in my head. Like
in, it was the second grade school performance, and Chris Moon, ugh Chris Moon was so mean
to me and I went um my.. My sweater is so scratchy and he was like ‘Scratchy isn’t a word, its
itchy’ but I couldn't… wait that's not even related to what you ask about being able to
communicate to my… But that was like a thing, like… I- right now it seems like scratchy and
itchy are the same thing to me right? They are! But I didn’t know better and that kind of thing got
to me, like I- it was just- it felt like I was scared to say the wrong thing and I knew I- I knew a lot,
I Knew most of the time I would say the wrong thing. On my- in my second grade art project, you
could see it was very grammatically incorrect, but I was also seven who was grammatically
correct at seven years old.
Ho: so when did you realized that this was actually normal for you and that like you- and there
wasn’t anything wrong with your word choice were
Villapando: Um probably like, fifth grade, I don’t know, when I learn the word scratchy. I just feel
like I didn't ever.. Did I think something was wrong.. I don’t think I ever… I think I just gained
confidence over the years, I don't think I ever thought I was wrong, but I felt confidence in myself
over the years, you know what I am saying. And I learned English better but I lost tagalog a little
Ho: What were some ways you gained your confidence?
Villapando: I started doing well in school and I feel like that's a power move you know. Like she
ain’t even from this country and she's getting good grades, I think that's, that's the dream! There
it is, there you go thats some American shit.
Ho: Alright, so I just liek to close this interview by just saying thank you for your time for
everything, it was a honor being able to interview you. We got a lot, we really appreciate you
being able to share your story because it takes a lot of courage to come out here and share
your story out here and reveal your struggles… Um is there any closing remark you want the
listeners to hear.
Villapando: Thank you for listening and if you are an immigrant you are an amazing person and
it seems hard now but it will get better.
Ho: So hello everyone again, this is Tyler Ho interviewing for the Filipino immigrant um oral
history project, um I here with Angelika again. We wanted to add a couple more things to this
interview. So first question was that um what was different about living in America as opposed
to living in the Philippines
Villapando: Living in America, I remember my first night here, we came back from the airport, we
ate dinner and then my aunt do you want ice cream and I was like yeah and she went what
flavor and i was like wait you not only have ice cream here but there's multiple flavors
-interview paused due to an incoming call for Angelika-
Ho: Okay so we’re back, earlier we were talking about um your exper- you thoughts about
america before you moved here, oh no sorry actually what was different about living in America
as opposed to living in the Philippines, and you mentioned getting ice cream with your aunt.
Villapando: yes, for dessert she was like do you want ice cream and I was like yes and she was
like what flavor and I was like not only do you have ice cream but you have different flavors thatand
then their freezer came out from the bottom of the fridge and water came out of the fridge.
That blew my seven year old brain and their garage door opened, it was just like- it was legit a
whole new world and this was like middle class living like this isn’t even the top yet, they're not
even millionaires and their garage door opens on its own and they have a freakin water machine
coming out of their fridge they have multiple ice cream flavors it was just ... it was an
experience. It was- And in the Philippines, you showered with a bucket in a tub with a little thing.
Like that's how you showered, here the shower comes out of a magical faucet, that just
something rich people had in the philippines, you had a tv you know. That just something you
had, i lived in a apartment, i swear half this size [referring to her apartment in Davis] and my
mom was like working at the same like amount- working the same amount she was here you
know, it just a higher standard of living no matter how you don’t want to admit that you know?
Ho: alright yeah, that sounds good, sounds good. Earlier I was uh, wanted to ask you, what
were your thoughts about america before when you moved and did they changed after you were
here for a couple of years?
Villapando: yes, so I thought honestly, the way my family was moving here it seem like we were
running away from something in the Philippines or something or like this place was more
amazing then was I super understand why we moved but prior to moving here, I use to think like
America. Oh I said this earlier, America is just like Disneyland, I honestly thought that. like . like
America was just california and AMerica was just disneyland, and I thought everyone was going
to be white, I didn’t know other races could exist here i thought everyone was just white... and i
thought everyone was just rich, yea that was it. Everyone was rich, everyone was white, and it
sounded like really perfect in my head, that how i imagined here but moving here we got issues
y'all and the people I thought were the knight in shining armor the white people they were the
source of the issue. [laughs] I did not know that. And i did not know we were the way were
because of that. I just learned a lot of things in america, lie I- I know america is like not good but
like I get why people move here- like I understand the concept of the american dream and I
think for my mom a lot of immigrant the american dream isn’t just moving here and getting crazy
rich it's just moving here to have a higher standard of living and not having to kill yourself over it.
I mean you still do but its very different.
Ho: Mmm... so um thank you for your response. And so for the last question, I just wanted to
ask did you notice anything different between the first generation immigrant and the filipino
american community here.
Villapando: Yes! Okay so, I don’t want to seem arrogant but this is a real answer, I notice that I,
I’m- I don’t take things for granted as much as my cousins did. Like when I first moved here, II’m
still like this for every- I don’t feel like I can ask for anything you know. I’m very afraid my
cousins got whatever they wanted and I feel like thats me understanding I know what my mom
comes from cause I came from there too and I know where their parents come from cause I
came there too. Like its, we’re the same age but we have different context. They live in a world
where it's easy to get things. And I came from a world where I know moving here is a giant hit
on my mom you now. My mom can’t take this but this is for us in the future and that teaches you
to be more grateful and you don’t take things for granted.
Ho: when you mean your cousins, you mean your cousin who were
Villapando: Who were born and raised here
Ho: Uh, thank you!
Villapando: Yeah.

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Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
, , , , , , , ,
“Oral history interview with Angelika Villapando,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed August 14, 2022, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/709.