Oral History Interview with Jaselle Abuda


Oral History Interview with Jaselle Abuda


Oral history interview with Jaselle Abuda, interviewed by Jenny Khoeut




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




Jenny Khoeut


Jaselle Abuda


[Session 1, June 6, 2019] [Begin Audio File] KHOEUT: Alright, it is June 6, 2019 and it is 9:03 PM. This is Jenny Khoeut interviewing for ASA 150 Filipinx American Experience class and today I am interviewing ABUDA: Jaselle Abuda. they/them/theirs KHOEUT: Alright, and let us begin. So I’m going to ask you a few questions, just about your life history, experience, and journey here to America. So what is your name? ABUDA: My name is Jaselle Abuda. KHOEUT: And where and when were you born? ABUDA: I was born on July 2, 1996. KHOEUT: And where were your parents born? ABUDA: Same town. KHOEUT: Um, do you know what jobs your parents did when they lived in the Philippines? ABUDA: In the Philippines, no. KHOEUT: And what about what they do now? ABUDA: What they do now is that because my dad has disabilities, he doesn’t work anymore but my mom works as a CVS assistant in the hospital. KHOEUT: Okay, thank you. What about your grandparents? Do you know what they did and what they are doing now? [2] ABUDA: Yeah, I’m not sure if my parents did this back in the Philippines, but my grandparents were families of farmers, small owned lands in the provinces, we, I think we grew rice, small plants and then to either sustain ourselves or sell it to the community market. KHOEUT: Okay, cool. I wanna ask you a little more about your family. So do you come from a big family? ABUDA: Yeah. KHOEUT: Yeah? How many siblings do you have? ABUDA: I have a total of five siblings, including myself KHOEUT: Okay ABUDA: I mean 4. KHOEUT: 4 siblings? ABUDA: One unfortunately died. KHOEUT: Sorry to hear that. Um, did any of your family members or relatives move to America before you? ABUDA: So a lot of my dad side moved to america moved to america way before any of us. I believe the first one that moved here is my aunt. She’s the second oldest or the oldest out of my dad side Khoeut: Okay, do you know how that journey was like for them? ABUDA: I know snippets of it, because it’s kinda hard because she has a mental disability so conversations with her is kind of hard, but from my knowledge it was all because she married a person from the military. KHOEUT: What age did you migrate to the US? ABUDA: i migrated around 5 or 6 years old [3] KHOEUT: Do you have any academic experience when you lived in the Philippines? ABUDA: I did preschool and a little bit of kindergarten KHOEUT: Can you tell me why your family decided to move to america or move out of the Philippines? [ 4:38] ABUDA: One of the reasons my parents and my family moved to the US because they really saw how bad it was especially during Marshall Law. My dad explained that it was really hard it was a very difficult time not only for him but everyone else in the family, so what they wanted was a better life not only for us but for future generations KHOEUT: Thanks did you move anywhere before settling in the US or did your family move anywhere? ABUDA: They did here and there. I think mainly from Seattle to LA to Sacramento: KHOEUT: And your family is still in Sacramento? ABUDA: Yeah, well most of them at least KHOEUT: Okay, do you have any thoughts abouts America before you moved here? Did you family have any thoughts? ABUDA: I thought America was its own planet because I always thought each country was in each own. [laughs] I don’t know how to describe it because the plane when you were a young kid it’s kind of a big jump from the provinces to another country so I always thought it was something foreign something new. I didn’t know what I was going to what I was putting myself in. KHOEUT: What about your parents? What did they think? ABUDA: They thought that the US was a great opportunity to make a family and build a family because the education here is free, the K through 12 at least is free. They saw the opportunity for us to receive education the way that they weren’t able to in the Philippines. [4] KHOEUT: Okay, moving on. Did you have any impressions about the culture or politics of america before moving? ABUDA: I did not. In what way? KHOEUT: Like when you were younger? ABUDA: No. KHOEUT: No? Do you know if your parents had any impression about the culture? ABUDA: I think they know about the racism and bias in the workplace, especially for my dad and yeah what was the question? KHOEUT: The impressions about the culture or politics before moving to America? ABUDA: I think a lot of them thought was better like I guess the way of living. A lot of them were I guess full assimilation. They wanted us to be fully assimilated into American culture, because they didn’t want us to struggle in America. KHOEUT: After settling and living in America, did those impressions change or alter at all? ABUDA: For my parents? KHOEUT: For your parents and for you? ABUDA: Definitely yeah. I think they realized that although it’s kind of better compared to the Philippines, the same problem such as poverty and working harder than you should is the same here then there. So like all their struggles didn’t leave the Philippines. It was the same here in the US. KHOEUT: So what was different about living in America as opposed to living in the Philippines? [9:49] [5] ABUDA: So something that was different was especially the environment especially in the Philippines or in my region, it was predominantly trees, fruits that you could pick out of the trees near my house. Just being able.there‘s a different connection to nature in the philippines compared to here where it’s predominantly buildings, building structures. KHOEUT: What do you have a preference living in? Would you have rathered stayed in the Philippines or continue to living here? ABUDA: As a young person or now? KHOEUT: Now. ABUDA: Now I think I would’ve lived in the ph because it’s simpler there and also it’s just different there. And also, but I know there’s things that I can’t run away from and the situation in the ph especially for my family in the Philippines, we’re not the migrants that migrated to the Us who were educated and well-off and have financially stable. I think that will always be a dream not only for me but for all of us here and like yeah I would love to live in the Philippines, but I don’t think it’s sustainable considering the state of the Philippines and like I don’t know you have to work harder than you should to survive. KHOEUT: So earlier you mentioned you went to school in the Philippines. Did you go back to school here in America? ABUDA: So my situation is I came to the US at 6 years old and then I stayed here for 3 more years. Did and finished my kindergarten years here and then went back to the Philippines at 9 years old and stayed there for 3 more years so I was there for 1st grade and 2nd grade and then after that 4th grade, I started 4th grade in the US, so it’s like a back and forth situation. Sorry I didn’t give you that context. KHOEUT: No worries about it. Can you describe how that transition was like and if you can what was different about the education. ABUDA: The education in the Philippines is by period, from what I can remember. Its by period where the 1st period was like math or science and then there’s so the curriculum that I was exposed to there was always math, science, social science, I guess that ties into history, and then Tagalog as the language and then English as the language. That was kind of a little too much. I didn’t excel in Tagalog. I didn’t excel in English either, so I don’t know. [6] [15:00] The transition to the US is that although I had a fundamental understanding in English, I wasn’t fluent. So coming to the US around 4th grade to 6th grade, I was always taken out of the classroom to go to a different classroom because I was considered ELS, English learner student. We would always have separate worksheets that I would do for English, so have me be more fluent and meet the requirements to pass to the next grade. Yeah, okay. [laughs] KHOEUT: [laughs] Okay. What generation would you consider yourself? ABUDA 1.5 KHOEUT: 1.5? Okay. Do you notice anything different between 1st generation immigrants and Filipino Americans? ABUDA: I think I see a difference because in the first generation there’s certain ideals that they’ve been exposed to in the Philippines compared to in the US, so I guess there’s a hint of or a mixture of American culture, not to say there’s no influence of Ameican culture in the Philippines but there’s more here in the US [pause] KHOEUT: Okay. ABUDA: Oh wait, I want to add this in. A lot of what I noticed is that there’s always this push for authenticity within the Filipinx diaspora where the Filipinx migrants from the Philippines to the US feels more authentic than their FIlipin American counterparts and that’s something that troubles me because the notion of authenticity is kind of in a grey area and it doesn’t necessarily define a person or country, and I’ve been seeing that throughout my years in the US and the Philippines, and all around my community. KHOEUT: Okay, thank you for sharing that. To end this interview, can I ask what you believe is culturally authentic or what makes someone Filipinx? ABUDA: I think what I believe what makes someone Filipinx is not forgetting Filipinx American and Filipinx history. As much as there’s hurt and trauma in our history, in Filipinx history such as 330 years plus 4 years of Japasnese colonial and 48 years and beyond of US imperialism. [7] [20:00] I think that even in those histories, they’re important because it not only shaped the Filipinx identity because it also shows our resistance as a Filipinx diaspora and nothing defines a person authentically but what I think defines a person’s authentic self is looking back on their own history. Not only their families histories, but their ancestral histories and not forgetting where they came from and how they came to be and how they came to exist. KHOEUT: Okay, thank you so much for taking your time for this interview. ABUDA: [laughs]

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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 Jaselle Abuda,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed October 16, 2021, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/712.