Transcription of Immigrant Interview of Andrea Alcantra

Title

Transcription of Immigrant Interview of Andrea Alcantra

Description

Oral history interview with Andrea Alcantra, interviewed by Matthew Lawrence

Date

6/20/2019

Rights

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

Format

Audio Recording and Transcript

Identifier

ucdw_wa014_s001_0025

Interviewer

Matthew Lawrence

Interviewee

Andrea Alcantra

Transcription

[Andrea Alcantra is a 1st year civil engineering major, I know her through PASE as she is part of the incoming board with me. I’m interviewing her for the ASA 150 Final project spring quarter 2019]
Matthew:
The first question is when and where were you born?

Andrea:
I was born in Manila Philippines on November 12, 2000.

Where my mom was born in Balayan Batangas and my dad and I have no idea i have no information on him.
Do you want me to talk about my dad or my biological dad or like?

Matthew: whoever you feel more connected to

Andrea: Ok um, Well then my dad is born in Manila Philippines

Matthew: did your mom and dad meet in Manila?

Andrea: yeah that's where my mom grew up. She was born in the province then came to Manila

Matthew: and then the next question is what jobs did your parents do growing up?

Andrea: growing up[pause], my mom had a restaurant that lasted for just like the most recent thing I remember she had a restaurant down the street from my house and that lasted for like 8 years. And she was an english teacher online and that lasted for another 6 years and then no, yeah we came here.

Matthew:
Alright, do you know your grandparents on either side?

Andrea:
I know my grandma from my mom’s side.

Matthew:
And then, Do you know what your grandma did or where she was from?

Andrea:
My grandma is also from Balayan Batangas and she also grew up in Manila, that’s usually how it works

Matthew:
Yeah I kind of figured

Andrea:
Yeah that’s kind of how it works, you were like raised in the city and my grandma did everything. She sold everything that she could sell. She graduated college with journalism, and so she was writing a little bit but that doesn’t really make money. She was also a realtor and that’s really all I know from like what she did before she came to the US. and then when she came to the US she worked for [inaudible Bishop?] and worked her way up and became a manager and then she retired

Matthew:
Do you have siblings? Wait you have more than one right?

Andrea:
Yeah I have 9 siblings, or there’s nine of us yeah from my mom’s side.

Matthew: And then do all of them live here?

Andrea
Uh so all of us live here in the US except the eldest Which because when we were trying, immigrating she was like overage.

Matthew:
And then did anyone move to America before in terms of your siblings, or obviously your mom, did your mom come over first?

Andrea:
No so my great grandma came here, then immigrated my grandma and her kids. Then my mom was overage so she had to wait 15[?] years and then immigrated all of us like my grandma did it
So we all came here at the same time

Matthew:
Ok. and then what age did you move over from the Philippines?

Andrea:
I was 8.

Matthew:
And so yeah do you remember anything from school in the philippines? What was that like.

Andrea:
I was there until I was in third grade. I was put into a school a really big private school, and all the kids were rich and it was a really competitive school. Out of all my siblings I was the youngest so I was the only one they could afford to put in there. And then it was like a bunch of spoiled rich kids And I wasn’t that because I had so many siblings and had very little money and whatever money we had was to put me in school. And then it was a lot of comparisons between what they had and what I didn’t have. And but yeah school was a lot harder in the Philippines they’re just less sympathetic with your needs in education and how people are in different levels. They expect you to just be smart and if not you just fail [insert expletive from Matthew]

Matthew:
So have you had any professional experience?

Andrea:
No but here I don’t know what that means.

Matthew:
Did you move anywhere else before coming to the US?

Andrea:
No I’ve only lived in two countries, and like 3 homes

Matthew:
What were your thoughts about the US before moving here?

Andrea:
I thought the US was a lot of chocolates, and I thought the whole US was chocolates and it was really cold everywhere and that there was snow everywhere all year long. And then when I talked to my cousins on facebook they come from the philippines to here and they were like your feet don’t get dirty here and everywhere’s carpet so your feet don’t get dirty.

Matthew:
And so what was it like finding out the US wasn’t full of chocolate?

Andrea:
Well when I came here it was like, I didn’t know I was going to stay here forever cause it didn’t like register to me till like a few months of being here and then like i don’t know, I didn’t love it because it wasn’t my home and I thought we were going to go home. And like I just started hating little things about the US and then the chocolate was [insert Matthew saying: so the chocolate was gone] like way gone I didn’t even think about it anymore. And then I realized even here we weren’t rich and there were a lot of trips to the dollar store with my grandma but like as a kid to me you know it was just a store you went to. It wasn’t until school like influenced my thoughts on what like poor people had or rich people had.

Matthew:
What was the switch like coming from private schools in the philippines to US schools? Did you go to private school, public school, catholic school?

Andrea:
I went to public school and I went with my cousins so it kind of helped. She was around for like recess and stuff. It was a lot more diverse people, and in the Philippines I went to school with like a lot of muslims and it was weird not to [see] people with Hijabs and stuff.and I went to school with a lot of Koreans too so yeah and it was weird not seeing that. And then it was like it was a lot of people that look different but was all American. As for school was I wasn’t really studying for tests like I did in the Philippines where I had like pages and pages of study guides and practice exams in the third grade [laughs] and then here it was like all the test scores didn’t matter and it would be hard to fail a grade.

Matthew:
That’s a big change. then what school did you go to in the US, what city are you from?

Andrea:
Um I’m from richmond. But for my first year of school I lived in Pinole which is also in east bay cause that’s where my cousins went to school.

Matthew:
And then in school did you stay with your cousins, did you stay at your cousins school?

Andrea:
I’d stay with my cousins During the week and then on the weekends my Uncle would bring me back home.

Matthew:
Ok

Andrea:
That was also because my house was really crowded, [inaudible]

Matthew:
And then how much older is your oldest sibling?

Andrea:
My oldest sibling is like 30,yeah, but then like they’re all like a year a part and me and my sister is like 3 years apart.

Matthew:
And then when your family first moved here did you stay with extended family like cousins and uncles?

Andrea:
My grandma actually bought a house for us before we moved here and that was in Richmond so then yeah and then a month after living there she had us pay for everything so my siblings got jobs like 2 weeks after moving here. But yeah it was with my grandma.

Matthew:
Let’s see, [commentary on questions not being applicable] and then what were your thoughts on America moving here? You mentioned a lot of transitions any thoughts on that?

Andrea:
Well in terms of family we didn’t really have extended family in the philippines anymore because they all came here so it was getting to know family and cousins who barely go back to the Philippines and there was a lot of family parties and trying to have everyone connect. And there was a lot of like I remember my mom tried to keep me out of it but there was a lot of like financial problems you know? Because my grandma didn’t really give us much room to make money and expecting payments and stuff. I don’t blame her but she’s already had done a lot for us. That brought me and my siblings together and that kind of helped us mature faster. I can’t really be a kid anymore because they’re too busy working. And like theres more serious things going on than me wanting to play or wanting nice things and stuff

Matthew:
I suppose the next question is when you were in high school or as you got older were you expected to work a job?

Andrea:
My mom always put that I was going to college no matter what, because on top of everything that was the priority that was why my family came here in the first place. So that even though none of my siblings went to higher education, I would go and I would graduate but I knew that we wouldn’t have money for me to go to college. And at 16 I started looking for jobs so junior year. I knew I had to start saving up money for college and anything else I wanted to do. The last thing in my family’s mind was to be giving me money for like needs I had with everyday stuff. And then seeing my siblings work it was kind of weird for me not to work and I always wanted to work because [my siblings were working] and so I wanted to work. It was never expected of me though

Matthew:
I know your mom expected you go to college, what brought you here to Davis instead of the East Bay or SF state or something?

Andrea:
It had a lot to do with family. I didn’t apply to schools in like Southern California or anywhere else other than Northern California just cause I wanted to stay close to my family ,as close as possible, even though I wouldn’t be going home very much like every weekend so if anything I could just go back. [inaudible/and/um] The thought of being like a flight away from my family I just didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t ready for it and I’m glad I stayed close to home.

Matthew:
Do you notice anything different between first generation immigrants and the FilAm community? Things like cultural differences, between people born here vs people coming here as a kid.

Andrea:
Yeah I do, like I’m not going to name any names but I here some rich kids talk and it’s just really different cause they never really experienced not having money even though they can speak on their parents’ behalf. If you’ve never experienced it first hand, you won’t really now how much you had compared to how much you would have had

Matthew:
Any cultural differences that you noticed?

Andrea:
Yeah actually, I noticed like back home with a group of friends back home there’s no judgement and everyone’s close. No matter who you hang out with it’s not like a conclusion that you’re into that person. Here it’s like oh you talk to one person it’s easy to assume you’re into that person. You know? [You can’t just be friends with someone without people starting to talk] In the Philippines it’s common they don’t really see the gender if you’re a group of friends you’re a group of friends anyone is going to be talking to anyone. And then there’s also like yeah sometimes I feel like people aren’t as genuine as people back home. There’s still like fakeness despite coming into the FilAm and expecting genuinity and yeah it’s still like a bunch of American kids.

Matthew:
Were you surprised by that coming into it because I know you spent a lot of time about half your time growing up here were you surprised that people weren’t as genuine

Andrea:
I expected people to be exactly like people from back home. Or at least resemble that like family trait or that family comes first and that we’re all family. It’s not like that we’re just friends.

Matthew:
Any other differences you noticed culturally with about food, relations, sports ?

Andrea:
A lot of people in the filam actually play volleyball and in the philippines everyone played volleyball and everybody knew how to play volleyball. It was funny to see how every Filipino played volleyball. And then there’s some weird sports that filipinos wouldn’t know. Like you play water polo? And then the thing where everybody likes boba, that’s a thing in the philippines too[Matthew: so the addiction goes across the ocean?].yeah Bingsoo too. And like yeah people in the Philippines are obsessed with falafels and korean food, and even here filipinos are known to go to Korean BBQ. [Interjections from Matthew about mutual friend Anthony going to korean BBQ the preceding day] yeah but Korean BBQ is so expensive!

Matthew:
Yeah I think that’s a NorCal thing because I used to go to a place back home that was $10 and I complained when it became $12.

Andrea:
Yeah I went to Socal it was so much cheaper

Oh I guess that was another thing. Famous people were like everywhere but that was just LA. I thought all the Landmarks were all in one place and I could go to like the Statue of Liberty from the Golden Gate but it’s like really big. I thought no states existed other than California and New York. [Matthew: So Texas that’s not real?] Yeah [laughs] I didn’t know there was so many different states

Matthew:
When you were going to high school and middle school did you interact with the Filipino community there? Or was Davis FilAm your first experience with Filipino Americans?

Andrea:
Yeah it was, there was just a lot of Latinos. I guess it’s just cause it was California. It was either white, black, latinos yeah.
You can ask me about my profession, I worked here!
I worked at target here and every summer I worked at a camp.

Matthew:
What was the camp like?

Andrea:
It was Camp Galileo, so it was for exploring science and stuff like that. It’s about advancing science and technology, stuff like that.

Matthew:
So getting more people into the engineering major?

Andrea:
Yeah like basically K-8th grade

Matthew:
What was it like coming to Davis and going to Engineering?
Andrea:
Well as a woman, there’s a lot of men with intentions. It’s really hard to get respect from people as engineers and as a student because yeah. I feel like people always got their intentions. Like I’ll help you in this class but they got intentions. Like my professors are really intimidating, as a colored person I always try to go for a colored professor or hispanic or at least women. That way I won’t end up with some random guy with a really bad accent.

Matthew:
And then the other question I have that I ask a lot of the filam, do you ever felt impostor syndrome?Like it’s all kind of an act or that you don’t belong?

Andrea:
Yeah I feel it, coming into Davis I knew because I talked to like so many people about it. How I get through things is you know fake it till you make it and it’s like I know I belong here and as long act like I belong here, I belong here. And no one can take that away from me because I’ve worked hard to be here. Impostor syndrome, I didn’t know that there was a word for it

Matthew:
Are you a first gen-[switched the phrasing in the moment] are you the first in your family to go to college? How was navigating things like college applications and filling out the FAFSA for Financial Aid

Andrea:
Yeah my mom never finished college, and she was really good at filling out forms like tax forms. My siblings also went to CC [community college] before I did. They never really graduated, my mom also went to CC for a couple semesters so she knew and was able to help me with that part. It was more she didn’t know how hard it was, she just, I couldn’t show her how hard high school was or how hard applications were or the essay questions. [Matthew: groans, oh the damn essay questions.Do you want to say anything about them? For context I spent nine months writing mine] [Laughs] no I don’t want to say anything about them I blocked them out. I’m never gonna look at these again, I don’t remember the ones I answered. It just goes to show how unimportant these [expletive] questions were.And then my mom was an english teacher but she wouldn’t look over them.

Matthew:
Did you have any language barriers coming over here with your mom or grandma?

Andrea:
No because my mom was an english teacher and I was taught to speak english and Tagalog at the same time.That’s another stigma in the philippines, if you don’t speak english you’re poor. So yeah my grandma was a journalist and wrote some books. She even has a published book, it’s a poem book. [Matthew: Do you want to put a plug in here?] Nah I don’t even remember the name. I didn’t really support it because when she was looking for pictures and stuff because she chose my third cousins. My grandma never really liked me until I got into Davis. Then she started representing me before she didn’t represent me because I was the dark kid. She would always representing my sister because she had the lighter skin. She’d always represent my third cousins because they had lighter skin.

Matthew:
Did you ever have to deal with that in the philippines or from you family here outside of your grandma?

Andrea:
Yeah um, when I first came here there was jokes about how I’d be surrounded by black kids and be in a group of black kids because I was dark. Like that was something my uncles always played around with. They always made jokes when we’d get together like “How is your black friend?” even though I didn’t really have black friends. Black people actually hated me, I was hated by black girls a lot. I only remember a few black girls who liked me because of my hair. It was really straight and yeah.

Matthew:
Has your experienced changed since coming to Davis?

Andrea:
Well it was, they compared me a lot to my other cousins. Since I got here I was always compared to my cousins. We were still being compared and that they always had this idea that I didn’t work hard to get to college and that it was given to me. I don’t know how college acceptance works but I guess however you want to make yourself feel good about yourself. None of my aunts went to college and the aunt that came here when she was the same age as me had a kid by like 16 and ran away from home. A lot of people thought that I was gonna be like that but she didn’t really take advantage of the privileges. She took it as a joke and didn’t really plan out her life. By the time she came here my grandma was working and had money where by the time I came here my mom didn’t have money so I saw that struggle and used that as a motivation to work harder in school.

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Date Added
February 9, 2021
Collection
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
Tags
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Citation
“Transcription of Immigrant Interview of Andrea Alcantra,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed October 20, 2021, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/714.