Oral History Interview with Novey Masaki


Oral History Interview with Novey Masaki


Oral history interview with Novey Masaki, interviewed by Kimiko Masaki




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




Kimiko Masaki


Novey Masaki


[Session 1, May 27, 2019]
[Begin Audio File]
K. MASAKI: It’s May 27, 2019 at 3:21 [pm]. It’s Kimiko Masaki interviewing:
N. MASAKI: Novey Masaki.
K. MASAKI: And I have a few questions about your immigration history so here it is. First question is where and when were you born?
N. MASAKI: October 25, 1973. Manilla, Philippines
K. MASAKI: And where were your parents born?
N. MASAKI: Oh. My parents were born in the Philippines. My mom was born in San Juan, La Union, I think. My dad was born in Pangasinan, Philippines.
K. MASAKI: What jobs did your parents do?
N. MASAKI: My dad was an oversea worker, and my mom was a stay at home.
K. MASAKI: Did your dad say where he worked specifically?
N. MASAKI: Not specific. But I think he first started working at Trinidad and Tobago.
K. MASAKI: Oh, where’s that?
N. MASAKI: I don’t know Trinidad and Tobago. That’s why Phet Phet is named Phetrina. Philippines and Trinidad. [PAUSE] What did I say?
K. MASAKI: Trinidad and Tobago.
N. MASAKI: Yeah where’s Trinidad?
K. MASAKI: I think that’s Central. Do you know what kind of work he did?
N. MASAKI: Uh, something about the telephone line. Here Trinidad and Tobago. [SHOWS PHONE]
K. MASAKI: Oh it’s one country?
N. MASAKI: Caribbean? Ooh it’s a Caribbean Nation. Are you done looking at it?
K. MASAKI: Yeah.
N. MASAKI: That was nice.
K. MASAKI: So he was never in the U.S?
N. MASAKI: Well before, yeah. And then he crossed to the U.S.
K. MASAKI: Around, like, what time?
N. MASAKI: 1980’s.
K. MASAKI: Did any of your family members move to America before you?
N. MASAKI: No only my dad.
K. MASAKI: In the 1980’s?
N. MASAKI: Yeah only my dad was here in the 1980’s and then he petitioned me and my two brothers.
K. MASAKI: When was that?
N. MASAKI: 1992.
K. MASAKI: What was your academic experience in the Philippines?
N. MASAKI: My academic experience?
K. MASAKI: Yeah.
N. MASAKI: Well I had to learn the same as in here [U.S] we have English, Math, and Science with the exception of going to church every Friday because I went to a Catholic school.
K. MASAKI: Were you taught in English?
N. MASAKI: Yeah, at kindergarden.
K. MASAKI: That’s weird because you’re in the Philippines.
N. MASAKI: Yeah.
K. MASAKI: And then you said you went up to nursing school before you moved?
N. MASAKI: Yeah.
K. MASAKI: How close were you to finishing?
N. MASAKI: I was in third- second year in college so I had three semesters.
K. MASAKI: Did you know you were going to move to the U.S when you were younger?
N. MASAKI: No, not so soon. We know my dad was working on it but we didn’t- I did not know I had to leave until I was told I had to leave when I was- before I was 18.
K. MASAKI: So that’s why you went to nursing school?
N. MASAKI: I went to nursing school and then stopped because if I pass 18-year-old then my petition VISA would be obsolete. You have to be dependent, I guess, because it’s my dad petitioning.
K. MASAKI: Why did your dad petition you to move out of the Philippines?
N. MASAKI: Well, the mind of being in America is to have a better life and better opportunities. Which I think so.
K. MASAKI: So, your thoughts about American before moving here was- You thought it was like-
N. MASAKI: Disneyland!
K. MASAKI: Like Disneyland.
N. MASAKI: And chocolate.
K. MASAKI: You didn’t have chocolate over there?
N. MASAKI: Not as extravagant of chocolate here. The closest chocolate you would get is coconut sugar.
K. MASAKI: Ah, and Sticko.
N. MASAKI: And sticko.
K. MASAKI: We learned in class that in the Philippines its common for like, instead of the kids saying what they want to be when they grow up they say where do you want to be. Because moving out of the Philippines is a common thing. So was that a thing for you when you were a little kid?
N. MASAKI: No, it was still a question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is what I hear a lot. I guess it has changed because we are so global now and everybody can easily work outside the Philippines. So I guess it has changed from the time I was a kid to now.
K. MASAKI: Oh I forgot to ask- Oh wait never mind you already answered that; about your thoughts about America then and now. Is that- Do you still think it’s a land of opportunity?
N. MASAKI: Oh yes! for sure.
K. MASAKI: Where did you first live in the United States?
N. MASAKI: In Santa Clara, California. [In] 1992. In October, right before my birthday.
K. MASAKI: So you were close?
N. MASAKI: I had my 18th birthday here in the U.S
K. MASAKI: That’s nice.
N. MASAKI: Yeah and it was sad at the same time. It was exciting and sad. Bittersweet, because I had to leave my family behind, my friends. The culture. It was a shock because when I look out the window, in the Philippines you’ll see faces and dogs and crowded streets and alley. In here, I’m always looking for people. Where are they? I always wonder, “Where does everyone go?”
K. MASAKI: Did you ever find out where they go?
N. MASAKI: Not until I started working. Everybody is at work or at school. The good thing about here is that everybody has something to do.
K. MASAKI: You said your first job when you came to America was McDonald’s.
N. MASAKI: Yup, I worked at McDonald’s.
K. MASAKI: How did you get that job?
N. MASAKI: A neighbor of us was moving away from California. So she gave me- asked me if I wanted her job at McDonalds. And so she backed me up to her boss and gave me the job.
K. MASAKI: What were you doing before then?
N. MASAKI: Before?
K. MASAKI: Before you got the job at McDonalds?
N. MASAKI: Nothing. I got the job right away. After just a few weeks.
K. MASAKI: How long were you there?
N. MASAKI: I don’t know. I can’t remember. I would say at least a good year.
K. MASAKI: Before you went to dad’s job?
N. MASAKI: Yeah. [Talking to other family members eating in the room]
K. MASAKI: Did your professional or academic experience help you get your jobs?
N. MASAKI: I think so. I think mainly being able to speak English. That’s a big plus. Professionally, I don’t know. Its just more of, I’m not afraid to work in the kitchen because I’ve always worked in the kitchen ever since I was a kid.
K. MASAKI: How about your job at UL? What kind of work did you do?
N. MASAKI: I was an engineering aid. So I assist the engineer with their needs for electrical chord measurements.
K. MASAKI: What does that mean?
N. MASAKI: It means I have to measure the requirements that the engineers ask me to see whether the material pass or not pass based on the specification.
K. MASAKI: Did you go back to school here in America?
N. MASAKI: Yeah I tried.
K. MASAKI: How far did you get?
N. MASAKI: Not much.
K. MASAKI: What kind of schooling did you do?
N. MASAKI: Dianza Junior college. Dianza Junior College.
K. MASAKI: How long were you there?
N. MASAKI: Well, before I had kids I tried to go for two semesters.
K. MASAKI: How about after you had us?
N. MASAKI: When I had you guys?
K. MASAKI: Yeah, cause I remember going to your school one time.
N. MASAKI: I tried to go for two semesters? Or three semesters? Yeah Las Positas. I tried to go for maybe three semester.
K. MASAKI: Were you trying to be a nurse? Or complete your nursing?
N. MASAKI: I was trying. But I could never finish. It was hard, I feel like the little train that could, but could not get there. Because I had other priorities. My kids. My family.
K. MASAKI: Did you notice anything different between the 1st generation immigrants and the Filipino America community? So like you and then your kids.
N. MASAKI: Oh yeah! Big difference.
K. MASAKI: Like what?
N. MASAKI: Well for one, if you’re born here already your adjustment is easier because this is where you already feel you belong right? This is where you build your identity. As compared to being born like me. I was born somewhere else. Having friends there until I was 18 and then moving here was very difficult because by that age, I think its harder. For me it was harder for me to start all over again. Although you can do it, it just took a long time of adjustment. Until now, I’m still adjusting with my diction. My pronunciation. One day I can work on that.
K. MASAKI: Do you think there is a difference in culture and upbringing.
N. MASAKI: Yeah. There is a big difference. There’s good and bad on each side of the country. I like how the parents bring up closeness in the Philippines. I like how the family look out for each other. But I don’t like how strict the parenting is in the Philippines. But in here- [Interrupted by Lexi] It’s also good in here. There’s good and bad. The bad thing is parents here are just too too loose. Too, too- how would I say it? I don’t think they know how to discipline very well. I still have my ways about how I was brought up but not as bad as how my dad and my parents were. To teach us they always whack our butts with sticks if we make mistakes.
K. MASAKI: Mistakes like what?
N. MASAKI: I don’t know. A lot of things. Even if it’s a little mistake like maybe your grades aren’t good enough. Or you didn’t cook when you’re supposed to cook. To do your chores when you’re suppose to do your chore and you don’t do your chores. You get to meet stick.
K. MASAKI: That’s strict.
N. MASAKI: It’s very hard and strict. And if you’re not suppose to go outside because you have to do your chores and they find you outside. You disobeyed you’re in big trouble. You get to meet stick again. Stick and belt.
K. MASAKI: Do you know what your brothers did when they came here?
N. MASAKI: What do you mean, ‘what they did?’
K. MASAKI: Like the jobs they had?
N. MASAKI: They went to school first. They tried to finish high school.
K. MASAKI: Oh yeah because they were 16.
N. MASAKI: Yeah so they were trying to finish High School.
K. MASAKI: Did you ever felt any kind of oppression for being Filipino in America?
N. MASAKI: Yeah, I think. I felt a little bit. How do you explain oppression? Like discriminated?
K. MASAKI: Yeah. Or people thinking a certain way because of where you came from.
N. MASAKI: Yeah, I had experiences. I couldn’t remember but I did have experiences. I think everyone gets that experience whether you’re from the Philippines or from other countries or not. But I did get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from the Philippines or maybe because of my
accent or maybe the way I think sometimes. [PAUSE] I remember Ate Jocelyn was telling me a story when she was working at SM. So there was a foreigner who came up to her and goes, “Do you have bleck?” and she kept asking, “What’s ‘bleck’?” “Bleck”. And so she had to call another person and ask, “He wants ‘bleck’.” And then the co-worker goes, “What’s ‘bleck’?” So then the foreigner got even more upset so they called the manager, that’s a third person. It ended up that ‘bleck’ was black shoes. So its better to ask, to avoid frustration, just to ask how to spell it or to elaborate because the accent, sometimes, is hard to understand. Like you have a good, better accent. My accent is different, but it just means the same way. But people do get frustration.
K. MASAKI: Like the ‘bic mac’. [Referring to a story when she was working at McDonalds with poor English and struggling to communicate to a customer who also had imperfect English]
N. MASAKI: And spaghetti at McDonalds. I was really expecting spaghetti at McDonalds because we have it in the Philippines. Oh! McDonalds McDonalds! After a long day of driving with my Dad. I was so mad. I said, “No! you have to have spaghetti we have it in the Philippines!” Well you’re not in the Philippines. [Talks to other family members in the room] Ok, what else Kimiko?
K. MASAKI: I can’t find any other questions that are relevant. Most of what we learn is about migrant workers and different visas for like agriculture work and care giving work.
N. MASAKI: Oh yeah. A lot of Filipinos want to be in the medical field. Nurses. Because you know why? It’s the easier ticket to get out of the Philippines.
K. MASAKI: Oh yeah we learned that too. Because then they can become professionals in the U.S.
N. MASAKI: Even doctors are giving up their license just to get out of the Philippines because the pay is three times as much. So you’ll meet quite a few doctors in the Philippines who are nurses here [U.S]
K. MASAKI: Because it’s better?
N. MASAKI: Well for one it’s a better life for their children. Right? It may not be for them anymore because they give up their- they went to school to become a doctor for many, many years. And then in here, they become nurses. But, it’s a sacrifice they make to give their kids a better future.
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
“Oral History Interview with Novey Masaki,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed July 19, 2024, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/718.