Oral History Interview With Sebastian Zablan


Oral History Interview With Sebastian Zablan


Oral history interview with Sebastian Zablan, interviewed by Isabel Pel




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




Isabel Pel


Sebastian Zablan


[Session 1, June 9,2019]
[Begin Audio File]
PEL: Today’s date is June 9th, 2019 and it is Sunday, 2:05 P.M.
I am going to be interviewing Sebastian Zablan for the oral
history project.
When were you born?
ZABLAN: I was born in January 20, 1965.
PEL: And where were you born?
ZABLAN: I was born in the Philippines in the town, we call it
Minalin, Pampanga, Philippines.
PEL: And where were your parents born?
ZABLAN: They were born in the same town, Minalin, Pampanga,
PEL: Do you remember what jobs your parents did?
ZABLAN: My parents, they [were] businessmen. They had their own
rice mill where they also traded household goods stuff to
different places.
PEL: And do you remember what jobs your grandparents did?
ZABLAN [ Laughs]. So basically I don’t know what their job was
because, I think I was two [years-old] then when my grandparents
passed away. So I have no recall of my grandparents.
PEL: How many siblings did you have?
ZABLAN: So I have three brothers and five sisters, and I’m the
youngest in the family.
PEL: So did you come from a big family?
ZABLAN: Yes. So total, we were like ten [siblings]. One died
when she was two, a baby, so I didn’t get to see her.
PEL: Did any of your family members move to America before you?
ZABLAN: Yes. So my oldest brother, Thomasito Zablan, he married
U.S. citizen, but [she was] from the Philippines also. So, they
got married in the Philippines and they moved to the United
States right after that. That was back in 1980, I think.
PEL: What was your academic experience in the Philippines?
ZABLAN: So, I went to high school in the seminary for the whole
year thinking that I’ll become a priest but just like they said,
“many are called but few are chosen.” So I was not the one who
[was] chosen. So right after high school, I went to college to
take [a] bachelor in medical technology for four years, which I
graduated [in].
PEL: Did you have any professional experience, like job
ZABLAN: Yes. So right after I graduated college, I was able to
find a job at the Philippines Heart Center for Asia. It’s a
government hospital where I was doing [a] job as a Nuclear
PEL: Why did you decide to move out of the Philippines?
ZABLAN: So, when my parents moved in 1985, so they decided to
petition us and since I… I wanted to be in a better place and to
be with my family. So I decided to move to the United States.
PEL: When did you move to the United States?
ZABLAN: So I worked at the Philippines Heart Center for two
years and in 1991, that’s when our petition came and so, my
brother… together with my brother and sister, we moved to the
United States in August 1991.
PEL:Did you move anywhere else before settling in the U.S.?
ZABLAN: No, that’s the only place I went. So my entire… until
the age of 25 I’ve been in the Philippines and then [in] 1991
that’s when I moved to the United States.
PEL: What were your thoughts about America before you moved
ZABLAN: Well of course, when you say America, that’s everybody’s
dream. Better places, better life. You can own your own car or
house someday as long as you work harder.
PEL: Did your thoughts change after you arrived [to America]?
ZABLAN: No. When I arrived, that was in 1991, that’s when it was
hard to find a job, but with the help of my brother-in-law, he
helped find a job. But, this [was] in the military service,
which I joined after three months after I arrived here in the
United States.
PEL: What was different about living in America compared to
living in the Philippines?
ZABLAN: Living in the Philippines… it’s… life is harder and
salaries for employees are lower, and government employees are
corrupt. Whereas here in the United States, you’ll find a better
job and you’ll find a better salary also, or pay. And as long as
you work harder, you are [able] to get what you want when it
comes to material things, things like that.
PEL: Where did you first live in the United States?
ZABLAN: I remember, when we arrived here, my parents lived in
Daly City. I can’t even remember the street name but I was only
there for three months then I joined the military after that.
PEL: Did you stay with your family or were you alone [when you
moved to the U.S.]?
ZABLAN: So, the first three months after I arrived here I stayed
with my parents, and then that’s when my brother-in-law helped
me find a job and [I] joined the military. And so, I went to San
Antonio for the basic training for six weeks and right after
that, I didn’t get to go back to Daly City so I went to my tech
school [in the military] right after my basic training. So that
[was] for another eight months. Finally, after finishing my tech
school, I went back to San Antonio for my first base station. I
was there for five years as a physical therapy assistant helping
and working in the hospital.
PEL: So you worked in the military when you arrived in America,
but were there any other jobs besides that, that you worked?
ZABLAN: Since I had my Bachelor’s [degree] in Medical Technology
and it was hard to find a job here without any experience. So I
tried not to get a job that’s as… nothing to do with [a] medical
[training or background]. So, I waited a little, for like, three
months and then just like I said, with the help of my
brother-in-law, he was able to help me find a job at the
hospital, which I really like so basically that’s the only job I
applied for when I first came in [to America].
PEL: Did you professional or academic experience in the
Philippines help you get the job?
ZABLAN: I would say yes because of my Bachelor’s [degree] in
Medical Technology which has a medical background. It kind of
helped me choose hospital related jobs like physical
therapy,tech… so I would say that [experience in the
Philippines] helped me as far as because taking the subjects
again and different related medical courses.
PEL: Did you go back to school here in America?
ZABLAN: So just like I said, when you join the military, they
send you to a technical school where you take classes to prepare
you for that job. Like in the physical therapy [classes], I took
a lot of medical or science courses or subjects, like anatomy,
physiology, biology, things like that. And so, that was a
fast-paced course, so once you finish your tech school, you
don’t stop right there so you go to your first base and you
continue with your training [in the military] and taking some
more classes until you get certified. So, that’s what I did, so
it took me, I would say five years, to finish my career… or
courses in [being a] physical therapy assistant.
PEL: And did you notice anything different between first
generation immigrants, which is like you [coming from the
Philippines] and then you live in the U.S. after that, and the
Filipino American community, which is like other Filipinos who
were born in America?
ZABLAN: The difference you said?
PEL: Yeah.
ZABLAN: Oh okay. I’ll say, during our [referring to other first
generation immigrants] time, we’re more old-fashioned and very
conservative and we… brought that Filipino culture. While, the
kids who were born here, we call them millennials, though they
don’t know anything about Filipino culture. Basically they are
like… born here and whatever culture they have here it’s not…
they’re trying to… live by. Very liberal… they’re not so polite
[ laughs] -- I would say, just like… the way they call our
elderly, they just call them by their first name. While during
our time, we’re always taught to be polite with elderly people.
PEL: Okay and that is the end of the Oral History Interview with
Sebastian Zablan. It is currently 2:17 P.M. and it is still June
9th, 2019.
[End of Audio File]
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral History Interview With Sebastian Zablan,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed May 18, 2024, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/726.