Oral History Interview with Kathleen Ramos, interviewed by Juan Amado Sales


Oral History Interview with Kathleen Ramos, interviewed by Juan Amado Sales


Oral History Interview with Kathleen Ramos, interviewed by Juan Amado Sales




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




Juan Amado Sales


Kathleen Ramos


Kathleen Ramos: Okay, today is June 8th, 2019. I am- My name is Kathleen Ramos and I’m
interviewing for ASA 150. Um yeah. The time is 12:14pm. You wanna say your name?
Juan Amado Sales (aka Ado): My name is Juan Amado Sales and I’m a freshman in UC Davis,
class of 2022.
Kathleen: Cool. And how old are you?
Ado: I am eighteen years old.
K: Eighteen years old. Let me check something really quick.
A: Oh yeah, sure.

K: So where were you born in the Philippines?
A: So I was born in Manila, Philippines. Capitol.
K: And when were you born?
A: I was born in October 16, 2000.
K: Do you know where your parents were born?
A: I think both my parents were also born in the Philippines- In Manila. In the Capitol.
K: Oh okay, so you guys were all born and raised there.
A: Yes, but my grandparents are from the province. So they moved to Manila and then started a
family there.
K: Where in the province?
A: So on my father’s side, they’re from Batangas, and then for my mother’s side they’re from
K: So where did you grow up, in Manila, right? Can you describe that in detail? Like what was
your surroundings like?
A: Yeah, so I grew up in Parañaque , which is one region of Manila. And it’s more of like a...I
wouldn’t say a suburbs type of environment, but it wasn’t really like city. It was more of like a
residential area. So we didn’t really get to like, we’re not like close contact with poverty or like
those other bad things about Manila.
K: So a good neighborhood you would say?
A: It was a pretty decent neighborhood, yeah.
K: Oh okay, cool. I think I wanna ask more about your parents. Like what did they do when
living in the Philippines?
A: So my father was a college professor of law. And then my mother was, works in the hospital
for a doctor. She was like a medical secretary, like a clerk of the office in the hospital.
K: And they’ve been doing that the whole time in the Philippines?
A: Yeah
K: Okay. And what was their education like? Did they go to college?
A: Yeah so both my parents went to college, but my dad went to law school, to become a lawyer.
K: Okay. I just wanted to ask more about the Philippine education because we learned that about
that in class and how different it is here. But also because America owned the Philippines, they
were in charge of the curriculum there. So how would you say the education was there compared
to here?
A: Well, in the Philippines, I went to a private Catholic high school. So I’m not sure if it’s- the
experience is definitely different from the public high school there in the Philippines. So I can’t
really talk about the public high school system. But for the private one, it was very strict. Like
we had to wear uniforms. And then we had to follow like a certain hairstyle or like a haircut. We
can’t do mohawks or bald cuts or something like that. It has to be decent and proper. And I
would say it was more difficult like the normal classes in the Philippines are more difficult
compared to the normal classes here in the US. But like the APs here and the honors classes here
are definitely harder. But like if you compare the average classes, the normal classes, it’s are
harder there in the Philippines because there wasn’t really that much student involvement in
teaching. It was more like the teacher just teaching the student and that’s it. Because like in the
US, if the teacher is teaching you, the teacher wants collaboration with students or like people to
talk to each other, your side, or like teamwork activities. In my school, we just sat there for like
50 minutes seeing the teacher teach without any student involvement or student collaboration. So
it was really different. I would say that the student involvement collaboration is better here,
because you get more involved, like the learning is hands on.
[Time Stamp 5:13]
K: What grade did you come here?
A: Sophomore year.
K: Sophomore of high school?
A: High school, yeah.
K: Oh okay. That’s interesting. So you would say there’s more group work here in the classes?
A: Yeah, there’s more um, what’s the name of that educational system? The common core one.
There’s more common core type activities here than there.
K: What about your history classes? Do you remember what you learned in the Philippines for
A: Yeah, so, we first learned Philippine history, of course, then we proceeded to do Asian
history, and then world history.
K: Did you learn any American history at all?
A: We learned about the Philippine-American war.
K: That’s interesting because my parents they learned only like American history. They didn’t
hear anything about the wars and stuff. Like anything back then. So I’m glad they kinda changed
it. So when did you leave the Philippines?
A: I left in 2016.
K: So you’ve been here for three years?
A: Yeah
K: So you’ve lived in the Philippines since you were?
A: Since I was zero years old.
K: Oh yeah. [laughter] And then you were until how old?
A: Until I was 15
K: Who came with you to America?
A: So my, so I have three siblings, so I came with my two parents and my two siblings. And my
older sister had to finish her college in the Philippines first before she went here.
K: And who did you leave behind? Do you have family still there?
A: Yeah, so I would say most of my family’s still there, although there’s a lot of family members
who also migrated here.
K: Like most on your dad’s side or mom’s side?
A: I guess most on my dad’s side. My mom’s side too. We’re like a pretty big family so, yeah
both sides mostly still there.
K: Yeah same here. Okay, do you know why you came to America? Any particular reason?
A: So when my parents told us the idea that we were gonna move here, at first, I didn’t really
wanna move, I was sad, I was kinda mad at them because you know when sophomore year is
when you find your true friends in high school and find your true squad. Yeah it was also a fun
time. So it was really, it was a bad idea for me to move. But then I understand that, I remember
my mom told me that this opportunity is not available for everyone. Like everyone- some people
would die to just go here. Then why are we gonna pass that opportunity? It was mostly that and
it was mostly because of education. So
K: For you guys?
A: Mhm. Because the high school here is free, well not really free because you’re paying taxes,
but it’s free for kids and stuff. But there you have to pay because you go to a private high school.
So yeah, for a good education. And plus public school here is like the private high school there.
K: That’s true. And cheaper too.
A: Yeah, so that one too, and also going to...It’s really different if you go to an American
university and if you graduate there, and if you come back. So like a really different- you’re
gonna stand out in your resume. Although we don’t really have any plans on going back there, it
was more for education and opportunity to come here.
K: Uh, this is kinda going off on a tangent, but do you plan on going back there with a degree?
A: Like to work or to live again?
K: Yeah just to work, because you said it’s good to have an American degree and go back.
A: Yeah, for some people it is, if you’re planning on coming back, but I don’t have any plans on
coming back. I mean coming back to go on vacation. But not to live there. We’ll see though,
there’s a lot of time.
[Time Stamp 10:00]
K: Did your parents come here for working reasons? Like you said education, but was there a
sole reason that enabled them to move here? Like a working visa or something?
A: So it’s funny, there was this family myth or legend when during World War 2, my grandpa
accidentally went to a military terrain. He didn’t know it was a military terrain, so everyone who
was in that terrain was listed down, like their names, and everyone who was there became a US
citizen. Because they served for the US army. As a compensation, they gave them US
K: Like for your whole family?
A: No just for my grandpa. But that was in the 1940s. So my grandpa petitioned my dad and my
dad petitioned us.
K: Yeah! That’s pretty lucky!
A: But I’m not sure if that’s a true story though, it’s like a family myth.
K: That sounds pretty legit though.
A: I don’t know about that.
K: That’s cool though, that’s pretty lucky. Because I hear, like you said, there’s a lot of struggle
to come here, with a family too.
A: My grandpa thought he was going somewhere to another part of the Philippines and not
knowing he was going to war. [laughter]
K: Accidentally going to the military. [laughter] What a win though! Could’ve ended up a lot
worse...Oh, so what do your parents do living here now?
A: Okay, so you know my dad was a college professor back in the Philippines, and he really had
a good career there. He was already- he was pretty old at his job so he was on top of the position.
So like moving here at that old age is not really the best idea, especially if don’t graduate here.
So both of my parents had a hard time finding good jobs or corporate jobs, so it was a really big
fall for my dad especially. Like right now, they’re working at a theme park.
K: Team park? What’s that?
A: Great America.
K: Oh I see.
A: Yeah.
K: How old was your dad when he came here?
A: 61, so he’s pretty old.
K: And your mom?
A: 51
K: Thanks for answering that, that was personal.
A: Imagine that my dad quitting his career there and just starting from the bottom, and still
staying at the bottom.
K: And he’s not thinking of retirement soon or?
A: He might retire, we’ll see.
K: Yeah I’m sorry for that, I feel like it’s a struggle just being a migrant -immigrant and finding
a job here.
A: It is.
K: How would you compare the living experience here from the Philippines? I think you talked
about this a bit but just expand a little.
A: I’m not really sure because back there we had a comfortable life because my dad had a good
job, and so we had our own house. Yeah, we had a comfortable life there and moving here was
really different because first off, we didn’t have a house, like my parents had to start from the
bottom. So at first, for the first few months, it was a struggle trying to manage our money and
our financials and stuff like that, because you always had to start from the bottom right? And
then we had to live with our aunt, so it wasn’t really our house. But…(what am I…) I guess
because of the help of my relatives and because when my parents started to have jobs, we started
having that income and having that money to buy some living stuff, buy a car also, but it was
difficult. And I feel like it’s still difficult now compared to our life back in the Philippines
because we were already established there, we already had our lives there set.
K: And you were comfortable there? So it’s like a huge change
A: Yeah it was, it was.
[Time Stamp 15:03]
K: So how long did it take for you guys to get settled? You said you started from the bottom, so
how long did it take to like get a car and a house to live and stuff like that?
A: I would say like four months.
K: Oh okay.
A: But that car is not really the best car. [laughter] It’s like a pretty easy saving to get.
K: And you said you had an aunt who lived here? You had relatives coming here?
A: Yeah, yeah. They went here before us, like in the 90s, so they’re already pretty established
here. And they were like a big help for us.
K: That was like my parents, we came here in the 90s.
A: When exactly in the 90s?
K: 1996, but we lived in Virginia, and we came here 97.
A: Were you born here? Or in the Philippines?
K: Yeah, I was born in Sacramento, so I was here...So which one do you prefer? Living in
America or living here? Or psh living in the Philippines or living here?
A: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I feel like, since right now, we haven’t really fully
achieved the American dream yet, so I can’t prematurely say that it’s better to live in the
Philippines. I guess if you achieve the dream here then it might change, so I don’t really want to
say that it’s better to live there than to live here. But I feel like the reward of moving here is
probably better, or would make our lives better than the risk of uprooting ourselves from there to
K: Yeah that makes sense. So what would the reward be for you? Like education right?
A: Maybe I would have a- like buy a house. Like buy a house for my parents. Because my
parents at this age of their lives would never have afforded a house. It’s already up to us to buy a
house for them.
K: Like you and your siblings right?
A:Yeah, me and my siblings.
K: I wanted to touch base a little more on the immigrating process. So what was the process like?
Like literally with the papers and stuff like that?
A: Yeah, so I think the first one is- back in the Philippines, we had to…
(recording issues, still recording, but had to check it)
A: ...I think like back there we had to go to a health inspection, we have to get proof we’re
vaccinated or we don’t have any virus or we don’t have any tuberculosis, so that’s like the health
part of it. And we also had to go to the, I think, the American embassy and interview too. The
American Embassy in the Philippines, to interview and stuff like that. And of course, we had to
pay money to get that green card and to start the papers going. I think all in all it took like ten
months or something for the whole process for us to get a green card. Because once you have a
green card, then you’re basically good to go.
K: So you had to get for all five of you right?
A: All six of us, but my sister had to stay for like two years and then she went here
K: So you said the process was ten months right?
A: I’m not really sure if it’s ten months, I think like a year or something? Like ten months to a
K: Would you say it was a difficult process? How was it financially, getting all this stuff
A: (sneezes)
K: Bless you! [laughter]
A: Thanks. It wasn’t really that big of a problem or burden for us because I guess my parents
were already expecting that process, I guess they saved some money for that event. But yeah, it
wasn’t really a burden
K: So it was pretty smooth you would say.
A: I would say pretty smooth. But although when we went to the health inspection and the
proofs, you could see the line, the line is pretty long. And the embassy, the line is pretty long
there. There’s a lot of people who want to go.
[Time Stamp 20:02]
K: Going to America...So how was it for you personally? How you felt with the whole
immigration process? It’s kind of a broad question so.
A: It was kind of long, for me personally, it was kind of long so I got to have the time to say
goodbye to my friends, I had that time- that big time for me to say goodbye and hang out with
them for the last time. [laughter] It was a good emotional preparation to move here.
K: Oh okay, so it was a good transition?
A: Yeah, good transition.
K: And you still keep in touch with friends and stuff?
A: Yeah, I still keep touch, yeah.
K: Last question, what was the most difficult part of immigrating here?
A: Like in terms of the process or living here or adjusting?
K: Anything really.
A: I would say you have to start all over again, like living there for like 16 years, 17 years,
speaking the language there, then moving here, with a totally different accent, to a different slang
or style. It was hard to really adjust to that much. I knew this girl who also moved here, well
she’s not from the Philippines, she’s from another place and then she- it was also hard for her to
speak the language and adjust, so she was a bit isolated. I guess it’s also the same for me. For the
first few days of going to school, I was isolated from the people because I don’t really know how
to talk like this, you know, like what I’m doing now because it was really different. A whole
different culture, and also, so that one the language and also the fact that you had to start all over
again and not knowing that everything is going to be fine, like that uncertainty, you know?
K: Especially with your family?
A: And my dad being old, like my mom being old too. So yeah. And all of us not having- is not
of working age yet, like don’t have degrees, so finding jobs here, you know.
K: Um, I think that’s it. Thank you so much, Ado...it’s 12:37pm now and yeah, thank you so
A: Yeah, your welcome.
K: I think that’s it
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral History Interview with Kathleen Ramos, interviewed by Juan Amado Sales,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed May 24, 2024, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/729.