Oral History Interview with Blanca Sabaten


Oral History Interview with Blanca Sabaten


Oral History Interview with Blanca Sabaten, interviewed by Sydney May Sabaten




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




Sydney May Sabaten


Blanca Sabaten


[Session 1, June 1, 2019]
[Begin Audio File]
S. SABATEN: Hello, it is June 1, 2019, and it is 2:44 pm. This is Sydney May Sabaten interviewing for the
Filipinx American Experience course at UC Davis and on behalf of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies.
Today I am interviewing
B. SABATEN: Blanca Sabaten
S. SABATEN: Okay, so let us begin. So we are going to start out by talking a little bit about your child hood
and early adult life. Where and when were you born?
B. BSABATEN: I was born in Santa Barbara, Pangasinan, Philippines on October 18, 1963. I studied my
elementary and my high school in the Philippines.
S. SABATEN: Where were your parents born?
B. SABATEN: My parents was [were] born in Santa Barbara, Pangasinan, Philippines.
S. SABATEN: What jobs did your parents have?
B. SABATEN: My father works as a maintenance at the hospital and my mothere was a plain housewife.
S. SABATEN: Are you familiar with the jobs that your grandparents had? [dog barking in the background]
B. SABATEN: I haven’t seen my grandparents when I was born. They’re like… they passed [away] already
when I was born.
S. SABATEN: So, your parents or family didn’t tell you what they did before they passed away?
B. SABATEN: Uh, not really. I didn’t ask them.
S. SABATEN: How many siblings did [do] you have? Did you come from a big family?
B. SABATEN: Yes, I am the youngest of 10. I have 6 brothers and 3 sisters.
S. SABATEN: Did any of your family members move to America before you?
B. SABATEN: Yes, my brothers, sisters and my parents.
S. SABATEN: Why did they move before [to America] you did?
B. SABATEN: ‘Cause two of my brothers were in the United States Navy and then my parents came here
and they petitioned to come over here too.
S. SABATEN: Did you have any friends that moved to America before you?
B. SABATEN: No I don’t have anybody… friends [that moved to America before me]
S. SABATEN: Why did you decide to move out of the Philippines?
B. SABATEN: Because my parents want us to come here for a better opportunity, to have a good life and to
study here.
S. SABATEN: But were you willing to move out of the Philippines? Without your parents’ control
B. SABATEN: Oh yes of course. Cause uh, everybody wants to go see America so I was so excited to come
here too.
S. SABATEN: [laughs] When did you move to the United states? [dog barking].
B. SABATEN: I came here in November of 1980 after my high school graduation [dog bark].
S. SABATEN: Did you move anywhere else before settling in the United States?
S. SABATEN: What were your thoughts about America before you moved here?
B. SABATEN: Said that it was beautiful, lots of places to see, a lot of opportunities.
S. SABATEN: How did you hear about what was offered in America?
B. SABATEN: Oh because of my brothers and sisters who came here and my parents.
S. SABATEN: Did those thoughts about America change after you arrived here?
B. SABATEN: No, actually I like it.
S. SABATEN: What was the process of um immigrating to America, for you?
B. SABATEN: Oh my parents petitioned me and my other siblings to come here. That’s how…that’s how
the process [is] in the Philippines.
S. SABATEN: And how long was that process?
B. SABATEN: That year 1980, was not as long as not as before… like right now. It used to be three months,
I’m here. I’m done.
S. SABATEN: What was different about living in America as opposed to living in the Philippines?
B. SABATEN: Oh, living in America is better than Philippines, because here you can live independently. You
can have… you can work part time so even if you go to school, over there if you go to school you just
concentrate on school and you depend more on your parents and it’s more… it’s more easy to go to school
here than over there, because over there you don’t drive. You take busses or jeepneys here you can take a lot
of transportations.
S. SABATEN: was it difficult assimilating to the American culture?
B. SABATEN: At first, yes. The food and then I adapted easily.
S. SABATEN: Did you have um anything you missed in the Philippines that was not available here in
B. SABATEN: Maybe oh. Maybe some foods, but now everything is here now.
S. SABATEN: other than foods and um school and education. Was it difficult communicating with other
people here in America?
B. SABATEN: Oh before, yes when you just arrive [dog barking] the language barrier was still there. The
accents, and everything… you know.
S. SABATEN: How would you describe your English before coming here to America?
B. SABATEN: Oh I think it was good, because in the Philippines we studied [and] start English too. So we
can speak fluent [English].
S. SABATEN: Where did you first live in the United States?
B. SABATEN: I first lived in San Diego, California with my family.
S. SABATEN: Did you stay with all of your family or were you alone?
B. SABATEN: Oh I stayed with my parents, brothers and sisters.
S. SABATEN: Um why were some of them located in different areas of the united states?
B. SABATEN: Oh because my brothers were in the military, so they were stationed in every state.
S. SABATEN: were you comfortable with the community in San Diego?
B. SABATEN: Oh yes, I liked it there. It was so um… it’s a nice city and everyone is friendly.
S. SABATEN: So for this part of the interview, we’ll be moving towards your education and your
professional career. Um, what was your academic experience in the Philippines?
B. SABATEN: I finished my high school there and then came here after high school graduation, so I
studied… so I went to Southwestern college in Chula Vista, California. Taking up business accounting for
two years and then… and then I work part time as cashier and tried working in a high tech electronics
company for 10 years and then decided to go back to school.
S. SABATEN: What did you plan to pursue professionally or career wise with the business degree?
B. SABATEN: Oh, accounting. But then I think I changed my, I think maybe it was not my thing so I
changed my path to uh… so I went back to technical school for medical assistant administrative [dog bark].
S. SABATEN: When in the Philippines, did you already plan on pursuing higher education there?
B. SABATEN: Of course, yes. That was my goal before coming here.
S. SABATEN: Did you have the same career path as business or techno- or technical assistant.?
B. SABATEN: No, it changed. It changed. I was planning to get… to be a chemist in the Philippines, but
when I came here things happened. Things changed, so I decided to go to business and later in the medical
S. SABATEN: Can you elaborate on what kind of school you attended here in America or the multiple
schools you attended?
B. SABATEN: I went to a community college for two years and then went to a technical school for medical
administrative assistant, where I get my certificate for working in the medical field. I worked in the medical
office with the surgeons and pediatrics.
S. SABATEN: Before you went to community college and technical school, was the education you had in the
Philippines sufficient enough for you to get a job in the United States?
B. SABATEN: No, I don’t think so. I was … I was just a high school graduate from the Philippines so I had
to get some education. [dog barking]
S. SABATEN: We’re going to pause the interview [due to a disruption with a neighbor].
S. SABATEN: It is 2:56 pm and we’re going to resume the interview. What jobs did you perform or were
able to attain when you moved to America?
B. SABATEN: My first job was a cashier at a department store and I worked there for two years while I go to
school. And then I tried working in electronics company in San Jose, California and after that I changed my
craft to medical administrative assistant work with a doctor… doctor’s office. And now I’m working in
United States Postal Service.
S. SABATEN: were these jobs related to your previous career path in the Philippines?
B. SABATEN: Cashier was. The cashier [position] yeah, because I was planning on getting into accounting,
so it is related.
S. SABATEN: [outside disturbance] no. oh my gosh. Do you think it was difficult to pursue higher education
here in the US?
B. SABATEN: Oh for me, yes because my... financially I didn’t know about… financially it was hard because
my dad retired that time and my mom passed away when I was 17 so everything changed.
S. SABATEN: was it difficult moving to the us at a young age.
B. SABATEN: not really, because I was with my parents and brothers and sisters so… I was happy.
S. SABATEN: Did you notice anything different between first generation immigrant and Filipino Americans
already here?
B. SABATEN: I think so, because the first we as a first generation come here for big opportunity and well
the second generation are already here and they were born here, they know the language very well and
adapted all of the cultures here. SO, it was not as easy for [as] them.
S. SABATEN: So that concludes out interview and it is 3:01 pm. Thank you for joining me
B. SABATEN: You’re welcome.

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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 Blanca Sabaten,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed February 24, 2021, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/730.