Oral History Interview with Arnolfo Guinto


Oral History Interview with Arnolfo Guinto


Oral history interview with Arnolfo Guinto, interviewed by Daichi Takise




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




Arnolfo Guinto


Daichi Takise


Daichi: 00:01 Okay. All right. It is June 2nd, 2019 and it is 11:19 AM this is Daichi Takise I'm interviewing for the Filipino immigrant oral history project and um the person I am interviewing is. Arnolfo Guinto. Alright, so Mr. Guinto, um, let me begin by asking where and when were you born?
Mr.Guinto: 00:34 In the Phillipines May,17 1963.
Daichi: 00:38 Um, were your parents, uh, where were your parents born? Is also in Philippines.
Mr.Guinto: 00:42 uh yeah both in the Phillipines
Daichi: 00:45 Okay. Um, how many siblings did you have and did you come from a big family?
Mr.Guinto: 00:50 Five siblings, one brother and three sisters.
Daichi: 00:54 Did any of your family members moved to America before you did?
Mr.Guinto: 01:01 uh yeah my mom
Daichi: 01:01 Oh, okay. Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 01:02 My mom she was the first one
Daichi: 01:04 So you had somewhere to go when you moved over
Mr.Guinto: 01:06 yeah yeah yeah
Daichi: 01:08 Okay. Okay. Okay
Mr.Guinto: 01:11 we got petition
Daichi: 01:11 Did you, did you end up going to college out here or were you, did you go through
Mr.Guinto: 01:15 Uh yeah I went to high school here
Daichi: 01:16 Oh
Mr.Guinto: 01:19 High school and college
Daichi: 01:19 okay nice. Um, after college. I, cause I know you do you do electrical work right now, right?
Mr.Guinto: 01:26 Yeah, I did. I was in the navy.
Daichi: 01:28 Oh Wow.
Mr.Guinto: 01:29 Yeah, right after high school. Went to the US navy force for four years
Daichi: 01:34 Oh wow I didn't know that.
Mr.Guinto: 01:37 Yeah, that was me. That's, why I try to tell Aj to get your education its free.
Daichi: 01:42 Yeah. Well thank you for your service.
Mr.Guinto: 01:45 yeah thanks
Daichi: 01:45 Um, so after the navy, that's when you went into like...um...your current job, which you do electrical work?
Mr.Guinto: 01:51 yeah
Daichi: 01:51 Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 01:53 Yeah electrition-engineering work
Daichi: 01:54 Was, was it pretty, not easy, but was it, was it, um, did you face any challenges trying to get this job or what was it? Through connections?
Mr.Guinto: 02:03 No not, not so much a challenge for the military. Cuz when I joined the military you got VA benefits. Once they know you're in the military, anywhere you go, you got a job.
Daichi: 02:14 Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 02:14 With, pretty much a, that was a good help from the government.
Daichi: 02:18 Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 02:19 The military.
Daichi: 02:21 Did um,s o even in the military, did you face like challenges or anything or was just smooth sailing?
Mr.Guinto: 02:26 Yeah, it's pretty smooth sailing I guess those days in the 80s, not so much. Not well, there's this, there's still discrimination but not that much.
Mr.Guinto: 02:37 Not so much yeah
Daichi: 02:39 So you never faced anything like based off your background, everyone's pretty nice in the 80's.
Mr.Guinto: 02:45 Yeah 80 was a good year. It was good. You grew up in the 80s. It was very good.
Daichi: 02:51 Okay. Um, did you, did you, or sorry,
Mr.Guinto: 02:54 no, go ahead.
Daichi: 02:55 Did you um, decide to move mainly because your mom was out here or was there like some other reason?
Mr.Guinto: 03:02 Uhm well because we were young you know when your parents are here they have to grab their sibling cause you know you have to be together with your family. My mom got remarried and my step dad kind of help us get the U.S. My Stepdad's also use navy.
Daichi: 03:20 Oh Wow. Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 03:22 Yeah. That, that's, that's how we got here, pretty much.
Daichi: 03:25 Okay. Um, lets see
Mr.Guinto: 03:29 Through him what it did, what it did is you petition my mom and dad out there. My mom became a how they call it U.S ah Immigrant alien cardholder. She competition us, so we all came here at the same time. Oh Wow. Yeah. Actually no, not all, all my sister and my brother were here first and then I was the last.
Daichi: 03:56 Okay. So it was a little bit of a process, but it was, it wasn't too difficult right?
Mr.Guinto: 03:59 Yeah. Right. yeh its not too difficult.
Daichi: 04:02 Um, did you move anywhere else before you went to the U.S.
Mr.Guinto: 04:07 No, no, I would not move I'm too young. I was like 16. Yeah. About 16.
Daichi: 04:16 What were your thoughts about America before you came here?
Mr.Guinto: 04:20 It's just like they just like a dream, you know, we came from a poor family, you know a third world country is very poor or you see all this light you done see that lights or where I used to live all we see is uh, you know old school and make your own light, you know, based on like a, a camp like when you're going camping, you produce your own lights. You kind of like that, you know, say no. You know what I'm saying? You know, city life.
Daichi: 04:47 Yeah. You know, you know I was talking before this interview, I was telling her, I was like, cause I, I never knew the struggles of you know immigrating and stuff like that until I took this course. Right. And then all of a sudden the age of like, you know, where your dad went through, he probably was some pretty tough stuff, you know? And he was just like, Oh, do I have no idea. Yeah. You should tell him sometimes he would appreciate everything you know.
Mr.Guinto: 05:06 Yeah, yeah, yeah, well he came from a poor family he came from a third world country
Daichi: 05:11 Yeah
Mr.Guinto: 05:17 Thats why a lot of immigrant that comes here they take the opportunity you know hey take the opportunity grab it because you only see that once in a lifetime. It's not going to repeat itself.
Mr.Guinto: 05:24 Yeah. When you like, I know when you, um, before you came here you were thinking, you know, it's like a dream. All these great things are gonna Happen. Like once you got here, did, did that change at all or was it exactly what you thought it would be?
Mr.Guinto: 05:35 Oh yeah it changed. You got to really put a lot of effort into, you know, you have you have to be the go getter you know you see an opportunity you take it. Because youou don't, you never had that before. When you see it in front of your face, you know why not a at all? You want to live the American dream a good at the same time. Don't use this the wrong way.
Daichi: 05:59 Yeah. Were you, were you the oldest sibling?
Mr.Guinto: 06:02 I'm the second eldest.
Daichi: 06:04 Oh okay. Did you, did you feel any pressure from your parents kind of succeed kind of thing or was it just like..?
Mr.Guinto: 06:11 Oh, well when we came here, my Stepdad has to support five siblings right all stepkids.
Daichi: 06:19 Yeah
Mr.Guinto: 06:20 And I was working in high school to help my parents out because one income isn't enough to raise like five kids. I was working full time and I think, I think I did uh, I went to, uh, I finished my high school and Adult ed because I got to work full time to help them out. So pretty much I was working full time of gave them my check, here you go. Here's my, a portion of my health.
Daichi: 06:49 Wow
Mr.Guinto: 06:49 I kind of liked that pretty much give everything I got. You have to help out because you know, he helped us get over here, so you have to do the same thing on your part.
Daichi: 07:01 Yeah I mean it paid off in the end right?
Mr.Guinto: 07:05 Yeah, yeah it did it paid off At the end.
Daichi: 07:08 Okay so when you, when you first came over here where were you living? Was it in Cali?
Mr.Guinto: 07:11 Ah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Uh, I was in San Jose, east side San Jose.
Daichi: 07:15 Oh Wow. Okay. I'm born in San Jose. Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 07:18 Uh yeah where?
Daichi: 07:18 I am I don't remember it was, it was near the Japanese market, is where I lived for a little bit before I went to Dublin. I, it's like the first, first area of uh San Jose. So maybe south, yeah.
Mr.Guinto: 07:34 Yeah okay.
Daichi: 07:35 Yeah, it's a nice place to grow up.
Mr.Guinto: 07:37 Yeah. Yeah. I grew up in bad neighborhood. Anything east side is bad.
Daichi: 07:45 Oh, no, no. That's why I appreciate like my parents taking me to Dublin because Dublin is such a nice area.
Mr.Guinto: 07:50 Oh yeah. That's a big struggle. If could live in East Oakland, east San Jose.
Daichi: 07:58 Yeah
Mr.Guinto: 07:58 You guys are lucky. My kids are lucky because you know, we bought our house, my first house in Fremont, and after a while, you know, my kids go to elementary school over there after a while the neighborhood's getting worse. So I said, you know I've got to find spots for my kids that, you know, raise them better than better life than what I have. That's why we moved here in Dublin.
Daichi: 08:23 Yeah. So this is, this is taking a little bit of step back, but even in the Philippines, were you working?
Mr.Guinto: 08:28 What's that?
Daichi: 08:29 Were you working when you were in the Philippines?
Mr.Guinto: 08:32 Hey, I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you hang on let me get out.
Daichi: 08:33 You're fine
Mr.Guinto: 08:36 Hang on real quick, man.
Daichi: 08:37 No, you're all good, you're all good
Mr.Guinto: 08:39 Let me get my, uh, let me get out here. My wife's cooking some food in the kitchen and she got her sauce pan. Okay. Sorry, what was the question again?
Daichi: 08:48 I wanted to ask if, um, if you, uh, like had some kind of job when you're in the Philippines?
Mr.Guinto: 08:52 Mmm No no
Mr.Guinto: 08:52 oh you didn't okay
Mr.Guinto: 08:52 no
Daichi: 08:52 let me see this. After the navy, did you go to like some specialization school kind of thing or would did you` just go straight into working?
Mr.Guinto: 09:06 Ah, yeah, I pretty much went to uh, in the military they sent me to school for six months and then when you get out, you do you service you know, pretty much apply for any job that would take you...and I applied for facility work, which I don't know nothing about. That was a struggle for a while, but you know, it helps out people there are very good. Very good. To help me train.
Daichi: 09:35 Don't mind me asking, um, did you meat Mrs.Guinto after all of this or was it like when you got here?
Mr.Guinto: 09:42 Oh yeah, we met we met after 90s I think I met my wife in 89, 10 years fter
Daichi: 09:51 oh okay
Mr.Guinto: 09:53 yeah
Daichi: 09:53 Now this, is this going to be my favorite part because it's specifically going to relate to AJ, but um, did you notice anything different between first generation immigrants and the Filipino, like American year? So like between you and like your son Aj?
Mr.Guinto: 10:08 Oh yeah, there's a big difference, a big difference they got life a lot easier than what we have. We want to make sure our kids get good education the same time we, you know, we're willing to help them out as much as we can. Cuz when I was growing up, you know, I don't have anybody to help me. Well actually when my dad, well, like guess my Stepdad's Caucasian, right. Appreciate it when I turned 18 and he told me out the house, so thats why I joined the military, so I don't have no choice. Thats reason why I joined the military so I didn't have no choice.
Daichi: 10:49 Yeah. That's what we want in there of course too, is that, um, people who immigrate over, you're forced into the military just because that's like the only thing that is available, you know, other than like care taking jobs or something like that right.
Mr.Guinto: 11:02 Yeah, yeah. Cause if I didn't have any recruiter I'd ever thought, because I was 17, I think going on 18 the next year, my dad told me, you know, you gotta be 18 next year, right? I said, yes. Well, you know what that means, right? I said, I don't know. He, my dad just got caucasian. I said, I don't know that make, get out the house. I said what!, it's a surprise for me so I had talk to my mom. I said, mom, what's that mean? Well, what that means. One out of the house sent me to some, I mean she, I mean, she can't say nothing. Because, you know, it's a struggle for them as well right, raising five kids. So I said to release the, the headache or to release some tension in the house or relieve some you know, a little bit of help. So that's when I talked to my, one of the recruiters that goes to my high school took the test. He said, Oh yeah, you pass. I said, okay.
Daichi: 12:00 I mean that's good. I didn't in the end, you know, Dublin's a very nice area and you started from like basically nothing or not nothing but like you know, compared to what you have now.
Mr.Guinto: 12:08 Yeah, it's from nothing. Ay, it's a blessing. You got to count all your blessings. God is good.
Daichi: 12:15 God is definitely good.
Mr.Guinto: 12:19 Oh yeah. Got is good man. My kid doesn't know that, but you know. God, just the one that would give, it'll give and it'll take,
Daichi: 12:26 Aj will realize later once he graduates and you know, starts working everything, he'll know everything.
Mr.Guinto: 12:32 It sounds like you got good head on your shoulders, whose older, you guys are the same age right?
Daichi: 12:39 Yeah. We're on the same age, but even even for me, like after I graduate I'm moving to Japan because my parents are split and I need to go like take care of my mom, you know, so like,
Mr.Guinto: 12:49 ah, ah
Daichi: 12:50 I gotta go over there and get a job and like, you know, go through the struggle to I guess like take care of her a little bit, yeah. But I mean I'm going to make more money in America, but I feel bad because she's been living in America for like my whole life. So I think, I think she wants to live in Japan just for a little bit. You know?
Mr.Guinto: 13:06 Yeah give her that, that's your wish. Japan is nice, I wish I could live there. I mean I lived in Japan when I was in the military.
Daichi: 13:12 Oh yeah?
Mr.Guinto: 13:12 Yeah I went to Yakuzuka
Daichi: 13:17 Oh, nice.
Mr.Guinto: 13:19 Yeah Japan is nice. I liked Japan because it's clean.
Daichi: 13:22 Yeah. Well, I mean..
Mr.Guinto: 13:25 I don't know about now right now.
Daichi: 13:33 Now might be a little tough, but yeah, I mean, is there anything else that you'd like to share? Like any kind of crucial factor that you think, um, would be beneficial towards just learning about the Filipino American community? If not, that's okay. But
Mr.Guinto: 13:48 I don't have a whole lot, but the only struggle. I have, one struggle I have when I was going to High School. You know people when you get here, they make fun of your accent
Daichi: 14:01 yeh
Mr.Guinto: 14:01 You know we hardly speak English, they make fun of you know. Then they used to tell me in PE class, hey, there's one black guy, he goes, hey, why don't you go back in the Philippines? I was like what the heck. Thats kind of like struggle. White people are mean like that.
Daichi: 14:15 I know there's, there's a lot. Even now, like when I was young, I mean I don't think Aj faced anything, cuz you know he's pretty fine. But like Aj is like Aj, right. But my name is Daichi, you know, it's like really out there. So like I would get picked on too in school. But you know, in the end those people who may find you, they're probably not where you're at right now. You know, you have two awesome kids. You have a nice house, you're in a good area. So yeah.
Mr.Guinto: 14:38 Yeah , yeah, yeah like I said god is good but those are the struggles that you have to face when you immigrate. your people make fun of you or not so much you name, pretty much they, they tease you haha you're Chinese you this and that. Should go back over there. They don't know different to a Filipino and Chinese is.
Daichi: 15:02 Yeah that's an issue that is like talked about in our classes and how like, um, how immigrants and just people who aren't American are pushed to Americanize you know, just because of the environment they're in.
Mr.Guinto: 15:13 Yeah now, it's just it's nice because they got so much law that you have to follow. They can't do that. They can discriminate, which is good. They have to stay cooperative for everyone. That's why U.S. is a great country.
Daichi: 15:26 Yeah
Mr.Guinto: 15:29 I mean I don't have a lot to share those are the only struggle I have, you know going to high school people bullying you, making fun of you.
Daichi: 15:38 Those are those, those are pretty big factors Mr. Guinto you'd be surprised. Like everything you've said throughout this interview is kind of like exactly what we've been learning and like, it's good to know about, you know, someone close to me, Like, you know, you just experiences this and I'm, I feel like, uh, it's good that I'm understanding that, you know, all this stuff is happening everywhere. Right. Even people who are right around, you know, right in Dublin, so.
Mr.Guinto: 16:01 yeah, you got to know when I was in High School I had to know the people that wants to hang out with me, because I had a Samoan friend back then he is a pretty big dude. I hang with him and he go "Hey Arnol if anyone mess with you let me know" wow he seems like a big brother to me, I got to get a help me on that. Okay, cool. you a big dude, Yeh after that nobody really messed around with me after that.
Daichi: 16:31 Yeah aw thats nice. Alright Mr.Guinto I feel like I'm taking up all your time.
Mr.Guinto: 16:35 Oh. And anything else I can help you with it. I think that's pretty much the honors I have and information for you.
Daichi: 16:42 and I'm, I'm really glad I took this class because I honestly, I feel like I never asked him these questions too, cause they're really personal, you know?
Mr.Guinto: 16:48 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you know, you've gotta be open.
Daichi: 16:51 Yeah.
Mr.Guinto: 16:52 I'm open. I mean, I'm cool with that. nothing to hide thats how it is man life is life.
Daichi: 16:57 No cause I got, I, I really do have mad respect for like, you know Justin's dad and you know sh shows that in youtube, cause I know you guys are doing, you guys are working really hard compared to a lot of people to have what you have. Right. So I want you to know, I really appreciate you know, where you started and where you came and I know you, I mean I don't know what Aj is doing right now. Like I don't know, like um, cause I, I we we talk but we don't talk a lot about like just like where he's at in life. But I think in the end...
Mr.Guinto: 17:27 Yeah Aj he has got hooked up man, I got him hooked up with a job at my buddies company.
Daichi: 17:33 Oh Nice. Okay.
Mr.Guinto: 17:45 Yeh he is doing a little bit of engineering he is working with my buddy. He is one of my best friends, from back in the days. So he is in a good spot. I told him just do good over there. You'll, you'll be better off with him because he's got an engineering firm. So into project management, whatever he wants to do, but don't just stay focused don't be hanging around the wrong crowd. Now, you guys are good kid, man. I remember you guys when you guys play football with me. That was man, that was many moons ago.
Daichi: 18:11 Yeah, I remember when we used to box it un in your garage. I never do it cause I get my ass kicked. But I saw, you know, Ajand Dj going at it all the time.
Mr.Guinto: 18:22 No I dont know about now, I haven't seen Dj. I haven't seen Dj in a while.
Daichi: 18:26 Yeah, he's been busy just working. I think he works with a dentist or something.
Mr.Guinto: 18:29 Oh that's good. That's good man. You guy's its a small world man. You guys have one of these days, you got to have a reunion.
Daichi: 18:37 Yeah, well I mean with Aj, I'm telling you Mr. Guinto, I only keep like, you know, good hearted people around me. And Aj is a good guy, you know?
Mr.Guinto: 18:45 Oh yeah. he is a good kid you know my boy I have a struggle with him for a little while until I straightened them out, I straightened him out. I mean, as much as I love my son I hit him one time and that was it.
Daichi: 18:58 Yeah.
Mr.Guinto: 18:59 Yeah. You gotta do, you gotta show them love. Just because you hit your kid doesn't mean you hit your kids. you hit your kid because it makes differently. Yeah I'm pretty sure he knows that he, he changed a lot.
Daichi: 19:10 Yeh he is growing up
Mr.Guinto: 19:10 He's, he is finally coming back.
Daichi: 19:15 Well hopefully, hopefully I'll see you around the house you know I will probably come back sometime.
Mr.Guinto: 19:18 Yeah, yeah. You guys still live in, uh, Dublin right?
Daichi: 19:22 No, no we sold the house in Dublin.
Mr.Guinto: 19:24 Oh so where you at now?
Daichi: 19:25 Um, my dad's in Sacramento. My mom has a place in Japan so, but I live in Davis cause I'm at UC Davis, so we just have like a apartment here with like a bunch of my housemates. But I'll come back and forth to, to Dublin to see everybody, you know, cause that's like, where everyone is.
Mr.Guinto: 19:41 Yeah if you're going to be around, let me know, man.
Daichi: 19:43 Yeah, for sure.
Mr.Guinto: 19:43 I'll take you guys out for lunch
Daichi: 19:45 Oh, awesome. No, I should take you up for lunch. You're helping me right now. I should take you out for lunch or you're helping me, right now.
Mr.Guinto: 19:52 No, no, thats not help man. Yeh I wish that help you a lot. If you're around the area.
Daichi: 20:00 Yeah, I'll, I'll definitely hit you up.
Mr.Guinto: 20:03 I had a friend that goes to UC Davis. He is a kid, used to be my neighbor.
Daichi: 20:10 Oh you mean Ron right?
Mr.Guinto: 20:12 No, not Ron. His name is uh Sal. He is a Afghani but he is a good kid. He's doing the mechanical engineer he got another year till he is finished.
Daichi: 20:28 Jeeze
Mr.Guinto: 20:28 Yeah, you know, get school and he says, he is gonna be finished at 25. I said, you know what, you got to you, no matter what, you still got to keep going to school, man. Don't stop. Don't stop after that.
Daichi: 20:39 Yeah education is required.
Mr.Guinto: 20:41 Yeah, you need that. I told my son ay keep going to school and you know, nobody got to tell you to stop. I wish I could go back to school, but yes just don't have time.
Daichi: 20:51 Yeah.
Mr.Guinto: 20:52 Too busy making money.
Daichi: 20:53 Yeah, don't worry. And then Asia will take care of you. I think he is a very family kind of guy.
Mr.Guinto: 20:58 Yeah, he's a good kid. Thats all I can say, both of my kids turned out to be good kids.
Daichi: 21:02 Yeah, definitely.
Mr.Guinto: 21:04 You guys too man, I seen you guys you grow up you guys, I see you guys in front of my eyes like you guys are my kids.
Daichi: 21:14 Aw thanks Mr.Guinto, I just want to know you're a good father figure. The first time I worked out was with in your garage.
Mr.Guinto: 21:19 Oh yeah, I remember that.
Daichi: 21:22 That was when we were really little.
Mr.Guinto: 21:22 Yeah, I took that weights out of my garage. My garage is nice and clean now.
Daichi: 21:24 Oh yeah?
Mr.Guinto: 21:24 Yeah its just that I don't use anymore because I don't work out in the garage its taking up too much space so I give it to my sister so I just go to the gym. Well it was good chatting with you, man. I mean you know when you're in the area let us know so one of these days Aj know that you are coming we'll go BBQ.
Daichi: 21:50 Oh sweet. Yeah, I'm definitely down. Yeah. I really appreciate you giving us your time right before work. Especially in like
Mr.Guinto: 21:56 Oh no worries man. Anytime you know you can always count on me.
Daichi: 21:59 Okay and the words of wisdom will definitely stick with me.
Mr.Guinto: 22:01 Oh yeah. That's good. That's good.
Daichi: 22:05 All right.
Mr.Guinto: 22:05 Alright you have a good day Daichi
Daichi: 22:06 You too thanks Mr.Guinto take care, bye
Mr.Guinto: 22:08 You're welcome Bye now.
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral History Interview with Arnolfo Guinto,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed May 18, 2024, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/733.