Oral history interview with Katrina Orizonte


Oral history interview with Katrina Orizonte


Oral history interview with Katrina Orizonte, interviewed by Toan Tran




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




Toan Tran


Katrina Orizonte


TOAN: Good afternoon. It is currently 3:30 p.m. on June 5th 2019. My name is Toan Tran and
today I'm going to be interviewing Katrina Orizonte today on her experiences of being a Filipina
immigrant. So Katrina, how about you go ahead and introduce yourself.
KATRINA: So hi, my name is Katrina Orizonte. My pronouns are she her hers. I am 19 years
old and I am currently a second-year neurophysio and behavior major at UC Davis with plans to
minor in Psychology. And I moved to America at the age of 8 in 2008 with my family.
TOAN: Ok great, so we’re first going to start off with some questions about your childhood,
growing up and your family. So can you tell me when and where you were born?
KATRINA: So I was born on October 4, 1999 in Dumaguete City, Philippines which is in
Negros Oriental located in the visayas region of the country.
TOAN: And do you have any siblings? Do you come from a big family?
KATRINA: So I have one younger sister. Our gap is 6 years and it's basically just the two of us
and our immediate family. But outside of our immediate family, there is also my mom's side of
the family and my dad's side of the family which are pretty big because where on my mom's side,
there's 10 of them as siblings and my dad is the oldest of eight so it's a pretty big extended
TOAN: And where were your parents born?
KATRINA My mom I believe was born in the same town, so she was also born in Dumaguete.
And then my dad, I believe, was born in Mindanao and he was there for maybe a few years or so
and then his family moved up to Dumaguete.
TOAN: And do you know what type of line of work your parents were involved in?
KATRINA: So both my parents finished college at Silliman University, which is the col- the big
college in our hometown. And so my mom is now working as a registered nurse. Specifically,
she's a case manager and then my dad...my dad is an engineer. He currently works for the state
oil company. So he, he make sure I guess like the oil fields are okay and working great. It's
mostly in the line of petroleum, even though like he graduated as a mechanical engineer.
TOAN: And do you know anything about your grandparents’ line of work?
KATRINA: So I think neither one of my grandparents finished their education, but what they did
work on my mom's side her parents had like a shoe store or something like that when they were
very young and then now they have this chang-ghay (sp?) or sari-sari store, which is basically
like a small store where you can buy like snacks strings etc. And, on my dad's side, the only
thing I recall is that when my lolo, or my grandfather, was still young. He was a garbage truck
driver and he would drives my dad and his brother sometimes.
TOAN: Ok great, so now we’re going to go into some questions about the process of how you
got to here in the United States. So do you know when you moved to the United States?
KATRINA: So like I said previously, I moved to the states with my family in 2008, but we
technically migrated in 2006 since my mom got a job as a nurse here in America. And so what
basically happened was she moved here earlier than us. We visited her Christmas of 2006 and
then we moved back to the Philippines, me, my dad, my younger sister and stayed there for one
more year until we finally reunited for there again in May of 2008 and that's when we officially
and permanently lived here in the states.
TOAN: And why do you think your parents, or family even decided to move out of the
KATRINA: I think it was just for better pay I think. That's at least, that's what my that's what I
heard my mom say cuz I guess she felt like she could have been paid better. So she thought
America had better pay and the place that we move to was San Jose and like her first cousins,
actually all live there. So like in addition to that, it was pretty much like a good place to live in as
well other than the Philippines.
TOAN: Do you know if any of your other family members outside of your immediate family
moved to America before you?
KATRINA: So in addition to my mom's first cousin’s families who are—whose children are my
second cousins—there’s also my aunt's two aunts. They are the sisters of my mom and they have
been living in the States since probably like the 1980s, 1990s or something like that.
TOAN: Okay, then how about your parents’ immigration experience. Do you know how that was
like for them?
KATRINA: So, fortunately for my family, I think it was pretty smooth. My mom landed a job,
so she was able to get all the paperwork done and she could just, at the time I guess my mom
could just like have her family come here to the states. And yeah, like everything was legally
processed and eventually, after 5 years, they were able to take the citizenship test and got
naturalized. So now all four of us are officially US citizens since I believe 2013?
TOAN: Alright, great. It's good to hear that your parents’, your family's, experience of
immigrating went by so smoothly. But before moving to America, did you have any conceptions
of like what life would be like here?
KATRINA: I definitely had a lot of misconceptions especially because I was watching a lot of
Disney shows growing up—Disney movies like High School Musical and Lizzie McGuire, Kim
Possible. All of them in a high school setting and I thought it would be a [inaudible]. Where you
have the bullies and you have the popular girls—stuff like that. But, I mean it was kind of like
that up until when I got to high school. But for the most part it was just like this just like any
other place you would be living in like in the Philippines. It was like, I'm pretty sure it would
have been the same environment but I definitely did have misconceptions. Like for example in
5th grade, I believe, I am not proud of this but I did have the stereotypes of nerds being nerds and
jocks being jocks. And so when we were playing four-square these two nerds-looking guys was
in front of the line and I was like, I was not thinking before speaking I granted, but I did say like,
“hey, you like sports? I thought nerds don't play sports,” and he gave me a sassy tone right back
saying like, “we play sports, what the heck!” but yeah not a proud moment, but I just like just
like a minor example of my misconceptions when I came here and then there was also that
incident when I was getting officially enrolled to the elementary school, I would be going to and
then when I came out, I saw these two tall older looking guys and I freaked out thinking that they
were going to be my classmates. And later on. I realize they were probably like in high school or
something. I don't know why I thought Americans were so scary-looking back then but I did
notice probably also because I was at I was going to be the new girl at my school. I just wanted
to make sure that I said right in until you said so how was school.
TOAN: So how was school like in the Philippines before you moved over here?
KATRINA: Pretty much the same. Like, meet the similar type of characters amongst different
people. I guess the difference, I mean definitely in terms of culture like, not everyone's Filipino.
So I had to get adjusted to seeing different faces, some people with different traditions as I do
and at the time, I was only like eight so the only thing that really mattered to me was that I was
getting myself adjusted for the sake of my family and just making sure that everything was fine
when I moved. But yeah, like education you said, right?
KATRINA: Yeah, it's pretty much similar except later on once I got to like high school and
college and I definitely noticed differences in the sense that I feel like in the Philippines, you're
more dependent on the system telling you what classes to take and when to take them. Whereas
here, you're very independent and you're very much on your own to decide what you're going to
do with whatever it is you have to do. It kind of scary thinking that you have to figure this out on
your own. I mean, despite resources to help you back up, like still, it's not like set-in-stone. It's
still very open and very up to your decision and like, both sides have pros and cons. Yeah, I think
that's really the only main difference that I saw between the two educational systems that I grew
up with.
TOAN: Can you tell more about the transition to experience from moving from the Philippines
education system to America’s educational system?
KATRINA: So in elementary school, I think probably the biggest difference, as an eight-year-old
you would notice is that, oh, the teachers don't move around to get situated in your classroom.
You move to get situated in their classroom. That was a big difference that I really saw and then
in addition to that, I guess this is more like a special case for me because I actually had to skip
third grade when I got enrolled into an American school because apparently like the age that you
start here versus in the Philippines is different and so because of my age like I had to skip third
grade and then when there was just like one strict Filipino substitute named is Ms Esberg (sp?)
one time in fourth grade. And then she was like asking everyone to raise their hands and asked
“oh, does everyone remember learning about rounding and estimation,” and everyone raise their
hands except me, and then I asked around saying like, “what's that? What's that?” And then they
were like, “Oh it's something you learned in third grade. Didn’t you learned it?” I was like “no”
and then I started panicking and then I started crying in front of everyone and it was super
embarrassing and the teacher had to pull me out and ask like “what's wrong?” I was like “I don't
know how to do that” and it's math and like back then I was very much scared when it came to
my math skills because my dad had high expectations of me to like be good at it like he is. So
yeah, after school my substitute teacher taught me how to estimate and I will never forget it to
this day because I felt very embarrassed when my dad had to come pick me up and he was like,
“why did my daughter cry?” and she was like, “oh because she didn't know how to round so she
cried”. [ surprised, embarrassed face ] I was like, “oh yep, that's me.
TOAN: So that seems, that was a pretty rough transition at first but how about afterwards, did
you receive any parental support in terms of academics?
KATRINA: I guess support in the sense that, if I did well, great. After fifth grade, I didn't really
have my parents be like super part of my educational experience. I ended up being the type of
student that was like mostly independent. Like my parents weren't always like hovering about
about like me with school. Actually towards the end of high school. My mom would just be like,
“why are you still up go to sleep its 12.” It's funny because like you expect them to have you
always study all the time, but then once that curfew hits, they want you to go to bed. But yeah,
yeah, cuz after fifth cousin fifth grade, I remember there was this thing called pow which is
problem of the week and it was like for Math. And back, then I would still have to I would still
ask my dad for help every time I would ask for help and every time I wouldn't get it right away,
he would have a very short temper with me and start yelling and scolding and stuff. Like “why
don't you get this? Why don't you get that?”
KATRINA: And it made me cry a lot. And so I think I was very traumatised. So after so, I like
promised myself like once I hit middle school, I'll never ever ask for help again, but then towards
high school. I wanted to try to include them again. So like, asking them to like, “Oh, can you
quiz me on this? Can you quiz me on that? You just have to read the paper from it and just tell
say it out loud for me and I'll explain it and stuff like that,” but then they were they would always
just like, they would always just be like ”Oh, you don't need me. You don't need me to help you,
you can do that on your own. Just do it, just to study back in your room.” And so like I don't
know, I guess at the time, I was trying to include them into what I was actually doing during my
education because I thought it would probably matter, but I guess they thought like, “Oh, my
daughter is so independent now like she doesn't really need that kind of support anymore.” But
yeah, not to say like my parents are bad, like they're supportive parents. But yeah.
TOAN: That’s good to hear. So then how about throughout middle school, elementary, well high
school, did you experience any prejudice due to your ethnic background?
KATRINA: In terms of specific experiences, it would have to be ike there was one incident in
5th grade. I had two best friends. Both of them are Vietnamese and then they were also close
with this other friend who wasn't in our class and every time it was recess, se would always tell
me, “Oh, we have enough players. You don't have to play with us,” and stuff like that. And then
later on, I found out from one of my best friends she didn't want me to play with them because I
wasn't like them. I wasn't Vietnamese. I wasn't their kind basically. At the time, I just I was just
like sad about it for a while and then later on and forget about it because you're like 8 years
you're like I was nine at the time so I didn't know any better. I didn't think of it as discrimination
back then. And then I guess, this isn't really much of prejudice, but just more of like a funny
thing but like in Middle School, I would have this thing called cold lunch. Cold lunch basically
means that you bring your own food for lunch instead of buying meals at school. And so
sometimes I would have rice with Martin purefood hotdog and they're very red and they stain
your rice and I would always be teased by my friends how much the hot dog was bleeding the
rice, basically. So yeah, and then I think probably the most prejudice of all, not to say like the the
hot dog incident was like kind of prejudice is more like a teasing manner, but the debate about
whether or not Filipino, or sorry, Filipinx people are Asian. It's started. I started noticing I started
hearing about that topic maybe an eighth grade. When one of my friends at the time was like “Oh
yeah, Filipinos aren’t Asian,” and I thought we are hello? [ quizzical expression ] and then I got to
ask my dad and then he's like, “Oh, yeah, we're kind of like both. We're like Asian and Pacific
Islander,” and then later on, he changed his response to just Asian because like for Pacific
Islander, you have to be—there’s like a certain like I guess requirement to be Pacific Islander?
Like I guess the number of islands you have or like how separated you are and stuff like that and
where it where your place on the map and because Philippines is technically Southeast Asian like
how Vietnamese people are even like, we're Asians so I don't know why some people still to this
day, wonder whether or not we're Asian. I mean like culture-wise, we are also very similar with
Asian countries as well, compared to past Pacific Islanders, which is probably one of the reasons
why we're not considered Pacific Islanders. We’re considered Asian and it's not just because of
the geography, but it's also because of our culture as well and how similar it is to the rest of
Asian cultures.
TOAN: So, how was it like, growing up with deciding between Asian or Pacific Islander when it
came to test scores or testing papers.
KATRINA: So whenever I had to place like ethnicity I am, usually they would have Filipino if
they broke down, if they put like if they listed down specific Asian groups.
KATRINA: Like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. they would usually have Filipino. But when it
came to not having those and just being grouped as Asian, technically at that moment, you're
really just focusing on your test and making sure you do well, but like at the same time when you
think about it, especially now as I as I grew older, you realize like you're just being clumped up
into this one box and it's like I know I said that we have commonalities with other cultures, with
other Asian cultures, but we also have our differences. And if you're able to differentiate
Caucasian countries such as France and Germany and Italy, why not do the same for Latinx and
Chicanx people and like Asians as well and like Pacific Islanders too. Like heck, not everyone's
like Samoan or anything. Yeah, I guess.
TOAN: Would you happen to know if any of your family members experienced prejudice in the
United States?
KATRINA: I mean, I guess with my, like, cousin who's close to my age, maybe like him and his
group of friends usually tease a lot when it comes to their cultures so like, putting up the accent
and stuff. Probably the thing—closest thing that I can recall about being prejudice against
another against Filipino is yeah, I know, I've never really heard any stories, especially from my
parents in terms of terms of prejudice. The only thing I do recall is like, my mom would always
be mistaken for another ethnicity. Like some people would come up to her at like Ranch 99
talking to her in Chinese or Vietnamese and she's like, “Oh no, I am, I don't speak that language
and I'm not that,” or like technically she's not Chinese, but she doesn't speak the language. But
yeah, I think that's really the only thing I remember. Yeah, I don't really hear much about
prejudice stories and even if there were, usually like older Filipinx people, especially like your
relative your older relatives and your parents themselves, they probably keep it to themselves
and not tell their children because they wouldn't want to. They wouldn’t want us to learn about
things like that.
TOAN: Yeah, that's true. I can see that. So since you immigrated here, what generation would
you consider yourself: first generation, second generation, or somewhere in between?
KATRINA: I would consider myself 1.5 and what that basically means is I was like it's it's
literally how I defined myself like I moved to the states before I was like a young adult or a
teenager, but I still I still recall enough memories to recall my past in the Philippines. And yeah,
that's how I defined myself. And it's very much in the middle and in the senss like for me, I feel
like I'm very stuck and I can't choose one generation of the other because there are times when I
would I guess be my Americanized self like I believe in like, being able to speak my mind, being
able to think about mental health and stuff like that—things that you wouldn’t really see in our
culture. Whereas, I'm still tied to my culture in the sense that there's very much higher
expectations for me, I feel from my parents especially, to uphold the traditions that I was raised
up because they know that I recall all the past and so like it's kind of hard sometimes and you
can't really control, you can't really control, if you're like more American or you're more Filipinx,
if you're more second or if you're more first. Yeah, that's all I have to say for that.
TOAN: Would you happen to notice any differences then, between the first-generation and
KATRINA: I think it's, it definitely, a definite top difference I would say is the language because
you're first generation,, you know probably Tagalog or any other Filipino dialect better versus
the second generation. And I know there's a common issue with second gen feeling very sad that
their parents never really taught them how to speak the language and especially hits home when
you're talking to relatives who don't know how to speak English
KATRINA: And so it sets that generational gap, that barrier, because you lack, you lack the
ability to communicate with one another and it really hits home for a lot of people. Other than
language, what the difference between first gen and second gen I guess is, I guess first gen has
more cultural experience in the sense because you grow up in the Philippines. And now you're in
this new area that's even more diverse cuz all the culture all cultures from all around the world
can be found in America. Whereas the Philippines, it's mostly just Filipinx people. Yeah, I think
that's really only the difference that I can really say between first gen and second gen. Just other
than like the deep, deep level like beneath the surface. It can be said like we have some
commonalities like we probably grew up with the culture still like, regardless of how
knowledgeable we are or not about it. We grew up with home-cooked meals that are traditional
dishes in our in our native country, stuff like that. Yeah.
TOAN: So would you say that you’re, sorry. Would you consider yourself well-knowledged in
your culture today?
KATRINA: Not yet. I feel like I'm basic, if I can use that term. I feel like I'm basic in my
knowledge of my culture in the sense that I don't recall history as much, I don't recall all the
Filipino heroes that you would usually learn about in from the Philippines and I'm just beginning
to learn about Fil-Am history and Fil-Am history is actually not as taught in the Philippines. And
yeah, there's actually this like pretty cool event happening back in my hometown this August, I
think it's August 24th. I met a lady who's a part of an organization whose flying back to the
Philippines there in the hometown in Dumaguete and they’re opening in Silliman University, the
first Fil-Am section in their library, which is pretty cool because like, like I said, the Fil-Am
history is not taught in the Philippines and I think it, I think it definitely should be because
they're still Filipinx-identified like the people back home are as well.
TOAN: Why do you think Fil-Am history isn’t taught in the Philippines?
KATRINA: It might be the notion because you left home, like your history is your own history.
It's separate. It's separate from us from us or not from ours, but from the natives, I guess quote on
quote back home. [ gestures quotation marks ] I remember—actually that's probably too political.
But yeah, I think it's because I recently learned in ASA 1 that sometimes like maybe not just like
the Philippines but like officials back home at that time when you know more people especially
nurses were migrating to the states were leaving the country. They would be all like, “Oh, you're
such a shame, like you're abandoning your home your abandoning your country, you're being
disloyal,” and I guess that's where it all started why Fil-Am is not as learned because they want
to cover, they want to cover what's actually happening at home. It's, it's basically the same, it’s
basically kind of the same thing when it comes to US History, even though we have world
history in America. We also have US History, which is just all about America. And yeah I’m
pretty sure it’s the same in all other countries as well. But like if we could include
Filipinx-American history, maybe we would be able to understand more and know more as well.
TOAN: So, I guess overall, how do you feel about your identity as a Filipina immigrant today?
KATRINA: As a Filipino immigrants, I guess I don't feel as much of an immigrant anymore in
the sense that I don't feel as different as other people nowadays. But, I still, I still remember my
immigrant story or I guess I can say that I remember the past. I honor what my life was in the
Philippines and I honor what my life is like here in America as well. And in terms of being a
Filipina, I feel like I'm definitely embracing that more. I mean, I've never been ashamed to be a
Filipina, but I'm definitely more action to learning more about my culture and my roots here at
UC Davis especially thanks to the Filipinx-American community here. And yeah, I'm just I guess
I'm just working on that Filipina identity right now. There’s only knowing more my roots getting
back to my culture. Yeah
TOAN: Oh, wow, that sounds really great. It’s good to hear that you're still trying your best to
get in touch with your culture, and that you’re still making an active effort even to today, but for
now, I guess that is all my questions I have for you today. Katrina, I want to thank you for your
time and patience and for being here for me today. Do you have any final last words to wrap up?
KATRINA: I guess Know History, Know Roots [No History, No Roots] [ laughs ], if you know,
you know [ laughs ] But yeah, thank you again for interviewing me. I hope my story and what I
know is valuable information for whatever you want to use it for and yeah.
TOAN: Ok great, thank you. Alright, so interview time ended at 4:01 p.m.
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral history interview with Katrina Orizonte,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed May 24, 2024, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/734.