Oral history interview with Milagros McEvilly, interviewed by Lauren Velasquez


Oral history interview with Milagros McEvilly, interviewed by Lauren Velasquez


Oral history interview with Milagros McEvilly, interviewed by Lauren Velasquez




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




Lauren Velasquez


Milagros McEvilly


Velasquez: Okay, so today is May 31st, 2019, and I’m here with Mila McEvilly, and so let’s get started.
Where were you born in the Philippines?
McEvilly: Pangasinan. San Fabian, Pangasinan.
Velasquez: When were you born?
McEvilly: September 10, 1955.
Velasquez: Where were your parents born? And your parents are from… you said--
McEvilly: Oh my father is from Pangasinan. San Fabian, Pangasinan, and my mother is from Bicol,
Velasquez: And when were they born? Do you remember?
McEvilly: Ah, I forgot. That’s a long time! [ laughs ]
Velasquez: [ laughs ] That’s okay, that’s okay. What jobs did your parents do?
McEvilly: My mom was a dressmaker. Since she was single [until] she grew up and she served also
during the World War [II].
Velasquez: What did she do when she served in the world war?
McEvilly: Doing sewing, I think. And also she said that she helped them to feed [as a cook], or I don’t
know, that’s what she said. I don’t know because I never asked about those things. My father he [was] a
jack-of-all trades, making watches… Servicing watches and sewing machines.
Velasquez: Do you remember what your grandparents did? Do you remember what kind of jobs they had?
McEvilly: Oh, my grandparents… My father--my grandfather, he [was] just a normal [guy and he] had a
little business. My grandmother was stay-at-home because, you know, they were receiving a lot of stuff
because someone is working to their farm.
Velasquez: How many siblings do you have?
McEvilly: We’re eight.
Velasquez: How many brothers and sisters?
McEvilly: Four brothers and four sisters, and that’s including me.
Velasquez: So you came from a pretty big family then!
McEvilly: Yeah, we were a big family… The Sorianos.
Velasquez: Did any of your family members move to American before you did?
McEvilly: No, just me.
Velasquez: Are you the only one that’s still here? No one came?
McEvilly: Oh, when I petitioned my mom in 1996, and then that’s it. And then she was gone in 2010.
Velasquez: So when you were in the Philippines, what was your… Did you go to school in the
McEvilly: Yeah I went to school [and] I graduated. During my childhood while I am in elementary, I was
learning some things like crocheting. Whatever and something, and then I serve banana [ laughs ] at the
market. That was my favorite because we had a lot of banana before! I have to pick them, then I say I’m
gonna go to the store or the market to sell them with Bilao [ laughs ]. So when I was in Manila after
graduating high school, so I went to Manila right away and I worked there. I worked on different kinds of
different fields.
Velasquez: So you told me that you went to high school in the Philippines, did you go to college in the
Philippines too?
McEvilly: Yeah I went, but... I’m busy with working, you know? My boss [said], “You don’t need to go
to school because…” you know anak, because I deal with a lot of… I work in the bank, I work in the
import and export, I work as a sales clerk… So anyways, jack-of-all trades.
Velasquez: Why did you decide to move from the Philippines?
McEvilly: From here?
Velasquez: To move from the Philippines to America.
McEvilly: Oh, that’s not my intent to come over. It’s just luck, because, I have a sister, she’s a teacher and
she’s majoring in English. So every time I speak, she always check my… my grammar! She says, “Mila,
your grammar is something!” “Okay” I said. Yeah, so it’s funny my sister is funny. She’s a teacher and
good. And then what happen is, so I was in Manila working. I love reading magazines and subscribing
newspaper. I love reading business. I love business because I deal with business. So what happen is… So
then one time I was reading, I saw a little ad in the classified ads in the newspaper. So I said, “What is
this?” It shows “send resume” and a picture. So I did that. So I keep working and working and then I
didn’t realize, where I work, [I] received a lot of letters. So my boss said, “Where this letter came from?”
I have no idea. And then I said, Oh I remember. I send my resume. I didn’t know what is that for. Oh my
gosh, to be honest with you, I received a lot of letters, from home to office. And mostly, who’s writing all
over the world. And mostly writing me… they are stockholder, lawyers, and owning some kind of
different [businesses], you know, because I love communicating because I want to improve my English.
Because totally [ laughs ]. So I keep writing to anyone. I never waste my time. I wrote them back. I never
ask for anything, as long as I am enjoying just to communicate. So one of my boss. Every time I receive a
letter, my boss wants to read first. She is the one reading it. That’s my husband’s letter. I never expect that
when she came over to the Philippines, I didn’t realize I didn’t know. Because that time, I found out…
Because before the store I was working and communicating to all my penpals, I have another job. I work
in the street children institution.
Velasquez: What’s that?
McEvilly: Ah, the children that are… you know… who… the habit… what do you call this… like drugs
or something like that. So that’s the place that I work. So what happens is that one time, so all my
coworkers… I said I wanna go home. I want to visit Philippines and attend a town fiesta. Okay. So we’re
in that day, it’s Wednesday. My co-officemate says “Sis, Mila you don’t need to go here. Let’s talk, let’s
talk.” Because they know I’m funny. We’re happy, we’re happy. You know me, that’s the way I am! I
don’t care, I’m so carefree. [ laughs ] And then later on, I went to the Philippines in one week. And then
back to Manila, I call them and say, “I’m here now!” Oh my gosh, and the other men are very noisy.
“How come you are very noisy, dear?” [My co-officemate and I] are just giggling or whatever. She said,
“Sis, Mila, your penpal is here!” “Ooh!” I said. Bob, because that’s the name of my husband. Really, my
co-officemate said “Okay, Mila is a stay-in at… in this hotel” I said, “Okay, give it to me, but don’t
expect me to come tonight. I’m busy. I’ll see him tomorrow after going there to… you know.” And then
what happen is, so I went, and that’s the time I meet my husband. I didn’t expect. I never expect, because
when I went to the hotel the next day, all of the employers there, they call me “madame.” “The person’s
not here, she’s out, went out to eat,” [says one of the hotel employers.] So they let me sit down in the
lobby. So I was sitting, and now I can tell already that… But I am just sitting, and then the clerk said,
“Ma’am, you need company,” so I get in there and someone is working in his room. He took my bag and
threw it [to the side] of the room. “What happened?” I said to myself. “Why is throwing around my bag?”
and then he asked me to let’s go eat. So we went to Aristocrat. So that’s the time, so I said, “Oh, you’re
invited to come with me and to visit my landlord or my coworkers in the office.” Okay, So he said,
“tomorrow” “What?” [I said.] [ laughs ] But anyways, everything is good there, so I said, “Everything is
okay, no problem.” That’s the time, so I took a taxi the next day. And that’s the time my husband was
talking with the neighbors, and to my landlady, and they’re talking.
McEvilly: One of them, my neighbor--because he owns a resthouse in that area in that subdivision, so that
nobody can enter unless there is a… They offered him a resthouse [and] that’s the time I was stuck with
him. Who’s going to take care of him? Of course, me! So he was staying there and that’s the time we got
Velasquez: So who were the pen pal letters that you… what was that ad in the newspaper?
McEvilly: It was just some… Resume. Just a little… It’s funny because during the time… It’s so funny.
Even in the U.S. embassy, the officers they were laughing at me [ laughs ] “How did you meet your
husband?” he says. “Here! I met through writing.” I didn’t expect it because I only needed to improve my
English [ laughs ] Because my sister is always checking my English. “Okay, do you have that?” [my sister
says.] “Yes,” [I say.] And she took it and kept it.
Velasquez: So um. Oh sorry, go ahead.
McEvilly: Yeah, that’s it. And besides, this officer, one of his brothers went to Berkeley University. And
my husband went to Berkeley University.
Velasquez: Oh, wow!
McEvilly: Yeah, so that’s the time…
Velasquez: So how did you and your husband move from the Philippines to America?
McEvilly: Oh, what happen is, when the first time he went there, we met and things like that. And then
we get married but it’s funny just married in the city hall of Manila. It’s funny thing here, the person
who’s gonna marry me, I know him. This is a surprise--he is my customer in the store. [They said]
“Mila!” [I said,] “Yes? I am here.” [ laughs ] Oh, it’s so funny. Yeah, that’s the only thing--that’s the time
we got married. So after 6 months, we went back here [to the Philippines] and back there [to the United
States] in 6 months, and everything I had already the papers and everything. The insurance, the health
insurance. I have everything already when I come over here already. My first child is my son, I’m already
pregnant when I came over [to America.]
Velasquez: So did you… So did you move anywhere else before settling in the United States? Or did you
just live in the Philippines, and then also just here?
McEvilly: Yeah.
Velasquez: Okay, and then, what were your thoughts about America before you moved here? What did
you think America was going to be like?
McEvilly: Yeah, it’s nice and quiet [like] I said. But, you know life is because I can tell already that since
in the Philippines, when I’m living there, I’m working so I know some people that went to the states think
like that, they talk about what’s going on. “I see,” I said to myself. Anyways, I’m just quiet. You know.
Velasquez: What did they say about--
McEvilly: Just to learn. Just to learn about the environment here or whatever. But I’m happy.
Velasquez: What did they say about America? What would your co-workers tell you about what America
was like?
McEvilly: Yeah, I told them what’s going on, what’s America is not like the Philippines, you have a
neighbor to talk to. Here [in America] you don’t have neighbors. All you have to do is work, home, work,
home. It’s not like there [in the Philippines] where you’re jumping around to the neighborhood.
Velasquez: And then um, let’s see. Can you talk a little bit more about what’s different living here in
America and what’s different living in the Philippines?
McEvilly: Yeah, just like I said, the living situation here… The living situation here feels you are rich
because you have a lot and it’s easy. It’s not like in the Philippines, you have a hard time. Before [in the
Philippines] you can buy a chicken for one week, you have to work 1 week before you can buy a chicken.
Yeah, because the first time working here, I am pregnant with my son, I work right away. I’ve been here
for only, I don’t know 1 week or 2 weeks? I don’t know, I take it! So that I have experience, I am
pregnant with my son. So when I got my first job, I always wash… [I was] a dishwasher in a Japanese
restaurant, in a popular building. They really like me [ laughs ].
McEvilly: They always cook every time I go home. So then I get a tip, I got five dollars, I was so happy.
And I said to myself, “Oh my gosh, my five dollars! I can buy already chicken here!” But in the
Philippines, it takes a while… You have to save money in order to buy the whole chicken, I said. Yeah
that’s my first [ laughs ] and my husband is laughing at me because I am a funny person. It’s nice here.
Yeah, everything here, we go to school, there’s help… It’s not like in the Philippines before, nobody can
help unless you have to work, our parents will help you. You know. That’s the only difference that I felt.
Velasquez: And where did you first live when you came to the United States?
McEvilly: Oh, in my brother-in-law’s. They just picked me up and I stayed there for three days and then I
come over and find a place here.
Velasquez: In Sacramento?
McEvilly: Yeah. Yeah, we stay first in the hotel and then… In South Sacramento? Ah, West Sacramento.
I think two days only, and then find a place here, an apartment.
Velasquez: So you’ve been in Sacramento your entire time being here in America?
McEvilly: Yeah. [ laughs ] Uh-huh!
Velasquez: So… What jobs did you… What other jobs did you do when you were here in America?
McEvilly: Ok, so like I said, I worked as a dishwasher in the restaurant. And then the second time, I think
I worked in the Packard Bell. Then after that, I worked… In 1997, I worked in the Herald Printing [sp.],
like as a… you know… a customer relations assistant. I deal with the department store. Like grocery.
Mostly I would go [to] Woodland. Just to get the stuff they need for advertisements for Wednesday. And
then after that, I work in the, what do you call this… Apple computer. I work here. And then, I work at
JCPenney for 8 years. I love JCPenney! The manager is all good. We’re doing our… We’re doing great
there. I receive a lot of compliment from the customers, certificate from the Arden [Mall]. [ laughs ] My
boss, we laugh because I’m also good about asking for the credit application. Yeah. That’s… I love
worked at JCPenney for a long time. And then the last job I had, I had a medical device. Yeah, that’s the
last job I had. I enjoyed everything, no matter what. That was me. No matter how hard, as long as you
have a decent job. I’m happy.
Velasquez: That’s good! So can you tell me a little bit more about going back to school here when you
came to America. When did you start going to school again?
McEvilly: Oh my gosh. When I was pregnant with my second baby. My daughter. Uh, I took business
because that was my favorite. That was 1994, the time that my husband passed away, so I stopped. So I
cannot communicate with, because I don’t drive at that time when my husband passed away. So until
then, I’m taking care of my kids until they grow up. I don’t have problems taking care of them. They
know what’s good and what’s bad for them. I told them what life is like in the Philippines so they know.
Velasquez: So when you started going to school, what school did you go to?
McEvilly: Sacramento City College. So when my second enrollment in 2013, I lost a job because the
company is moving out of the country, so there’s a lot of losing their job and lots of employees. So what I
do, I’m gonna go to school, I said. So I said to my daughter, and then my daughter accompanied me in the
school. And she was surprised. “Mom, how come you already have I.D.?” [she says.] “Because I am a
student when I was pregnant with you!” [I said.] Yeah, that’s the time I took my first [class]… I enrolled
because I don’t know what to pick! I pick whatever I get! And that’s the time I took my real estate course,
and I’m done with that. So I have to take the state exam so I have to study. Then I decided to take fashion
because my mom is a dressmaker, and besides that, my family, they know how to sew. And I have an
aunt, she owns a fashion school for 20 years.
Velasquez: Oh, where?
McEvilly: In Pangasinan.
Velasquez: Oh okay.
McEvilly: Yeah. So, and then after this, I graduate [ laughs ] because now I am still going to school
because I want to take another course of fashion for business, because I love business. So I have to learn
more, I said. It’s gonna… It’s going to help me out someday. I hope.
Velasquez: And then, um... So, I also wanted to ask you… Did you notice anything different between, I
guess, people who immigrated from the Philippines, like first-generation people versus, like, people who
were born here in America that are Filipino? Like, what are some of the differences?
McEvilly: Oh, the difference is, because of the culture… You know, the culture, they’re born here and
they have a very different culture… The Philippines has a very different culture. So you have to adapt,
whatever. So of course, the person who lived here and born here, you have to explain it to them, how is
the Philippines too? You know, what’s going on, what life is, not like here, you live like a queen, you
have everything. Over there, you have to work hard. You know. If you have money, you’re okay, but if
you don’t have, it’s tough. But you have to sacrifice. That’s the only way. Because in the Philippines,
when I was in the Philippines, I worked hard no matter what. I enjoyed whatever I do. That’s why I meet
a lot of people, I meet a lot of people from big businesses, owners… you know… because I’m very
[funny] [ laughs ] that’s why they like me, because [I’m] funny and you don’t need to go to school because
you know everything we say something with you, you know what to do. Yeah. Because I deal with the
bank. I deal with the central bank. And then other manufacturing things, because I enjoyed working. I
don’t care how much I earn, I’m just happy. That’s it! I’m happy. That’s why they call me, I’m
happy-go-lucky no matter what, whatever problem, I don’t care, just relax. Who’s gonna help you? It’s
yourself! That’s the only difference here. People here are different. That’s all I can say, because, you
Velasquez: So can you tell me a little more about your husband… What branch was he in? He fought in
WWII, correct?
McEvilly: Yeah, he fought in WWII. He was a marine. He worked as a plumber for 45 years. He passed
away in 1994. He has kids. They’re all professionals, his kids. I know they know that. I saw them last
night. Yeah, I’m happy, I don’t care what life is. As long as I’m happy, that’s it. You have to work, you
have to sacrifice no matter what. There’s no easy. My husband is great, I don’t have no problems. His
family is good, everybody. So I don’t know probably… His family and my family are almost the same.
We’re always happy! Be happy! That’s it! That’s what my observation is. I said, “Oh my gosh, his family
is just like ours.” Yeah, big family and happy.
Velasquez: Okay, so I think that's all the questions that I have for now. Do you have any questions for
me? Or…
McEvilly: Well for me, I have nothing to say.
Velasquez: Any last words? Any wisdom?
McEvilly: For me, I really like what you did. You are the only person who interviewed me regarding this
matter, but anyways, I appreciate it. You know me, you know me! So, I really appreciate. I am happy.
Thank you for sharing your interview with me to share with your classmates or your professor. I’m glad,
I’m very happy. That’s my first time.
Velasquez: Thank you!
McEvilly: For me, I never.. I just go. As long it’s good, go ahead. If it’s not, no [ laughs ].
Velasquez: I’m sure it’s good, I’m sure it’s good [ laughs ]
McEvilly: Yeah, everything is fine! I like the way you [interviewed] me.
Velasquez: Okay, great!
McEvilly: Thank you.
Date Added
February 9, 2021
Filipino Immigrant Oral History Project
Item Type
Oral History
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“Oral history interview with Milagros McEvilly, interviewed by Lauren Velasquez,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed September 29, 2023, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/736.