This chapter of the Leaving Home series is dedicated to my dad. If it weren’t for him following my mom to America, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you for coming here to give me a wonderful life! Love you!
November of 1984, Ed immigrated to the United States at the age of 28. He came two years after the immigration of his girlfriend – now wife – Benita, who had promised that she would return home after two years. Benita had decided that March to not renew her contract with the hospital she had been placed with in Paris, Texas but to instead move to Dallas with friend and fellow nurse Nida. The public hospital Parkland had accepted her and would be her new sponsor. Because she was now a new employee, she didn’t have any vacation time that she could use to go home to the Philippines to see Ed.
The immigration process for Ed didn’t take very long. His ninang (godmother) Pilita Corrales (above) – a well-known Filipina pop singer-songwriter – helped him obtain a visa with the help of her boyfriend at the time, who was the General Consul in the U.S. Immigration in Manila. Ed left for the U.S. within a month of receiving his visa.
Scared and excited, Ed boarded a plane to America with just some clothes and spending money. He was excited to see Benita again after not seeing her for two years. In those two years, he had helped Benita’s family that was still in the Philippines, helping with things such as the chores and cooking around the house.
Upon arriving in the states, Ed moved in with Benita in Dallas. Nothing could have prepared Ed for the quietness of American suburban life. Coming from the hustling and bustling sounds of the Philippines, Dallas was too quiet. He seldom saw anybody walking in the streets. And because he had arrived in November, the cold was a shock to his Filipino system.
Seven years later in 1991, Ed became a U.S. citizen.
When asked if he ever faced adversity or discrimination based on his race, Ed says:
“[I remember] sometimes being ignored by the sales lady at the store [or] mall when [my two children] were still small.”
Thirty-one years after immigrating, at the age of 59, Ed has no regrets with his decision to start life anew in the United States.
He’s gone home to the Philippines three times since immigrating: once in 1991 to visit family, again in 1998 to visit his mother who was in serious condition in the hospital, and lastly three months later to attend her funeral. Ed will be going back to the Philippines this summer to visit his family. It will have been eighteen years since he saw them all.