The Sun and the Moon

Anabel Tingin, Philippines

Interviewed by Randall Tingin

"The sun and the moon, is exactly how i would describe America and the Philippines. They are two very different places. America may be a nice place, but the Philippines will always be my home."

          The sun and the moon is exactly how I would describe America and the Philippines. They are two very different places, almost on opposite sides of the world. The culture is different, the food, weather and the people are all opposite. America may be nice and have more opportunities, but home to me is still the Philippines… 

            My name is Anabel Tingin and I was born in Manila, Philippines. I grew up in Pasay City which is a very metropolitan area. I have two sisters and a brother and we grew up in a very strict family like most Filipinos did. We never had to do any work because we had maids. They would cook for us, do our laundry and clean everything. I would say I was spoiled but my childhood was full of family traditions and get-togethers, so we were a very close-knit family.

            I went to a school in the Philippines called St. Paul Paranaque, and when you go to school in the Philippines it is the same school from kindergarten to high school. You can get really close with some people after 11 years. I went to a private school for college called St. Scholastica’s. My family always had our own businesses which were restaurants. My family owned them so everybody was helping in the kitchen in marketing to service and dishwashing. It was a small restaurant which later became very successful.

            In 1988 I decided to come to the United States. I was 30, I was an adult and I was adventurous to see what is on the other side of the world. I decided to come for greener pasture and as a lot of people say, it is a better place for opportunities and a land of promise. My father had already passed at that time, but my mom respected my decision to come here. Even though I was going to a foreign country I was sad to leave my homeland. I had to leave my mom, siblings and all of my other relative. I was excited but at the same time scared of what I was going to find when I get to the U.S. It was an ambivalent of feelings; sadness, excitement and fear.

            I arrived in the United States in November 1988. My husband, whom I married 11 months before I came here, picked me up at the airport. I stayed with him at a condominium in San Bruno and back home, I was already close with his family. It was really nice that I had a family that welcomed me, but it was close to Christmas and I was getting homesick. I remember going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve and as the choir started to sing, Christmas carols, I began to cry. I missed my family.

            The Philippines and America are very different, they are like the sun and the moon. The P.I. is a third world country and the U.S. is one of the most influential countries in the world. I first noticed the weather. Here we have the four seasons, while back home there are only the sunny and rainy days. The food and people are also different. The majority of the people here work, while back home many people are jobless or get paid very little. I like the clean surroundings here, because back home there is garbage in the streets. The air here is cleaner and fresher and there are better opportunities as long as you work hard. America may be nice, but home to me is still the Philippines.

            My goals when I came to America were to be independent because back home no one leaves the family home until they are married. I thought the only way out was to come to the United States. Getting a job was not very difficult. My husband helped me get my first job as a receptionist in customer service in San Francisco, until 1 ½ years later when I became pregnant with my first child. Two years later I had my second child Randall, and 18 months later I gave birth to his brother. I am a hard worker and I have always received good references from all of my previous employers. 

            I have adapted to the lifestyle and I have gotten used to living here in the U.S. I had to adjust and get used to the culture change. It was very difficult at first, but I am happy now that I am in America. Sometimes I wish I could be back in my homeland, but my husband, children and I visit occasionally and we tremendously enjoy every vacation back home. We plan on going back many times in the future. My whole journey to the U.S. has been I life-changing experience for me, and I will have many memories…

             America and the Philippines are two very different places, they are like the sun and the moon.