America is Beautiful!

Celerina Juntado, Philippines

Interviewed by Monica Datangel

I hide in the mountains, all of the people hide. So many people died when they occupied the Philippines. We were supposed to bow down to them. They were coming to kill us all.

This was World War III and all the people in our city run away to hide because they are bombing the cities. The Philippines was the ally of the United States, so I hid in the mountains of Corridor when the Japanese were coming for us. My dad hide with General Douglas MaCarther. I was seventeen when I had to hide. I hide there for a month in a cave. When we wanted food, someone had to go to the town to get it. I could smell the smoke, hear the people scream. I look next to me and see a girl, younger then me—scared. I was scared too, almost shaking. I was hungry and cold. I wanted them to leave.

When the Japanese returned to Corridor, they bombed again. At that time, we were living near the cock fighting building. When that was blown up, I felt a pain in my right arm. The sharp nails from the building went through my arm from the explosion. A doctor have to come take the sharp nails out of my arm and gave me medicine.

When I was a child I went to school until seventh grade. That was the only school I have finished because I have so many sister and brother; my mom and dad cannot afford. My father worked on a ship, and that’s where he met my husband. My dad introduced me to him. He go with our dad at our house many times. As time goes by, we got married. We had three beautiful children. My first child was a boy, but he died when he was just a baby. I had a daughter named Mercy, then two years later I had Nestor. Four years after that, I had Evelyn. We were petitioned to come to America to join my husband. He was a U.S employee and we came here because we wanted good future for our children.

We came to the U.S in 1972 when I was forty-eight. The plane coming here was going fast and went through many turbulence. There was even a storm, so we were very scared. But later on the storm passed and the weather became nice as we got closer to America. My husband was at America already and met all of us in the airport. I worked as a babysitter for a while, and then I helped out at a Filipino restaurant. After that, I took care of the elderly.

We were happy. We wanted to come here. Everything we want we have here. We go car, so we can drive anywhere we want. And we are safe here. It’s different in the Philippines. If you are sick, they cannot cure you right away because you have to pay first. Not like here—at the time you have emergency, they really take care of you and tend to your needs.

America has all that, but the thing I miss the most is my brother and sister I left in the Philippines. But I cannot go back there; only to visit. I am too old now. America has changed my lifestyle. We eat good meals three times a day now. We have more money because of the war my husband was in. Every time we need something, we can buy. I don’t want to live in the Philippines anymore, I like it here. The Philippines has nice scenery, but America does too. I like it here better. America is beautiful!