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Reunited


If you were physically separated from your significant other, for whatever reason, would you still want to get back with him or her after a year? Five years? Thirty?

About a month after the Only and Older Bionic Brother was born, the Daddy, a naturalized U.S. citizen, returned to the United States. He realized that there would be more and better opportunities for his children in America than in the Philippines. This was in the late 1940s. He worked hard and within a year, he made enough money to book ship passage for the Mama and their son. The Mama did not want to leave her home and family. The Mama's mother told her that once she married, her life was with her husband's. She, the Mama, no longer belonged to the Grandmother. Thirteen months after the Daddy left, he and the Mama were reunited in their new home in California.

The stories of my two ninangs (godmothers) were different from the Mama.  They waited much, much longer to reunite with their spouses. The story of the ninongs (godfathers) and the Daddy, were similar, and to put the godparents' separation in context, I'll tell you a bit of that history. In the 1920s, the Philippines was a U.S. territory, which probably made it easier for Filipinos to travel as U.S. nationals. Throughout that decade, many of the young Filipino men, from all over the country, decided to go to Hawaii and the United States for the many jobs and good pay they were promised by agricultural recruiters and bragged about by friends and relatives who were already abroad. Most of the young men planned to work for a few years then return home with plenty of money to marry and start a family, if they had not one already. The Great Depression foiled their plans.

Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano

She was 21 years old and he was nearly 24 when they married in 1924.  A son was born two years later. In 1928, Ninong Mariano and his brother sailed for the United States where they worked the farms for meager wages. Said Ninong Mariano, "The first time I came here, the wages were 35 cents an hour. During Depression, fifteen cents an hour. That was the best I could get. Some places it was twelve-and-a-half cents an hour."

He sent money home when he could. Ninang Deling made money for the family by taking vegetables from the province where she lived and selling them in Manila, then before returning home, purchased products to sell back home. She also made a living for her and son by sewing clothes. She said, "I was a seamstress. I sold clothes when I could. Sometimes I make five dresses for someone to buy. They used to pay me three pesos."

Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano reunited in 1950. She was 47 years old. She had no conflict about leaving her home when her husband told her to come. Her son and her brothers were already in the United States. Ninang Deling said, "This is where my family was, so I come here. . . I (have) a good feeling."

Ninang Maxima and Ninong Vicente

They married in 1925 when she was 19 years old and he was 27. They had two children before he took off for America in 1929.  Over the years, he found jobs as a farm laborer and house boy. For 10 years, he worked in a Navy yard in California. Ninong Vicente said, "I liked to go back to Philippines, but no money. So I stay here. If you go there, you need lots of money to spend for the plane."

With the money her husband sent and the earnings she made from her sari-sari store, Ninang Maxima  managed to make a living for her family and send her son and daughter to school. Ninang Maxima said, "I am homesick to see my husband. When wartime, about five years, he didn’t write us. (There was) no mail to the Philippines."

Ninang Maxima finally reunited with her husband in 1959. "I didn’t recognize him when I came here. I didn’t know his face because it’s different. When he came here, he was young yet. When we got together, he’s old. I (was) 53. He was 60."

I'll do the math for you: Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano were separated for about 22 years, while Ninang Maxima and Ninong Vicente were apart for 30 years. Amazing, isn't it?
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Comments

  1. Wow! Amazing story and I see people who have family in another country and send $ home and have not seen their family in many years. It is a shame that money forces family apart but they must go to where they can better support their family. Wonderful story

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    1. Thanks, Birgit. Yes, if it's not a country, it's another city or state people migrate to for the opportunities. I'm fortunate that I didn't have to do that. So far.

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  2. People who lived through that time period have totally different values than the younger generations. I 'm not saying that one is better than the other but in my heart, I know which.

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    1. Values are taught and passed on from one generation to the next. So, why then does it seem that more and more people are being inhumane. Or, are they really in the minority and just getting more play in the media, both traditional and social.

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  3. Wow! that is some love and dedication.

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  4. Amazing story. Yes, I would and have looked for my loved ones!

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    1. Good for you, Susan. I think when you love someone, you will. Ah, the pain of being apart.

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  5. I read a book called Crossing The Borders of Time, which is a true to life love story about two young lovers separated during World War II. They are reunited years later, but many complications arise. It is a good book, and something people who like love reuniting stories might enjoy.

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    1. I'll look for the book. Be interesting to read about life after they finally reunited. Thanks.

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  6. Susie,

    I can't imagine many people accepting such long periods of separation from their spouses today. Values have certainly changed. Not many people these days would stay so faithful for so long. It is a very sad story, but I do admire the strength of the people involved.

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    1. Some would say it was a different generation. Perhaps. But, I'm sure there were also couples during those years who weren't faithful. I wonder if it was regular letter writing between couples over the years that kept the bond strong.

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  7. I can't imagine the sacrifice for the families. To be reunited so many years later had to be a strange experience. No one in our family was ever apart for so long so I have no understanding of what it would have been like. Really interesting.

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    1. What I would be interested in learning about both sets of godparents is if theirs were arranged marriages. But, even if they were that may not be the factor for staying in for the long haul.

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Thanks for the good cheer. :-)

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