Monday, January 4, 2010

Inspired to Live

After the fall of Saigon, there was much oppression, alienation, and public outcry between the divided Vietnam.  Many people lost their lands and property to the Communists. It was amid this chaos that able-bodied Vietnamese decided to flee their country, in hopes of a future (not even a BETTER one, just a future).

Many of them landed in the Philippines (as many more had perished in the sea).  This story is about a couple who had managed to beat the odds. Before I continue though, please be warned that I am not sure if this was one story or two stories I'm melding into one, as I have read it/them a long time ago.

But read on.  The gentleman belonged to a prominent family in North Vietnam, so much so that they owned maybe 2/3 of all North.  When the Communists took over and they had lost all, he was among the people who fled.  He sought refuge in the Philippines, along with his wife, and in time, had assimilated the culture.  However, because they were deemed illegal immigrants, they couldn't be granted citizenship. 

This gentleman, though, was educated, and helped improve the fishing industry of the country.  In time, he was allowed to go to America with his wife.  While on the boat,  he felt a sudden wave of depression thinking about the life he left in Vietnam, the fortunes he had lost, the family members so long not seen nor heard from.  He was filled with so much anguish that he wanted to jump overboard.  He almost succeeded if not for his wife, who stopped him, and begged him to change his mind.  She willed him to think not of what they had lost, but what they stood to gain, however hard it was to understand.  In that moment of darkness, the couple looked to each other for hope and reason to live again.

They reached California, and started a life working in a bakery/grocery store.  They helped bake the bread, and tended the store in the daytime.  They slept on the kitchen floor at night.  They used public bathrooms to clean and relieve themselves.  For two years.  And even after they had saved up enough to afford a decent apartment and a car, they chose to continue their disciplined if not odd existence, because they had a goal.  In 3 more years, they would be able to buy the grocery from the owner.  They reasoned that if they lived in an apartment, they would have to spend for everything that went with it. The same was true if they bought a car.

So for 3 more years, they slept on the kitchen floor.  After 5 years, they had enough money to buy the place, and that was the beginning of their good life.  Maybe they were able to send for the rest of their family in Vietnam.  I don't remember.  But somehow, their story found its way in the pages of a book, and I read it.  It is a source of inspiration for me.

In a few months, my family and I will become American citizens.  While we have not endured the hardships that the Vietnamese couple in my story did, we have our own story to tell.  Every immigrant in a strange land always has a story to tell.

The moment we pledge allegiance to the American flag, my heart will weep a little because it is then that we have to renounce our loyalty to the Philippines.   Or at least that's what the application forms say.  In my heart and mind I will always be equally a Filipino and an American.  In due time, we will make that possible by applying for a dual citizenship.

Meanwhile, life goes on.  And we celebrate.


Brian Miller said...

congratulations on this can not renounce what is in your heart though..

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Congratulations on wanting American citizenship, hope you succeed and Welcome!
We are all from "somewhere else", either long ago or more recently; we all have stories to tell and I loved reading this post.
I honor my heritage of Scots, Irish, Welsh, English and American Native but my allegiance, citizenship and fidelity is All American. There is no dual citizenship for me; it's all or nothing.
I truly believe one huge problem we have in the USA is people wanting to be 'something else' plus American. African-American, Irish-American, Polish-American, Mexican-American...none of that for me, a man cannot serve two masters.

Gypsy said...

What a truly inspirational story about courage and sheer hard work.

Congratulations on becoming an American citizen and I do hope you succeed in getting dual citizenship.

Sabrina said...

That is just wonderful!! I am excited for you with this next step in your life! My thoughts are with you! Thanks for sharing! :)

rainfield61 said...

Good experience to be shared. Thank you very much.

I am sure you won't find any snakes or tigers ahead of you.

Besy wishes to you, my friend.

Icy BC said...

That's an inspiring story to read, Cherie! I'm baffle at the courageous, endurance, disciplines, and determinations of these couple.

Congrats on becoming American citizens..

Trudy said...

Congratulations Cherie, that is exciting and bittersweet at the same time. You will truly be able to celebrate on your dual citizenship day!

God bless you!

Misalyn said...

Thanks for sharing that very inspiring story Ma'am Cherie.

Congratulations to you and to your family. Everything happens for a reason and the reason could be better. All the best ma'am Cherie.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

America is founded on diversity and Brian is right, you can not renounce what is in your heart but you can embrace a new life and merge it with the past because we are all a collage.

Your story gave me goose bumps. You told it so well. I witnessed the same kind of dedication, discipline and determination while living in NY. I watched many immigrants work very long hours and their entire family was raised in the store front. God bless them!

RNSANE said...

I am so honored to have you join us as Americans. Our country is strengthened and enriched by all the cultures and heritages that combine to make us who we are. Your story was one of courage and struggle. What a happy ending. Though you will be Americans, you will always be Filipinos as well, by birth.

betchai said...

congratulatios, Che and to the rest of your family. I know, though you will be an American now, but in heart, there is that love for our country and for our countrymen. oh, and thank you so much for sharing the courage of the Vietnamese couple.

GypsyPunk said...

best of luck (hard work)and perseverance!

cherie said...

I thank you all for your warm comments. This is a most exciting opportunity, and one my family welcomes with all our heart.

I will visit your sites as soon as I get the chance.

Take care, my friends!

Whitemist said...

Some how I have missed your posts...this was some story!
I have dual citizenship because my father was from France and even tho born in the US, France can still claim me. that made it difficult for a long time to even think of visiting France (they would have conscripted me!) Congratulations on being bath!

Anonymous said...

I have so much admiration for this couple, and there determination. It proves that with persistence life can improve a little.

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