Carmen "Mameng" Deona Avecilla

Born: Sorsogon, Luzon
Migration Date: 1982

We came in 1982, but my husband and eldest daughter came in 1977. I decided for my family that they go ahead, I would stay with the three younger ones and finish my scholarship in London and work. I wanted to come over right away, but we lost our petition. We had to start the process all over again. It was at the time that many Vietnamese people were immigrating to the US so it was even harder. I had to do everything— pray and even went to the extent of writing the first lady of the US, to give me a chance to come over sooner.

In 1972 I was away working in London and was there for four years. So my mom and husband took care of the three youngest in the Philippines.

In the 70s I worked for the National Science Development board, I got my bachelors in Chemical Engineering at the National University in Manila and my masters in Computer Science in London. Both of us had good jobs in the Philippines, but [we kept in mind] the kids. I had to travel for work so it wasn’t until we came to the states that we were together, really together. I already expected coming to the states that we would work for the children to go to college. We lived smaller, just so we could save money. In 1959 the Fil-Am center started and when we arrived it was important for us to serve our community and help our home sick. Especially because there were so few Filipinos in Portland during those years. We were close.

We lived in a bigger house, just so we can live all together, but each of our kids moved away. It was just the two of us, so I told my husband we have to move. Now we are here in Southeast. We aren’t keeping up with the Jones’ it’s not about that. It’s all about the family, the passion, the love, the importance of family bonding is what I would like to pass on to young Filipinas.

Me and my husband became very active in the Filipino American Association and then we became officers. We put so much time and effort, a great deal of sacrifice. For a while it was just me and my husband pushing for his Presidency for the Fil Am Association because we didn’t agree with what was going on. It was the first time there was a debate! During that time we were working, so maybe we didn’t put in enough time and effort, but now he remains President, for I don’t know how long now! We need younger people to lead the Fil-Am Center. We are old, we need people to take over, we stay because there is nobody there. It is the biggest challenge right now.