Socorro "Corrie" Cabusao Lalangan

Born in Alcala, Pangasinan
Migration Date 1979

At a very young age I learned to barter, buy and sell crops being harvested and help to dry the rice. At four I learned multiplication! I graduated high school at 14 and graduated college from Far Eastern University as an accountant at 18! I worked as a cost accountant, you had to be 21 to take the board exams but I came to the US at 21.

Coming to the US it was the first time I was able to do anything I wanted to do. It was my friends that convinced me to apply to the United States. I thought only nurses could go, but they told me to try. I only had 5 pesos, so I asked my parents for $50 to go to the United States  -they didn’t believe it! They thought I was just going galavanting, but I applied as an immigrant! In three months I got approved because I applied for Michigan! It was too quick! I didn’t feel ready to go, I thought it would take at least a year. I thought I would come back after four years, but I didn’t go back. I was young.

I moved to Portland because I had an Uncle here and he needed my help. He was having some problems at the time, so I came. At first I cried. I didn’t know how to cook, I only knew how to boil the rice. At the first job I applied for I was hired to start tomorrow! I worked as a bookkeeper at Director’s Furniture in Downtown Portland. I worked double jobs, I was a barmaid at a private club at night from Monday to Friday. The cook made me sandwiches so that I wouldn’t have to go out for lunch. I was able to save.

My first vacation was to California. The next year to Hawaii. Then to Mexico. The fourth year I went to New York. I sent money to the Philippines every month but my Uncle advised me to save some. With what I saved, I went places. My uncle was so strict, he would scold me, he didn’t want me to do anything but I had jobs, making money and that was okay in his eyes.

There weren’t many Filipinos when we first came, so we became close. I met more Filipinos through the parties. 

At 25 I bought my first house so that when my parents came we could all live together. It was a 7 bedroom in Lloyd Center, that was the day. My mortgage was $100/month, when I lived in an apartment with a roommate my rent was $200/month. It was a good break! I said, Lord is really showering me with graces. I was able to tell my parents to come now, I have a house! We can all be under one roof! That was a good gesture for them.

Thank God for that too. At an early age I was able to buy a house for my parents, my brothers and sisters, all 12-children, we stayed in that house. And when we worked, we gave all our money to our Mom and Dad.

My Uncle was a busboy and he went to Alaska working in the canaries seasonally. He had money when he came back so he helped me in some ways. I never asked, he was so strict but he volunteered money for me to see places. We lived together, so I didn’t have to pay rent or buy supplies. I was able to save. He worked so hard and I felt bad for him, but he never wanted me to pay him back. He said, “What makes you happy, makes me happy”. But I had to move out because if I stayed I would never have learn how to be independent.

When I bought my first home I was driven to sell real estate.  Real estate was a big career at the time, real estate was growing to be good. My boss at the time said I would never pass the exam. My ears got red and I said, “If I pass the test, would you be my first client?!” I was so bad. But I had to stand up for myself. At the time there was a lot of discrimination. I pursued selling houses to help my Filipino friends find homes. Being a realtor I learned to negotiate many closing costs.

I volunteer at the Fil-Am Association serving food, cleaning tables as well as learning traditional Filipino dancing. It was important to find the time to present and preserve our culture. It gave me energy. I continue to volunteer there, even now.