Lillian Aragones Lim
Born April 10, 1950 in San Fernando, La Union
Left the Philippines in May of 1973
Lives in Vancouver, WA
Migration is really hard, but people do with a goal to have a better life than they have in the Philippines. The standard of living in the Philippines is much lower, and that is why I had to leave. I was living with my sister and I couldn’t even pay enough for rent, and all the money I could make only paid for food. There was not enough. And for me to work in the Philippines, I had to approach the Governor to ask for a job ( my classmate was his daughter). It takes politics to even work for the Government, you need someone in power, jobs are wrapped in politics. There are a lot of people and not enough work. It is expensive for board and lodging not to mention being far from my family, and work is still not enough. It was hard.
I knew I didn’t have much future as a nurse in the Philippines. I saw my sister be a nurse in the Philippines, she did alright. The progress of someone as a nurse in the Philippines is not good, it does not pay well. And then also it was a trend that nurses would come to the states and they could send money to their families. I wanted a better life. That was my goal. My brother had already advised me to come to my states, for a better future. The first requirement [from my family] was not to be involved with men and getting married, so I could stay focused on being successful. I felt goal oriented, and it was frustrating because it was difficult to apply [to leave]. When trying to leave, the travel agents took $1,500 and still held my passport, because they wanted the money, because it is all tied to politics. I eventually got my passport. But if you don't have money, you can not leave the Philippines.
I was happy to leave the Philippines, because of the difficulty of living there. Everybody who can leave, wants to leave, because the country is poor. Some people just took up nursing so that they could come to the states. It was encouraged thing to leave! All I wanted to do is make my life better. And that means leaving.
It was an accomplishment to come here to the United States. When I left the country for New Orleans, it was the hub for a lot of the Filipino nurses, I was at home in a way, because of the people who were there. It was a comforting thought to be not alone in the states. It was the hardest to be away from my mom and my nephews and nieces and learn how to adapt myself without my family. After I left, I missed my sister a lot. I cried a lot.
Advice to filipinas/filipina-americans, keep on the tradition of whatever they have kept in their hearts. Family, food, learning how to cook, respecting their elders. Come together and help each other, and help other Filipinas, stick together, talk together. Treat each other with kindness, especially those who arrive to the states. Connect with each other. Have empathy [to migrant Filipinas] because it is hard to leave your family behind. In New Orleans, We stuck together, Filipina nurses, because we have Filipina comradery.