Mila Castro

Born in Banton Romblon, Visayas
Migration Date: June 1972

My husband left ahead of me in April 1972, what happened was my husband really wanted to marry me. I told him to go ahead to Chicago and I would go to New Jersey because it was very easy for nurses at the time to get working visas. He thought we wouldn’t see each other if that happened so he kept postponing leaving because it felt like his last chance to marry me. So we had a civil marriage in January 1972 so we could submit our marriage license to the immigration office. On April 9 we got married and on April 15 he left.

I could have left with him but I had a good job in the Philippines as a nurse, so I told him to go ahead, find a job, settle and not to send me money. But I quickly followed him.

I am the youngest of 12 kids, but only 7 lived, 3 died as infants. I was spoiled being the youngest. Everyone was able to study because we had a coconut, casava and banana plantations. I still have a part of the land and receive a share from my sister when I go back.

I studied a bachelor of science in nursing at Arellano University in Manila. I was supposed to be a teacher because I love dancing-- ballroom dancing, traditional dancing, drama --I teach all of my grandkids the traditional Filipino dances. My parents told me to take Physical Education and Home Economics but when I went to Manila I saw my friends taking Nursing. I applied for pre-nursing at University of the East without my parents knowing.

I kept telling my husband, “Why did you bring me here?” I thought at the time it was a free country, there were opportunities, and that it was greener than the Philippines. It was very hard for me because it was the first time I was separated from my family. We were also newly married, there was a lot of adjustment. People here don’t really respect you the way they do in the Philippines. I never changed my accent and my pronunciation was probably wrong, it didn’t really bother me but I always had to say “I’m sorry”. I didn’t want to seem dumb, so it was in my personality to ask if people could understand me. People tell me I’m so nice, I never get angry.

God brought us here. I was pregnant at the time with my third when my husband got called for an interview in Portland. We were able to live in the Beaverton district because his job at the time said that Beaverton High School was good for education. When his company called for his answer, I picked up the phone and I interviewed them! In May of 1979 we moved to Portland. Until now I’m in the same house, we never moved. It is very hard for me to leave a home. But when I moved here I was very happy, it finally felt like home. Oceans, rain, sunshine, green! We loved to go hiking, fishing, by the lakes and rivers, I lived by the ocean in the Philippines, we are nature lovers. Home feels like I’m comfortable - where I go, with the people, with my neighbors. It felt like everything I had experienced and learned in Chicago and Colorado I was able to bring here to Portland. This was also where I found Jesus, I changed 360 degrees in my life, the first gift he gave me was humbleness. At the time, I thought I wanted to be the best, beautiful, it was about competing.

I got very involved in the Fil-Am center when we first arrived and very involved in Beaverton. I was one of the youngest at the time. We were very very close and I liked them even though I was young with the “old timers”. We are getting bigger and bigger. But I like the Fil-Am Center because this is the umbrella this is the very first Association. That’s why I stay here.