As an immigrant to the U.S., I am always interested in immigration topics, especially as it relates to Filipinos.
If you have ever wondered about the country of birth of new American citizens, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) publishes this data through the Office of Immigration Statistics.
The Top 5 Country of Birth for New Americans (for fiscal year 2011 to 2013):
Dominican Republic (39.590)
And here is the chart of the Top 20 Country of Birth for New Americans:
Note: Filipinos dropped to #3 after India, from the #2 spot after Mexico in the data compiled for the previous report.
With Mexico being a neighboring country, it is no surprise that most new Americans were born in Mexico.
But what about the other countries? Does this country of birth data surprise you? For example, that India is #2 and that Iran (a country we often hear about in terms of U.S. foreign affairs) is in the Top 20 countries?
The chart below lists the top states where new Americans resided, at the time they became naturalized.
The number of new Americans residing in these 10 states represent 75% of those who naturalized. The data pretty much matches the states with the most population, and so there were no surprises for me on this chart. How about you?
Do you know what it takes to become a U.S. citizen? From the Department of Homeland Security:
An applicant for naturalization must fulfill certain requirements set forth in the INA concerning age, lawful admission and residence in the United States. These general naturalization provisions specify that a foreign national must be at least 18 years of age; be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR); and have resided in the country continuously for at least five years. Additional requirements include the ability to speak, read, and write the English language; knowledge of the U.S. government and history; and good moral character.
Up until the 1970s, most people who become American citizens were born in European countries.
It shifted from Europe to Asia because of increased legal immigration from Asian countries, and the arrival of refugees from countries like Vietnam in the 1970s. Since 1976, countries in the Asian region has led as the origin of birth for new American citizens.
If you live in California — or even if you don’t — you probably think about earthquakes every now and then, and most likely have heard of the San Andreas Fault.
The San Andreas Fault – Image via NASA (Public Domain)
From what I understand, this fault is a boundary where two parts of the earth’s crust (the Pacific plate – under the Pacific Ocean and the North American plate) meet.
The San Andreas Fault stretches for 810 miles (1300 km) across California, from the Salton Sea in the south all the way to Humboldt County, 200 miles north of San Francisco. It is the most studied boundary plate on our planet for the following reasons:
it is on land, and therefore easier to study than tectonic plates that meet in the ocean
the fault is in close proximity to educational institutions and organizations dedicated to earthquake research
There are cities and communities that sit directly on the San Andreas Fault, and we lived in one of these communities while stationed at a base in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.
Late in the summer of 1981, Jeff and I drove from our military base in the high desert to the San Gabriel mountains. He wanted to show me the little town where he and his friend, Bill, skied during the winter. The town we visited is called Wrightwod, and about 40 miles (64 km) away from the base, at 6,000 feet (1809 m) elevation.
At the time, there were just over 2,000 people living there, though in the winter, there were many more as it was a popular ski resort area about 75 (124 km) miles from Los Angeles, in San Bernardino County.
Vintage photo! Wrightwood, California, Fall of 1981. This area is covered in snow in the winter, and the bare ski trails of the Mountain High Ski Resort can be seen on this photo.
While in Wrightwood, we went to a pub, where the bartender overheard us talking about how beautiful it was there. He told us about a little cabin for rent just down the street. On a lark, we decided to visit the cabin, and met the owners (who lived in the house next door).
It was partly furnished, had 1 bedroom, a fireplace, a loft space, and knotted pine walls. It faced California’s State Highway 2, and behind the cabin was a hill.
The little cabin home we rented in Wrightwood, California.
Front of the cabin, facing California Highway 2
We rented it on the spot, not even thinking about the drive we had to make back and forth from the base (about 45 minutes to 1 hour each way).
Shortly after our move, we met a fellow service member living there, and a civilian who also worked at the base, meaning we were able to join in a carpool.
Cabin roof after the first major storm, winter 1981. We were trapped as it took a while for the highways to be cleared.
Later on, I learned that the town sat on the San Andreas Fault from a newspaper article a co-worker showed me. Wow…. a fault…oh, what is a fault? Earthquakes… really?
Philippine Casiguran Earthquake
When I was little and we lived in Manila, a big earthquake hit the Philippines. I remember my mother rushing us outside (that is what you were told to do back then), and the distraught neighbors around us talking about fires and something about the Ruby Tower.
With a bit of research, I found out that the Philippine earthquake happened in 1968 and was called the “Casiguran earthquake”.
Since it happened at night, I most likely was asleep when it hit. More about this earthquake from a Wikipedia article:
The city of Manila was the hardest hit with 268 people killed and 261 more injured.
Many structures that suffered severe damage were built near the mouth of the Pasig River on hugealluvialdeposits.
A number of buildings were damaged beyond repair while others only suffered cosmetic damage.
Two hundred and sixty people died during the collapse of the six-story Ruby Tower, located in the district of Binondo. The entire building, save for a portion of the first and second floors at its northern end, was destroyed. Allegations of poor design and construction, as well as use of low-quality building materials, arose. (More here)
Besides the earthquake in Manila, I had not experienced any other major earthquakes, and none while living in California at that point, so I didn’t really think much more about it.
California 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake
Years later, we moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and lived here when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit Northern California. The Loma Preita is in a segment of the San Andreas Fault.
The beautiful San Francisco skyline as seen from Treasure Island at sunset (2012) Photo LolaKo.com
The Loma Prieta earthquake is memorable because it happened during a World Series baseball championship, and was broadcast live on national television.
Due to the World Series, casualties were amazingly low (63 deaths and 3,757 injured). Instead of being in the rush hour traffic heading home, many people left work early to watch the game, and traffic was lighter than normal.
While casualties were low compared to other earthquakes of the same magnitude, the Loma Prieta earthquake remains one of the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States.
To the left of this photo is the Oakland – San Francisco “Bay Bridge”. Photo LolaKo.com
My younger sister was working in a San Francisco high-rise office building at the time of the earthquake.
It took us 5 hours to reach her by phone, when she finally made her way home…and we were relieved to find out she was safe and unhurt.
We lived in the East Bay, and I was in the car on the way to pick up my older sister when the earthquake happened. I suddenly lost the radio signal, and felt the car making unusual movements — movements that I could not control with my steering wheel.
A few minutes later, I arrived at my older sister’s workplace. She was already outside of the office building where she worked, and felt the earth quake beneath her feet, and saw the building she was just in, move and slightly sway. She opened the car door and got in…we both couldn’t believe that a strong earthquake had just occurred.
The collapsed upper portion of the Bay Bridge. Photo by USGS via public domain
We rushed to pick up my daughter from her after-school care. She was outside at the playground during the earthquake, and she (and her teachers) told us they distinctly remembered that the birds stopped chirping right before and after the shaking.
We tuned into the news as soon as we got home — and were glued to the television set for hours.
It was a mistake, because the constant image of fires in the Marina District of San Francisco, and the collapse of a portion of the Bay Bridge made my daughter anxious about crossing the bridge, for many years after the earthquake!
San Andreas Fault North / South
Another well-known earthquake in California was the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed 80% of San Francisco and killed 3,000 people. The 1906 earthquake is also connected to the north part of the San Andreas Fault.
In terms of the death toll, the 1906 earthquake is the worst natural disaster in California’s history.
The part of the fault where Wrightwood is located is in the south part the San Andreas Fault.
If you want to read more about Wrightwood as it relates to the San Andreas Fault, past earthquakes and predictions for future earthquakes, visit this GeoScience World article.
There have been many earthquakes in this part of the fault, and they note “These observations and elapsed times that are significantly longer than mean recurrence intervals at Wrightwood and sites to the southeast suggest that at least the southermost 200 km of the San Andreas fault is near failure.“
San Andreas – The Movie
You may hear even more about the San Andreas Fault this summer.
An earthquake disaster movie with Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is now playing in movie theaters, and it is called (what else?) San Andreas.
Here is the preview…
Nothing like seeing the place where you live (and that you love) destroyed and in total chaos…with millions of people in peril.
But at least it is just a movie, and perhaps it will make us think about our emergency preparedness, and supporting strict building codes and improvements that incorporate new technology to save lives in the event of “the big one”.
If the “big one” hits, will California fall into the Pacific Ocean?
Greater Los Angeles area – photo posted for article The Los Angeles Spread. Photo LolaKo.com
The San Andreas movie trailer shows the ground splitting, complete destruction of buildings in downtown Los Angeles, and a tsunami in the process of finishing off the city of San Francisco.
The tsunami scenario is certainly real… and of all the natural disasters in the world’s history (i.e., volcanoes erupting, heatwaves, floods, typhoons, cyclones) earthquakes by far have killed more people than any other.
But the myth that you may have heard of — that California could somehow fall into the sea — when the big one hits, well, it is just that, a MYTH.
…The San Andreas Fault System is the dividing line between two tectonic plates. The Pacific Plate is moving in a northwesterly direction relative to the North American plate. The movement is horizontal, so while Los Angeles is moving toward San Francisco, California won’t sink. However, earthquakes can cause landslides, slightly changing the shape of the coastline.
To further allay immediate concerns about a complete change in the California landscape should the big one occur on the San Andreas Fault (SAF), here is a clip from SanAndreasFault.org: on how long it would take for California to look different from how we see it today:
I don’t know about you, but for me…that’s good to know!
Do you live in an earthquake prone area?
It seems to me that the entire state of California is earthquake prone, but it has not stopped people from living here. There are now 38 million people that live in California — that is 1 out of every 8 Americans.
Have you heard about the San Andreas Fault or do you have earthquakes worries where you live? I would also like to hear about your own earthquake experience, so please do leave comment.
From SanAndreasFault.org, see cities and communities in the fault zone (San Bernadino, along with Wrightwood in Southern Claifornia, and closer to home here in the Monterey Bay — Aromas, San Juan Bautista…)
Data from the USGS on the largest and deadliest earthquakes over the last 25 years.
Starting in 1917 and up to the 1990’s, almost 1,500,000 military troops trained at Fort Ord. It was a major army post, located here in the Monterey Bay, in California’s central coast.
Although the post closed in 1994, many of the old buildings remain.
Because I was in the military, there is a part of me that is nostalgic about these buildings…and having lived at military bases, they are familiar to me.
In addition to its role as a major training base for the army, Fort Ord was also a staging and deployment area for troops that fought in World War II, as well as the Vietnam war.
Word War II is known as the most violent and largest armed conflict in history, and troops who trained here were involved in battles in the Philippines — my home country — after the Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1942.
Many of the old buildings at Fort Ord have already been torn down, and eventually, these will too, to be replaced with new housing communities, office and service facilities, and new shopping centers.
I’ve wanted to photograph some of these old buildings before they are gone forever, and glad that I finally had a chance to do so this month.
I was in the Air Force, and our living quarters were called “dormitories”. But in the army and other armed forces, buildings that house soldiers are called “barracks”. Definition below:
The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word “barraca” (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks, are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation.
…The main object of barracks is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training, and esprit de corps.
Doors removed, stairs missing or overtaken by iceplants…
Debris around some of the buildings…
What remains at the Imjin exit side of Fort Ord are mature eucalyptus trees, and the ever-present and invasive ice plants — planted there to contain the sand and for erosion control.
Across the street from these barracks, a wellness center and a shopping center is in place, and beyond these new buildings are brand new housing communities.
The Ford Ord land also houses facilities used by California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). With plenty of land available to construct new buildings, CSUMB is predicted to eventually be the largest in the California State University system.
It’s not all going to be developed though…
Thankfully, three years ago, a large part of the Fort Ord area became a national monument, and is federally protected from further development — a great thing for the Monterey Bay area!
In addition to the interior part of the Fort Ord land, beaches in this area are also part of the national monument / California State Park system, and land set aside for the public.
And so the Fort Ord land that started as an artillery training field almost 100 years ago, and was a major post for the military from World War I to 1994 now continues its transition, with much of the land going back to public use.
Are there military base closures where you live? How has the government and community transformed the land after closing the military facility?
…The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans.
What warms this lola’s (grandmother’s) heart? Seeing the next generation Filipino-Americans continue to learn and dance the “tinikling” at the Philippine Community Center — one of the venues for cultural performances at the 8th Annual Asian Festival in Salinas last month.
A popular Philippine folk dance, the tinikling originated in the island of Leyte and is named after the “tikling” bird. The dance imitates the movements of the birds as they walk along branches and grasses, and how they get away from bamboo traps set out by rice farmers.
I remember trying this dance while in elementary school, and my worries of getting my feet caught (and smashed) in between the bamboo poles!
Little ones help to keep the dance rhythm by banging half coconut shells — and audience clapping / participation also helps to keep the bamboo pole holders timing as they slide and clang the bamboo poles for the dance.
The motion and footwork for the dances is also an entry for the WordPress photo challenge — though unfortunately, my camera settings produced a lot of photos also appropriate for the challenge theme of blur.
Note: If you are interested in Philippine birding, see this article from Cornell Lab of Ornithology Getting familiar with Philippine Birds, including the “tikling” bird. Excerpt with dance description:
In one of those convergences that make travel fascinating, we sat in a barnlike banquet hall at dinner and watched a local dance troupe perform the traditional Philippine tinikling, in which two people kneel and clap long bamboo poles together while dancers hop in and out of the poles in rhythm. The dance is named for tikling, the local term for a rail: dancers mimic the graceful, high-stepping gait of the bird as it walks through the marsh vegetation. In the Villa Escudero marsh the next morning, we saw several members of the Rallidae including Buff-banded and Barred rails, White-breasted Waterhen, White-browed Crake, and Watercock.
Aside from folk dancing, the festival is also a great place to sample authentic Chinese, Japanese and Filipino food.
At the Philippine venue, my favorite banana leaf wrapped item — the suman — as well as cassava cakes, puto, fried banana turons and halo-halo were among the choices for dessert.
But first, you had to get your chicken adobo, lumpia, pancit and rice combo packs…
The afternoon presentation at the Philippine venue showcased traditional Philippine formal wear featuring the Barong Tagalog — Filipino formal attire, and traditionally made of pineapple fabric or a type of fine abaca (musa textilisrelated to the banana plant) — and the changes throughout history in traditional women’s attire, influenced by over 300 years of the Spanish colonial era.
The malong garment — traditionally used by a number of ethnic groups in the Southern Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago — and its many variations was an interesting part of the fashion show.
A group of women who performed a folk dance earlier in the day also participated in the afternoon’s fashion show.
You can see more of his work at the 2015 Capstone Festival, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Friday, May 15th at the Visual / Public Art Buildings – 100 Campus Center, Seaside.
The exhibit by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is a must see, especially if you are looking to learn more about the Filipino community’s history in the Monterey Bay / Salinas Valley, and Filipinos in the context of the history of the United States.
I also add two random photographs taken at the festival because 1) the Philippines’ most famous athlete Manny Pacquiao fought against Floyd Mayweather last weekend and 2) I love the Tagalog word “makulit” and spotted a little guy with the word on his T-Shirt.
Makulit means one who is stubborn, or annoyingly asks questions that have already been answered…and hopefully the “makulit” person is toddler aged, when they ask the same thing over and over, and not an adult, right? Though you can call anyone, regardless of age MAKULIT.
This year, children representing the Chinese community also performed at the Philippine venue stage. Their dance delighted the audience!
While there, be sure to check out the site’s historical timeline feature.
The timeline starts with the California Gold Rush, then the arrival of Chinese workers recruited to build the transcontinental railroad, and later as laborers to drain lakes and swamps that created 500 acres of farmland in Salinas, to the arrival of Japanese and Filipino immigrants to work as farm laborers.
The timeline feature gave me a better understanding of the struggles of Asian immigrants, and their contributions to the modern-day agricultural wonder that is Monterey county.
The ACE Salinas website also features an oral history archive, conducted by California State University Monterey Bay students and faculty, as well as video documentaries about Chinatown produced by professional filmmakers and film students.
Above the California coast and the blue Pacific ocean
Are you “first-generation” or “second-generation”?
If your family immigrated to the United States, you have most likely been asked this question. Or if you speak with a clear American accent, you may be asked “So…when did your parents immigrate to the U.S.?”.
The term “first-generation” usually mean the first among the family who immigrated to the new country.
For example, here in Monterey County and the Salinas Valley, I’ve met many “second-generation” Filipino-Americans. Their parents (the first-generation) immigrated to the U.S. as adults and settled here.
Did you know there is also a name for another category of immigrants… the “1.5 generation”?
My younger sister and I fit this category, because we immigrated to the U.S. when I was 16, and when she was 14.
My older sister was already an adult and married when she immigrated to the U.S from the Philippines a year ahead of us, so she is considered a “first-generation” immigrant, and her daughter Stephanie is a 2nd generation Filipino-American (though she identifies as an “American” with 1/2 Filipino ancestry).
My older sister — the “first-generation” immigrant — pictured at right was 19 and married when she immigrated to the United States. She had already lived in two U.S. states by the time I took this photo in New Jersey, with my then 15-year old younger sister at left (the “1.5-generation” immigrant). Both are now American citizens. Photo taken the fall of 1980 with my first SLR camera, a Minolta, at the time when you actually had to buy a roll of black and white “film”.
The definition for the “1.5 generation” fits my younger sister and I very well. A Wikipedia article on immigrant generations defines 1.5G as:
…people who immigrate to a new country before or during their early teens. They earn the label the “1.5 generation” because they bring with them characteristics from their home country but continue their assimilation and socialization in the new country, thus being “halfway” between the 1st generation and the 2nd generation.
Their identity is thus a combination of new and old culture and tradition. Sociologist Ruben Rumbaut was among the first to use the term to examine outcomes among those arriving in the United States before adolescence.
Depending on the age of immigration, the community into which they settle, extent of education in their native country, and other factors, 1.5 generation individuals will identify with their countries of origin to varying degrees. However, their identification will be affected by their experiences growing up in the new country.
1.5G individuals are often bilingual and find it easier to be assimilated into the local cultureand society than people who immigrated as adults.
Many 1.5 generation individuals are bi-cultural, combining both cultures – culture from the country of origin with the culture of the new country.
I heard my niece, Stephanie, calling out for me from the bathroom of my mother’s house. She is 15, and it is her first visit to the Philippines…
Rice Fields and Coconut Trees — Verdant Philippines — drive from the pier to home. I can’t imagine not liking the color green, especially if you grew up in the Philippines.
Stephanie found the journey to the Philippines unbelievably long. For her, it began in the U.S. state of Virginia — then to California, to first attend the wedding of my younger sister.
Several days after the wedding, we are headed from San Francisco, California to Manila — the largest city in the Philippines.
After a long layover in Manila, we take another hour-long, plane ride to the island of Cebu, then head to the pier for a 2 hour “Supercat” ride — a catamaran style ferryboat service that shuttles people from one island to the next. At the pier, we are picked up and all load into a van headed for my mother’s home.
But it is another 45 minute drive from the pier to our mother’s home…and by this time, we had been traveling for 24 hours. While in the van, a travel weary Stephanie asked…”so what is next after the van ride?”
water buffallo (kalabaw or carabao) Photo from late 1800s.
I told her that after we arrive, we would have to ride atop a water buffalo (a “kalabao” or carabao) with our luggage, and head up to the mountains. “The van cannot travel on those unstable roads” I tell her.
She shakes her head in disbelief…”A water bufallo???”. I smile at her and tell her I am just joking…the van is the last leg of the trip, and soon, we would finally be at my mother’s home.
The following day, she wakes up and wants to take a shower. It is hot, humid, and she is looking forward to a shower, especially after the long journey. She is calling me from the bathroom because she has turned the water faucet handles and no water is coming out.
I knock on the bathroom door and ask her what she needs.”Is there a trick to the faucets?” she asked. She opens the door, and I explain to her that there is no water pressure in the morning…and most likely, there will be no water available until the evening. “How am I suppose to take a shower, then…and why is there a big garbage can size container of water in the shower?”
I tell her…”well Steph, that container of water isyour shower”.
A Filipino “Tabo”
I point to the “tabo” floating on top of the big container of water in front of her, and pick it up. “You see this thing Steph, it is called a tabo. You dip it in the water, then pour the water over your head and body to rinse. Then you soap up, shampoo, then do the same with a final rinse”.
I tell her it’s a “tropical shower”, and add…”or…you can wait until this evening to take a shower, when the water pressure is back up”. Her jaw drops…then she responds “Really?” I answer back “Yes, Steph…really.”
I giggle as I close the bathroom door and imagine the culture shock she must be experiencing. Having grown up in the Philippines, and accustomed to preparing for water being unavailable from the tap, I find the situation amusing. And then I think, well, all in all, it is good for her because there is so much we take for granted living in the United States.
Photo of a young Filipina with a clay water jug, late 1800’s. My sisters and I fetched water during the early 1970s, and thankfully, the containers we had for our water were much lighter than the one from this photo…
While living in the province (“prubinsya” or away from the city) when my sisters and I were young, we experienced having to “fetch” water away from home. A few times when the water wells dried up, we had to walk up the road to a natural spring site to get fresh water.
To this day, we all remember fondly our time in the province and once in a while still utter…”okay…mag-igib na tayo nang tubig” — translated to “let us go and fetch some water now”. Then we laugh about it, because of how absurd it sounds, with all 3 of us now living in the states.
Can you imagine having to “fetch” water? Picture our little tribe of kids walking on the gravel roadside with our balde (buckets), and metal containers, headed to the natural spring source. We fill our containers and carefully walk back — trying not to spill what we fetched.
I remember our older sister scolding us every few steps because of the water spilling out from our heavy containers. She tells the group to be careful because we would all have to come back AGAIN if we keep letting water spill out.
We do our best, but I’m pretty sure we lost half of the water by the time we got back to our Nanay Lucing and Tatay Kerpo’s place (our Aunt and Uncle’s house).
Although my take for this challenge is a little humorous, I do hope the post will make us appreciate how we take water for granted here in the U.S. There are still many places around the world where clean water is hard to find — or does not even come out of a faucet.
Without water, we cease to exist. It’s as simple as that…
Photo taken during the time of Stephanie’s visit, of a group of us swimming at a natural river “pool”. My daughter is at the front, both arms up — she was 13 then (and now I am a grandmother to her 2 boys). Behind her is my mother, and from left, my older sister, our cousin Donah, my cousin Ate Violeta, and her daughter.
This post is also dedicated to my niece, Stephanie, who celebrated her birthday this week. Happy Birthday, Stephanie! We are still trying to convince her to come and visit the Philippines again…
Stephanie’s Baby Photo
My mother had a water tower installed several years after Stephanie’s visit. It is filled up every night, so that throughout the day, there is water available for cooking, washing dishes, gardening, washing clothes, or even….for taking showers.
Ready to visit again, Stephanie?
From left, my younger sister, older sister (celebrating her birthday) and her daughter —- my niece — Stephanie.