I was born in the Philippines and when I turned three, my father (pa) enlisted in the U.S. Navy and moved to the U.S. to provide a better life for me and my mom. Shortly after his enlistment we joined him in San Diego, California.
San Diego was the premiere destination for enlisted Filipino men in the Navy… not for the weather, but for the sense of community. My family and I lived in neighborhoods where Filipinos were the majority, not the minority.
I remember pa telling me a story about a time he was on duty when a Caucasian lady called and spoke to him for less than five minutes. Upon hearing my pa’s accent, she asked to speak to someone who spoke English. He politely asked her what she needed help with but she refused to continue to speak to him.
This infuriated him so much so that he took the opportunity to tell her that he has two degrees (bachelors and masters), studied Theology, and told her he knows more of the English language than she will ever know. His retelling of the story struck me to the core. I felt sorry for my pa that he had to go through this. But this story is what set the course for my wanting to be successful in everything I do, especially to prove the naysayers wrong.
To that lady who called my pa… we can speak English alright, and we do it very well.