America (or more specifically the United States) has been the “dream” land of generations of Filipinos, the pie-in-the-sky that hundreds of thousands aspire to reach. Yet America remains both hospitable and inhospitable to those who reach its shores. On one hand it embraces those who successfully navigate the often treacherous paths to assimilation, on the other, it puts every new immigrant through a wringer, squeezing out every drop of skill, talent and determination for the greater glory of this land of milk, honey and mountains of debt.
In this issue, we feature some of the stories of Filipino immigration to the US -- the brides of Filipino servicemen who fought for freedom and democracy in WWII only to find that in the real world of the US in the late '40s, freedom and democracy were two-edged swords; a Filipino doctor who came in the mid-'60s and who, until now, can't forget the culture shock of his first day; Filipino graphic artists trusted with defining the looks of some of the superheroes in comic books; mail-order brides confronted with the ugly side of some Americans; and a Filipino hairdresser in New York whose innovative approach to giving back puts bigots to shame.
The late great Filipino American writer, Carlos Bulosan said it best: "If you want to know what we are, look at the men reading books, searching in the dark pages of history for the lost word, the key to the mystery of the living peace. We are factory hands, field hands, mill hands, searching, building and molding structures. We are doctors, scientists, chemists discovering and eliminating disease, hunger and antagonism. We are soldiers, Navy men, citizens, guarding the imperishable dreams of our fathers to live in freedom. We are the living dream of dead men. We are the living spirit of free men.”