Fransisco Cayabyab, Kyoto Japan
Fransisco Cayabyab, Kyoto Japan
Interviwed By: Hazelyn Mendoza
“I’m learning more and more about life in America and most of the struggles that families have gone through just to get to a place they call freedom, or paradise. Overall life isn’t so bad here in America.”
I was born in a Family not so different from others. We’d have family nights, we’d argue and fight, and we’d celebrate new and different traditions. I don’t think it was ever like this when we lived back home in Japan though. It was all new to me. Everyday I’d come home and I’d walk through the doors like I did every day, sat my bag down next to the couch by the stairs then I’d walk into the kitchen and find something to eat. Of course there was only my mom and a small little green bird that was given to me on my 8th birthday that was home. They were basically the only ones home every day. So when I’d come home I’d do my homework (if I had any) and then I’d go out and find some playmates. I’d be all over the place. I loved it in Japan. I have so many memories I can’t even count! Most all my memories are when I would be with my grandma. We’d take long walks into town and I’d ask her for candy and if I could bring my stuffed panda. But even though we’d go into town we wouldn’t talk. That’s the only thing I didn’t really like about being in Japan because we couldn’t understand each other. There were so many times I’d try to talk to her and she’d either ignore me or scold me because she didn’t understand much of what I was trying to say. Also there was this one time I went into town with her and there was a festival! There were lanterns all over the street lights and the shops were filled with toys clothes and etc. They’d have the famous Geisha walking around and the officials. They’d also have acrobatic people roaming the streets all over the place. Everywhere you’d turn there would always be an acrobat in one corner on top of a prop or anything.
I was supposedly named after my dad. His name is Diego Francisco Cayabyab Jemenniz. I moved here when I was 9 turning 10. So pretty much I was 9 1/2. I was turning 10 in a month! Hurray for me! That’s the most I remember from then.
So on my journey here I thought that America would be how people mentioned it. I thought it would be like “Paradise” as they say. But I guess life here isn’t so bad. I thought it would be really scary with people grabbing at me trying to force me to do something’s I didn’t want. I also hadn’t heard many things like it was big place and it would help our family with a lot. I mean I’ve experienced how it was like to shop in America, eat different foods, etc. I mean I guess it’s great to live here because then you have a much better education and you have a higher chance of getting a good job where it’s hard for other immigrants to find jobs. I miss my life back in Japan. I didn’t have much feeling into the journey and such because I was still pretty young so I never questioned it. It was all basically new to me because I hadn’t known much about what was happening at the time so I just pretty much stuck to myself. As soon as I arrived here I knew there had to be many changes that were to be done in my new life. Although it was hard to adjust I told myself I might as well make due with what I’ve got because its what was given to me.
Also I had some troubles when I arrived. Like this one time I remember my dad getting into a fight with this one “American” guy because we were registering at the counter when we finally came to America and some guy stole our bags. So my uncles and my dad chased after him. My dad dove for his legs and the guy started hitting my dad then my uncles came in the picture and beat the other guy up. I don’t know. It all happened so fast. I also remember saying goodbye to all our animals. The most specific one was my chicken. I loved that chicken so much. I asked my dad if we could bring one of our animals with us and he said NO! But then he changed his mind and brought my favorite chicken! He said “we’ll bring this one but not to keep as a pet… he said we were going to bring it to EAT!” So on the way to the airport I was crying my eyes out.
It took me a little while to try to understand the language. I didn’t know how to answer different people in English only in either tagalog or Japanese. I tried to learn some English while I was in school there but it wasn’t enough time for me because I didn’t start learning till towards the end of 2nd grade. They were teaching us the basics.
If I could I would definitely go back to Japan and live a little more of my life there. I’d bring my friends with me too because it’s just more interesting there than it is here. There are also a lot of things you could learn just by being somewhere you haven’t been before. My Japanese life was so much more active and cooler. Everyone is almost always smiling and it’s like everyday there’s a festival because so many Asians dress in weird costumes. We would have little parades on big events like Chinese New Year’s! Also everyone is always talking and of course there’s gossip and such but there are hardly any real physical arguments. Unlike here in America, you have to be extra careful because you just don’t know what’ll be on the other side of a corner of a sidewalk as you walk on by, also there is way too much gang violence in this country. There is nothing but gang violence each day and terrorist attacks all over the news. You hardly ever hear about good news anymore.
When I was back in Japan we’d have all sorts of things to do every time there was a special event. Whether it was a birthday, a specific holiday, or anything else. We celebrate most of the main stream holidays just to keep it simple as well as traditions. We have traditions like praying for the dead, cleaning the house spotless on New Year’s, and Chinese New Year’s. I would teach or show someone not of my race something’s about my culture. It’s good to know other cultures and also because our culture is really interesting and relatively diverse. I mean it isn’t like Japanese traditions are extremely different from American traditions. What makes my culture different from Americans it that there are some differences like the people and stuff but I dont know them, well, what I do know is that in my culture we show lots more respect rather than American cultures (no offense). Well both my Filipino and Japanese Heritage is where I get my respect from actually. For instance of course right after we pray we go to our elders and say “Mano Poh.” Im not exactly sure what it means but I think it means Bless.
So far my life in America has been great. I wouldn’t mind telling people back home that it actually isn’t so bad living in the United States. It’s a fun experience and a great way to start off a life well known by others. There are a lot of opportunities in Japan as well as here but I’m thinking people would most likely succeed in America. I’m glad I got to live here and it’s been great because I’ve gotten to know how my parents had to go through a lot in their lives just by moving here. I look up to my mom at the most because she struggled a lot to get us through. She’s worked very hard and she’s done so much to support her family. She told me that she has a better chance to raise her family here than in Japan. Also she told me that I’d have a better education here. So I guess America has its ups and downs. I am now 15 ½ years old. I’m learning more and more about life in America and most of the struggles that families have gone through just to get to a pace they call freedom, or paradise. Overall life isn’t so bad here in America. Of course there’s going to be some difficult struggles just to get by but some time and patience is part of what would make life easier in America.
I remember a new found friend telling me that “A struggle is a preparation for a life to come.”
My journey seems to have just begun…