Written by my mom, Lucila.
Nine days after leaving Manila on May 8, 1969, I wrote my second letter home, but my first from the U.S. There had been daily post cards from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Honolulu and San Francisco in between.
As I reread this and the previous letter, I am struck by my naivete, my utter lack of sophistication, as I viewed the big wide world outside Manila with wild-eyed wonder. Although I still feel tremendously excited whenever I go traipsing across continents and all over the globe, I am afraid I have now lost that almost-childlike sense of awe at every new and unfamiliar sight.
Every letter I sent was handwritten on the old blue aerogramme with the red-white-and-blue border when folded. It was available only at the post office. This light-weight paper with its own thirteen-cent stamp printed on it cost just that – 13 cents! Because of its limited size, I had to resort to abbreviations and semi-stenographic short-cuts. One side of the aerogramme said, “Do not use tape or stickers to seal. No enclosures permitted.”
750 Lillian Way, #3
Hollywood, California 90038
May 16, 1969
Dear Tatang, Ima & everybody,
We arrived in LA last night from SF. We had been mailing you post cards each day since we left on May 8. Did you receive them — from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Honolulu and San Francisco? I think the last (& only) letter we wrote you was from Tokyo. From there we flew to Honolulu where we stayed with Lily, the daughter of Ate Puring. She & her doctor-husband. Q, have bought a beautiful $65,000 house on top of a high ridge overlooking the Pacific. You should see the spectacular view from there! We sent some postcards to you in a gift box for the boys from there.
Then we went to SF where we stayed with Mr. & Mrs. Rey and Shirley Olmos, neighbors of Oscar in Craig. They were very, very good to us. We did not know what to give them except for the Phil. placemat-&-napkin set, a farewell gift to us from Edith Sayoc of National Life. The Olmos couple brought us all over SF & treated us to a dinner in Chinatown where we had wonton soup, fried rice, barbecued pork (parang pindang) [like sweetened fried pork from the Philippine province of Pampanga], and beef with vegetables. We also joined a 3-hr. guided tour of SF which featured all the exciting highlights of the city. We shall be sending you all the pamphlets and brochures of our entire travel – from the MLA to LA.
In SF I called up Fely Lapus & I found out that 3 of my former co-teachers [at St. Theresa’s College] are all with her at the Pacific Telephone Co. They wanted to teach in SF but they had been having much difficulty getting employment. I was very discouraged when I heard that. Anyway, Rey and Shirley & a friend of theirs, a girl from U.P., [University of the Philippines] brought us to the airport in her brand new Cougar. We took the United Airlines jet to LA & we arrived here after 45 minutes.
Tony [my younger brother who had come to the US a few months earlier] came to meet us at the airport, wearing his black & white sports coat just like Oscar’s. Oscar was wearing his too. When they met at the “jet walk” (like an escalator but only for the flat floor of the airport where you don’t have to walk; it does the walking for you) they were both surprised to find themselves in “combo” attire. In all American airports, there is very little walking needed; they have elevators, escalators and these “jetwalks.” In fact you don’t walk thru the airfield to the plane anymore – unlike at the MLA airport where you can wave dramatically to your family and friends seeing you off. Here the plane goes very near the gate & there is a car that ejects an accordion-like piece that becomes a corridor to connect the plane to the gate. The passengers go from the gate to the plane through this projection which is covered all around, to protect you from rain and sun. Ima will have no difficulty coming here at all.
Tita, bring all the things you can carry. We never had any trouble with weight. All 3 airlines we took were most liberal. They weighed the suitcases but they didn’t mind the excess. In fact from HK on to LA we had not been hand-carrying our “hand-carried” bags. They were all checked in so that we could have more legroom. From MLA to HK we hand-carried everything we could, but we found ourselves in an uncomfortable position – no place for legs or any movements. In HK we were advised to check them in; anyway, there was no extra charge. Each of us checked in at least 55 lbs. We did this all the way here. Also, Tita, we would suggest you join an affinity group that can stop overnight in the places you want to visit. Most of our expenses went to hotel bills & food. Joining an affiity group will save you all these expenses. Anyway, you would be afraid to go out alone in a city like Tokyo where nobody (not even policemen) can speak English. In a group you’ll feel safe. If you have a 24-hour stop-over, that would be enough. Even a shorter one will do. If you arrive in the afternoon you can have the rest of the day to go to shopping centers, if you are interested.
Tokyo may be a little expensive, but I found it the best place, even for shopping. Imagine, an excellent leather bag – for only P10; and a beautiful umbrella for P7! Be sure you go down to the basement of department stores, which is always the bargain area. The bargains there are really bargains. Don’t buy anything in Honolulu. Everything is so expensive there, but go to Waikiki Beach with your bathing suit. By the way, I bought one in Tokyo — yellow one-piece – P15. [I still have it, 41 years later.]
Tony’s apt. is very beautiful. It is right at the back of a super supermarket that gives 24-hour service everyday of the week. Last night, we had vegetable soup (Campbell), rice, okoy (but a TV dinner made of various vegetables –- carrots, celery, peas, etc), fried beef and guinisang chicharo [sautéed Chinese peas]. Olive [my sister-in-law, Tony’s wife] was very happy to see all the clothes we had brought for her. Tony said she could not sleep because of her excitement, This morning she already wore one to work – using the black shoes from Syvel’s that you, Tatang & Ima, had sent her.
This morning, Oscar called up Sonia Recio Mamaril, formerly of Nat’l Life. She has been teaching in a parochial school here & she asked if I would want to teach there. One of her co-teachers, also a Filipina, had just resigned. I said yes, but I will still try to look around myself.
How are Thayer and GJ & Mark? Today only Oscar & I were left at home, so we could catch up with the sleep we’ve been missing. Do you know I slept from 11:00 pm last night until 1:30 pm the today, and I dreamt of all 3 of them. Mark was the clearest. He looked newly bathed w/ fresh haircut & he didn’t recognize me. When I picked him up, he smiled and sang Oh My Darling Clementine.
Oscar & Baby