Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in United States California? Or what it’s like to migrate to the U.S. from the Philippines? Many Filipinos have migrated to the U.S. to seek better opportunities for work or a better environment for their family and some that haven’t still dream of doing so. The Philippines is heavily influenced by western culture especially with all the movies, music, and social media content consumed by its citizens. But what is life like for someone who has fully adjusted to the environment of another country on the opposite side of the world?

This can be answered through the eyes of one Justine Briones Chu. In an interview she gets to tell her story of how she and her family moved to Los Angeles California, where big stars are made, in 2003. Justine is now a 29-year old nurse living with her husband and 3 cats. She was only 10 years old when they migrated to the States to find better opportunities, which she did find since now she is enjoying her career helping the sick and helpless.

When asked about her experience on how it was like adjusting to a foreign culture, practices, and food she said, “Since I was 10 it was easier to be exposed to a new culture and not get culture shock, but I live with lots of other Filipinos and am surrounded by Filipino food and culture. Transition was easier unlike the midwest where it might be tougher and growing up with people that looked like you, helped because there are many Filipinos living in Southern California.” When asked about feeling homesick Justine said that it wasn’t as bad because she was a younger kid and she left with her family.

In regards to her career she confidently said she was very proud of it as a nurse of 7 years especially because she got into Kaiser Permanente. It is a hospital over the west coast known to be a place of top ranking or highest paid nurses. To be specific, she is a hospice nurse, which means she has seen many families lose a member. “It felt like a calling” she put it. In relation to this, she was also asked about her experience with discrimination while trying to reach her career goals, to which she surprisingly said “I didn't feel very discriminated against”. She explains that in that part, at least, of California, it is multicultural and the ratio of colored or asian to white people is pretty equal. Also, when it came to applying for jobs she wanted, she got them and didn’t feel any hate from her interviewers due to her race, which is something we should all do towards others as well.

On the lighter side, Justine has said that she still practices some Filipino cultures such as: having “noche buena”, cooking Filipino food for Filipino parties like pancit and adobo or even exchanging words to teach with her Vietnamese husband. Of course, the most important thing to know about her experience in migrating is the lessons learned. One of which would be that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it, which was harder to do in the Philippines despite your efforts. Another would be that because California is very diverse, you’ll see other Filipinos and even Jollibee, so you won’t feel like you're in a completely different country. “It’s the most Filipino state in America,” she added.

We could learn a thing or two from Justine about migrating to California. Some tips she gave were: California is full of sunshine and beautiful places but it's very expensive and it’s the home of Hollywood and the more privileged. Still, it is a very welcoming state and one of the easiest to transition to from the Philippines. Also, it would help to look for a nearby Filipino market and community. So there you have it, the life in California as a Filipino Immigrant in the Eyes of Justine Briones Chu.

Photo Courtesy: Screenshot during Zoom Interview

Authored by: Gabriel Asprec  

Gabriel Asprec is a business development intern for the Spring Season of PS Media Enterprise. He is currently a 4th year Marketing Management student from University of Santo Tomas.

Nicole Anne Manzo

Nicole Anne Manzo is an Online Journalism intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is currently a 4th-year BA Communication student at the San Pablo Colleges, San Pablo City,Laguna.

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