This interview was conducted between me (Amanda) and my mom (Carolina). In this interview, Carolina talks about the way she was able to get from the Philippines to the US to join her husband/my dad Atilano, even though she initially had to leave her daughter (my older sister Almira, whom I call "Ate" which means big sister in Tagalog) behind. This interview is linked to a previously published interview, "There was a need for doctors, they had a need" in which Atilano talks about how he was able to get to the US.
Carolina (C): I think I joined your dad in – you were born in October in Boston. I had joined him already. But I had gone there the year before for a post-graduate course. That's how I -
Amanda (A): So the first, when you first went to the States -
C: It was only for a post-graduate course. Like a three-week course at Harvard post-grad for psychiatry and then I came home. That was the plan, that if you went and came back then they will give you a visa because you had gone and came back. But this time to be sure that I would get there we did a diplomatic – you can't refuse a diplomatic visa. So they had to give it.
A: So when you left for the US, you left Ate in that house, in Quezon City. And so you were saying to me the other day you left her with somebody, someone lived there with her?
C: The people who lived with me were Jiang-Jiang, she was a teenager who looked after Almira, and I think two maids. One usually cooks and the other does the laundry. We didn't have machines. And Nelia David, she was a midwife who worked in my unit, in the psychiatry unit that I ran. But Nelia was older, she came from the province, I think from Bicol. She had two kids which she left with her mother in the province, so she was alone. And then when I moved, there was so much space in that house and I needed someone more responsible if I was away, so Nelia was there when she was off. She lived with me and Jiang-Jiang, usually the maids are lived in. So there was her, and Jiang-Jiang, and I think two maids, I don't know if one or two, but at least one. So there would have been four adults and Almira.
A: So how does the diplomatic visa work?
C: It's given only to certain people, and then there are ties in the Philippines. Like I was employed by the university. So they have guarantees that if you have a diplomatic visa you will return. Because they don't want people to overstay. And that was the condition, that for every year I spend abroad, the university's contract says that I have to work for them for two years, for each year spent there, I work for two years. And I think that was in the contract. So the consul will give it. And the standard thing is that you're not able to change diplomatic visas into other visas, that's usually the case.
A: So with the diplomatic visa you were employed by a university in the Philippines?
C: University of the Philippines, yeah, UP-PGH Medical Center. I was an assistant professor. That's how I got here. I went there to have a fellowship in – my fellowship in family psychiatry and marital therapy was at Tufts University. But I was not paid by them. My boss – he just wanted me to have a placement, so they gave the training but I was not paid in the US. So it's a lot of – I guess, choices were made so we could be together, Almira could be here.