Return to Philippines foiled by Marcos’ rule
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Rosie Ferrin immigrated from the Philippines in 1968. Ferdinand Marcos had been in office for three years, and Rosie was alarmed. Marcos had become more and more repressive. He imposed martial law in 1972 and used it to control civil unrest for the next nine years. He was finally deposed in 1986, but not before he had plundered a country that Rosie cared deeply about.
Ferrin: As a child I always dreamed of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave. I was inspired by my two Sunday school teachers. They taught me about serving the people, fighting for social justice and helping the disadvantaged. So I thought I could go to America and work hard, make money and go back to the Philippines and help the people there, but that did not come true because something happened. (weeping)
Gallacher: What happened?
Ferrin: Martial law was imposed, and I knew it was no longer safe to go back to the Philippines. I knew that my aggressiveness and belief in social justice and helping the poor and powerless would get me in trouble. In my country the rich are richer and the poor are poorer. The rich are much more powerful than the poor.
Gallacher: Were you opposed to Marcos?
Ferrin: Yes. So I realized then that my destiny had changed and for many years I was in deep depression. I knew that if I went back to my country I would be killed. Because so many of my friends and relatives were being arrested and incarcerated. Many of them were being killed.
It was very difficult to succeed in the Philippines unless you were willing to commit corruption, and I didn’t want to. So my dream was to come to America.
Gallacher: How did you do that?
Ferrin: Well I didn’t have any money, and my friends were making fun of me for even thinking I could come here. It was a big order to come to America. You needed money. But I always believed that if I wanted to do something I could find a way and the good Lord would help me.
So I found a program that would finance my trip and allow me to fly now and pay later. I only had $20 when I landed in Seattle. But I knew that there were plenty of jobs that I could get to make money. I could wash dishes and mop floors. I knew that I could work my way up. I knew I wouldn’t stay there very long because I would work hard.
It took me two years to get my visa because at that time there was a brain drain in the Philippines. People with ambition and people who were seeking opportunities were leaving and moving all over the world. I chose America because I loved what I read about this country, the freedom, the brave people, the immigrants and the opportunities.
I was able to fulfill my dream. (weeping)
Rosie Ferrin earned a teaching degree and spent most of her career as an elementary school teacher.
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