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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and as a proud, first-generation, Filipino-American female, I will be sharing some stories and information about the Philippine culture and my American upbringing.

Today I am sharing a little bit about my Mom, Teresita “Tessie” Oculto. She came to the United States—specifically to Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love”—as a part of a nursing program which brought nurses to the U.S. It was only supposed to be a one-year contract; however, through hard work my Mom was offered an extension of employment and had the opportunity to remain in the U.S. on a working visa. She met my father (a Filipino in the U.S. Navy) in Philadelphia where they married and where I was born. A few years later my brother James was born while stationed in Baltimore. Our family lived the east coast military life from Maine to Virginia. I remember when Mom would study hard to learn American history, continued to work on her English pronunciation, and when we practiced reciting the Pledge of Allegiance together, as she prepared to become an American citizen. Today Mom resides in Hawaii where she is a successful owner of Island Living ARCH (Adult Residential Care Home).

And what’s super special about today? It’s my Mom’s 77th birthday! Happy birthday, Mom!!! We’re sending our love and gratitude to have you as a role model and matriarch of our family.

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