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Julian Hurtado: From the Philippines, His Grandparents Make His L.A. Possible

Each week, Jeremy Rosenberg (@losjeremy) asks, "How did you - or your family before you - wind up living in Los Angeles?

Today we hear from UCLA student Julian Hurtado:

"This a story of sacrifice, persistence, and life.

"This is a story about the arrival of my grandfather into this nation, as well as the eventual arrival of the rest of his family -- which includes my father.

"In 1965, my grandfather -- who had just had his first son in 1962, as well as a daughter in 1963 -- received a foreign exchange scholarship for being an elite student in Los Banos, Philippines, to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. My grandfather had already begun his college education in the Philippines, therefore he only had to attend a few semesters in Arkansas to complete his degree.

"Despite the fact he wasn't going to be able to bring his kids with him, the political and social changes going on within the Philippines were a sign that he needed to advance his education as far as he could and possibly even look for future opportunities. More important than the possibility of studying in the U.S was the possibility of eventually moving his whole family to the U.S.  

"While studying in Arkansas, my grandfather stayed at the home of an elderly Caucasian American couple. I once asked my grandfather if he ever faced racial prejudice during this time -- which was a peak period both for racial tension and the Civil Rights movement.

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"With his usually humor, my grandfather gave a vague and sarcastic answer. He said that someone did some outrageous act towards him that I know for a fact didn't happen. Then, in usual fashion, he and my grandma began laughing and my grandma intervened and said, 'No, he didn't. Grandpa was fine.'

"My grandfather completed his education in 1967, and then decided to return to the Philippines. He had been back and forth a few times during summer breaks. He went on to build his family a home in Tarlac, Philippines and utilize his educational experience to provide quality agricultural work and make a living for his family.

"The family was doing extremely well and had grown to four children. However, social unrest and political turmoil had caused a struggle economically, both within their community and amongst other member of the family.

"At this point, my grandparents had to make life-changing decisions. He choice was to move the family to the United States. Initially, my grandparents came out alone to Los Angeles to find jobs and a place to stay and begin saving money.

"My grandmother recently described to me the walks they would have to make. These included often having to walk from different apartments they stayed at in Central Los Angeles -- including parts of Westlake as well as what is now known as Historic Filipinotown -- to where my grandmother had found work Downtown near the Grand Central Market or Pershing Square area.

"My grandparents often would be out all day, working, buying groceries and walking home. My grandmothers feet would be completely black and swollen due to the magnitude of walking and labor they had to endure. Ultimately my grandparents saved enough money and moved the whole family out to Los Angeles in 1972. My grandparents have sustained the same level of commitment and sacrifice ever since.

"I am currently a student at UCLA and recently my family has been going through much hardship economically, thus it has been hard, especially this year, to afford the cost of school and board. My grandparents, at 75-years-old and now living in Las Vegas, Nevada, are my primary financial help each week, with my grandmother contributing from her benefits and my grandfather working full time at a Home Depot in the agricultural department.

"The hardships that my grandparents faced and continue to face are my motivation. The story of their arrival has instilled in me a greater sense of commitment, persistence, sacrifice and love. I hope to carry on these values as I grow older and I hope to make them proud!"

-- Julian Hurtado
(as emailed to Jeremy Rosenberg)

Top Photo: Julian Hurtado's grandparents. Photo courtesy Julian Hurtado

Do you or someone you know have a great Los Angeles Arrival Story to share? If so, then contact Jeremy Rosenberg via: arrivalstory AT gmail DOT com. Follow Rosenberg on Twitter @losjeremy

About the Author

Jeremy Rosenberg is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, and consultant whose work has appeared in various books, magazines, newspapers, and online.
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