This is a new edition of “Story Time” featuring my parents! During a class discussion, my English teacher noted that I should blog about my parents’ story just like I do mine. Their journey, which I’ve so greatly titled Odyssey to Freedom, starts in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In their late 20s, both of my parents fled to Palawan Refugee Camp in the Philippines. After camping out for some years, my dad finally came to America in search of freedom, opportunity, and education. He found work and sent a message by way of pigeon of course (
well no not really, but how cool would that be??) to let my mom know it was okay for her and my brother to fly over. My brother was born in Palawan in 1992. Fast-forward to 1998 and my mom became pregnant with me! Not only had my dad found a secure and valued job at Lotus (a company later bought by IBM), but they had enough money to finally buy a nice house and provide a secure environment for my brother and me. So from that, you can technically deduce that I am the Saviour Child aka the Lump of Gold of this family. (You’re welcome Mom & Dad).
This particular post is a memory my mom told my cousin Linh & me in the car yesterday. I was dying of laughter. Let me know your thoughts down below!
My parents came to Palawan in 1989 on a boat of about 150 passengers. The small wooden fisherman’s boat had taken 6 days and 7 nights to cross the South China Sea and reach Palawan. Palawan was like a little city, but that definitely doesn’t mean there was enough room for everyone. My parents were assigned to stay in a hut that was about (according to my mom’s estimations) 12 ft by 7 ft – half the size of my dining room. 15 people slept in that room and they were all packed like anchovies.
Because my parents were the ones fresh off the boat (aka FOBs), they didn’t have priority as to where they wanted to sleep. They ended up sleeping at the feet of the refugees that arrived before them. Now this isn’t that bad given their circumstances, but this one lady had really long legs. Every night she would stick her foot in my dad’s face. He warned her but she didn’t care for some new kid’s complaint. So one night, when her foot hit my dad’s eye, he was fed up! He bit her foot! She screamed but didn’t try to pick a fight because my dad “was the most handsome guy at the camp”. Not sure if this is actually true, or if after 30+ years, my mom is still just as smitten as before. For the sake of the story, we’ll agree that he was indeed the George Clooney of Palawan Refugee Camp.
Moral of the story: Don’t stick your feet in someone’s face, or they’ll bite your foot!