LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
As a Filipino couple, Denise and Joseph talked about the racism they have both experienced in obtaining and holding a job in the United States. Joseph told of riding home on the bus with their six year old daughter (whom he takes to and from school every day). There were young Filipino men on the bus with food supplies. Joseph asked them where they bought the items (large bags of rice, corn meal, powdered milk and so forth). The boys told him that they waited in line to receive the food for free. Joseph asked the interviewer about the welfare system in the United States and how a family becomes eligible. He then said that he and Denise could not participate in this system because it would not look good for them to be on welfare, if they are to be sponsors for their two children who still live in the Philippines.
Denise indicated that if she were earning the Philippine equivalent of what she now earns, they would be starving to death. Here, they can live better, in spite of the fact that she has to settle for a job below what she (and Joseph) could get if they returned to the Philippines. Both of them talked about difficulties associated with integrating themselves into the American economic system. They are hopeful and remain in an expansive mood even while they describe their difficult life together. Denise indicated that their hopefulness is critical. It is their way of sticking together (with their children) as a family. They invited the interviewer over for Christmas one year from now. By then, according to Joseph, they will be successful and “will have a big feast.” This year they can’t afford even to decorate their tree, but next year they hope once again to be able to celebrate a full Christmas and a successful transition into the American culture and economic system.
The interviewer had a chance to talk individually with Denise, who told the interviewer of her fatigue and frustration with regard to carrying the financial burdens alone at the present time. Previously, Joseph had shared his humiliating and frustrating experience of meeting with potential employers who have a very racist attitude. He also was irritated that his adult daughter (who was still living with them) had taken her time in finding a job. Despite the very understandable pressures experienced by all members of the family with regard to finances, they remain close and continue to talk with each other. “Denise,” according to Joseph, “is the budgeter, worrier and the quiet one.” Denise speaks of her husband as “the planner, the decision-maker, the one who takes risks.” Denise says again and again that Joseph is very caring toward the children. Joseph shares stories of the children and had spent the day preparing photo albums for their two children who still live in the Philippines. While Denise said that the albums probably meant more to Joseph than to their two children in the Philippines, she rushes over to show the albums to the interviewer and with Joseph told several stories to the interviewer regarding the circumstances associated with pictures in these albums.
Clearly, Denise and Joseph believe their financial problems will only be solved by the active involvement of both partners. They value each other’s unique strengths and firmly believe that they will need each other to resolve their financial problems. Furthermore, they keep their priorities straight. While the financial problems must be solved, Denise and Joseph know that they are fortunate to have loving children. They devote time to their children, despite being distracted by concerns about economic viability, institutional racism and future prospects for their children in the United States and the Philippines.