July 2, 2012
Everyone has an American Story. My story begins with my Lolo, George Aducayen Jr., my mother’s father, and former Ambassador of the Philippines. During his foreign service, in 1961, my mother was born in Washington D.C., instantly making her an American citizen. Years later, my Lolo’s international work would take him to New Zealand where my mother would meet my father, a man who was born in Malaysia but had roots from the Fujian province of China. After my parents married, they migrated to San Francisco where my siblings and I were born.
We came from a humble background.
My father found work doing anything to support the family; from insurance to real estate. After much prayer, he finally was given opportunity to join the Police Academy. In this time period, my mother gave birth to four children within four years. While she wanted to focus on being a mother, our family couldn’t afford her to be a stay-at-home-mom, so she continued her various jobs as a parking garage manager and state employee.
It’s so easy to look at our lives today: at our businesses, our family events and our travels, and assume we had a wealthy upbringing. The truth is, is that we were raised in one of the poorest areas of San Francisco. While I dreamt of going to tap dancing or ballet, my parents couldn’t afford it. We rarely had an allowance. We didn’t buy school lunch. Many of our clothes were hand-me-downs or from the Philippines. We didn’t go to the movies often, if we did, we went to the drive-in.
In high school, I finally became a cheerleader, an activity that required a lot of money to join. My mother wrote sponsor letters, which I gave to family friends as well as my dentist and orthodontist. For a couple years I told my coach I was on a family trip to avoid the costs of attending cheerleading camp. I naturally felt left out because I didn’t bond with the other cheerleaders at camp and I had to learn all the dance routines they already knew.
When I attended college, I commuted the first couple years to UC Davis because I not only felt responsible for a lot of familial duties, but I also couldn’t afford to live in the dormitory. Again, I wasn’t able to make friends easily and felt disconnected from other students on campus who all seemed to know each other. During this time, my mother followed her ambition to open her first elderly care home business. While working and studying two majors, I also spent nearly every weekend at the care home…nailing beams, painting and pouring cement. Our first family care home was constructed by my father’s lead and by me and my siblings little hands. From that point forward, my parents continued to do as they’ve always done: save, invest, save and invest. We now have 8 elderly care homes in our family and our slated to open 2 more in the next year.
My family is the American Dream.
We value hard work, ambition, sacrifice and celebration.
Now that I am a mother, my only wish is to instill in my kids what my parents instilled in me….that you will work hard in this life. You can’t wait for opportunities; you must create it, for you will only reap what you sow
If you want something, prepare to sacrifice in order to get it. Don’t buy the latest gadgets, don’t eat out and don’t depend on external sources for entertainment.
Always pray and never forget that God will always provide. You may not have everything you want, but you will always have everything you need.
Lastly, in order to continue succeeding in your life, you must remember where you came from and give thanks to the lives that came before.
As citizens of this great nation, I hope we continue to value the American dream….the opportunity to achieve great success if you think hard, work hard and pray hard.
Happy Fourth of July.