we be joy luck clubbin’

Joy Luck, show me loove, up in the club!

(That’s the line Ice Cube forgot.)

(Which, come to think, is a song from the soundtrack to Mr. Cube’s cinematic masterwork “The Player’s Club“.)

(Which naturally, begs the question:
Does Joy Luck Club + Player’s Club = Movie:
1. The Joy Luck Player’s Club
2. The Mahjongg Playazz Klubb
3. The World of Suzie Wong
4. Fight Club?)


My 300 words, in response to Claire Light’s ‘Joy Luck Hub’ Blog Carnival call:


Not long after WWII, my lolo (grandfather) decided to move from Manila to Guam with his wife and 3 kids. He was offered an engineering job there with an American contractor at a time where good jobs were hard to come by, plus he was fed up with Manila cronyism, and wanted to make something of himself on his own terms.

Tito Sonny, Tita Lety, Mom, Lolo, Lola in Guam, 195os

My mom, tito and tita spent their preteen and teen years on Guam, attending a tiny missionary school there. It’s a little unclear financially how, but somehow Lolo sent all 3 kids off to college in the U.S.. My mom and aunt were probably the only 2 Filipinas/Asians in Walla Walla, Washington in the late 50′s: they quickly bonded with 2 Japanese-American sisters there as well. (The foursome have stayed dear friends their whole lives: Nobe and Kaz are very much my “aunties”, which actually brings this narrative dangerously close to JLC territory.)

After Walla Walla, my mom and Aunt Kaz moved to Portland to complete their nursing degrees. And then, in a reversal of the classic Filipina nurse immigration saga, Mom moved back to Manila, to work in the 7th Day Adventist Hospital there. My grandparents had gone back to Manila for  awhile as well, so as their unmarried bunso, she was obligated to be with them, since my tito and tita had both married Americans and settled in the US.

Eventually, Mom returned to the US, and worked at a San Francisco hospital while living with her sister and her sister’s husband. My lolo died early of a heart attack not long after, leaving my lola alone on Guam: she soon moved to California to live with her children. Residency in Guam qualified everyone in the family for U.S. citizenship once they reached adulthood: my mom became an American citizen soon after she turned 18.

Tita Lety, Mom, Lolo, Lola, Tito Sonny in Guam, 1950s

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2 Responses to “we be joy luck clubbin’”

  1. kimberly Says:

    I’m really fascinated by this story! A little because I’m trying to learn as much as I can about how Filipinos moved to U.S. territories before or even without moving to the mainland. And a lot because of the amazing photos.

  2. admin Says:

    Hey, Kim! Good to hear from you.

    Yeah, another friend of mine here in the Bay Area comes from a Filipino/Guam-based family. I’ve never really asked him the full story, but I think it’s probably time.

    Other details to the Magboo family immigration saga involve my lolo being absolutely adored by his contractor company (I think they were called Custer and White), and there being some cozy relationships between Custer and White and the US military, I suspect. And then my family was 7th Day Adventist (the Magboo kids all went to a SDA school on Guam, then a SDA college in Walla Walla). Some combination of these elements seems to have made things easier for my family, whether that was visas or scholarships for the kids, a bit smoother than for others. My grandfather was a good contractor but not exceptionally well-to-do, so I really can’t imagine how he sent 3 kids, all a year apart in age, to a private college in Walla Walla otherwise. My mom has no idea how, either.

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