The Atlantic: My Family’s Slave

Cultural traditions in one society can be crimes in another. Children raised with such traditions confront a dilemma as acceptance slowly transforms into questions and shame. Author Alex Tizon, now deceased, profiles a woman who had served his family without pay for more than 50 years. The uneducated worker was taken from the fields at age 12 and eventually given to Tizon’s mother by his grandfather while they lived in the Philippines. “No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived,” Tizon explained. “Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly.” The family, including Lola, immigrated to the United States and struggled as newcomers. Over the years, the family referred to Lola as aunt or grandmother, but Tizon’s childhood friends had questions about the obvious mistreatment. Lola’s visa papers had long expired, and she became a source of contention between mother and son. After his mother’s death, Tizon moved Lola to his home. He paid a wage, required no work, and arranged a belated trip to the Philippines, long after her parents' deaths. The family had scattered, and her homelad was not the same. Some wrongdoings and inequities are never truly rectified. – YaleGlobal

The Atlantic: My Family’s Slave

An adult child tells the story of a Filipino woman given to his mother as a child and her lifetime of unpaid work even after their immigration to the US
Alex Tizon
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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Alex Tizon passed away in March. He was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self.

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