I like to tell stories. I get it from my great-grandma Rosie. Rosalie Borabod Martinez Lamm. Grandma Rosie had a difficult but very interesting life, growing up in old New Orleans, spending part of the year with her father in the fishing village of Manila Village, and part of the year at the Wilkerson plantation in Myrtle Grove during the sugar cane harvest. She knew English, Spanish, some French, and a enough of her father’s native Filipino dialect to know when she was in trouble.
Grandma Rosie told the absolute best stories, and it’s thanks to her stories that I’ve been able to form the framework for our family history. I’ve been researhing our history since 2004. It began as a project to gather info for my family reunion in June of 2005, but it grew into something so much bigger. I’ve reconnected, through my published work, with long-lost family members all over the country. And I feel I’ve contributed in some small way to the uncovering of Filipino history in America. There are so many historians before me whose kindness and generous sharing have helped me with my research, and I thank them. I’ll post some of our family history here….and then…
Our current generation is in a unique position of understanding what our ancestors went through long ago. The fishing villages that fed our family were destroyed and rebuilt so many times after storms ravaged them. My first ancestors were probably given up to the sea, as one of my aunts told me that the bodies of the dead were put in shallow graves near the village until they could be transported for proper burial in New Orleans. But a storm came, and many of the bodies were washed out to the Gulf of Mexico. We have never known if our first ancestors were brought to New Orleans before that happened: I’ve not yet been able to find them in any cemetery records. I’m still trying, though.
Life after Katrina is the other category under this group of writings. We are a part of history right now. We are making history, for better or worse. If nothing else, I know now (never knew it before) that I am as strong as my ancestors were, and I am able to face my fears and overcome them, lose everything and recover, lose normal and create a new normal. It makes me feel good about myself. Katrina broke some of us; it made many more of us stronger, better human beings.
I hope you enjoy some of what I write here! ~ Rhonda Lee Richoux