Filipino Love Stories

There Was A Young Lady

There Was A Young LadyYoung Filipina women in these primarily bachelor communities gained ‌a lot of attention. Growing up, Annie Mosqueda lived at labor camps because her stepfather was a labor contractor for migrant Filipino workers. At one camp, as Annie describes, “We had a volleyball court that a lot of people would come over and play volleyball with each other because there was a young lady there. That was me!”

Queen contests were one way that this kind of male attention was sanctioned. Candidates for queen tried to sell as many fundraising tickets as possible to win. Many single men gladly bought tickets to gain the women’s favor. A concern that parents had was that their daughters would marry well—a challenge given the secondary status of Filipinos in the U.S. Thus, many parents arranged marriages for their daughters at a very young age to carefully selected Filipino men, in hopes of finding their daughter social, moral, and economic protection.

Carmen Juanich, Annie Mosqueda, and Jay Alfonso

Mary Reyes at Steele Ranch in Arroyo Grande, CaliforniaSalvador Reyes came to California in the early 1920s and worked in ‌the fields. In the early 1930s, he twice traveled back to his hometown of Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo, Philippines, to “find a wife”—Filipinos were hardly able to do so. His wife Maria “Mary” Villanueva Reyes was one of the few Filipinas that came to the Arroyo Grande area before the Second World War. In the 1940 U.S. Census, Mary was the only female among thirty-nine Filipino men living and working at Steele Ranch. She once described her only friends as being “chickens and rabbits.”

Left: (L-R) Mansueto Betita, Ernesto Betita, Jose Pelaez, Mary Reyes, and Benito Betita. They all lived and worked together at Steele Ranch. Courtesy of Juliet Betita.

Below: Mary Reyes at Steele Ranch in Arroyo Grande, 1930s. Courtesy of Juliet Betita. Mary Reyes with rabbits.

Click to explore the archive Back to stories

Back to top