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Growing Up Brown

Memoirs of a Filipino American

Peter Jamero

Publication Year: 2012

Peter Jamero's story of hardship and success illuminates the experience of the "Bridge Generation" of Filipino Americans born in the 1930s and '40s - the sons and daughters of the manong generation of immigrants, whose lives cross boundaries of being both Filipino and American. Jamero describes his childhood in a farm labor camp and his career as a community activist, civic leader, and administrator of health and human service programs in Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco.

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright, Series Information

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

FOR ALL OF US THERE COMES A TIME WHEN A chance encounter changes our lives. In 1969, one Peter Madelo Jamero Sr.—who had just arrived from Washington, D.C., to work in the Region X office of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare—called to...

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pp. ix-xii

THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY HISTORY OF FILIPINOS in America is still an unfinished story. Academics in Asian American Studies programs, which began flourishing on American college campuses in the 1970s, have done admirable work in recapturing...

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pp. xii-xiv

I WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE THESE MEMOIRS BECAUSE of my children. Most kids, including mine, know little of what their parents have experienced in life. As youngsters, their interests naturally gravitate toward school, their peers, and what is in vogue. It is not until adulthood...

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I. Campo Life, 1930–1944

THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF MY LIFE WERE YEARS of splendid isolation—so isolated that until I entered public school, I believed the nation consisted largely of Filipinos. As a country boy, growing up in central California at a time when there was no TV or radio, I thought...

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1. The Adventure Begins

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pp. 3-13

SEVERAL FILIPINO CAMPS AND SMALL FILIPINO businesses operated in Oakdale, the place of my birth. Oakdale, a small rural town in central California, was a magnet for Filipinos who worked in the agricultural fields and in the nearby lumber mills of Sonora. Oakdale...

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2. Maeda’s Place

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pp. 14-27

OUR MIGRATORY LIFE ENDED WHEN WE MOVED back to Livingston in 1935. Papa found a place owned by a Japanese farmer named Yoshitaro Maeda. The property was part of the Yamato Colony; established in 1906, it is the only planned Japanese settlement in...

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3. Amid the Almond Trees

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pp. 28-37

PAPA’S FARM-LABOR CONTRACTING BUSINESS continued to prosper during World War II.We clearly had outgrown the facilities at Maeda’s place. George Horine, a gold medal winner in the high jump in the 1916 Olympics, ran one of the largest peach farms in the area. He offered...

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4. Livingston

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pp. 38-56

IN THE SPRING OF 1944, THE TWO THOUSAND RESIdents of the small town of Livingston did not know it, but their population was about to increase by one hundred—all Filipino. If the move back to Livingston was an adventure for the Jamero kids, then it was an unforgettable...

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II. Learning About The Real World,1944–1957

IT WAS MY GOOD FORTUNE TO HAVE GROWN UP in the small town of Livingston (pop. 2,000), located virtually at the geographic center of California, along busy Highway 99 and the route of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Not only did its small size accommodate...

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5. High School Years

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pp. 61-82

I LOOKED FORWARD TO THE BEGINNING OF EACH school year with much anticipation since it meant I no longer had to labor in the hot fields picking peaches, apricots, and grapes. As in most Central Valley school districts at the time, Livingston schools opened their doors in...

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6. Join the Navy and See the World

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pp. 83-95

A WEEK AFTER HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION, BOB McDonald and I enlisted in the U.S. Navy for three years. During World War II, we were bombarded with enticing recruitment posters boasting of...

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7. College Days

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pp. 96-116

IT WAS GOOD TO BE A CIVILIAN AGAIN. THE FIRST thing I did was to buy Mama and Papa a pair of red metal rocking chairs for the patio. Now in their early fifties, Papa and Mama had acquired a mutual interest in gardening, and they could admire their handiwork while...

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III. Early Career, 1957–1970

DURING THESE YEARS, AMERICA EXPERIENCED A mixture of hope, violence, and social justice. John F. Kennedy’s election as president in 1960 gave the country an invigorating sense of hope. In the dynamic JFK, the youngest...

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8. My First Real Job

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pp. 121-130

TERRI AND I BEGAN OUR SACRAMENTO HOUSE hunt with mounting excitement and anticipation.We scoured the newspapers for an affordable two-bedroom rental in a neighborhood that seemed tolerant...

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9. Moving Up

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pp. 131-141

MY PROMOTION TO UNIT SUPERVISOR AT AID TO Needy Children was an example of being in the right place at the right time and demonstrated my growing confidence in taking risks. Jack Corey was eager to bring more...

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10. Washington, D.C.

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pp. 142-155

IT WAS A BRIGHT, SUNNY AUGUST DAY AT THE SAN Francisco International Airport. We were all dressed in our best clothes. Terri wore a fashionable outfit, and the girls were adorned in new dresses, bonnets, and gloves. Peter, wearing a...

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11. A Stanford Man

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pp. 156-162

WE RENTED A THREE-BEDROOM HOUSE AT 324 LA Mesa Drive in the Ladera neighborhood of Menlo Park, just west of Stanford University. At first, we considered living in married student housing on campus, but after looking at the tiny rooms, we decided to look...

IV. The Activist Executive, 1970–1995

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12. Region X

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pp. 168-192

WE ROUTINELY TOOK ROAD TRIPS WHEN WE LIVED in California. Drives of two hours to visit relatives and even four to six hours for vacations to Disneyland and San Diego were commonplace for our family. However, we...

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13. Umbrella Agency

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pp. 193-220

ON JANUARY 17, 1972, I JOINED THE STATE OF Washington’s new Department of Social and Health Services, taking on two titles: director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and assistant secretary, Department of Social and Health Services. The first title represented my...

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14. The Professor

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pp. 221-233

I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD WORK IN THE WORLD of academia. There was nothing in my background to suggest such a possibility. I did not have a PhD, and I had never taught. Nevertheless, in May 1979, I became...

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15. King County

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pp. 234-245

THE DELEGATION THAT SOUGHT ME AS THEIR candidate for the Department of Human Resources appointment had supported Randy Revelle’s successful 1981 campaign for King County Executive. Most were Asian Americans who cut their political teeth on my failed 1975...

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16. United Way

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pp. 246-271

ON FEBRUARY 19, 1985, JUST NINE DAYS BEFORE the end of my King County job, the United Way announced it was seeking candidates for the position of Vice President of Planning and Allocations. The job seemed tailor-made for a person with my background. It called for...

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17. Whose Human Rights?

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pp. 272-289

I FIRST LEARNED OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR vacancy on San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) during one of my exploratory trips to California in 1988. A number of acquaintances from...

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18. Community Based

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pp. 290-316

LATE IN 1989, WE PURCHASED A MODEST TWOstory home in a large residential development in Daly City, eight miles from San Francisco. At the time of its construction, after World War II, the housing development...

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pp. 317-318

SINCE MY RETIREMENT AT THE END OF 1995, TERRI and I have been blessed with several wonderful additions to our family. Our fourteenth grandchild, Ceferino Jamero Silverio, was born on March 3, 2002; Lauren married Patrick Hoolboom on October 23, 2002; Caryn Swan was welcomed into...

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Afterword by Fred Cordova

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pp. 319-320

THEY SAY YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. It must be so with one Peter Madelo Jamero, who was born and raised in a rural California town called Livingston. But the navy snatched..


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pp. 321-331

Library of Congress Information

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pp. 333

E-ISBN-13: 9780295802145
E-ISBN-10: 0295802146
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295986425
Print-ISBN-10: 0295986425

Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jamero, Peter M. -- Childhood and youth.
  • Jamero, Peter M. -- Family.
  • Filipino Americans -- California -- Livingston -- Biography.
  • Livingston (Calif.) -- Biography.
  • Livingston (Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
  • Filipino Americans -- Ethnic identity.
  • Jamero family.
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