They grew up in the countryside far from city life and life for them was tough at times as they managed on growing their own crops and working in the fields long hours. Maria was a typical girl but she was tough and was more of a tomboy growing up. She basically lived in a tight knit family and was raised christian. Their family was very religious. Maria attended Lavangal Elementary school where she attended from kindergarten thru 6th grade. She also attended high school and some college in the Philippines. She grew up with some close girl friends that she communicates with today. A few of her girl friends moved from their roots in the Phillippines as well. One of Maria’s closest friends moved to Singapore and another one of her friends moved to Malaysia.
Maria wanted to make a better life for herself as well and she was in communication with her sister Fe who married an American in the Philippines and moved to the United States settling in Bayside, New York. Fe Gonzales Walton, the oldest child was the first to leave her family and homelife in the Philippines and she worked hard to make a life for herself and raise a family. She has a son and a daughter who were both born in the United States and have dual citizenship. She went back to school to study nursing and she works at Flushing Hospital in Queens as a head nurse and now resides in Mount Sinai in a dream house.
When Fe was struggling living in a small apartment in Bayside with her husband and 2 kids and studying she helped petition her sister Maria to the United States back in 1996 after many discussions with Maria as she also wanted to start a new life for herself as well. She was tired of living in poverty and not having many opportunities so she managed to come to Bayside to live with her sister and her family and she sought employment working as a live-in with a Greek diplomats family in Queens where she took care of their 2 children while the parents both worked. She stayed with the family for a year and a half until he was transferred to a new position.
After she left the Greek diplomat’s family she found work as a live-in with a rich elderly couple whose children were all grown up and she was more of a housekeeper tending to the house and she had a small bedroom for herself and a tv. They lived in a wealthy area of Sands Point. She worked there for about a year and was working there when I met her.
Maria was very close to her family as she still had her mom and dad and her other siblings there and she would write them and try to send money to help the family. She was very responsible and very caring and she was missing her family but also very happy for the opportunity here. She longs to visit her home county sometime and feels it is inevitible as her dad is aging and his health is not so good. The flight to the Philippines is a long one as it usually is 24 or more hours of flying.
Maria’s parents are wonderful people and I have had the priviledge of meeting them both and getting to know them. Maria’s dad had a very difficult life growing up as he was a young child of 12 years old during WW II and he saw most of his family brutally murdered at the hands of enemy soldiers. His parents, aunts, uncles and siblings were senselessly gunned down in front of him and he was spared as the soldier who came upon him and saw him cowering told him to run and so he ran and sought out a family relative. He was fortunate to survive but was emotionally scarred for the rest of his life having witnessed the brutal murdering of his parents, his siblings and his family relatives. His aunt and uncle raised him as their son and gave him the best they could and he was so very appreciative and he always thought about his family and all that he lost and he cried many many times and despite such a tragedy he was a very kind and sensitive man who took very good care of his family.
Maria’s mom was also born during that time and her family lived in a cave and once they knew they were threatened they had to move and found shelter and protection with the nuns in a nearby convent. The family stayed with the nuns and were provided a place to sleep and nourishing food and bible readings. Maria’s mom, only 3 years old at the time was so touched by them that she devoted her life to studying the bible and teaching God’s will to her family. They stayed at the convent for over a year and they were so grateful to the nuns as they saved them from a terrible fate. Maria’s mom and dad had suffered terribly from the war but were lucky enough to meet and raise a family. It was truly a miracle how they were fortunate enough to meet and blessed with a wonderful family!
Maria always cries when she relates the hardships her parents went through as young children and feels very lucky that she is even here and she is so grateful for their survival and as she speaks of it she brings tears to my eyes and I feel blessed that I was fortunate to meet her and that her parents were saved by the goodwill of others.
Edward D. Iannielli III (with the help of)
Maria Jesusa Gonzales Iannielli