Personal experience: how to live with a slave in the USA
Evdokia Thomas Pulido spent 56 years in an American family as a slave.
Famous writer and journalist Alex Tizon, brought up by her, told about what it is like to live with a slave in his column for publication The Atlantic.
Evdokie was 18 years old when the writer's grandfather gave it to his mother, and when the family moved from the Philippines to the United States, they also took the woman with them.
“No word other than 'slave' can describe the life she has lived. Her day began before we all woke up and ended after we went to bed. She cooked 3 times a day, cleaned the house, fulfilled my parents' requests and took care of my 4 brothers and sisters and me. My parents never paid her and scolded her constantly. Often at night, when I went to the bathroom, I saw her asleep in the corner, leaning on a mound of linen, her fingers gripping the clothes that she folded before falling asleep, ”recalls Tizon.
American neighbors considered his family exemplary, educated parents, polite children, family members spoke to no one about Lola (as the slave was called).
In 1999, after Alex's mother died, he moved to a small town near Seattle and took the slave with him.
The story of Lola began in the province of Tarlac in the Philippines, in the house of a lieutenant-general named Thomas Asuncion, grandfather of Tysona. His wife died giving birth to an only child, the mother of the writer. She was raised by several utusans - "people who accept commands."
Slavery has a long history in the islands. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the islanders enslaved other islanders, usually prisoners of war, criminals, or debtors. Slaves came in many varieties, from warriors who could gain freedom through valor to household servants who were considered property and could be bought, sold, or donated. High-ranking slaves could own low-willed slaves. Some chose to become slaves simply to survive: in exchange for their labor, they were given food, shelter and protection.
When the Spaniards seized the island in 1500, they first enslaved the islanders, and then brought slaves from Africa and India. The Spanish crown eventually began to abandon slavery in Spain and its colonies, but parts of the Philippines were so scattered that the authorities could not keep a close eye on them. Traditions persisted under various pretexts, even after the USA took possession of the islands in 1898.
Today, even the poor can have utusans or katulongs ("Assistants") or kasambahays ("Servant"), while there are people who are even poorer.
Lieutenant Tom had 3 utusan families living in his territory. In the spring of 1943, he brought home a girl from a village along the way. She had neither money nor education. The parents wanted to marry her off to a man 2 times older, which greatly depressed the girl, but she had nowhere to go. Therefore, the girl accepted Tom's offer of food and shelter in exchange for taking care of his at that time 12-year-old daughter, almost without hesitation - she then did not understand that she was making a deal for life.
“Lola fed, looked after and clothed my mother. When they walked to the market, Lola held an umbrella to protect her mother from the sun. Lola did other tasks at night - feeding the dogs, sweeping the floors, doing the laundry and folding the clothes, but before that she would sit on the edge of my mother's bed and swing her fan so that the mother was not hot and she could sleep, ”writes Tizon.
One day, his grandfather caught his daughter in a lie and ordered her to stand at the table to get punishment, but she said that Lola would accept the punishment instead. And the slave silently withstood 12 cruel lashes.
Seven years later, in 1950, Tizona's mother married and moved to Manila, taking Lola with her.
The couple had five children, Lola took care of them, and Alex’s parents diligently continued to study until his father was offered a job in the USA.
He was allowed to take with him the whole family and, if necessary, another person. Believing that both of them should work, Tizona’s parents decided to take Lola with them so that she would take care of the children and the house. Mother reported this slave, but she did not immediately agree.
In the end, Lola was convinced by the promise of Father Alex that everything would be different in America. He told her that as soon as he and his mother stood up, they would begin to pay her money, which she could send to her parents or other relatives in the village.
“We landed in Los Angeles on May 12, 1964. By that time, Lola had been with my mother for 21 years. In many ways, she was more of a parent to me than my mother or my father. Her face was the first face I saw in the morning and the last one I saw at night. As a child, I pronounced Lola's name long before I learned how to say "mom" or "dad". As a toddler, I refused to fall asleep if Lola did not hold my hand, or at least was not around, ”admitted Tyson.
Lola never received the promised salary, she asked about it a few years after moving to the United States, when her mother fell ill with dysentery, and her family did not have the money for the necessary medicines. But Tyson's parents told her that "seeing how difficult it is for them, she should be ashamed to ask such questions."
They really were not easy. They lent money to move to the United States, and after that they borrowed again to be able to stay in the United States. Tizona's father earned 5600 dollars a year at a consulate. He worked on cleaning up trailers, and also as a debt collector. Mom worked as a technician in several medical laboratories.
“We hardly saw them, and when we did, they were often haggard and irritable,” the journalist recalls.
He added that his parents very often scolded Lola for little things and shouted at her, bringing her to tears. The couple's children did not immediately understand who this woman is, but gradually they came to the conclusion that she was a slave, and this shocked them, because at that time they were already living in the USA for a long time and were receiving education there.
When Alex Tyson was 13 years old, he first tried to protect the slave who had been caring for him from his very childhood, from the attacks of his parents, which made them very angry.
In the Philippines, his parents did not feel the need to hide their attitude towards Lola. In America, they treated her worse, but they tried to hide it and to hide the fact that they had a slave. When guests came to them, her parents either ignored her or lied to guests that she was a relative helping them with the housework. Revealing this secret would have made the family unacceptable in the United States, so everyone was silent and lied.
There was another reason for secrecy: Lola's documents for staying in the United States expired in 1969, five years after the Tizona family arrived in the United States. She flew to America on a special passport associated with the work of the father of the family. Later he left work at the consulate, but was able to get green cards for his family, but Lola would not be given permanent resident status, so she needed to either be sent back or kept secret.
Lola's mother, Fermina, died in 1973, her father, Ilario, in 1979. Both times she desperately wanted to return home, but both times Tyson's parents did not let her go, saying that there was no money and time for this. In addition, they were afraid that upon her departure they would discover her illegal status, and this would create problems for them, perhaps even lead to their deportation.
Due to hard work in the family, problems began, Tizona’s father threw them away without paying child support, it was very difficult for the mother to pull down the family, so they had difficulties with money all the time. This mother was squeezed, in the afternoon she went to work, and at night she cried, Lola soothed her, this grief brought them very close.
A couple of years after the divorce, Tizona’s mother re-married an immigrant from Croatia named Ivan, whom she met through friends. Ivan had no education, was married four times and was an avid player.
During the manifestation of Ivan’s cruel treatment of Tizona’s mother, Lola stood up for her, which showed her side, which the children had never seen before. In the rest of the time, she obeyed him and fulfilled his requests. Despite his lack of education and cruelty, he sometimes treated Lola better than mother Tizona.
“When Lola got sick, she was always angry. She did not want to deal with additional costs, and accused Lola of faking or not taking care of herself, ”said Tyson.
He added that for several months the mother ignored Lola's requests to take her to the doctor because she had a toothache, and when her teeth began to fall out, the mother said that "this is what happens if you don't brush your teeth properly."
When he tried to intercede for a slave, it caused only aggression. He later wanted to release her, but Lola said that she had nowhere to go, and was right.
Later, the slave went to live with Tyson and his family. He tried to teach her to use an ATM and even made a card for her in his name, but she didn’t work, and she didn’t work with driving a car. They became friends, and somehow in a conversation he found out that this woman had never had sex in her life.
Tyson helped her return to the Philippines on her 83 Birthday.
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