Isabelo
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October 2016
81
Born in Mindanao, Philippines
Living in Las Vegas
Retired and part-time security guard

“Do you know what? I’ve decided to return to the Philippines, I’m going to retire there.”

In 1994 the Northridge earthquake shook L.A., destroyed houses, collapsed buildings, bent highways, killed 57 people and injured thousands. It was one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history and had another side effect: forced Isabelo to move from L.A., where he was working on construction “doing tiles” to Las Vegas in search for a job he later found at Boomtown Casino (today Silverton Casino). Standing at The Neon Museum parking lot, where he guards the visitors’ cars, Isabelo talks about the Reagan administration that gave him the opportunity to become a legal American citizen, about the time Americans saved Philippines during the Spanish war and the Japanese war, and about the early American pilgrims. “When America started, we were all immigrants. From Philippines, from Europe, from Cuba, everywhere… as long as you come here and work, you always feel welcome.” Before returning to our car we got the name of his favourite American hero. “Ronald Reagan. He created jobs. Remember he was the one who said to Gorbachev ‘knock out this wall’, the Berlin wall, remember that?”

 

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