I am what the Americans have referred to as a mail order bride. I left my family and beloved homeland, the Republic of the Philippines, to come to Hawaii to marry a wealthy American who owns the sugar plantation where my older brother, Jose, has been working.
My name is Ivelisse Pimentel and I am 18 years old. I am the second oldest child, out of 12 children, to Carlos and Lourdes Pimentel. I was born and raised in the Province of Bohol. There, my father is a fisherman and my mother is a laundry woman for a local wealthy family.
Despite the fact both my parents work, with 12 children to raise, they have found it difficult to make ends meet. Jose, my brother, had received word that there were labor recruiters, from the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association (HSPA), in Cebu who were looking for workers who would be willing to leave the country to move to Hawaii in the United States to work in one of the many sugar plantations there. We had all heard the many different success stories of the “Hawayanos” who had returned to their families. My parents felt this would be a good way for the family to get the money needed to make ends meet. So my brother made the trip to Cebu, and was chosen to make the long journey far away from Bohol. Not only would he be leaving our beautiful province and our family behind, but he would also be leaving his wife.
After a year in Hawaii, Jose had surprised our family and his wife with a visit. Although he did not come home alone. He was accompanied by the owner of the sugar plantation where he had been working. My brother introduced him as John Ross. Personally, I thought it odd that Jose had brought the plantation owner to our humble home in Bohol. I was also very curious as to why Mr. Ross spoke a great deal with my parents. I soon found out. John Ross was looking for a bride and he had chosen me to marry.
The decision for me to follow my Jose to Hawaii was made by my parents. My parents explained to me that family...