Family Here and There

The 1965 Hart-Celler Act focused on reuniting families and recruiting professionals to the United States. American agencies aggressively recruited Filipino workers, and the Philippine government promoted the emigration of many types of laborers, even though workers were needed in the Philippines as well.

For seven years the Lares family lived a transnational life between the United States and the Philippines. Without money to visit one another, they found creative ways to keep in touch and support one another—before the Internet, cell phones, and inexpensive international calling.

The Lares Family

Napoleon Lares came to the United States in 1984, leaving his fiancée and two daughters in the Philippines. Working as an electronic technician in Maryland, he saved every penny to bring his two young daughters to the United States for better opportunities and education.

Napoleon Lares working in Maryland, around 1990

Napoleon Lares working in Maryland, around 1990

Courtesy of the Lares family

Napoleon Lares arriving in Maryland, 1984

Napoleon Lares arriving in Maryland, 1984

Courtesy of the Lares family

Cynthia, Maridel, and Jenny Lares in airport with family in Manila, Philippines, on their way to the United States, 1991

Cynthia, Maridel, and Jenny Lares in airport with family in Manila, Philippines, on their way to the United States, 1991

Courtesy of the Lares family

Staying in Touch

While they lived apart, the Lares family wrote letters, recorded their voices, and sent gifts back and forth. Napoleon Lares played recordings of his daughters’ voices every day and sent this T-shirt back to the Philippines for the youngest. Before the girls emigrated they filled out notebooks to remember their Filipino friends.

Lares family having a snowball fight at home in Maryland, 1992

Lares family having a snowball fight at home in Maryland, 1992

Courtesy of the Lares family