My name is May Esperanza Losloso. Growing up in the Philippines, I was raised by my mom and her sister, Tita Menchi. who I called Ma. My dad went to the U.S. when I was one because he was in the army and he visited the Philippines once a year. My mom would keep my dad updated by sending him photos with stories written on the back of them. This photo was taken right before my dad was about to leave for the U.S. again. On the back, my mom wrote “It’s like I didn’t want us to be separated again, but I knew that you had to go back to the army.” It was clear that this separation was difficult for my family. There were countless birthdays and holidays that my dad missed. But my mom documented every single one of them without fail. She worked at a travel agency and my aunt lived with us and took care of me while my mom worked. I’m not really sure if I understood why my dad didn’t live with us, but I definitely wished he was there. In this photo, I’m actually holding up a picture my dad sent us. I wanted him to be included in the photo with me and my mom. In 1988, my mom and I got tourist visas and were able to spend some time with my dad in California. I got to experience Halloween and Christmas in America for the first time. But more importantly, I was able to be with both of my parents. My mom and I knew that our stay was limited and that we had to go back to the Philippines. My dad continued to visit us once a year. I started attending St. John’s Academy, a private Catholic school, and I got involved in various school events. I had my first communion and received honors and yearly recognition ceremonies. While photos and letters kept coming from my mom, they couldn’t replace the feeling of actually experiencing these moments as a family. It took nine years for us to finally be reunited, but the immigration system hasn’t improved. Families are still being torn apart like mine was because they are still waiting in the visa backlogs.