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Carl Catedral

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Carl Cathedral was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1987. His parents and many family members immigrated to the United States from the Philippines.

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0:04:19

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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My “Aha” Moment

An “aha” moment is a moment of clarity - when the fragmented pieces of your imagination somehow click into place.The light bulb in your mind goes off and you feel like you’re on to something.

One of my most recent “aha” moments happened while flying back to Phoenix for my cousin’s wedding in November 2015. Actually, the real “aha” moment took place in October - but sometimes it takes a while for the pieces to come together. For me, it all started with a conversation with my local librarians.

Carol (Librarian): So now was it your parents that came from the Philippines?

Me: Yeah, my parents knew each other in the Philippines, but they came separately to the U.S. So my dad came - it's one of those crazy things where I think his mom was born in Hawaii, but they didn't know until they were like super old, so finally, they were like 'okay, you can come.' And then like from my mom's side, one of my great uncles was accepted into UCLA. So as a result of educational - like his access - he petitioned all my family to come. And then my mom, was too old, so she had to finish school. So my grandparents came here, and then they petitioned her. And then my mom and dad, you know, they knew each other there, and think they were dating ten years in the Philippines. They met each other here, and then they finally got married - moved to New Mexico and Phoenix.

Carol (Librarian): Tell their story! That's a good one too.

Me: Yeah, right?

Carol (Librarian): That's a very good story actually. It's got a good hook, you know, the knowing each other for so long.

Me: Right! Yeah, it's interesting. You forget how interesting that is.

Cope (Friend): You'll tell it one of these days, for sure.

I don’t sound super excited here. But this was the “aha!” moment that sparked something inside of me to begin documenting my own stories - starting with my parent’s love story.

When I arrived in Phoenix for my cousin’s wedding, I talked about this idea with my brother. From there, we got to work on a yearlong journey of interviewing family members. We documented how my parents met, fell in love and made it through hard times. Through the process we put together a documentary to share with them for their 30th anniversary on November 29, 2016.

It was a beautiful moment that I am very proud of. For a long time, it’s been a dream of mine to make documentaries, but I’ve always struggled with where to start. What I learned in this process is that my stories and the stories of my family are important and worth telling. Documenting my family’s stories has been a vulnerable process. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family which has brought us closer and has given me a deeper appreciation of where I’ve come from.

I still hope to tell other people’s stories one day. But what my “aha” moment has taught me is the importance of valuing and carefully cherishing stories - especially my own - so that I know what it’s like to listen and care for the stories of other’s that one day might be entrusted to me to tell.