Philippine Narra Furniture

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Cleopatra chair
Cleopatra chair

In 1987 I visited the Philippines to meet my relatives. I am proud to say that the Philippines is the land of my heritage. My Filipino father was born in 1906 in Jinalinan, Island of Panay, in the Antique Provence of the Visayas Islands. I purchased beautifully hand-carved Narra wood furniture. The Narra tree is the Philippine’s national tree. Cutting down the tree is no longer allowed since it is rapidly declining due to illegal logging. It saddens me to think of this beautiful furniture ending up in the hands of people who might not appreciate it and slowly destroy it, or even worse being thrown into a dump. 
 
In 1931 my father immigrated to the U.S. He worked as a janitor, hospital aid, elevator operator and bus boy. Nine years later my father met my first-generation Danish mother in Minnesota. Shunned by their community and my mother disowned by her family, they moved to New Mexico in order to marry and start a family. They had six children, and Mother was a resourceful homemaker. My father worked as a waiter retiring at the age of 70 when he traveled for his first and only time after immigrating to the U.S. to visit his family in the Philippines. He was a man of great honor, integrity and self pride. His philosophy toward racial prejudice was to remain silent, turn away from trouble. I recall times when he would be verbally insulted, or we’d sit at the back of an empty public bus, or my father would be ignored service in a store. I interpreted his demeanor as timid but with age I see the wisdom in his manner; turn your back on trouble. 

Place(s): Philippines, Minnesota, New Mexico, California
Year: 1931

– Ramona Kohlmann

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant