My name is Charles Lee. I was born in Korea and I am proud of my heritage. But I also identify as American, having grown up here. I was 12 years old when I was came to the U.S. to study at a boarding school in Ojai Valley, California.
At school, I was always drawn to the arts. I love to draw and animate, and after college, I found work in gaming design. Here is a link to my website. Now I manage a team at Blizzard, where we create environments for video games like World of Warcraft. I also helped start a small design school in Orange County called Kazone Art School where I currently teach.
Now you might be wondering how I met my beautiful wife, Nari. She is also Korean and I met her at our church. Two years ago, we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Charris into the world. She is our pride and joy.
For me and my family, there is no other place to live but America - it’s home.
I may have been luckier than most. While working in the UAE and then Jordan for $200 a month, I had felt I wasn't reaching my full potential. Moving to Dubai was a little better, but my goal was always to find something better.
So my journey began when I worked in the Middle East as a domestic helper. While there, I could say that I really grew up. The stories of hardships in a foreign land that people like me had to endure are all true, although
Hello, my name is Jovilyn. I live in downtown Los Angeles, a long way from where I was born, which is in Mindanao, Philippines. Before I settled here in America, you can say I was already a seasoned traveler. I had always known there were better opportunities out there in the world-- and I wasn’t afraid to take them.
By stroke of luck and hard work, I reached the U.S. where I am now a full-time MBA student. And as part of my internship I work in a jewelry shop downtown. My internship is great, and I have made friends there. For now, I am happy and fulfilled where I am. I also enjoy experimenting with new nail polish designs and making jewellery. One day, maybe I can make my dream come true--I have always wanted to open my own beauty parlor and create a jewelry line for women. I am very excited to see how things will unfold-- there are so many opportunities here in America, and anything is possible--and I have found that it’s best to simply enjoy the journey and see where it takes me.
Meet Simone and Tomassino.
Hi, my name is Simone. I live in Palm Springs with my miniature black poodle Tomassino. When I’m not working as a videographer, DJ, designer, film festival programmer and website designer (I’m the creative type), you might see me out and about with Tomassino, or taking a drive in the desert.
What I love about living here is I am able to create a life where I have freedom to pursue my own version of the American Dream. For me, this means working in a place where I can see and feel my impact, surrounded by a supportive and loving community.
Living here in America was a big change for me, and there are challenges and difficulties in the transition, but I am happy to say that I have found a greater balance in my life.
Meet Rita Garcia and family.
My name is Rita. My family and I are from General Santos in the Philippines. We came to America for the opportunities-- not only for us, but more for our daughters, Camille (17), Katrina (14), and Chloe (10). Like all parents, we want to give them the opportunities we didn’t have, and we know that they will be able to make their dreams come true here in America.
My daughters are really loving America.
Camille is a high school senior and works part time in retail fashion. She would like to be a fashion designer one day. Apart from that, like a true Filipina, she enjoys singing and she regularly posts her renditions of pop songs on youtube, where she enjoys a huge following.
Katrina, is a high school freshman and is a multiple varsity athlete, particularly volleyball. She is Top 5 at her school and would like to pursue a science degree in college. Katrina plays the guitar.
Chloe is in ﬁfth grade, and is a budding filmmaker who enjoys editing videos. She also loves reading Japanese manga comics and watching anime.
We moved to the U.S. only three years ago and we now live in Central Los Angeles where there are many other Filipino families. We often still miss home and the rest of our friends and family back in the Philippines. But we are happy and satisfied with the life we have made here and we are excited to see what the future will bring.
I wanted to go to school but wasn't able to, I had to get a job. Eventually, I met my Felipe, and married him. We have two beautiful children and started to create a life for ourselves. I felt like I wanted to work after having kids, but didn't know what to do. We found an ad for a restaurant, despite not knowing anything in the food business. It just felt like the right thing to do. So we bought the restaurant in 1987. It's called Miranchito. In the restaurant's early days, we had a chef named Juanita. She took me under her wing and taught me everything I know in the kitchen. We had a new restaurant and not that many customers. But I was able to make improvements to the recipes and dishes that I learned. I made a mean mole and there was a guy who kept coming in everyday for the mole. He loved it so much that he told someone from the LA Times about it, and they reviewed the restaurant and wrote about the mole. We didn't pay for advertisements but we were getting raves for our menu. We were listed in Zagat as one of the best restaurants in LA.
My name is Maria Milagros, I'm originally from El Salvador and now live in sunny Los Angeles. Currently, I'm a mother to two children and a grandmother to 4 grandkids. I've already retired because I just recently had a big surgery for my spine.
My American dream started when an uncle inspired the family to come to the US. He came from a little town in my home country, then moved to the capital and always tried to do what is best for his family. He finally got married and one day moved his family to the US. In America, he met the owner of a Pepsi factory and she suggested that he make his other family come here. Luckily, he also brought our side of the family.
I sold the restaurant in 2013, but all those years owning a restaurant made me realize that if you work hard, you will succeed. If you have goals, you'll reach it because you have to fight for it. It's what I did, it's what I'm doing now.
Having been a business owner, I was able to put my 2 children through college, which is a dream come true for me. My daughter is a teacher and my son is a dance instructor and is a world champion of Salsa and Chacha. And now, I have 4 grandchildren.
I have never looked back to my days from El Salvador. This is my life now. Before I got sick, I wanted to give cooking classes in my backyard. But I got sick, so I'm nursing my wounds. So as soon as I get better, I will teach more people to make chile relleno, huevo rancheros, chilaquiles.
Back home, I worked for an airline for over 15 years. When I moved to the US, I continued working in the travel industry for a few years. And now, I'm in a completely different field, working in the import-export business.
I moved to the US to start a new life, taking with me my two kids to be closer to my parents who were already living here. I am blessed, now that I am slowly achieving the dreams I have for myself and for my girls. It is my goal to see them happy and successful. My eldest wants to be a doctor and my little one wants to become a pharmacist, although I prefer her to become a lawyer. As a mother I will do what I can to support them and help make their dreams a living reality. I probably would have a harder time raising my kids as well as I do now, if I were back home. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness and happiness that I brought them into an environment where they fit in, and even excel.
As an immigrant, I consider myself a work in progress. It is a continuing challenge to move up and get the right breaks. But it is something that patience, hard work, perseverance and a lot of prayers can overcome. It is a tough mountain to climb, but nevertheless not impossible.
I left behind a very good job to be here with my family. Aside from a few relatives and close friends, I have nothing to go back to, but I have everything to look forward to. America has become my new home. Everyone that matters is here. I am blessed to start a new life in a place where you can go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Meet Puey Quiñones
Puey Quinones, is a veteran Philippine fashion designer starting a new chapter in LA. He first appeared on the Philippine fashion scene as early as 2004, and in the subsequently decade, has amassed an impressive score of fashion awards resulting in a noteworthy clientele list of celebrities clamoring to wear his designs. He has held fashion shows both in the Philippines and abroad and has designed both commercial, as well as art house fashion.
CV: Hi Puey, how are you? We've heard about your recent fashion show. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about it?
PQ: Hi Carm! My show in New York was a success! I was one of the 8 designers all over the world chosen by the J model management to present a collection for the very iconic land mark in New York, The One World Trade Center, freedom tower before it opens to the public. And being the first filipino fashion designer to be part of the show, it was very overwhelming!
CV: Where do you get your inspiration for this collection?
PQ: My collection is called Fly, that's why it used feathers as material, and Fly because it symbolizes my journey and feathers are the perfect materials to use. The event also aims to promote world peace. And a dove symbolizes peace.
CV: What is the Puey brand all about? What are you most proud of with your work?
PQ: My brand not only caters and aims to the high-end market, we also provide ready-to-wear and custom-made garments with a clear social message, from conception to production everything is done with social contribution in mind. We use organic materials like handwoven Pineapple fabrics and some prints are hand painted by the inmates of the national correction in the Philippines as part of their rehabilitation program.
CV: That's beautiful.
PQ: I think there's poetry in it.
CV: How does your personal journey weave into the concepts you bring to life?
PQ: My work always reflects what I have been through. It is always the source of my inspiration and motivation. I always turn hardships in life into color or hope and make it beautiful. For example, I see a beggar on the street, I look at some of the crazy colors and texture combinations they wear as an inspiration because there's beauty in it.
And motivation because it motivates me to work harder.
CV: How does your being in the US affect your perspective on things: as an independent designer, as a Filipino, and as a person?
PQ: Moving here in the US was a very difficult move for me. Once I had a great life and career in Manila as a fashion designer but as we all know nothing is permanent In this world, things change.. I needed a change and was forced to change. I came to the US, I came here to start fresh, and to experience what America can give me for as we know that America is the land of opportunity. Being here is very different, America is all about hard work, patience and most of all respect for the work that you do. Moving and working here is not a joke, we shouldn't take this for granted. Very few are lucky to be able to work here.
CV: What do you like about the U.S.? Can you briefly share with us how your transition came about?
PQ: One thing I can say about the US is that in my industry as a fashion designer, they give value to the artist and they respect each and everyone. Very professional. At first I was hesitant to actually move and relocate here but I was very lucky to have met the best immigration lawyer in town Atty. Carmen Villamor! (smiles).
Before going to you, there was a lot of hesitation, worries, fears and all the negative thoughts that I had, but when I visited your office and talked to you, everything changed. Thank you for believing in me. My fears turned to hope, and hope turned to reality. You treated me as a friend and it felt like family!
CV: Aww...thank you for the kind words Puey!
PQ: You are very welcome! Ano ka ba!
CV: Puey, your message to aspiring designers from the Philippines, and to immigrants in the fashion industry who see you as their inspiration.
PQ: Fashion design is not only about art and business, fashion is a serious business, do not take the gift and craft for granted. Respect the work and art that you do, make extra effort to put energy to what you do because the energy that you give comes back to you tenfold. Fashion is karma. And to the immigrants in the fashion industry, nothing is impossible under the heat of the sun, keep on dreaming and believing. For as long as you have your dreams and respect, you will succeed.
CV: Thank you for your time Puey!
PQ: You're welcome!