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Dear Minnesota - Janelle Tangonan Anderson

Janelle Tangonan Anderson

Saint Paul, Minnesota - 2nd-Generation - Minnesota, California, the Philippines


My family's story is in two parts. 

Family sitting in front of christmas tree
Photo credit: Vicente Buenvenida, 1970

I was born in Minnesota and spent the first years of my life here. I returned as an adult. The Immigration Act of 1965 had just passed. My father, Florante, went to Drake University in Iowa. After working as a school counselor, he took classes at the University of Minnesota. He worked a summer job at a Sears warehouse in Minneapolis in 1969. Meanwhile, my grandfather, Vicente, worked for General Electric in the Philippines.  Vicente decided to find work in America. They met at the Minneapolis YMCA. This meeting would shape my future. Vicente would become my dad's father-in-law. My mother, Olivia, came to visit, her first time seeing snow.  They married in October 1970.

Couple dressed in wedding outfits
Photo credit: Florante Tangonan, 1970

I was born in Minneapolis in 1971. My grandmother, Encarnacion, joined later. We moved to Los Angeles in 1975. My family worked hard. My grandfather woke up early to work as an engineer at a hospital. My grandmother worked as a cook. We lived with my grandparents for many years. My dad often worked 2 jobs to make ends meet, and my mother worked too. I remember my classmates commenting on my father's accent. 

I remember kids ridiculing the food I brought for lunch. I was an outsider, growing up in a predominantly white, Republican, middle-class suburb. When I was walking home alone, a boy on his bike bumped me, and said "get out of the way, chink!" I returned to Minnesota to be with my boyfriend in 2001. We married in 2002. I have lived here for 19 years now. I eat chicken adobo and I go up North. I dance Filipino dances at the State Fair, and I eat mini donuts.

Group of women dressed in cultural clothing with a Minnesota State Fair banner in the background
Photo credit: CSFA, 2018
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