Marciana (Inez) Romero

1929 to June 5, 2007

Marciana (Inez) Romero Bio

My name is Marciana (Inez) Romero. Everyone calls me Marci. I was born in San Pedro, California on June 11, 1929. I was brought up in Long Beach, California. I went to Poly High School and graduated in 1947 and at that time there was not more than 3 Filipinos at that school. My best girlfriend, Joann Canlas, is a mestiza. She is Portuguese and Filipino. Since there were not any Filipino students around, We had Caucasian friends who were very nice to us. We belonged to a sorority and our friends treated us very good. We had beach parties, picnics, went roller skating, went to the football games, went to the pike and to the movies.

In the 1940’s, there were some places where they didn’t allow brown skin people in their establishments. Our sorority sisters were aware of this so they chose the place for entertainment very carefully. There were very few Filipino women in a very prejudice town. My mother, Rosita Reyong Inez was born in Manila and my father, Frank D. Inez was born in Sinait, Illocos Sur.

I have two sisters, Virginia and Francine and I have one brother, Brigilio (Sonny). My father was in the Navy for 30 years. He was a survivor of the Death March in World War II and was recognized and given a medal in a big ceremony on a ship. Somehow, he managed to escape and went to his family’s home where his mother hid him in a well when the Japanese came looking for him. My father was Chief Petty Officers as chef/cook in the Navy. He lived to be 90 years.My father met my mother at a pool hall in Bremerton. My maternal grandfather owned the pool hall. My mother made suman/biko and sold it to the customers and the sailors. My paternal grandmother’s name was Marciana Dayoan. I was named after her.

There are many things to remember about growing up in California. I remembered as a young girl my family would go to visit an uncle in Torrance, California where he grew vegetables to sell at the farmer’s market in Long Beach. On his farm, many Filipinos got together and enjoyed the cock fights, which is a favorite sport of the Filipinos. I watching the sport and watching my uncles kill a goat (calding). The one thing that I enjoyed the most, when we visited the farm there was the food. Always there was a lot of food like; rice, pork adobo, calding, chicken, and fresh corn on the cob barbecued on an open fire.

I worked in the fields picking celery, carrots, radishes, and green onions. At that time, money and work were very scarce for the brown people. You either worked in a kitchen cooking, doing dishes, waiters or as bartenders or on a farm picking fruits or vegetables. Life was very hard for the Filipinos. They could only rent small run down apartments or shacks. When I was in high school, my parents rented an old run down house. Of course, when you are young you were not aware that you were living in a run down house. My mother remarried and I remember my mom and my step-dad, Brigilio, taking me and my siblings, Sonny and Virginia (Ginger) to the lagoon to swim. At the lagoon, there were clams. He would dive for the clams and we would have clams for dinner. Of course, now you cannot dive for clams or take any clams out of the lagoon.

My step-dad was a good golfer. He and my husband, Phil, would go out to play golf often. They enjoyed the game. When I was 15 years old my best friend, Joann Canlas, and I had the privilege of being an extra in a movie in the mid-1940 starring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn. The movie was “Back to Bataan”. This is where we met a few Filipino teenage girls from Los Angeles; Tawa Montayre, Dolly Gersalie, Marcy Jacobe, and Jessie Celaya. She stated in the newspaper article dated September 19, 1990, “John Wayne was a great guy, but I also was able to see a lot of other famous movie stars like Robert Mitchum, Ann Francis, and Burgess Merideth while I was on the RKO lot. That was quite a thrill for a teenager.” I got married in 1950 and moved to Los Angeles. My husband, Phil Romero, was a sheet metal worker specializing in heating and air conditioning and had a job at Vandenberg Hospital, which is located between Santa Maria and Lompoc. He liked this area so much because it had clean air and was not so populated as Los Angeles, He bought a home in Arroyo Grande before telling me about it.

So our family, Phyllis, Philip, and Patrice moved to this mall rural town. We have been in this area for 40 years. In this area, I had the privilege of being on the San Luis Obispo Grand Jury. I served as a secretary for the Grand Jury. I was the first Filipino woman to be picked to serve. I also was the first Filipino woman to serve as vice president of the Filipino Community of San Luis Obispo. I served the community when Gabe DeLeon was president. He also was the first Filipino to become mayor of Arroyo Grande. Two of my children, Philip and Patrice went to St. Patrick’s school in Arroyo Grande. I was active in their activities and programs. I served the school as publicity chairman. Our son was active in youth football and my husband, Phil coached little league football and baseball. Our older daughter, Phyllis, attended St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, and later transferred to Arroyo Grande High School. My hobby was dancing. I belonged to a troupe of tap dancers, “The Grads”. There were eight of us. We performed and competed at the Disney Hotel in Anaheim and won first place in our age group. I left the Grads and joined a troupe called “Gotta Dance”. There were eight of us and sometimes nine or ten. We performed for the seniors, private clubs, and organizations. I also took up Hawaiian dancing. There were three sometimes four of us who entertained at wedding parties, birthday parties, and clubs. Our group was under the direction of Millie Lucas (Tita O’ Hawaii Polynesian dancers). Most of the time, Rosalie Marquez, Millie and I would perform. I am now dabbling in oil painting which I enjoy. Sometimes I go out golfing with my husband, but I am a duffer. I enjoy being out in the fresh air. I like gardening, too. I’ve had 90 plants of orchids; I sold some of my plants so now I have only 30 orchids. I have many plants in pots: jasmine, lavender, geraniums, hibiscus, roses, lily of the Nile, passion plant, and many more.

At home at the kitchen: We had an old gas stove, an oven and a broiler which was held up on four legs. Since, we didn’t have a toaster; we had a lot of burnt toast. Our kitchen smelled like fish most of the time. My step-dad liked to make fish soup most of the time. I didn’t care for fish when I was young so my dad made me hamburger.
Ballroom dancing: I did a lot of ballroom dancing i.e. jitterbug and rumbas since that was the style then during the war. Our mothers went with us to chaperone. We got to dance with a lot of sailors. I went to Roma Hall in Los Angeles with Tawa Montayre and her older sister Meding and there were a lot of young people there.
Movies: I went to the movies every chance I got. I loved Musicals. My favorite musical movie stars are Donald O’Connor, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and all the stars that was in Oklahoma, Showboat, South Pacific, and too much more to mention.
Virtues: I always respected other people and their property.
Other memories: When I was seven or eight years old and we were poor, the soles of my shoes had a hold in them and we would fill them with newspaper so I could wear them again and again.

In World War II, we were given ration books which would allow us to buy butter, sugar, meat, gas, shoes, etc. The things that were rationed were sent overseas to our boys fighting in the war. In Long Beach, CA there was a place that was called “The Pike”. It was like an amusement park. There were booths that you could throw darts to pop balloons, a ball to knock down milk bottles, an indoor swimming pool, a Chinese store that you could buy oriental things, a cyclone ride, a double ferris wheel, a merry-go-round and movie theaters where you could watch cowboy movies, a ballroom where you had to pay a dime to get on the floor to dance. It was a fun place for everyone especially for the men in service.

My children are mestizos: Filipino on my side and Mexican, Indian, and French on their father’s side. We love to eat. We cook Mexican food like beans, chili verde, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chili Colorado, chicken mole, tamales, and we cook Filipino food like pork and chicken adobo, pansit, apritado, and lichon.

Our children are the best of two worlds.

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