A Letter to My Father
Growing up Filipina and American
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
188 Pages | 6 x 9 | 8 b&w illus., 2 maps
Going from the jungles of the wartime Philippines to the schoolyards of northwestern Oklahoma is no easy transition. For one twelve-year-old girl, it meant distance not only across the globe but also within her own family.
Born to a Filipino father and an American mother, Helen Madamba experienced terrifying circumstances at a young age. During World War II, her father, Jorge, fought as an American soldier in his native Philippines, and his family camped in jungles and slept in caves for more than two years to evade capture by the Japanese. But once the family relocated to Woodward, Oklahoma, young Helen faced a different kind of struggle.
Here Mossman tells of her efforts to repudiate her Asian roots so she could fit into American mainstream culture—and her later efforts to come to terms with her identity during the tumultuous 1960s. As she recounts her father’s wartime exploits and gains an appreciation of his life, she learns to rejoice in her biracial and multicultural heritage.
Written with the skill of a gifted storyteller and graced with photos that capture both of Helen’s worlds, A Letter to My Father is a poignant story that will resonate with anyone familiar with the struggle to reconcile past and present identities.
“An extraordinary story of an interracial family and of unsung victims of war. Rich in metaphor and description, the book is a building block in constructing the true identity of Oklahoma and the nation as a profoundly multiethnic society.”—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie
“Narrated by a gifted storyteller, this memoir shows that what has been lost cannot be regained, but it can be understood and illuminated. Reflecting an unusual mixture of cultures, A Letter to My Father is an archetypal American story.”—Pat Harrison, editor of Radcliffe Quarterly