Letter to a First Daughter


Dear Daughter,

Pretty soon I will be two years in the United States, in California in particular. Even as I await our reunion, I cannot believe we have lived far apart this long. The days and months in this paradise make my heart poorer in a way as I try to shake off this sorrow that clings in my mind as I watch happy families together. I sometimes wonder if it is worth it—this supreme sacrifice, this sad separation that we have to put through in order for us to eke out a better, fuller life in this new land.

It is Sunday and the end-of-winter rains rage on. My spirit rages on as well. I remember you in your Sunday best ready for the weekend with your mother, brother, and our little angel. I am with you—that I drive the old and reliable family car and we go to the park by the sea and wait for the sun to set, you and your brother and your sister frolicking in the newly-mowed grass, verdant and shiny in the last lights and gleaming in the early lights of the full moon.

From where I sit, I look out the window. Two blocks from here is a park—gay and happy and filled with laughter as the parents watch cautiously their young children run around in wild abandon in the carpet grass, cropped to the hilt as if ready for the all-day party of unsaid joys of families. The families are strong and solid, united and unsung for their little sacrifices for their land and country and homeland. This scene kills me—and I surrender to the power of a thousand deaths. Today is a Sunday of heavy rains. For once, let me be suffused by this thought of glee and gladness as I watch these families—I watch them in my mind—enjoy the breeze from the sea in where I live.

Despite the downpour drenching all those under the gray and gloomy skies, the fierce winds are absent today. All around me there is that peaceful quiet that attends to the palm trees standing still and tall, marvelous and magical in their silent reaching out to the heavens that seem to be weeping today. The Los Angeles earth is all wet, soaked in the waters that run freely from the mountains in the north. Are the angels vacationing away from this city of angels? Did they leave for some more warmer climates at this time? I ask myself these and other questions and I think of penning a poem or two about this absence of the angels. But you know full well how I wrestle with my muse and the appropriate metaphors—and the tentative titles of my poems.

Yesterday, from my office window, I saw Hollywood all soaked up in the rain, the sun missing its appointment from the small hours of the morning to the late hours of the day. And to think that the sun can be angry and punishing in the summer months! But the bright days are still far ahead, dear daughter. And so, as I write this letter, I rise up, put on another sweater, put on my bonnet, put on my thick striped socks again and light two tea candles for us all. And then I sit down to write.

I sit on my desk and write my thoughts—your framed pictures in front of me: you with your sunny smile on your graduation toga, your brother in his skinny self but with the robust energy of a young man, and your two-year old sister in her red gown and the flower girl pose and poise, the fake royal crown with its fake diamonds twinkling on her shiny hair. I think thoughts of home—our home. Yet, I also think thoughts of making our haven of peace and prosperity in this land. And prayer keeps me with these thoughts—the prayer to the force that makes all these miracle moments possible. There is that sadness that I feel for not being there for you all the time but you know the reasons, darling daughter. I am sorry about missing your high school graduation, and even though you sent me the graduation pictures—you a veritable example of glow and growth—there is still that lack that I feel deep within. Was my absence a big deal? Honest, I know it was. But did we have a choice? No.

We have to live the life of exiles now—pilgrims if you so wish. And like the early pilgrims in this land, we will have to keep on with this huge sacrifice. And dream on.

With all my love,


AS Agcaoili

Carson, CA

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