30+ Questions to Document Your Filipino Family History

As Filipino American History Month 2021 comes to a close, I want to encourage you to document your family history. Try to interview your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even family friends. 

Here is a list of 30 + questions to get you started. The questions are generic enough to be used for any immigration story from any country. It is not specific to just the Philippines and the USA. Click here to download a PDF copy of the list.

Immigration and Travel

  1. Where was your country of origin and how long did you live there?
  2. How much school did you complete in your home country?
  3. What was your last address in your home country?
  4. What was your last memory of that place?
  5. What did you take with you to the new location?
  6. What transportation did you take and who accompanied you on this trip?
  7. What was your arrival destination and did someone meet you there?
  8. Where did you live and what influenced that decision?

Language and Community

  1. If you kept in touch with anyone in your home country, what type of communication did you use (letters, prepaid phone cards, etc)?
  2. What was your expectation vs reality of the new location?
  3. Did you have to learn a new language at the new location?
  4. Did you still speak your native language at home?
  5. Was there a large population of folks from your home country?
  6. Were you able to be yourself or did you assimilate into the majority culture?
  7. What was your experience with neighbors in your community?
  8. Were you a member of any community, religious or cultural organizations?

Careers and Children

  1. What was your first job in the new location?
  2. Describe how you found this job (newspaper, friend, applied on-site, etc).
  3. Were you able to make ends meet or did you work more than one job?
  4. What transportation did you take to get to your job?
  5. If you had children, who provided childcare for them while you worked?
  6. What hopes and dreams did you have for your child(ren)?
  7. Have you traveled back to your home country?
  8. Would you like to retire in your new location or in your home country?

Traditions and Food

  1. Describe a tradition your family had.
  2. Were you able to continue this tradition in your new location?
  3. Did you create new traditions in your new location?
  4. What holidays or special occasions were most meaningful to you?
  5. What was your favorite food?
  6. Was there a market in your new location to buy this food or the ingredients to make it?
  7. Did you have to adapt recipes due to a lack of ingredients?
  8. What foods in your new location did you like or dislike?


A few tips for the interview:

  • let your relative/friend know that you would like to record the conversation with audio or video, but you are willing to take written notes if they are resistant to recordings
  • ask them if they have any old photos or momentos to help job their memory
  • ask if they have any other relatives or friends that would be willing to be interviewed
  • start with questions about fun memories such as celebrations or neighborhood fiestas to get them in a good mood
  • bring along young children so it feels more like storytime
  • some questions may trigger a flood of emotions, be willing to pause the interview if needed and pick-up at another time

#filipinoamericanhistorymonth #genealogy #familytree

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