In memoir, single mother struggles with her Faith to come to America

The young Imelda Lopez

The memoir, “A Mother’s Will,” was written by author and filmmaker Fortes Lopez in honor of her mother Imelda, a single mother determined to give her son a better life.

“My mother sold cooked food to the U.S. military on their way to Clark Air Base. She aspired to cross over herself someday to the land of opportunity,” was Lopez’s recollection of Mel’s tenacious spirit to bring her family to America.

Set in the 1970s in Angeles City in Pampanga province, Mel is a street vendor who later works as an intern in the military base. Embarrassed of being poor, she hides her shame by eating her lunch in the ladies’ room. She hopes her skills as a typist will bring her to America. With great determination to make up for a modest education, it is her will to change her surroundings for something better. If not for her, then for her son’s sake.

Mel gets advice from an unlikely ally who contends that if she were desperate, she may consider marrying an American. A believer in the cross and the covenant, she must decide if she is predisposed to forfeit virtue for a fabricated union. Is she prepared for falling out of favor with her Savior and risk not being saved at all?  The constant battle to wrestle free from poverty’s grip exacts a toll on her.

The book has dialogues in English, Tagalog and Kapampangan. It also includes some Philippine history from the time the Spanish conquerors arrived in the 1500s all the way to the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s.

In addition to the book, Lopez managed to produce a short film based on the last three chapters.

Lopez is a Filipino American writer born from immigrant parents. He grew up in the Philippines, seeing the hardships endured by his elders and hearing of their tales of torture and conflict during the war. A grandfather survived the Bloody Death March of Bataan, and a grandmother’s brother was gunned down by the Imperial Japanese Army for sneaking bread to U.S. POWs. These are the characters that remind him of his family’s poignant wartime memories. Driven to document their narrative, he aims to share his family’s past with future generations with the hope of keeping their memories alive.

He began writing “A Mother’s Will” based on his experiences growing up with his grandmother, and her struggle to survive living in poverty. The book was published in 2015.

“I wanted to honor the memory of loved ones by celebrating their life through my work,” he said. “Their experiences have shaped me into who I am today.”

Lopez’s family resides in Alaska.

Director Fortes Lopez. The film version is set for release in 2020.

© The FilAm 2019

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