BCI Member Spotlight
“Tita Nati” is one of our BCI founders and our BCI Dance Troupe’s legendary icon.
Here’s her interesting story…
March 19,1966, ST JOSEPH DAY!
My plane landed at Chicago O’Hare airport as the Indianapolis International Airport then did not yet exist. As soon as I arrived, my name was paged overhead. Scared? yes! A security officer escorted me to the airline’s office. The office agent informed me that someone was waiting for me to take me to my destination, Indianapolis. After a brief introduction, I found out that it was the Director of the IU Pathology Laboratory, Dr. Lester Hoyt, and we both flew to Indianapolis in his helicopter.
I never had plans to go abroad. I had a nice job and was finishing my Master’s Degree in Chemistry. However, my classmates and friends were all applying to study or work in the US. They relentlessly prodded me to apply as well despite my repeated refusal as I was pregnant with my first born. I was not aware that they had actually sent applications for me until one day I just received an acceptance letter from the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis instructing me to report immediately by early spring.
I kept it a secret from my husband and family until the day of my departure on that St Joseph’s feast day. I had only gained the courage to let them know that morning about my flight to US at midnight. In spite of the short notice, my in-laws and family managed to give me a lavish despedida party. Leaving behind my husband and my baby was the most difficult thing I had ever done but I couldn’t pass such an opportunity which rarely comes in a lifetime. My only consolation then was the tremendous support from my understanding husband, in-laws and family.
When I arrived here in Indianapolis, I did not have a place to stay but with the help of my Director and Nursing Administration, they let me stay at Wile Hall, Nurses dorm. For three months with no Filipino around, I focused on my studies and work. During these months, I also spent adjusting to a new culture and environment, the snow. One day, my Director introduced me to a Filipino Doctor, Ben Singco, who later introduced me to Maria Lagadon, the First President of the Barangay Club, and Flora Joven, her best friend. Maria Lagadon was a Public school teacher and she often invited me to her classroom to give a talk on the culture of the Philippines. Flora Joven was a nurse and together they invited me to their special occasions, school gatherings, and asked me to lead a dance showing the various cultural and traditional dances of the Philippines. This then was the beginning of our mini Philippine dance troupe.
In the early 70’s, more professional Filipinos migrated here with their families. With the leadership of Maria Lagadon, we then formed the Barangay Club of Indiana. In 1972, we made it into an Incorporation.
Through the years of dancing, I continue to teach and promote our culture involving our youths which now are of the 5th generation. And yes, I do still work full time at IU Health Laboratory.