Charlene Guintu

Charlene Guintu’s Oral History Interview


Interviewers: Peggy Walker, Patrick Portillo, Ivan Plazola Palomino, Diana Lopez, Ajah Awuma, Jasmin Linares

Interviewee: Charlene Guintu

Location: California State University, East Bay

Date: April 29, 2019


           Charlene Guintu, a former Filipino student at CSU East Bay, addresses the differences in the background of her parents and intergenerational conflicts that she must undergo. Illustrating her own experience in school, Guintu acknowledges that Union City is greatly diverse and  heavily populated with Filipino people. Attending James Logan High School and being surrounded by individuals that express their pride for their Filipino culture, Guintu felt intimidated for not being that present in her own culture. Guintu, addresses that she was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, a disorder that is characterized by lack of energy, depression, anger, constant worry over daily things, etc. Her diagnosis made it hard for her to enjoy her teenage years. Touching basis on the connection of the model minority with mental health, Guintu highlights that it is important to understand that many Asian Americans living up to this strict unrealistic standard, are mentally and physically affected.Afraid of being kick out and reprimanded by her parents, Guintu remained silent about her mental health condition. Finding and acquiring support for her mental health, Guintu reiterates that no person should be left feeling like they are alone, in the battle of dealing with anxiety and depression. Supported by her parents and some family members, Guintu has found a way to manage her symptoms and not let them consume her. Guintu advices Asian Americans to not be afraid of seeking help and concludes by stating, “living up to an image is a silly idea. You should live your life the way you want to live it.”

Key Words

Model minority: A stereotype placed on Asian Americans that they are intelligent, wealthy, diligent, self-reliant, obedient, even-tempered, and in no need of assistance.

Tiger mom: Strict mother, common in China and East Asia, that pushes her children to the highest levels of success.

Western parenting– a style of parenting that reflects American ideals and values. Modeled through the conception of the nuclear family.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: characterized by extreme worry about daily life events. May experience panic attacks, restlessness, and trouble concentrating.

Clinical Depression: A mood disorder that persists for two weeks or more; symptoms include negative feelings such as hopelessness and irritability, fatigue and loss of interests in hobbies.

Mental health: A person’s cognitive, emotional and psychological well being; it affects how one behaves and thinks

Self-perception: An awareness of the characteristics that constitute one’s self; interpreting the meaning of one’s own behavior.

Racial identity: identity formation in an individual’s self-categorization in, and psychological attachment to, (an) ethnic group(s).

Acculturation: assimilating into a different dominant culture.

Intergenerational conflict: Conflict between generations, usually about culture, social, and economic differences.

Annotated Bibliography

“Asian American/ Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health”, MHA, June 30, 2016 mentalhealth

This article discusses how Mental Health America is a community of people that raise awareness about mental health among Asian Americans and how they push to help by seeking proper, timely, and effective treatment. The article goes on to state the high amount of Asians that suffer from mental illnesses. It states that 18.9 percent of high school students consider suicide and how Asian American females are twice as likely to have attempted suicide than men ( female 15 percent and males 7 percent). It also states some issues that might cause their illness such as language barriers and health insecurities. This article’s purpose is to help Asian Americans to know that they are not the only ones that need help and it implores them to contact them so they can get the help they need.

Bjorck, Jeffrey P; Cuthbertson, William; Thurman, John W; Lee, Yung Soon. “Ethnicity, Coping, and Distress Among Korean Americans, Filipino Americans, and Caucasian Americans.” The Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 141, Iss. 4, 421-42. DOI:10.1080/00224540109600563.

This study examines and compares the management of assessment, coping, and anguish in Korean, Filipino, and Caucasian Americans. Participants start by answering questions that involve demographic questions such as ethnicity and years spent in the United States. The study evaluates assessment by having participants write a summary of the most trying experience they have endured in the past week, and how much of a threat the situation was to them based on a Likert scale. For coping they filled out a “Ways of Coping Questionnaire” (pg. 426) that involved questions to answers on how they deal with social support, reappraisal, and religion. Distress was then measured alone, in relation to anxiety, and in relation to self-perception of the participants’ coping behavior. The study found that there were many intercorrelations between groups. Filipinos and Koreans rated the difficulty of events higher than Caucasians. Both groups experienced a high number of negative stressors and may be more prone to shed the events that caused them in a positive, accepting way towards authority, caused by the “Eastern emphases on complying with authority” (pg. 436). Filipinos and Koreans also dealt with coping in a more passive way compared to Caucasians. Filipinos were also found to use more problem-solving strategies in light of appraisal, coping, and distress.

Blair, Sampson Lee. “Parental Involvement and Children’s Educational Performance: A Comparison of Filipino and U.S. Parents.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 45, No.  3, 351-366,

Sampson Lee Blair compares the similarities between the education system in the United States and the Philippines. He touches on educational parental involvement in the Filipino community and parent-child relationships. He mentions that Filipino families are usually large, and children tend to listen to their fathers more than their mothers, as they are more frightening. Sons are given more privilege in the family, while the daughters tend to bear more responsibility. A study was done that took information from two surveys, one being the Parent and Family Involvement in Education study, and the other being National Households Education Surveys. The results show that the number of Filipino parents who attained education was very high. Less mothers were employed than in the United States. Filipino parents volunteer at schools and assist their children with homework more than American parents. In general, the study showed that Filipino parents are more involved than American parents in their children’s educational journeys.

David T Takeuchi, “Immigration- Related Factors and Mental Disorders Among Asian Americans”, AJPH,  October 10, 2011

This article is about a study conducted by various professors that  examined the lifetime and 12-month rates of any depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders in a national sample of Asian Americans. The article goes in depth on the methods used such as a surveys and then those results that gave them and idea of what it was that Asian Americans were dealing with. They came to the conclusion that immigration related factors was the most associated with the mental illnesses that Asian Americans deal with but note that it is different between men and women. Studies such as these give you a better perspective on what it is that causes Asians to deal with mental health issues and it lets people know that there’s people that are trying to get to the bottom of their problems to better help them overcome those issues.

Diane L. Wolf, “Family Secrets: Transnational Struggles Among Children of Filipino Immigrants” (1997) Pg. 458-465

This article talks about how Filipino immigrants struggle with living up to the expectations that their families set for them. It discuss how the constant struggle of wanting to be perfect and how they try not to bring shame to their family. They live with thoughts like these all their life and it’s no wonder they deal with mental illnesses. This article relates to the tiger mom ideology and it shows how these illnesses are a result of the constant struggle that Filipino children  have with their parents.

Ferrera, Maria J. “The Transformative Impact of Cultural Portals on the Ethnic Identity Development of Second-Generation Filipino-American Emerging Adults.” Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work 26.3 (2017): 236-53. Web.

There is a vast difference of ethnic identity between first generation Filipino Americans that migrated to the United States and second generation Filipino Americans that were born in the United States. Second generation Filipino Americans are more likely to be depressed and exhibit negative behavior the more that they are “Americanized.” Filipino Americans also feel a lack of heritage due to the majority of Filipino history being related to colonization from European countries and America. Because of being Americanized, second generation Filipino Americans tend to see America as the superior culture and find the Philippines to be backwards. The author produced a study where its original purpose was to see how second generation Filipino Americans felt about being Filipino. One interesting thing they found was that second generation Filipino Americans who choose to go through “cultural portals,” such as visiting the Philippines and learning Tagalog, inspired them to return to their roots and attempt to find their ethnic identity of being Filipino.

“Filipino Migration to the U.S.” Filipino Migration to the U.S.: Introduction. 19 Apr. 2019 <;.

This article talks about the migration for people that came from the Philippines and how they started their lives by working on plantations and their labor days were in Hawaii. For some others it was their time in California and how they worked in the agricultural economy that changed  from time to time that, it had them move from farm to farm to keep being able to find work. It also touches on the racial discrimination that they would face while living in the US.

Hahm, Hyeouk Chris et al. “Drug use and suicidality among Asian American women who are children of immigrants.” Substance use & misuse vol. 48,14 (2013): 1563-76. doi:10.3109/10826084.2013.808219

This study talks about the association between drug use and lifetime suicidal behaviors among Asian American women living in Massachusetts, using data collected from 2010 to 2011. It showed that a history of hard drug use alone or in combination with soft drug use has a significant association with both suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among Asian American women. These findings highlight the importance of addressing hard drug use when designing suicide prevention programs for Asian American women.

Kuroki, Yusuke. “Risk Factors for Suicidal Behaviors among Filipino Americans: A Data Mining Approach.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 85, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 34–42. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/ort0000018.

This article explores the risk factors for depression and suicide in Filipino Americans and why Filipino Americans have lower suicide rates than other Asian American groups. Like other Asian American groups, Filipino Americans can exhibit suicidal ideation due to stressful events and pressures from others. But unlike other groups, they are less likely to commit suicide. By researching different theories and studying suicidal risk assessments of Filipino Americans, the author found that Filipino Americans have their own kind of coping strategies to lessen the risk factors of suicide. Filipinos heavily emphasize social connectedness in their collectivistic culture so the closeness of family, both nuclear and extended, can help lessen depression.

Liu, John M., Ong, Paul M., Rosenstein, Carolyn. “Dual Chain Migration: Post-1965 Filipino Immigration to the United States.” The International Migration Review, Vol. 25, No. 3, 487-513,

This article covers Filipino immigration after 1965. Most immigration from Asia to the United States occurred after the passing of the 1965 Immigration Act, with the Philippines being the largest source and Filipinos making up about one quarter of the entire Asian immigration population. Two main chains make up post-1965 Filipino immigration, including those who came to the United States before 1965, and those who came after 1965.  The article compares the two chains of migration and their effects on Filipino-American communities. Many Filipino laborers replaced Japanese workers on sugar plantations in Hawaii in 1909.  Naturalization rights were denied to Filipinos, making It hard for them to build families or bring in their families from the Philippines. The Philippines Independence Act of 1934 stunted immigration for Filipinos, and this went on until the end of World War II. After the 1965 Immigration Act, nearly 700,000 Filipinos entered the United States by 1985. Chain A and Chain B, selective and occupational-selective immigration, are also discussed considering Filipino migration.

Lui, Pricilla., & Rollock, David. (2013). Tiger Mother: Popular and Psychological Scientific Perspectives on Asian Culture and Parenting. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(4), 450-456.

Lui and Rollock (2013) argue that “tiger mothering” stems of the concept of the model minority myth and traditional Asian American cultural practice. Analyzing the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Lui and Rollock mention that there is an implicit connection between the created Asian stereotypes and the transmission of cultural values. As family grows, there is a decline in following Asian American cultural practice and an increase in the acculturation of Western customs and way of parenting. Ongoing pressure of living up to an unrealistic image masks the rising inequity, poverty, discrimination, etc. Acknowledging previous research done, Lui and Rollock (2013) state, “… emerging empirical evidence has demonstrated particular patterns of deleterious effects of cultural conflict across generations within immigrant families, including greater psychological distress, somatic complaints, delinquency and serious violent behavior, and lower degrees of positive affect” (pg.452). Coming to the conclusion that “tiger mothering” is more than a mode of parenting, the authors’ advice that greater research on the impact of demanding cultural practice must be considered. Viewed through a psychological perspective, the following article enhances the negative impact of tiger mothering.

Mossakowski, Krysia N. “Are Immigrants Healthier? The Case of Depression among Filipino Americans.” Social Psychology Quarterly, vol. 70, no. 3, 2007, pp. 290–304. JSTOR,

This study argues that Filipino American immigrants have significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms than Filipinos born in the United States, net of gender, age, marital status, socioeconomic status, and place of residence.

Museus, Samuel., & Maramba, Dina. (2011). “The Impact of Culture on Filipino American Students’ Sense of Belonging.” The Review of Higher Education, 34(2), 231-258.

Museus and Maramba (2011) address that the invisibility of Asian American and Pacific Americans representation in higher education and research leads to cultural suicide. Reporting their findings of a study done by them, Museus and Maramba state that Asian Americans and people of color have a low rate in their “sense of belonging.” The lack and limited representation of Asian American staff, has made countless Asian American students feel like they do not belong. Juggling greater responsibilities of work, school, family, etc. these students find themselves acquiring anxiety and depression. Rising stigma of obtaining mental health care, the model minority myth, and high expectations of education has led many Asian American students to commit suicide. Shedding light on alternative ways of heightening student’s sense of belonging, Museus and Maramba (2011) advise that cultural differences should be expressed as a good thing, rather than pushing Asian American culture and values to the side. Expressing the study’s limitations, the authors conclude that future research should involve a variation of sub-ethnicities and discuss the intersectionality between white supremacy, capitalism, class, race, sex, etc.

Nadal, Kevin L. & Pituc, Stephanie T. & Johnston, Marc P. & Esparrago, Theresa. “Overcoming the Model Minority Myth: Experiences of Filipino American Graduate Students.” Journal of College Student Development, vol. 51 no. 6, 2010, pp. 694-706. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/csd.2010.0023

This study centers around the relationship of the Model Minority Myth and Filipino American graduate students. There is a high percentage of Filipino Americans who have a bachelor’s degree or higher which reinforces the Model Minority Myth. Yet, their income are lower than those in their field and have lower rates of being accepted into or graduating college. Filipino Americans are also different from their East Asian counterparts because Filipinos have similar cultural aspects with Hispanics/Latinx and is often mistaken as them. This makes Filipino Americans more prone to having weak racial/ethnic identity. The authors collected results from a questionnaire regarding experiences of Filipino American graduate students. The common answers they found are: Filipino American students felt lack of resources for them, they had positive experience when socializing with other Filipino Americans, they faced plenty of racial stereotypes, and they felt like being Filipino American was different from being Asian American.

Panelo, Nathan. (2010). “The Model Minority: Asian American Students and the Relationships Between Acculturation to Western Values, Family Pressures and Mental Health Concerns.” The Vermont Connection, 31(1), 16.

Panelo (2010) asserts that the combination of acculturation of Western values and the added pressures of Asian parenting, leaves Asian American students experiencing anxiety, depression, and mental health problems. Analyzing the “model minority” student, Panelo (2010) argues that the creation and establishment of the label gives room to the misconception and denial of Asian Americans need for additional guidance and resources. Characterized by collectivism, obedience, loyalty, lack of communication, etc. the Asian American culture alters the way the student sees themselves and the future to come. Expanding on the model minority impact and added pressures, the author proclaims that in order to save Asian American student’s lives, change must occur within the education system and way of parenting. Using personal experience, Panelo (2010) illustrates the impact of having someone that understands what you are going through. He concludes by imposing a possible solution toward the lack of support groups and lack of understanding the Asian American experience. Stating that all campus staff should have the knowledge of the struggles that many students face and establish workshops, for both the parent and the student, to acquire the guidance needed to reduce anxiety and fear of not knowing what to expect in a higher education campus. Placing emphasis on Asian American students, this article does a great job shedding light to an ongoing problem in the Asian communities.

PORIO, EMMA. “Global Householding, Gender, and Filipino Migration: A Preliminary Review.” Philippine Studies, vol. 55, no. 2, 2007, pp. 211–242. JSTOR,

This article argues that overseas labor migration force households into a globalized life     that alters patterns of “household making” through income using data from the National Statistics Office’s Family Income and Expenditure Survey (NSO-FIES) and three case studies. These income/remittance patterns and the mobilization of reproductive labor changed the ways households left behind in the Philippines organize child care/elderly care, household maintenance, and resource mobilization within households.

Rosenberg, Amanda. “Hiding My Mental Illness from My Asian Family Almost Killed Me.” Vox, Vox, 18 June 2018,

This article talks about how mental health was never talked about in her family because it was always perceived in a negative light. She talks about how mental illness was never an option in her family. She sees how a lot of this is rooted in her Chinese culture and how any kind of mental illness is seen as shameful. She would hide her emotions from her mom starting from a young age. She got help but could never talk about it to her family because her mother would not want to speak about it. One time for the holidays her mom would make up excuses to why she couldn’t stay at her mother’s house so she spent that time with friends. She saw how ashamed her mom was of her mental health but she knew that that is topic she can’t bring up with her mom and that’s why she went to psychiatric hospital to start getting help around when she was 27.

Tanap,Ryan.“NAMI.” Home, 24 July 2018,

This article talks about how the author went to a group therapy and how they were the only person or color there and how the other people did not understand about her having immigrant parents. This made her not want to share her story and it made it difficult for her to share how she was raised. She was never able to tell people in her family how she felt because in the Asian American culture it brings on shame to the parents as if they failed in parenting. She always had to seem strong and confident and that she should never show any sign of sadness because it would make it seem like she was weak. To her it felt like a burden to share her feelings.