When Edison Amores, a 29-year employee of JWU Facilities Management returns to his hometown, it is a royal event. To the residents of Basiao, a beach community in Capiz, a province in the Philippines, he is "King Edison." That was the case last month when Amores delivered three commencement addresses to the graduates of two elementary schools and one high school.
His advice to the graduates, "Stay in school, it is the foundation for your future. Study hard, keep going, and stay away from the bad stuff."
Since emigrating to the U.S. in 1986, Amores has contributed to the education of many young people back in the Philippines. He and his cousin, who donated his own land for construction of the schools, contribute regularly enabling the students to purchase school supplies, shoes, and uniforms. In addition, they fund an annual college scholarship that provides one student with four years of tuition and other items.
Seated in the atrium of the Cuisinart Center for Excellence, the building that he maintains, Amores opens a souvenir hand-made book, decorated with a lavish purple feather and a jeweled board with the words "We love you Sir Edison" prominently centered. Compiled by the high school graduates, it contains their thank you cards. In the note from Little Rhoda Manalang, she states; "I am forever grateful and thankful having you not only as our benefactor but as a great motivator and inspiration toward success." Jeyzel Galangate gives a hint with her tribute, "From the bottom of my heart and with utmost sincerity…thank you for all the blessings, gifts, and chocolates that I hope we have in the next balikbayan box." (Balikbayan boxes, or repatriate boxes, are a tradition begun in the 80s when Filipinos who relocated to the the U.S. mailed gifts and treats to their loved ones back home.)
Amores came to the U.S. via the Merchant Marines, arriving first in California. While visiting a cousin who was in the Navy and in Rhode Island, he met Karen, who soon became his wife. And here he has remained, "snow, and all." He recalls, "I had to find the thickest pair of socks. I'm still not used to the cold."
Amores, who became a U.S. citizen in 1990, returns to Basiao every 2 years. "That's where I grew up; I am the same as they are," he says referring to the students he has supported and those in the future. "Now, I have a little more and I can help. A little is big for them. It is a nice feeling to be able help."