Island of Dreams: Memoirs of My Life
This book is written so I could share my life and adventuresboth the sadness and the happier times that prevailed. I want people to understand me so that they can better understand a child who was once lost without guidance but triumphed in the end.
The island where I grew up held much adventure. Along with the bountiful and lush greenery, exotic fruits, heavenly gardens, and beautiful beachesI experienced much pain and confusion throughout my childhood.
This is my story. I wrote it to inspire my children to never give up on each other and love each othercome what may.
I pray that future mothers will never abandon their children no matter what the circumstances may be. God always has a way to make things right.
Book Review: Island of Dreams
Author: Heidy Ramos
Reviewed by Cynthia Brian
When you read the title and observe the beautiful cover of the Island of Dreams, you are immediately transported to an idyllic coastline filled with jumping fish in azure blue waters, caramel colored beaches boasting a tropical thatched hut, swaying palm trees and an adorable little girl with open, welcoming arms. Ah, you whisper, this does indeed look like a dream island.
Then you read the first few paragraphs of the Introduction that begins The year was 1970. The place was Subic Bay. I was four years old at the time. We were huddling together on a street corner. I remember crying and shouting out my mothers name. Mom! Mom! Mom! Dont leave us!
The tears fall as the autobiographical story of Heidy Ramos and her numerous siblings living and moving from tiny island to tiny island in the Philippines unravels into a web of abandonment, abuse, and betrayal so raw, so incredibly despicable, so horribly inhumane that you wonder how she survived.
She remembers hiding with her brothers and sisters in a cornfield as her mother screamed in agony as she was beaten. Without a word, her mother left for the United States, leaving the children in the care of a belittling grandmother, an elderly grandfather, and a drunken uncle whose favorite past time was abusing the children. The nightmare began anew each day as the children scavenged for food while attempting to avoid the wrath of the beatings.
The only solace enjoyed by the children was swimming in the sea. They would swim from island to island, actually hoping to drown, as life was such a living hell. The uncle spent money on alcohol and gambling, while the children starved, living without necessities. They were taunted and teased at school because their mother had abandoned them and no father claimed them. The siblings only had one another to lean on.
An older sister smuggled the younger children aboard a ship and took them to a far away island. Heidi recalls this was one of the most frightening days she had ever encountered. When her uncles heard they had escaped, they threatened to kill them all when discovered. Although the sisters intentions were honorable, she and her husband did not have the financial resources to sustain the bigger brood.
The neglectful mother returns with a new husband and more children in tow yet refuses to claim her Filipino children as her own. She instructs them to call her Auntie, probably, the author assumes, her mother was ashamed because they were dark skinned while her new American children were blonds. The mother wanted to be part of a high society, not trapped in poverty.
Ms. Ramos native language is Tagalog and the book is written as if she is thinking in Tagalog and translating to English. At first the misuse of words, the grammatical errors, and the incorrect sentence structure is distracting. However, as you read the book, you become engulfed in her tear jerk story and realize that the phrasing adds to
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abuse air gun anymore asked baby back home Baguio City beach beating beautiful bougainvillea brothers and sisters Cebu City child chores coconut cooking cousin crying dark didn’t want dreams drunk everything eyes face favorite feel felt Ferdinand Magellan fish flowers forest friends Glenita Grandma Dalmacia grandmother Grandpa Maximu half brothers happened happy hard heart Heidy hurting husband Ijust inside island jackfruit Jimmy Joseph kids knew learned Liclic Lilia lived looked Mactan Mactan Island Magellan malunggay Manila memory morning mother moved mud I roll never Nicole night Nora ocean oldest pain papaya peace Philippines pregnant punching remember Renato rice rock screaming Sean ship somehow started stay stepfather sticky rice Subic Subic Bay swimming Tacloban tell things told took trees tried trying U.S. Navy Uncle Eddie vegetables village walking wanted wasn’t woke yelling youngest brother Zambales