They pawn their land and sell what they can to pay his expenses. When he graduates he will be able to help them and their lives will be better. However, it doesn't work out that way after Macario loses the teaching job he has because of a woman. Carlos, like other Filipino peasant children, virtually has no childhood. When he is just five years old he is already working in the fields and helping with the cooking and household chores when he is five. When he leaves the farm he helps his mother with her trading business, sometimes traveling to other villages.
He works climbing coconut trees and selling the fruit, giving his mother his pay. They all pitch in to try to keep their land and to help Macario through school. Carlos develops his hatred of the middle class when he travels with his mother to other villages and comes into contact with them. Social unrest exists in the Philippines and several peasant rebellions are put down by authorities. In the Philippines, they are lead to believe that America represents equality. When they arrive in America they all find that is not exactly the case. There is intense hatred of Filipinos by the whites and there is exploitation.
Carlos goes from one situation to another, amazed and astonished by the brutality and cruelty that he finds in America. He works whatever job he can land, usually picking crops, and finds the workers paid a pittance and forced to live in filthy conditions. Many times they are attacked by people who hate Filipinos. Eventually Carlos and his circle become active, first in the labor movement and then in the Filipino rights movement.
Their attempt to organize the workers brings them into direct conflict with the large agricultural interests. Their labor movement eventually becomes involved with radical elements but they do manage to form a union that affiliates with the CIO. Carlos is diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and spends two years in a hospital. After being released, Carlos and his friends become instrumental in the movement for Filipino civil rights.
They form a committee with the goal of obtaining citizenship for Filipinos, but they lose that battle. When World War II breaks out, they are banned from enlisting in the armed forces. After the Philippines is invaded and they still aren't allowed to enlist, the Filipinos begin a movement that results in a special proclamation by the president of the United States that allows Filipinos to serve in the armed forces.
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