The Oracles: My Filipino Grandparents in America

Listen to your elders

As a young girl growing up in California, Pati Navalta Poblete is dismayed to find her American way of life interrupted when her four grandparents arrive from the Philippines. Turning her adolescence upside down, they inspire her to name them “the Oracles” for the unfamiliar—and often unsolicited—wisdom they bring. Poblete tells her story of generational strife and familial clash of values with tenderness and humor. In sharp and unforgettable glimpses we see the shadows of superstition, the force of religion, and the embrace of family—sometimes welcome, sometimes not. Only years later did she begin to understand how much she had needed the Oracles to bring her own.


“Pati Navalta Poblete's memoir is a typical story of an American childhood. When her grandmother, Fausta, arrives from the Philippines, the American childhood then becomes a multigenerational tale of familial mythmaking and vivid storytelling.”

—Shawn Wong, author of Homebase and American Knees, and co-editor of Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Asian American Writers


“This memoir is sweet without being coy, affectionate without being too sentimental, both witty and funny. It takes us into Pati's heart and reminds us to remember our grandparents' stories. They are worth telling.”

—Leny Mendoza Strobel, author of Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans

About the Author

Pati Navalta PobletePati Navalta Poblete is the deputy editorial page editor of the Honolulu Advertiser. Until recently, she had lived in the Bay Area her entire life. She was an editorial writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and before that she was the paper’s demographics editor, supervising a team of reporters who cover race relations, religion, gay and lesbian topics, immigration, and issues of youth and aging. Visit her website at

Photograph by Michael Macor