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Amando Ocampo Alminiana migrated from Bacnotan, Ilocos Sur, PI to the United States in 1929. Arriving by boat in San Francisco, he immediately traveled by bus to Stockton where his own Manong, Juan Alminiana,was already working in the fields. He took a job as a dishwasher in a local restaurant

and learned the cook’s trade, which enabled him to find work in Beverly Hills, California, as a houseboy. While working, saving money and operating a pool hall, which he purchased soon after arriving in LA, he heard that a barber shop was for sale in Watsonville, California where a number of his kababayans were also living and working. Selling the pool hall, he purchased the barber shop, went to barber school and the Universal Barber shop at 150 Main St. was born.

The year was 1934. The Universal Barber Shop served as a hub for Filipino life, with generations of Watsonville citizens, of all different nationalities, coming in for their weekly haircuts and dose of City gossip. Amando opened a second Universal Barber Shop in Santa Cruz, close to UC Santa Cruz, soon after the university opened. The shops were in Amando’s operation until his retirement in 1994.

In 1942, Amando was recruited to serve in WWII. He trained as a medic at Fort Ord, Ca. with the 1st Filipino Infantry. Commissioned into active duty as a Sergeant 1st Class, he was sent back to his homeland with General MacArthur’s Repatriation Forces. It was there in Corregidor, that he met his soon to be wife, a registered nurse and young war widow.

Rosario (Nena) Nieva Cortes hailed from Lucena, Quezon Province, PI. During the war years, in Manila, Amando courted Nena, fell in love, eventually, married and brought his bride and her son to Watsonville to start a new life in 1947. Eva Alminiana, was born in 1949. Rene Alminiana followed in 1951. They lived along the Bridge St (now Riverside Drive) Street corridor at 400 Bridge St. at Loughead St. In 1965, the family moved to the historic Seal House on Corralitos Rd.

Nena Alminiana was a founding member of the Watsonville Filipino Women’s Club and the Filipino Catholic Association. It was her intent to help transition, assimilate and integrate the new and existing Filipino community into the fabric of civic and social life of Watsonville. She assumed a community leadership role and together with other Filipino men and women, promoted our culture, traditions, history and our social activities.

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