THE NISPEROS FAMILY
Fortunato (Billy) Nisperos was born in San Fernando, La Union on January 25, 1905 to father, Simon Nisperos, and mother, Tykla Pontarrilis. He had a twin brother, Bernabe, and had two more brothers and a sister. In 1929, he left the Philippines with his brother, Apolinario (Paul), and arrived in
San Francisco, CA aboard the S.S. President Lincoln. He left a wife and two daughters and labored in the fields to send money home to support them. In 1935, he settled in Santa Cruz County, living and working the fields in both Watsonville and Santa Cruz. At the end of World War II, Billy thought that his wife and family he left behind had been killed by the Japanese. He later met and married Marion Potts of New York, but due to anti-miscegenation laws, they were not allowed to marry in California.
They married in Vancouver, WA in a double wedding with his brother Paul and his partner, Anne. Billy and Marion had three children, Sandra, Barbara, and Edward (Ed). It was at the time of Ed’s birth that Billy learned his family in the Philippines was still alive. His marriage to Marion came to an end, but Billy continued to work the fields to support two families, both in the United States and the Philippines. Billy was a big part of the Filipino Community of Watsonville and the Caballeros de Dimas-Alang. He was the founder and first president of the Santa Cruz Filipino American Community.
At age 90, the Department of Motor Vehicles revoked his driver’s license. Officials said he could have it reinstated if he took a required driving course, but with no one to teach him in his language, and without the ability to drive, he felt isolated. In 1997, at the age of 92, he made the decision to return home to the Philippines.