Aidreian Bantolina - Green Card Voices

Aidreian Bantolina

Occupation: Student

Country of Birth: Philippines

Current: Hawai’i

“In the future, I want to build ‘mini-houses’ for homeless people so they can have a safe place to sleep. I want to help them have a warm, safe place where they can rest comfortably.”

When Aidreian journeyed across the Pacific from the Philippines to Hawai‘i, he faced many challenges and held on to his dreams. Aidreian was born in Oriental Mindoro, and his early life was full of simple joys and strong family bonds despite his family’s hardships. His father worked in construction, but one day he had to be hospitalized due to a foot infection caused by a work-related injury. While he was hospitalized, his family couldn’t afford food. When Aidreian brought lunch, it was often stolen. But he remembers how cousins and many friends brightened his days.

It was a turning point for Aidreian when his great-grandmother petitioned for his father and uncle to move to Hawai‘i for better opportunities. But, the actual moving was extremely difficult because of the lengthy travel for documentation in Manila and sad goodbye to his loving mother. This farewell deeply affected him.

Aidreian’s next big challenge was settling in Hawai‘i, from learning the new language to adapting to a new school. He was only nine and spoke limited English, which made his school life difficult. Despite these hurdles, he found basketball and gradually formed a close-knit circle of friends.

Today, Aidreian is mastering skills in high school construction classes in the hope of one day helping to address social issues. Inspired by the homelessness he sees in Hawai‘i, he aims to build mini-houses for people in need and wants to provide them with dignity and shelter. He dedicates himself to construction and returns to the Philippines every summer to reconnect with his mother.