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On her 105th birthday, Jeannie Aquino’s smile lights up the room. Her friends and family came together to help her celebrate the milestone.

“I’m just happy, that’s it. Thank God for these years and I am very thankful for everybody,” Aquino said.

Born in Mexico, Aquino was brought to the U.S. when she was just a young girl. At the age of 16, she got married to the love of her life. But, who she married, and at that time, brought challenges.

“They had to leave California because it was considered a mixed marriage. My dad was Filipino, and they would not allow them to get married,” said Felisa Hoogendyk, Aquino’s daughter.

The two went to Washington to get married. After they did, they returned to Soledad, California, where they both continued to work in the fields. The two faced racism head-on for being an interracial couple.

“In spite of some of the prejudices that she and my dad encountered, they were always positive as to what they were going to be doing,” Hoogendyk said.

That positive attitude continues to shine through.

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