Who am I? A dreaming barbarian girl. I belong to one of the ethnic groups from the Mountain Province in the Philippines. Since childhood, I have been a dreamer but also felt hopeless because we were a poor and big family. I have 10 siblings and I am number 9.
I grew up in a small shanty house on top of the mountain surrounded with smelly animals. Sometimes we would have the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, beans in the morning, beans again at lunch and at dinner more beans. Sometimes we had beans for one week if it was the cheapest food at the market at that time.
Since I am a girl, I took care of household chores, serving my parents and elder brothers as well as tending to my younger siblings. Every day, I dreamed that one day I would get out from that place and enjoy life. Thus, I studied really hard and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in education. Luckily, I got a job after graduation as a teacher but as a dreamer, I was not yet satisfied. I wanted to go abroad and seek greener pastures overseas.
When I waved goodbye to my family, it was at Christmas because I took leave from the school where I was employed, thinking that in case I was not lucky abroad, I could just go back to teach. I took with me my motto in life, “DREAM…. And only you can make your dreams comes true” and also the words of my mother, “You will go into the battlefield and either you will die, or you will live, so be prepared and keep the faith to the Lord our God.”
Happy as can be, I landed in a foreign country excited to apply all my skills and knowledge. Finally, I was greeted by my first employer and instructed to go immediately to my room in the rooftop attic. Sadly, it was very dusty (never cleaned) so my first job was cleaning my room. It was their storage room but it was fine for me as long as there was a bed and toilet available. I lasted one year, saying “Dollars! Dollars! Dollars!” while mopping the floors.
As the days and months passed, I would see the house-helper of my neighbours going out for her days off and I too would have liked to have gone out at least once a month so I decided to talk to my employer. They immediately said NO because they said it would be their responsibility if something ever happened to me outside… Because I didn’t get what I wanted, I didn’t work the next day so then my ticket to go back home to the Philippines was given to me. That was February 2007. I was just exactly one year working abroad.
I went back to the farm helping my brothers in the garden and doing anything I could. Despite my bad experience abroad, before I slept each night I would tell myself I will go back abroad again, I have no future here. One day my friend called me saying, “Julie, I have an employer for you. Go ahead and fix your papers.” So I did, and I went to Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and lasted 6 years with one employer, and no visits home.
My sister asked me, “Why don’t you come home? Do you want to become an old maid?” These two questions made me dream again. To cut the story short, I went home to apply to work here in Hong Kong as my stepping stone to Canada.
I have been here in Hong Kong for 5 years already. I had a fear of termination because I heard about it from others, but nevertheless, I I took courage because of my dream to go to Canada. I said to myself, I have no hope for a foreigner to marry me because I am so fat and short, so I have no other choice but to become “kunyang”. My first employer said in my contract that I was going to care for a five-year-old girl, but after I had been here for a week, they brought me to Homecare to take good care of a 72 year old bedridden woman. It really was a challenge for me because I didn’t have any idea about caring for sick, old people. I am a teacher not a nurse or adult caregiver but I didn’t complain. Rather, I searched on Google about caring for bedridden patients and started to talk to other Filipinas who were also working there. I learned the techniques, but my problem was that the best qualification for becoming a nanny in Canada is caring for children, so I decided to change employers after I finished my two-year contract. I found an employer where I lasted 3 years. I couldn’t finish my second contract with them because finally I will fly to CANADA!
Note: I was denied once to Canada but I didn’t give up so I applied again and, God is good, it was approved. Thanks God!
Tip: As I worked and before sleeping, I visualized what I wanted. Although there are struggles along the way, if you believe and go step-by-step through how to attain your dream, then you’ll get there.
Interviewed by Marie Kretz Di Meglio in January 2018
Edited by Rachel Voce