I am an entrepreneur and a real estate agent, despite graduating with a Bachelor of Science and Commerce degree, majoring in Banking and Finance
Unfortunately, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college because the State University did not offer a business course. Only private universities with higher tuition fees did. Consequently, I decided to take a scholarship examination to become a working scholar at one of the prestigious universities in Bohol province. I felt incredibly fortunate to have been granted a full scholarship which covered all my tuition fees. Moreover, I sought employment as a part-time worker in one of the shopping malls after school; and twice a week, I dedicated two hours to work at a shipping company in order to pay for my accommodation and meals. In addition, I engaged in reselling various men’s and women’s apparel to cover my personal expenses.
This journey was undeniably challenging, but I effectively managed my time to strike a balance between studying and working, all while maintaining the required grades to uphold my scholarship.
I was in my final semester of my fourth year when an opportunity arose for me to work in Denmark as an Aupair. I prayed and asked God for a sign to confirm if this opportunity was meant for me, and if so, I wished for a smooth processing of my papers and visa.
I applied as an Aupair and surprisingly, I received my visa just two weeks after submitting my application. Despite being in the last semester of my studies, I made the difficult decision to give it up and promised my professors that I would resume and complete them upon returning home. I didn’t want to miss out on such an invaluable opportunity.
As the eldest and breadwinner of my family, I wanted to spare my siblings from experiencing the hardship of being self-supporting students. I worked for four years in Denmark and Norway, and I was incredibly blessed when my employer in Norway offered to support my studies, providing me with free accommodation and meals. They arranged for my sister from the Philippines to replace me in my work, allowing me to focus on my studies while working part-time in other companies.
I studied there for a year and six months before making the decision to return home to finish my degree. Throughout my journey, I achieved several significant accomplishments. I financially supported my siblings’ education, enabled one to become a practical nurse, another to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, and my youngest sibling will soon complete a degree in computer engineering. I also fully supported the medical fees of my only brother, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 13. He is now 23 years old, dependent on insulin and requiring monthly check-ups.
I invested in properties, including land in the city; but had to sell them and used all my savings when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, her condition took a sudden turn, and she passed away after a minor operation. I also borrowed almost 700 thousand pesos from my cousins to help cover her medical bills, which had reached nearly 2 million pesos. Losing my mother was devastating, as she was not only my mother but also my best friend and confidant. It was an extremely challenging period for me, as all the significant decisions fell on my shoulders. I had to be strong for the sake of my father and siblings, as it was undoubtedly difficult for them as well.
Months after my mom’s passing, I made the decision to establish a travel agency with my friend as my business partner. The venture was financially supported by my two cousins residing in Europe, and we initiated the endeavour in 2015. During that time, I also found out that I was pregnant. The father of my child, my long-time boyfriend from college, and I both made the mutual choice not to marry as I personally felt that I wasn’t ready to take on the role of a wife. I embraced the path of being a single mother because I believed it was the best decision for both myself and my child. My father respected and understood my choice, acknowledging that I am an independent woman who weighs her decisions thoughtfully and seeks guidance from God.
While I may not consider myself religious, I possess a strong faith and maintain an optimistic outlook on life. I have developed a habit of searching for the positive aspects in every difficult situation or circumstance that I encounter.
When I gave birth, I had to undergo a caesarean procedure. It was during that time that I witnessed the amazing ways in which God provided for all the needs of my baby, including financial support. I remember handling the billing process on my own, walking through the hospital corridors with the identification tag on my wrist. The hospital staff were astounded by my strength and independence, as I didn’t resemble a patient who had just undergone surgery.
While I was on leave, my business partner unexpectedly decided to shut down the operations of our company and left without having a personal conversation with me. It was a difficult situation as I was left hanging, without any clear direction or support. In order to continue earning a living, I had no choice but to return to work, bringing my baby along with me everyday. This was because my siblings were still pursuing their studies. One of them was already working, leaving me as the primary caregiver for my child.
Despite the challenges, I am grateful for the support of my siblings during this time. One of them woke up early to accompany me to the office before heading to work. At the end of the day, they waited for me, and we travelled back home together. My other siblings also lent a helping hand in caring for my baby during their free time after school. They also assisted me with tasks at the office, creating a sense of teamwork and unity within our family. Their support has been invaluable in allowing me to manage both work and childcare responsibilities.
Due to the financial burden of my mom’s hospitalisation and the overwhelming pressure to repay our debts, I made the difficult decision to work as a Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW) here in Hong Kong.
Working here in Hong Kong has proven to be significantly more challenging compared to my previous experience as an Aupair in Europe. The long working hours and restricted freedom to go out during working hours make it particularly demanding. This becomes even more difficult considering the potential emergencies or urgent matters that may arise back home, preventing me from easily attending to them. Moreover, being a single mom who left my child when he was only one and a half years old, adds an additional layer of complexity to my situation.
My child is now six years old, and regrettably, I haven’t been able to take a vacation or visit my family since I started working here.
I am truly grateful for the unwavering support of my family. While we may have occasional misunderstandings, especially when it comes to monitoring the money I send to them, I have always been open and honest about my intentions. I have explained to them the reasons behind my financial decisions and have even shared my dream board, which outlines my goals and aspirations. Through these conversations, I have sought to foster understanding and encourage their support in helping me achieve my dreams.
In both my family and work relationships, open communication, respect, and humility have been vital. By maintaining a constant flow of communication and actively listening to one another, we have built a foundation of trust and understanding. I have come to realise that expressing my needs and concerns, while also considering the perspectives of others, leads to a harmonious and supportive environment.
Surviving and thriving while working abroad requires immense courage, patience, perseverance, and unwavering determination. I have faced numerous challenges along the way, but my strong resolve and unyielding determination have enabled me to overcome them. I remain focused on my goals and strive to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way.