Dear Mama & Papa,
Growing up and seeing you both also growing older, there are several questions I have been keeping silent about: “Why did we migrate to Canada?”, “How were you able to leave your parents, friends and relatives behind?”, “What about the fine way were living back in the Philippines made you decide to venture on a different life in a different country?”.
I know that I have been privileged to be the first grandchild of the family, both mama’s and papa’s sides. Remembering the way everyone treated me as their baby made me believe that our life back in the Philippines were just great. Having families around every occasion was fun!
Then, all of a sudden I recall the times all the changes in our lives began. Indeed I was young to understand it all back then but I can remember the sacrifices you have made:
1. The tedious process of application. We were all looking forward to the result even though I didn’t quite understood what we were really forward to. As soon as we were granted our visas, we celebrated like we won the lotto. I remember the smiles you had on your faces.
2. The laborious last month in the Philippines. We had to go through all our things and chose to dispose, sell or donate those we could not bring to Canada including my favorite toys which I was not prepared to part from back then but had no choice.
3. The sad parting at the airport. I can easily recall the crying scene we had at the NAIA where Tito, Tita, Lolo at Lola dropped us off.
4. Our arrival in Canada. We moved into an empty rental house. With only the balik-bayan boxes, we were sitting on the floor and sleeping on recycled balik-bayan boxes as our beds. You even wrapped me in layers and layers of clothes because of the bone-chilling cold of the winter season. We were not prepared at all as we didn’t have the right clothes, proper blankets, and mind set for the winter. It was a difficult time.
5. When it rained, it poured. There was a time when you picked me up from Daycare and it was raining. You were both drenched in the rain while I was dry inside the stroller. I looked back to see you both and you were both smiling as you pushed my stroller and tried wiping off the drops of water to keep yourselves as dry as possible.
5. The dreadful job hunt. Mama, I heard you tell Papa that you were starving the whole time you went to your walk-in interviews. Because you thought the food was expensive if you buy, you waited until you got home to fill your empty stomach. You had to go home to eat leftovers.
6. The bus rides. For several months, we were using the public transportation as we could not afford to get a car yet even if it was a necessity in this country. We went to the church and the grocery stores riding the bus. Papa was carrying the 5kilos of Rooster Rice and the other bags of groceries while Mama was pushing my stroller that was also full of bags of groceries.
7. The harsh weather and harsh times. Waiting at the bus stop while it was raining hard, cold wind blowing hard, or snowing heavily was really hard. You both were having a difficult time but we still could not afford a vehicle. Aside from that, Papa has not yet passed his driving test. Instead of hiring a driving instructor, I heard Mama tell you softly to just use the money to buy milk first.
8. Your arguments that turned into fights. It was truly a heart-breaking sight to see you both crying. You were having more arguments each day because you just could not agree.
9. Moments of despair. I could tell that the job hunting was not going well as you were both feeling depressed and hopeless. You both graduated with degrees back in the Philippines but you could not get a job. I could not understand but I have learned they were looking for something you both did not have that time, Canadian Experience.
10. My sick days. Healthcare here is great because it is good and free but every time I needed to be rushed to the hospital ,we had to wait in the emergency room for many hours, sometimes without eating because we could not leave our spot. There were times when one of you could not make to work because I was sick and no one can look after me because unlike in the Philippines, Tito and Tita or Lolo and Lola are not around to help out.
Seeing those happening before my eyes, I could not grasp the possible reasons why you chose to go through the hardships and struggles in life when I know we were doing fine in the Philippines. Now, I know. The main reason you chose to go back to zero and start a new life in Canada is ME! You both wanted a better life, a promising future, and a wonderful environment for me.
I am truly blessed to have you both as my loving parents. You endured so much, and have given me everything. You have given me tons of stuffed toys and action figures of superheroes. These toys are nothing compared to the real superheroes of my life. You are my heroes, Mama and Papa.
Ma and Pa, my gratitude and appreciation for the both of you are beyond words. Thank you for everything! Thank you for becoming a Filipino in Canada.
We all have our stories, different hardships and sacrifices just to achieve our Canadian dream. It may seem to be a very long and difficult journey but if it is for the future of our loved ones, there is nothing we cannot do.
This letter is a reminder of the hardships that moving to a different country and starting a new life entail. It is not for everyone because giving up everything can never be easy. Parents and children should be thankful for each other as they inspire one another to become better and to aim higher in life.
I hope this letter reaches the right people so that it can open their eyes to the reality their parents had to face back then. There are kids who have been born here and have taken the privileges they have for granted. Your parents have worked hard for the life you have right now so please return the favor, be good to your parents. In short, wag kayong pasaway! PEACE!
PhotoCredit: Jhun Marc Pacis Family