All personal and other informations that are provided by the volunteers and this article do not intend to mislead anyone, anything or anywhere.

3 September 2019 marks my 4th year here in France.

“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”
– Dr. Jose Rizal
(national hero of the Philippines)

“He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.”

This article is a photo blog of my family and newly found friends here in France. They are from all over the Philippines, ‘my kababayans’, with goals which are to help their families back home, to help their siblings and children to have a better education, to help their loved ones to have a good life, that is why they are continuing to be brave and to work hard.

Back in 2015, I arrived here in France. I decided to leave the Philippines, my work and job, to have a better future and not even sure if I will succeed and took the risk to sacrifice all, even my personal life. I went here to explore the other side of the world even though my father is here.

The question I asked the volunteers and myself:

How are you managing to be brave, to live and to work in a foreign country?

I hope some people will learn to appreciate more of their blessings and what they have in life, even just being with their family because many are just dreaming the day they will be together again. This is dedicated to all the hardworking filipinos in the Philippines and overseas.

Luis E. Rodriguez – 58 years of age, father of 5. Worked as an electrician, school photographer and sound technician in the Philippines. Moved to Paris year 2000, worked as 1.homme de ménage for 15 years and currently working as a 2.plongeur at the municipal hall of Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

1.homme de ménage – employee responsible for cleaning 2. plongeur -a person employed to wash dishes and carry out other menial tasks in a restaurant or hotel.

Ang buhay sa ibang bansa ay maginhawa ngunit mahirap. Una sa lahat kailangan mo igalang ang kanilang kultura, buo ang iyong loob at may tapang. Marunong ka dapat makisalamuha at bukas ang iyong isipan upang magampanan mo ang magandang hangarin para kumita ng sapat para sa iyong pamilya.” – Luis

For Luis, my father, living and working in a foreign country is convenient but challenging. First and foremost you have to respect the culture and should have the courage. You should know how to mingle with others and should have an open mind for good intentions to earn enough for the family.

From L to R: Genoveva (my stepmother), Luis (my father), Charles (my brother), and Vénus (my sister)

After my family, I met a lot of Filipinas working in Paris, I consider them as my friends too.

Michelle Cepillo – 28 years of age, marital status is single and no children. From Batangas City, Philippines. She is currently working as 1.garde d’Enfants and 2.femme de ménage, started year 2017 in Paris, France.

1.garde d’enfants – babysitter 2. femme de ménage – female domestic worker.

I just think about my family in the Philippines, that’s it.

– Michelle

Michelle came here to France to help her parents back in the Philippines. It’s her family that inspires her to work hard even if sometimes she want to give up and just go back. Michelle dreams of the day being with her family back home. Sad to say but it’s the reality for most of the OFW’s (overseas Filipino workers) living abroad.

Josie Ann Callanga – 41 years of age, single and no children from Iloilo city, Philippines. She worked as a promo girl in the Philippines, OFW in Singapore and Norway, and as a babysitter in France since 2009.

Salaries and wages are not that high in the Philippines. Ako kasi ang breadwinner and we are 9 as siblings in an average typical family. Kailangan kong kumayod sa mga kapatid ko na naiwan, kailangan kong mag step-up and the only way I can do is to work abroad. For me working here is not easy kasi may naiwan kang mga tao and those people are important in my life, my family. If you’re in abroad you shoud be ready palagi, emotionally and physically strong and brave sa lahat ng circumstances na dumating. Why am I working abroad? First is the different culture, employability, work experiences, time out, and language. Sa mga gusto mag abroad na katulad ko, sana baon niyo parin yung good values na meron kayo and have faith in everything and don’t forget to pray.” – Ann

Ann is the second eldest child. She needed to be away from them because she knows the amount of money she can earn in the Philippines cannot support the whole family. She helped her other siblings to finish their studies, dedicated her time and hard work for her family from afar. As a breadwinner of the family, she is ready for any circumstances that can arrive whether it can challenge her emotionally or physically. Prayer is her instrument to pursue her dream and she doesn’t lose faith in everything.

Eppie Macabidang – 33 years of age, from Samar Philippines. Former nanny, hair and make-up artist in the Philippines and other countries. Started working in Paris, France in 2016 as a babysitter and make-up artist.

“Living in a foreign country is not easy, to adapt the culture and the way of living. I must understand how to be selfless and without my family to lean on. For sure I’m longing to be with them, being here should not drag me down and I make sure it won’t lead to depression. However it makes me more independent and fulfilled to pursue what I want to do for myself and my dream for my family. Aiming high is the key to be more brave and to have success in my journey working, even if it means to be away from my loved ones. ”

– Eppie

Eppie is a hardworking person, being in a foreign country, she defends her rights always. There is a communication barrier but she knows what is just and no one can stand on her way to stop her to success. Prayer is also her weapon to overpass every problem she encounters.

Franchesca Quizon – 25 years of age, in a relationship, and a mom to a cute boy named Iñigo, from Manila Philippines. Former finance broker for home loans in the Philippines (Australian Account). Started working in Paris, France in 2018 as a babysitter.

“Living and working in a different country is truly a difficult thing to do. But there’s a lot of reasons why I can still survive. First my family, they are my support system especially my son, all my hard work is for him. Also, he is the reason why we chose to leave our beloved country and started a new life here in Paris. Another reason is the opportunities. I prepared myself when I came here, it won’t be the same easy life that I used to have. But all my dreams for me and for my family will be achieved if I will do my best. Since I started working here, I can really say being an OFW is not an easy job.” – Chesca

Franchesca sees to it that the safety of her family is in priority. She will give and make all the best for them. There will be problems and trials that she knows sometimes are too much but life should go on. It arrives that she doesn’t know what’s the best thing to do but she knows with her family they will move forward and overcome those.

Pinky Stimson – 29 years of age from Abra, Philippines. Former student back in the Philippines and is working as a babysitter in Paris since 2015.

Leaving your family and loved ones just to work abroad is a bitter feeling swallowed by most OFWs. Lack of employment in the Philippines is the reason behind why the people choose to work overseas. When I moved in France I’m constantly challenged and tested but I’m managing to solve it, like looking for a job, communicating with people who doesn’t speak my language and the reality of being away from my family. There are times that I’m troubled, and they are not here to lift me up. But I’ve got comfort by thinking na baka siguro kung hindi ako nag-abroad, I won’t be able to provide for their needs and to support them financially. But of course I’ve met some friends to hang out and to talk to.” – Pinky

Pinky is a young lady who was not ready to face the reality when she got here in France. Things have changed, but for her it’s enough that she’s the only one doing this kind of job and she’s not dreaming for her other siblings to experience the same. She’s staying focus to be more independent by herself and that one day, things will be better.

Conny Ross Vuillier – 36 years of age from Imus Cavite, Philippines married to Flo Vuillier. She was a Paramedic/Sped teacher in the Philippines and worked as an Aide Soignante in France, started year 2012.

“First the acceptance of change, second my faith comes along with an optimistic attitude and motivation to integrate, improve and grow. Lastly a supportive husband.” – Conny

Flo and Con were my former client in the Philippines. Back in 2010 when me and my friends started the group to cover weddings and events for photos and videos, they were our first client. Knowing them back then, they are religious and full of faith and seeing them now it’s like nothing has changed except that they look more closer and more open to each other. They are joyful and generous. Flo is french while Conny is a filipina. With culture and language differences, I will say they did a pretty good team and getting strong, for 9 years! I’m proud to know this couple that makes me think how life can be inspiring.

Conny said to me,

“it’s like a mirror and how you act towards the other person.”

And then I realized that’s true, I’m wrong that it’s not luck that brings us happiness and strong relationship, it’s how we treat the other person and how we want our lives to be with that person.

Gladsy Gozon P. – 30 years of age from Pasay, Manila, Philippines married to Roman P.. She was a legal staff in the Philippines and is currently working as a blogger for The French Adobo , moved in France year 2018.

“Well, one thing is I don’t have a choice but to be brave for my husband and for our baby. Also, I love traveling and living in another country as an expat is one thing I’m always excited about!” -Gladsy

For Gladsy, moving to another country may be difficult but sometimes you have to adjust just to feel home, just to be with the one you love. It was not easy to start life to another country, with a new language and culture differences but she’s doing her best, and with her husband beside her, all things are going to the right direction. Besides she’s a traveler that makes it more easier for her to conquer all.

They are few of my fellow filipinos who’s living here in France, they inspires me to continue and to be brave. Life will always be a challenge and it’s upto us how will we handle it.

I moved to France without anything but few cash and 1 luggage. I know I cannot work as a graphic artist or as a photographer immediately. I also don’t know how will I accept the fact that I finished my studies and to be true, I know I cannot be as I want. It was not easy learning another language, it was not easy to communicate and it was not easy to start all over again. But with all that happened, moving here gave me a restart button. Life gave me another chance to start all over, to learn another language to live with different races, to be open for a change and to appreciate where I am.

photo credits: David Portet

Joan Rodriguez – 33 years of age from Makati City, Philippines. Graphic and layout artist, photographer and business owner in the Philippines; working as a babysitter since 2015 in Paris.

I am working as a babysitter for a family in Paris since 2015. I believe that I met this family for a reason. They helped me a lot, they are kind and generous people that I’m thankful everyday that I’m working for them. Today, I may not have the business I invested in, I may not be working for a big company with a high position but it’s okay. People may look down on me and talk on what I do now or cannot appreciate what ad where I am today, but I’m proud that I’m independent. I’m proud that I’m working for my own and living my life. Because of what I do now I had the chance to learn a new language, I had the chance to review the English language that way I can teach it and I’m currently studying photography again and improving on what I love to do.

These are the children I’m babysitting, and in the last four years of taking care of them, I know now how hard it is to be a mom. Cute things like first word, first hug, first step, kisses and lots of firsts that I’ve witnessed while they are growing up, I know now how special you should spend every moment with your child. It’s hard to act like a mom especially when I’m not. One thing’s for sure I learned a lot from them. Sometimes it’s good to talk to a child, you will have the answers to your questions in life. So I guess they will always be special for me, for the rest of my life. I call them ‘the monsters’, because they’re so cute!

I’m mananging to be brave, to live, and to work in a foreign country with confidence and positive thinking. One thing I learned after all the hardships that came along is, the first person that will help me is no one else except myself. It’s not bad to dream big but keep on reaching it and your feet on the ground until that dream happens, don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn from the process of success by experiences and by not giving up. “- Joan

I want to thank all the volunteers who has given their trust and shared a part of their personal lives with me. After 2 months and 3 weeks of working on this article, I’m thankful and every word and part of it is worthy.

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