What is Filipina Elsewhere?
Filipina Elsewhere is a series of email interviews I conducted two weeks ago with young Filipina women who are currently living abroad. Some of them I've known for years. Some of them I've met in person once but with whom I've communicated regularly on social media.
They got to where they are through various means: Some of them saved up money, or got scholarships to be able to work and/or study abroad. Some come from a place of privilege (and are distinctly aware of it). Some of them felt lost in Manila and found meaning somewhere else. Some of them, after traveling halfway around the globe, are still looking for meaning now.
I asked them the same set of questions:
What was your job back in the Philippines?
What are you doing now?
Where/what did you study?
Why did you decide to study/work abroad?
What was your biggest challenge when you went abroad?
And what was the best thing that happened to you?
If I were to go fly to where you are, what would you say is:
the best place to eat?
the best place to visit?
the best thing to do?
Will you return to the Philippines? Or will you stay abroad? Why?
Your #1 tip to those thinking of studying/working outside the Philippines:
Their answers that I will post here will at most be lightly edited, with links and/or photos added.
Why this series?
I have several reasons:
- I want to check up on my friends.
- I've thought about studying abroad--and I got stuck with just thinking about it. Especially when I saw the forms and the fees and the requirements. I want to hear from ladies who actually got up and did what they had to do.
- It's already hard living as a young woman with big ambitions, and I want to know how they handled the challenges, alongside the challenges of uprooting themselves.
- I'm curious.
- And I think you'd be interested.
One of the surprising responses I got from this was: Thank you. I needed that. We all have that one story we want to tell, and sometimes telling it is enough to get us through the days.
I would like to thank each of them for their time and generosity.
Don't mistake this as a call for Filipinas to leave, or a judgment on those who decided to stay, or fly away. This is just a series of stories, and I love stories.
This, at the very least, is a call to live: to examine your life, to examine what you really want. The answers these ladies will be giving here is an approximation of that daily interrogation, that deep self-examination you need before you make a decision as big as leaving your home country.
I want to hear about other food places. These ladies have some great recommendations.