Title: A family reunited: From the Philippines to Canada
My Name is Melona Villahermosa Banico. I’m the mother of Judelyn (a 26-yearold daughter), Jade ( a 24-year old son) and Jeah Banico ( a 14-year old daughter). I’m also the grandmother to Clyde, the 10 year old son of my eldest daughter. I moved to Canada from the Philippines eight years ago and sponsored all three of my children and my grandson to come to Canada.
I was reunited with my family on January 26, 2016 and I thought that was the happiest moment of my life. My mission was accomplished, we were together again, but the honeymoon only lasted for two weeks.
After that, we encountered so many challenges. For the first couple of months, they never listen to me so I was frustrated and disappointed. They didn’t have jobs at that time, so I was the only one who worked hard just to buy for our primary needs. Because we were apart for many years, we also suffered emotional misunderstanding between one another. We didn’t know each other and my children were afraid to tell me about their problems.
When they first arrived, they didn’t know how hard life was here in Canada. I worked three jobs before I sponsored them to get extra money. To sponsor four people wasn’t easy for one person, but I had a mission: to be with my children no matter what.
I took my time to build a relationship with them again. Restarting a new life here was a great challenge. All of us suffered anxiety because they had a language barrier which made it hard to find work here. They didn’t know how to talk to people or how to make friends. They were also afraid of getting lost in the city because of the language difficulty.
We struggled a lot in order to survive. It took time for them to adjust and adapt to their new environment.
On top of that, I lost my job a few months after they came, and I was down at that time with my two eldest children working part time and my youngest child was sick and never told us because she didn’t want to add more of a burden to the family. She was very strong, and tried to hide her problems.
I enrolled her in one of the schools in Toronto in order to continue her studies. I tried to support her dream to become a professional singer but I could only provide moral support, because I couldn’t afford to send her to Music and Art School. I told her to put her dream on the side and try to finish school first, then she can pursue what she wants in life.
My son Jade went to school back home but it wasn’t recognised because of the huge difference in the curricular program here. He felt regret for the first time because he was expecting to get a good job and that wasn’t the case. Once my two children got permanent jobs, I felt relieved and our focused was to agree to help each other to pay our debt and to share the responsibility to pay our bills, since our apartment cost us a lot of money. We only buy our priority needs. I taught them to be a simple person and be contented. God will provide everything.
Right now I’m studying ECA at Medix College through OSAP in order to get a certificate so that I can apply for a decent job. I decided to do this because of my last child Jeah. I wanted her to finish school and get a decent job for her future. If I had enough income, then I can support for her plan. My wish was to fill in the missing years that I was not around to support her. As a mother, I want to build the trust with my children again and for us to love each other. I was the missing part of Jeah’s life as she was growing up, which I never realized, so now it makes me feel guilty.
By January 2017, one year had passed and we’ve finally adjusted to each other. We talk to each other as a normal family and exchange our experiences such as how they felt when they arrived at the airport for the first time and what they thought about Canada and how life is different here compared to the Philippines. Now they realised that Canada had a lots of opportunities and benefits to the families. So they never regret that they were here right now.
They compared their situation like what happened to my last child Jeah. One example was the medical benefits. Back home we can’t afford to take Jeah to a doctor for her treatment because it was very expensive. They adapt now the different types of weather here, the environment and culture. Now they developed the sense of belonging and made so many friends at school, at work and outside. We remain simple life as much as we can and respect each other’s privacy and be a good citizen in the country and served as a model to some immigrants who wanted to come here. The message that I would like to share with people who are reading this post is to prioritised your family rather than other things. Get up and made a sacrifice for the sake of your family. Rebuild the broken pieces of the family. In this way, everybody will be happy.
Bio: Melona Villahermosa Banico lives in Toronto, Canada. She moved from the Philippines eight years ago and recently brought her three children, and grandson, over to Canada. They now live together as a family, under one roof, and are settling into their new land.
She was born in Toboso, Negros Occidental Philippines. She studied BEED-Bachelor of Elementary Education at Mount Carmel College. She was an Elementary Teacher in the Philippines for eight years before she came to Canada in 2007.
Ms. Maria Guiao was the first person who started to inspire us and gave us true strength to live and enjoy our lives, no matter what challenges we will have as immigrants in Canada and as a human being. When we first met you with your warm and inspiring welcome, help and support meeting with you at the orientation center. You made a positive difference to us. Forever we will remember your positive impact in our lives! At home we always talked about your real kindness and caring. We are grateful to you and you are always in our hearts. You are part of our family. We enjoying life no matter what because Life is beautiful… Thank you so much for everything.