There are events in our lives while growing up that make us long for the simplicity of our childhood. Maybe it’s the ease of making decisions of the difference of what money can buy. When we were young, we made methods on the decisions that would easily work for us. If everything was as easy as those methods, life would be less stressful. When things get tough, these are the moments when we start missing the things we have learned from our childhood memories.
I grew up from an indigenous ethnic group from the Philippines, called ibaloi. The ibaloi’s is one of the indigenous peoples collectively known as Igorot, meaning “people from the mountains”.
Looking back at my photos, I don’t really remember much about me since I spent most of my time as a baby at the hospital. I always asked my mom as to why all of my photos then were at the hospital, but she never really told me the reason. My dad worked as a driver and my mom was always away working as a nurse. At the age of three I was taken care of two of my aunts. They raised me like I was their own daughter and I also grew up calling them mom. Being raised in a different way as my real parents raised me; I learned that money isn’t the only thing that defines wealth. In my tribe wealth defines someone who owns miles and miles of land or someone who owns and herds lots of cattle’s. But no matter where we live, money is still needed to survive. From where I’m from, money and job are scarce. Rather than seeing kids play with dolls or toy cars, instead they chose to bid of sweat and work hard to earn some petty money.
I went to school like any other kid did and people would always tease me, calling me rich and having a big house, just because my mom went to work in London as a caregiver. As soon as school ends, I would sometimes run home to catch up to my aunt and follow her to work. Everyday we would always walk two hours through rough terrain to get to the location of the mill. For hours, I would try to go down to the mining grounds and try to copy what they are doing. My aunt would sometimes yell at me, telling me not to touch things since it will get my hands dirty.
During pay days, I would never ask my aunt for money, since the money she earns isn’t even enough to afford for a grocery of food to feed all of us. Sometimes, during the weekend, I would secretly take numerous jobs with my cousins where we would earn little money. My dad would always give me allowance, but it can only buy one small package of candies. Sometimes I would also add my allowance to the money I earned. At school, sometimes I see other students who don’t have food and I would always give them my money. If I don’t have money, I would invite them to my house and give them food to eat. Sometimes they would tell me that they will pay me back, but I would always say “its okay, you’re my friend so you don’t need to”.
10 years later, my mom came back from London and told us that we are going to move to another country. Before I came to Canada, one of my aunt who raised me got ill and passed away. When I was 11, my family immigrated to Canada and at that time there was also a typhoon that flooded the Philippines. My family and I had to get to the airport to catch our flight. We didn’t have a choice then, so we walked instead, since the road were closed. For a whole day we walked barefoot on five mountains carrying our stuff, just to get to the city, and we also had to drive for four hours to get to the capital city.
Now that I’m eighteen, I’m really happy that my family gave me a chance to go to school. I hated my high school, but now that I graduated, I kinda miss going to school. I’ve met a lot of new people from different countries, and some of them have more amazing stories than me. One of my teachers even asked me if I wanted to be a public speaker so I could share my real story, since even right now this story is just a summary of my life not my full story.