Guest Post By: BeeAy Urbano-Aldaba
A note from Avagail: Growing up in a Filipinx community all my life, most of the people I know that came to the USA from the Philippines are immigrants. Many of them moved here with little or nothing, having to start over from scratch in hopes of a better life for themselves and/or their children.
Until recently, I’d have to say that when I thought of “expats,” I usually naively envisioned people like myself, from Western countries going off to work in other parts of the world. (Privileged, much? I acknowledged that privilege in a previous post.) Personally, I also haven’t met many people who moved to the USA for a job as an expat – and especially not from the Philippines – so I am hella excited that BeeAy is the first person to share her own personal travel tale on my blog!
Known as Mama Pork on Instagram and her blog, BeeAy shares her experience of moving from the Philippines 2015, what got her through the tough times, and how she found a second place to call home, where she is starting to lay down roots for her family.
My BIG Move
I was born and raised in the Philippines. It’s my home, it’s my happy place, it’s my comfort.
5 years ago, I moved to Minnesota alone for a work assignment. This was a BIG career move that I couldn’t say no to. I left everyone behind back home – my family, my friends, my bf (now my husband), and my fur baby, Jordan. I left all of my constants; all I had were memories that came in handy when things got rough.
I was lucky enough to have a support group waiting for me in Minnesota in a form of fellow Pinoys that are my co-workers as well. They helped me find an apartment, I carpooled when I needed to do my groceries (because I don’t know how to drive and commute in the area is not as reliable). But it was still different, I was still the new girl.
The first few days and weeks were rough. I remember crying almost every night and I wanted to go home. I felt alone. Back home, Friday nights and weekends meant bonding with friends or family, but now it meant me staying at home alone, binge watching (THANK YOU NETFLIX, HULU, and AMAZON PRIME), or coloring a page from my coloring books. I found comfort in the fact that I should entertain myself.
I may have had a roof over my head but imagine that I was literally starting from scratch – my apartment was empty! I only had a sofa, a TV, a mattress top for a bed, and a few kitchen utensils. I was also in a rough financial position, so shopping was not really an option. I learned to budget. Now that I was alone, I was also poor! 😆
I remember this one time my husband (then bf) sang a song by Eraserheads, a popular 90s band in the Philippines, entitled With A Smile. The lyrics goes:
”Lift your head, baby, don’t be scared
Of the things that could go wrong along the way
You’ll get by with a smile
You can’t win at everything but you can try.”
I cried so hard but that was my turning point – the lyrics reminded me that I’ll get by with a smile (as I’m writing this, I’m still emotional. It was one of biggest lows in life).
I was able to shift my mindset. Weeping would only drown me in this pool of aloneness, so I needed to swim forward. I reminded myself that I stepped away from my comfort zone because I knew this was one step closer to my career goal.
Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and I was able to get by slowly, building my memories and friends. Now, I have built my second set of constants; they have become my Minnesota family. Friday nights and weekends now means potluck with my neighbors or a quick road trip to a nearby state. I was getting by with not just a smile, but with a grin! I was able to get by with my financials as well. Now I have friends and a few pennies to spare!
I have grown to love the harsh Midwest winter, the rainy spring, the dry summer, and the smelly autumn.
Weeks turned to years, and yes, there might be days that I might feel homesick, miss a home cooked meal, or the feeling of randomly hugging my mother, but I am doing fine. There are instances that homesickness would still strike me. I remember Christmas 2015, my first Christmas away from home – I couldn’t stand hearing a Christmas song because I would immediately cry on the intro, so I tried to stay away from it. Low and behold, during the Christmas Mass, their intro song was Silent Night! Imagine me sobbing uncontrollably.
Do I want to be back in the Philippines? Maybe.
Do I love Minnesota? 100% YES!
Looking back to the years that have gone by, and now that I’m with my husband building our family here in Minnesota, My BIG Move made me become an adult. I’m now wiser, stronger, and much more knowledgeable with household chores and budgeting. 😅
This experience has taught me that you are only confined by the walls you build. Don’t be afraid to rip it off and step out of it. I stepped out of it as a whole.
I’m an advocate of Women Empowerment, an IT Professional, a wife, a first time mom to an adorable 7-month old daughter, and I love food, cooking, art, and makeup. I’m a Filipina expat residing in Minnesota, USA. Fun Fact: My real name is Benjamine, and I would seldom get mistaken to be a male.