Friday, January 18, 2008

Hard Work Pays Off

It was June 6, 2006… the beginning of a seemingly good life for the Segovia family. Like those who wanted to effect change and tried fate, Stephanie Rivero-Segovia decided to take risks, leaving behind a life she practically loved and foremost wanted.

Her husband is a registered nurse while Stephanie or Phanie to her friends, was a full time mother and wife. For a while, they had their eyes set on going to the US and slowly build a stable future for their family, knowing at the back of their minds the uncertainty and the hardest of roads ahead.

Being in a different country, with nothing but persistence and solid thought, the family is presently residing in Florida. When asked as to what her expectations were, she has the following to say, "I think the only thing I have in mind was to earn a living right away." She likewise related how hard it could be for anyone to have a jumpstart in the US; how things do not merely come in a silver platter and good planning serves a person well.

Her family was not even spared with these as they need to borrow some money from a relative, and somehow be in debt. They did borrow some as part of their preparations in going for the US. “If you have no relatives here, it will be hard… puro utang… when we arrived here and since nasa California ako, my sister helped us out. I borrowed some money for my husband’s apartment in Florida since he was based there that time." For this young mom, she has no qualms in saying so whatsoever, "For all you know, you may just be paying an amount that covers around 3-4 months of your earned salary," yet, for someone who is willing to carry her own weight and do anything for her family, Stephanie has not taken all these sitting down.

Being in an unfamiliar territory, one has to muster the courage in braving the tides, almost having the strength to use her oars rightly and wisely. Stephanie needs not to worry about adapting to a new culture as she and her family had dealt with it like learning novices in time. Misconceptions of Filipinos, being second class citizens, did not even cross her mind as she felt not all people think that way. More so, she has nothing to account when it comes to being discriminated upon by other races or nationalities, although she very well knows of cases still existing in fact. “Kasi di lahat ng tao dito, ganyan ang iniisip. I have not experienced anything just yet kasi the people I work with are all nice for instance, ‘yung store manager namin, he never discriminates.”

With regards to her kids adapting, Phanie revealed how breezy it has been for the kids. She enrolled them in a public school and mentioned how different the school system had been compared to ours. All the way from submitting the children’s medical requirements up to including them in a program, specifically made for those whose English proficiency is not that enhanced. It is called ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) - a program provided to language minority students. The family likewise had been accommodated graciously as they were asked by education officials in terms of finding a school, most ideal in proximity. "About their studies, I can say na pagdating dun walang racist. They accommodated us pretty well to think na public school yun, di ba? But we have to tell them that the kids’ English are minimal and that is how they ended up in said program, they are offering it both to kids and adults."

On the other hand, Phanie is doing very well as a cashier in a known supermarket. "Here, as long as you’re hardworking and prudent, you can really save," she added. And since Filipinos are naturally resilient, industrious, and diligent, she has been greatly commended for her work.

This is one of the good things Phanie truly appreciates being in Florida, how employees are given due credit and rewarded if not acknowledged fully by their employers. "Gusto ko yung way na nakikita nila and they appreciate how I do my work." It only shows how dignity of labor exists there, minding how Phanie’s reputation precedes itself as she was able to help others find employment as well. "Una kong napasok sa work ‘yung cousin ko, then many followed. Sa akin, wala naman yun. But it’s nice knowing that whenever they put my name as reference, natatanggap sila agad. Some department managers even said that if I have friends or relatives looking for work, they won’t hesitate hiring them at all."

It appears that her life had taken a new direction in such short notice, that this beautiful mom finally realizes her worth as an individual seeking for greater heights and not just monetary gain. Building a future means taking a risk-one that she and her entire family did not deny themselves.

Phanie is still working in PUBLIX and is proud of doing well in her chosen job; meanwhile her husband is practicing his profession as a registered nurse. Life has been good to this family and sharing her blessings through the simplest of ways means another to those she was able to help. For a brief period of time, living in a place, far away from home presented new doors and windows for them to open and explore. Proving that a Filipino, given limited resources, can still serve as a spark of hope without losing its own.