“Growing up in the Philippines as a half-Filipina, half-Japanese, I never really picked up my dad’s native tongue; he spoke to us mostly in English and Tagalog. That’s why I came to Japan after graduating from university—to learn Japanese and experience working here. To be honest though, living abroad is much harder than I thought. My first seven months were rough, especially with my limited language proficiency. Kanji can be very challenging. There was a time the electricity at my apartment got cut because I failed to notice my bills were already past their due date (of course they were all in Japanese!).
“I also juggled three jobs—as a bento factory worker, a waitress, and a bartender—which got me hospitalized (I wouldn’t recommend running on 2-3 hours of sleep on a daily basis). By then I was on the brink of giving up but my pride kept me going. I didn’t want to pack my bags and concede defeat. Although I could have gone back home anytime, with my dad being a top executive at a multinational company, I chose to stay, instead, to `find my own success’. l guess I got my fighting spirit from my mom, who’s also my primary source of strength. She came to Japan when she was only 13 and endured so many hardships. Now I make a decent living teaching English in Tokyo. I even send money home, not because they need it, but to show my appreciation for all their support. After all, family comes first in the Philippines and I’m proud to be Filipino.”