Remember those movie scenes where the action hero breaks into enemy headquarters? He would eliminate the guard at each post, one by one, with a graceful chokehold. I often wondered if that was all possible in real life. That is until I met Allan Codinera in a party last Saturday in Toronto.
"I've been trained to kill efficiently in two seconds," he said. "I learned Brazilian Jujitsuwhen I joined the Canadian Army."
Edith manages to open her eyes and finds herself face to face with a tiger. It is one of a pair of Tigger slippers on the floor. The sudden blare of the television knocked her off the bed. She puts on her eyeglasses and sees that it is four in the morning. Pope Benedict in Vatican is on the screen, performing some rituals in Latin. The commentary on the bottom of the screen reads, "Canonisation de frere Andre." She fell asleep watching a French movie that night precisely because it is not her first nor second language. So she picks up the remote, surfs for English, and finds one interesting channel with the same scene, Pope Benedict in Vatican. However, this one has some reporters discussing an interesting angle about the Canonization of Brother Andre.
Marine biologists reportedthat a humpback whale broke the world record of migration by any mammal, by swimming at least 6,125 miles from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean in search of a mate. Now think about this, a typical Filipino nanny in Toronto would have traveled an average of 20,000 miles in search of a better life for her family. I know that Icomparing apples to lanzonesbut you get my point.
Consider Jocelyn who works as a personal assistant to a rich
Canadian couple in Rosedale, Toronto. She had been pushing strollers all over
the world since 1980 when she left Manila to work as a nanny, first in Italy,
then to Dubai, before ending up in Toronto.
"Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa," she said in Tagalog. (Mercy resides in God; deeds are in men.) A humble statement if you will consider what she went through. We recently met in her house that she bought with her savings, working for the same couple whom she stayed loyal to for over twenty years now.
Like most Filipino women who leave the country to work abroad, Jocelyn went to college in Manila, only to end up schlepping for other households. Although most people would see this more as a sad story, I don't. If I were to write her bio, it would read "accomplishments include sponsoring education of four nieces and nephews who are now successful nurses in the US; spearheaded a project to finance construction of a church in her hometown in the Philippines; at present volunteering in a literacy program for children of poor immigrants in her community, etc."
To stress my point, a New York Times article, Toiling Far From Home For Philippine Dreams, describes how an economy of a small village 80 miles south of Manila is being driven by money sent home by overseas workers like Jocelyn.
A final note before I hit the "publish post" button, I was fortunate to have met Jamie, the son of the couple whom Jocelyn works for. He dropped by to visit before going back to Harvard in Boston where he is learning to be a lawyer like his parents. She practically raised him, having been his caregiver even when he was still in his mother's womb.
"Ah-te," He called her. "Is it alright if I bring my girlfriend home with me for Christmas?"
"Of course, I have been waiting for you to ask me!" She replied. "I will prepare the guest room for her."
"What guest room, she is staying with me in my room." He said.
"Oh no, she's not!" Jocelyn paused. "Not when I am still washing your underwear."