Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shaping the World One Stroller at a Time

Marine biologists reported that 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 lanzones but 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."


  1. Esquire should vote for meee!!!! ha ha ha...great one Cords! put Jocelyn pic here and also Jamie's - guapo ba???

  2. same name ko pa :)) i see a lot of them here as well cordi...i've talked with quite a lot of them...hired some of them for clerical positions where i work - after their 'stint' as nannies - since a number of them do have the skills. they are really heroes (as you mentioned - helping relatives through college, helping their hometown, etc..)

    nice piece...(i have a blog as well...) maybe i'll share it as well one day :))

  3. jojo, send me your link please.

  4. Thanks queenvv, I will nominate you.haha. Unfortunately they don't want their photos posted.

  5. Nice Cordi! I'll follow your blog and learn.

  6. Here it is Cordi...I had it since 2008, then I've inspired me to blog again though.....thanks so much...

    I have not shared this side of me so far to's only my loca Lola/ purse loving persona that people usually have given me the courage to share it though....once again...thanks....

  7. heartwarming... the last line made me smile...

  8. I have always been facinated with the stories of our kababayans abroad. For me, I dont consider it "brain drain" when we choose to leave our country & work abroad because just like Jocelyn na nakapag paaral ng mga pamankin, we all give back to our inang bayan, one way or the other. Every day heroes as we call it. Great story bandmate:)- carme

  9. great story, nannies,caregivers and nurses and teachers are often the least appreciated people around,when in fact they are basically the people who mold a child's life from the beginning till the end of life. one's life is practicaaly in these people's hands and that alone people FAIL TO RECOGNIZE.

  10. The untold stories of our unsung a creative wit! Way to go Cordi....keep it going.... :) Luz

  11. Great story, LOVE the "punch line"!

  12. ..hmmm. I agree,schleping others household is not the issue here. And I would like to add something if I may...its the fact that we need to do something than wait for something to happen, since we couldn't just sit down and pray for something to materialized.

  13. Hi Cordi,

    I just read your post and it was wonderful. I am still laughing at the ending! You mention a lot about schleping for others.. Well my introduction to Filipina care givers started with the woman (sally) who looked after my elderly aunt. It then continued when we hired a Filipina care giver to live-in and help with my mother who has Alzheimer disease. The quality and warmth of the care that these woman (we have now had 4 of them) have displayed as they look after my mom has been incredible.

    In fact I would have to say that seeing this was partially responsible for my recent marriage (December 2012) to the most beautiful Filipina in the world (from Cebu) who very shortly will be joining me here in Canada (just got her visa after 17 months of waiting).

    I know that they say the largest export from the Philippines is supposed to be coconut, pineapple and abaca. Quite frankly I think that is nonsense. I think the largest export in the Philippines is their people, and every last one of them that I have met have been wonderful!

    I shared your post on my blog and I hope you don't mind. You can see it here: