Hello, it’s been a week since I came back from a two-week stay in the Philippines. My skin is red and raw from sun burn, and the sleeping hours are still skewed. There are many thoughts that have been running through my head ever since I got back.

I realized that that trip was a happy goodbye. I was assured that I always had a home and friends who treasured and loved me just because. But it was time to stop looking back and pining for a life I had already left. In the words of my good friend Kristel,”Be yourself! Immerse yourself!”

It’s always been my problem, elsewhere was always better. It’s such a challenge to start to build a life here in Vancouver without thinking about going back. My plans have always been “I’ll work so I can leave.” Which isn’t so bad if that’s what one really wants but I have also been limiting myself on the potential of my choices. I didn’t try too hard or challenge myself.

I realized I was so used to the inherent privilege I possessed that moving here made me dislike it because I couldn’t bring those privilege here. I was blind to the kind of privilege I used to have. Privileges like being sent by my parents to university, never having to apply for student loans, familial connections, attending prestigious universities and being ahead in getting jobs, having a good command of the english language and being (by Philippine culture) considered conventionally beautiful.

Of course I wasn’t the most privileged of the lot, we were middle class at best but moving to Vancouver made us immigrant working class. Being in this category poses unique challenges, unique even to second generation Filipinos, Filipino international students and scholars.

Knowing these challenges, how do I go about building a life well-lived here? How do I even start to define what a well-lived life is? Is it necessarily about upward mobility? For me, partly. There is ease in having the stability and security of a defined career with a bigger income. I’m not there yet and I know my views may change. I admit I have baby boomer dreams. But I think I’m generally content with who I am.

My skin has been peeling from the sunburn and I fancy coinciding this with the “rebirth” of my vision of myself in Canada.

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