Pinky Malibiran (+Video)
Buying shoes is an important decision we have to make in life—always a risk. When I decided to immigrate to Canada, two years of separation from my family became four years, six years, eight, ten and twelve years—but eventually, we were reunited. Life can be uncomfortable after making big decisions, but we still keep walking along. Although those black-and-gold kitten-heeled shoes didn’t fit perfectly, I still have them!
One gorgeous afternoon I was walking in downtown Canmore. I paused to look at the mountains and thought how blessed I am to live in this valley. As I kept walking, I felt happy and naturally ended up going into my favourite shoe store. “Hi there,” says the lady. “Let me know if you need sizes.”
I said thank you and walked straight to the clearance area, wondering why they usually put clearance items in the back corner while all the new items are boldly arranged in front. Is there a marketing strategy behind it?
Before I got to the sale shelf, my eyes were nailed to a pair of black-and-gold patterned, two-inch kitten heels with a zipper at the back. I stood there admiring those shoes, sitting beautifully on the top shelf. The sales lady said, “Can I help you with your size?”
“No thanks,” I replied and left the store. I was going home. But after a few steps, I turned around and went back. “Hi there again,” said the lady.
“Do you have these shoes in size 8?” I asked.
I tried them on, and they fit perfectly—okay, maybe they were a little narrow. I walked around the store in the kitten heels. Sit down, stand up. I looked in the mirror and finally made my decision. I bought the shoes. Walking out of the store, I thought that buying shoes is the same as many important decisions in life. There are so many things that you have to consider.
In August 1993, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life: to work overseas. It took me many sleepless nights to decide, should I go or not? It would mean leaving my family behind, but only to give them a brighter future. I told myself it was just two years. Two years became four years, six years—then eight years in Hong Kong. Countless nights I cried and wanted to go home, but I always came back to the reason why I was doing this.
Hearing great stories from my friend who had left Hong Kong for Canada, I thought about moving to Canada. It would mean better working conditions and better money—but what excited me most was the thought of what else Canada offered- a chance to be reunited with my family. I got the opportunity to work with a great family. And I decided to take it. They have three kids I treat as if they were my own, and they accepted me as part of their family. I had been here for (xx ) years when, in May 2015, I went home to the Philippines and came back to Canada—not alone, but with my husband and my three boys. I was so happy.
But I’ve had to adapt. Even though my family is here, I still work day and night. One afternoon I rushed home to grab a quick bite for supper. As I was going out the door again, my son Nicko came running to ask me, “Mama, where are you going? You just got home.” I told him I wouldn’t be long, just a couple of hours. Nicko said, “Mama, how much will they pay you tonight?” I said maybe $50, and he begged, “Can I give you $100, and you just stay home?”
I had to go. But as I was driving, I realized my son was right. What’s the point of bringing my family over when I am never home? From that time on, as much as I can, I keep evenings free for my family, now that I have them with me. I remember buying those black and golden shoes, though they didn’t actually fit. Life can be uncomfortable after you make a big decision. But I still keep walking along.
PINKY MALIBIRAN arrived in Canada in 2011 in search of better working conditions after she spent eight years in Hong Kong. When she left the Philippines in 2003 to work abroad, she had to leave her husband and three sons behind. She was finally able to bring her family to Canada in May 2015. She had worked overseas for almost 12 years before they were reunited.