Curses and Blessings
Why would a diva whose life and career are running smoothly in her former country moved to Canada just to sleep in an inflated mattress on the floor and push grocery carts as part of her retail job? While Myleen Sacro became worn out from the struggles of making both ends meet and her bitter experience of being rejected by people she met and worked with, her silver open-toed stilettos were never worn. She did not feel worthy of these shoes when she was doing survival jobs.
While most people live by the saying “count your blessings,” I counted my curses during my first two years in Canada. I cried at the irony of working double survival jobs yet barely making both ends meet in a rich country, compared to my comfortable life in the poor country I had come from. In Canada, I slept on an inflated mattress on the floor of a rented apartment in Edmonton. In the Philippines, I slept in my own house on a king-size bed made of Burmese rosewood with a real mattress. In Canada, I pushed grocery carts on snowy days as part of my job at Superstore. In the Philippines, I worked as an economic planner for the city and regional government, then as a university instructor in economics and business math.
I love shoes. However, I don’t have anywhere near the 3000 pairs of Imelda Marcos, former First Lady of my homeland. My collection is relatively modest, with around 35 pairs. In my collection is a pair of sparkly silver open-toed stilettos. I brought them with me when I immigrated from the Philippines in 2010 with my husband and two children, aged 9 and 12. These shoes were my favourites for weddings, parties, and even work. In Canada, I keep them in my closet wrapped in Manila paper to preserve them.
Before my journey to Canada, I was a diva. I never had to worry about bringing food to the table or doing household chores. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, I completed my Bachelor of Law and Master of Public Administration. I was nailing my career without a sweat. I could spend a whole day in a spa or go out all night bar-hopping with friends. I was surrounded by my loving family and relatives, genuine friends, nonjudgmental colleagues, and those I was most grateful for – my dependable nannies and housekeepers who did everything from taking care of my children to washing and ironing my underwear.
I know. If I had such a good life in the Philippines, why did I choose to join the crazy fad of immigrating to Canada?
When your life is stable and steady, there is no excitement. Moving from a poor country like the Philippines to a developed country like Canada is an enticing thought – my children would have more career options, we would be in a new and peaceful environment, we would be able to experience snow, and I would be able to get a high-paying job because of my education and work experience. Well, I was wrong back then about the high-paying job.
After eight years in Canada, I now sleep in a real bed with a real mattress in my own home. Some of the curses have turned into blessings. Immigration is humbling. It sucked the diva out of me, which I am grateful for. I’ve become more patient and forgiving. The setbacks did not stop me from raising my children well or getting to where I am now. And instead of counting my curses, I think it is time to unwrap my stilettos, put them on, and consider it a blessing that my shoes and I have made it this far.
MYLEEN SACRO is from the Philippines and moved to Canada in 2010. She works as executive assistant-board support at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, where she first started as a volunteer and a client. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Bachelor of Law and a Master of Management in Public Administration. She is now in the final stages of becoming a regulated Canadian immigration consultant.