It was a balmy, sunny day of March 23, 2005, when my mother, older sister and I dragged our luggages to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and fly to the United States of America.
I never thought life in the US would be very difficult. That day was also my high school graduation ceremony; I was leaving my entire family, my dad, and my best friends, for something new. I was elated, to say the least, I was a sixteen-year old Filipino embarking on a quest to build a better future for myself. Little did I know then how much painful it would be going forward.
A Swift Change
I was handed a boarding pass while my friends were handed diplomas. For them, it was the commencement of our high school years; but for me, a ticket to a new life in America. With a heavy heart and a lump in my throat, I said goodbye to the Philippines forever.
The JFK International Airport bustled with different, unrecognizable faces. Their stares felt malicious. Were they looking at my mismatched clothes and outdated sneakers? "Welcome to New York", Uncle Tong greeted me, as I walked out the gates to infinite possibilities.
*podcast interview link below