As 2017 ends, I finally have decided to complete my story, six months in the making. December is a month of giving and it’s just fitting that my story’s title would be “Salamat, Canada!”. Salamat is the Tagalog (Filipino) term for “Thank You”.

Thirty years ago, I was just a little girl living with my grandmother high up in the mountains. Lalab, the Gold Mountain. No electricity. No running water. No supermarket. My daily routine consisted of waking up at five in the morning, cooking breakfast over a fire, fetching a gallon of water at a spring, washing dirty clothes by hand, then bathing at the river, and manning the convenience store (more like a convenience hut). My grandmother would leave early to head to the tunnels to pick through the leftover debris from the miners. Hoping to find some small scraps of gold that we could sell. This endeavour would take her away from six in the morning until six in the evening. At times, when we didn’t have enough profit (from the convenience hut’s sale), our daily bread, literally, was a piece of bread that was cut in half to be shared between my grandma and I for breakfast and lunch.

From the Gold Mountain, we moved to a small town on top of a hill. I enjoyed my days climbing up the guava and mango trees. I would often wonder what was on the other side of the island. As the years passed by, I was given the opportunity to explore the other island (my first boat and escalator experience) and even to the big city, Manila (first plane, elevator and train experience). And if that’s not enough blessing, this girl was given the chance to see the other side of the world, Canada (the Great White North, first snow and subway experience).

Now this little girl has grown up, no longer using fire to cook (maybe for camping), turning on a tap for water, and having a machine to wash clothes instead of her poor little hands. Life is much more different now. Having a degree as a teacher when coming to Canada and not being able to use it was tough! I started from the ground up working retail, but I worked hard. I made it into management and worked harder. Now, to be finally where I am now in Triovest, doing what I am doing, working with a team that cares about more than just their inner circle. A team that reaches out to the community and has a heart and desire to make a difference is truly a blessing. Where and who I am now has enabled me to boldly and generously give back to not only this country and the community I live in but also to my native land, the Philippines! Salamat, Canada!

Ochelle Sy B – Triovest

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