Counting quarters in close quarters

Reconnecting and re-living my parents' hardships in the pandemic.

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I was two when my family moved to Australia from the Philippines. In the ’80s and ’90s, a lot of Filipinos looked to migrate to the US, Canada and Australia. Martial Law, under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was just lifted and families were looking for a better life overseas. It was also the time that ‘White Australia policy’ and other racially-based immigration criteria were being dismantled.

I don’t remember much about the move – I just remember living in my aunt’s living room at first and then moving into a granny flat with my mum, dad and sister, and having ‘Lola Olga’, our Italian nonna landlady as my babysitter.

My mum told me that when she was looking for a job and couldn’t find one straight away she went on the dole which made her feel quite low. But both my parents worked hard and it all worked out for us…so that’s why I never thought of guts and grit it took my parents to survive in a whole new country. I never thought to ask more about it or even thank them for moving.


Being in close quarters with my husband during this pandemic makes me think about my family and all it has taken to bring us here.

It’s made me realise my parents’ strength and my own strength as a person who has started a family too.

Before this pandemic and before I got married late last year, I did not understand that ‘family first’ could be a driving force. It can be the reason why you wake up in the morning to work or move to another country for a better future. Or something that could make you so vulnerable and strong at the same time.

Family can be your WHY or the thing that propels you forward to take a chance on a new possibility despite the risk.

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