Here we go again. A very special tradition I have on this blog is what I call the people of my year.
It’s an annual list of special individuals who have greatly influenced me in the year that passed. I tirelessly put up this post year after year to extend my appreciation for whatever they have done that inspired me. This tradition is now on its 7th version and it’s different every year. Sometimes my list is too short, sometimes filled with people I don’t personally know, or like this 2018: too long.
[Here’s the series since 2011: People of my Year ARCHIVES]
This particular list is very special because as you might already know, I made a life-changing decision this year. Six months ago, I left my comfort zone: my home country, the Philippines, and lived overseas, here in Germany.
With 2018 spent equally on two different countries, I’ve met the following people who have inspired, supported, and literally saved me from the challenges this year brought. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived.
This year’s list do not include Jason, my former big boss, because he wanted to keep his identity private. He made a great impact on me though when on my last day working for him as one of his content writers, he told me how he appreciates all the things I did for him and that I’m always welcome to go back to his company if things don’t turn out okay for me here in Germany.
I’m so thankful to be part of his team. For without them, I wouldn’t be able to study German and work at the same time. Imagine allowing one of your employees to work part time to make way for her schooling and you know very well that she will leave you very soon. I don’t think I can ever find another boss who is as understanding and selfless.
I’ve been writing about Ms. Belle Mogol, my former general manager for years now in the people of my year series, but Jason is the man behind every company decision and I’m just so thankful to have worked under both amazing people.
The best of luck to all your endeavors Jason! I hope to see you some day finally!
Now, dear reader, I beg you to applaud THE PEOPLE OF MY 2018…
Coach Chinkee is a best-selling author, TV and radio anchor, and motivational speaker on finance and entrepreneurship. I had the awesome opportunity of being one of his affiliate bloggers when I was invited to cover his sold-out event last January. Working alongside him in spreading financial literacy gave more value to my blog and I was greatly inspired by his enthusiasm, generosity, and humor. I’m quite sure these characteristics and more are what make his speeches relatable to many Filipinos that’s why his teachings are effective. More power to you, Coach! And cheers to more years of partnership!
RACQUEL SARAH CASTRO
Racquel is a person with Cerebral Palsy. But despite her condition, she has written 9 books, has a college degree, has a full-time job, and serves her local church.
Yes, nine books.
Now, do I even need to explain why she’s on this list?
Well, leaving her out of it will be the biggest mistake in my blogging career. Seriously.
I met Racquel when I reviewed her book ‘A Triumphant Detour’. It’s an autobiography where she shared all the struggles she’d had all 34 years of her life up to how she managed to surpass them all. It surely is an inspiring read and I was inspired even more when I met her personally and I learned how funny, loving, and God-fearing she is. She completely changed my view of people with Cerebral Palsy and with that, I’m so thankful.
[Related post: A Triumphant Detour, Life with Cerebral Palsy: A Review]
By this, I mean book (fiction) authors. I look up to them because writing fiction is something I can never do: I believe that requires a different level of creativity. I can only report what I’ve seen, heard, and experience but if I’d be asked to imagine something then put it into writing, that’s a different story. Fiction isn’t my cup of tea.
Last March, I got to meet a few of these genius writers during the launch of the latest anthology of Heist Club, a community which supports Filipino authors. Their talent, passion, and perseverance are just unimaginable. I know it isn’t easy to spend months writing your heart out and then persuade people to buy and read your work. But they still do it: just unbelievable determination. Kudos!
MARIAN CHOIR OF CAVITE
I was supposed to fly to Germany last February but I told the agency I wasn’t ready to leave yet and so I was given 4 more months to prepare. I arrived then in June and the delay turned out to be great for me as I got to accomplish a lot of things: you already know I met Coach Chinkee, Racquel, I also ended my employment as a content writer, and I even finished a photography course.
But above all these, the most significant event, which I’d be damned if I missed, was the comeback performance of my beloved choral group, the Marian Choir of Cavite.
For 7 years, I was a member of this group singing in Eucharistic celebrations, weddings, and concerts. That is until we decided to go on hiatus in 2013. But after 5 long years, last April 2018, we again shared one stage and sang for an audience. The video above is a clip of one of the songs we performed and I’m just so thankful I was still home at that time. The entire experience was surreal and something I’ll never forget.
My choirmates and our choirmaster, Sir Patrick Frias, are overly talented musicians and I’m just honored to perform alongside them. We just had two rehearsals prior to the concert and everyone put their best effort despite the schedule conflicts and limited time. I was amazed at everyone’s willingness to share their time, effort, and voices. And we’re not even talking about money here.
One problem our group had which led us to the hiatus was the lack of members as many left and lived overseas. I know this is a bit far-fetched: but I hope and pray that one day, we can all perform in one stage and create good music just like the old days. I’m not bragging here, but I’m pretty sure if that happens, the audience will have a great time. Let’s make it happen, Marian Lovies!
DR. SIX TATUALLA
Another thing I did during my ‘flight delay’ was review a bit of Nursing-related topics. This posted as a challenge for me because I’ve already forgotten a lot of things medical-related. Prior to flying to Germany, I already have a 3-year nursing gap when I quit the profession to I work as a writer.
I then went back to the center where I reviewed for my Nursing board exam, Tatualla Review Group (TRG). Its owner, Dr. Six was so generous he allowed me to sit-in in the classes for free. His teaching technique and concern for his students deserve praises and I’m just happy he finally produced a topnotcher last July Philippine Nursing Licensure Exams.
My review was so helpful and I am more confident to face my teachers, colleagues, the doctors, and even the patients. I can never thank you enough, Doc Six! More power to TRG!
When I first landed here in this new country, I knew nothing. The transport system specifically, is a far cry from what we have back home. My German was also so bad I have no idea what all the signs posted around me mean. That is, until I met Masha. She wrote me through the travel app Couchsurfing and offered to explain all the things I find complicated (which is everything, by the way). She said she did it because not so long ago, she was also new and she knew how it felt (what a sweet girl).
I later learned she’s 7 years younger than me and for the last couple of years, had been living on her own here in Germany. Like me, she is also an expat and has been working, studying, and supporting herself while travelling on the side. She recently moved to another part of Germany to pursue her studies (what a brave girl).
I was like, what was I doing when I was 21? Oh, I just working and was fully dependent on my parents, pff. So, I salute your bravery, wit, and self-confidence, Masha! Hoping to see you soon!
Frau Schünemann is Klinikum Stuttgart’s Integrationsbeauftrage. Her main task is to assist us, new foreign employees of the hospital, so we can be integrated fast in this new system. She was there the moment our plane landed and she’s one message away whenever we need anything. I’ll never forget the time she allowed us to use her personal phone to call our families to tell them we arrived in one piece. We had no Internet access then and those were international calls: they’re not very cheap.
I know everything’s just part of the job but I believe she’s doing one hell of a great job at it. She listens to us and patiently explains all we need to know: from the simplest thing like operating the washing machine to more complex stuff like human anatomy in German. My mom might be miles away from me right now, but I consider Frau Schünemann as someone I can rely on like my own mother.
KLINIKUM STUTTGART’S PATEN FOR FILIPINO NURSES
Another genius program our employer has for us is the Paten (Godparents) system. They are a couple of employees who volunteered (again, volunteered) to assist us in any way they can. And when I mean “any way” that includes assembling our cabinets, giving us stuffs for our apartments, taking us out to explore the city, translating for us, helping us improve our German, answering our questions about work, and many, many others. I’m in awe of their generosity to share their time and knowledge considering we have nothing to repay them.
Our Paten are those with stars on top of their heads in the above photo. This was taken during our Christmas party but sadly, not all were present. Hello everyone, I know sometimes my colleagues and I are a bunch of not so expressive people but know all your efforts are well appreciated. To Ate Sharie, Ate En, Tina, Matthias, Pepe, Her Bock, Cesse, Gerlinde, Sonia, Christel, and Sarah, vielen lieben Dank!
Frau Mansour is my current German Language teacher and she loves her job to bits. She goes to class every day with greater enthusiasm than the day prior and that just amazes me. I’m an instant fan of anybody who goes after their passion and makes a career out of it that’s why she gets a spot on this list.
It’s so evident she loves what she’s doing and that inspires me to do better in class so her hard work wouldn’t go to waste. She even goes beyond teaching us the language by baking treats for us and introducing us to informative games so we’ll learn more about the German culture. For all you’ve done for us, we appreciate them all, Frau Mansour! Thank you so much!
They say you shouldn’t trust people you meet online. I’ve had my fair share of not so nice experiences in meeting people via the Internet but I’m just glad Jan isn’t one of them. I rarely add people I don’t know personally on social media but I remember Jan sending me a very polite message welcoming me to Germany and offering to help me adjust faster to my new environment.
I then replied to his message and he was indeed true to his word: he was and is always ready to help me, be it in answering my often stupid questions or correcting my German grammar. I’m so thankful to have you in my circle, Jan! Thanks for everything!
Living continents away from family is one of the most difficult challenges one can experience, that’s one thing I’ve learned this 2018. I’m lucky I rarely feel homesick; one reason is that I have a sister who never fails to make me feel as if we still live in one house.
I can say our bond as sisters grew even more despite the distance. We have this weird habit of tagging each other on anything we find interesting or funny on social media and sometimes I wake up to 10 or more notifications from her! So crazy, haha!
So my tip is, if you don’t want to feel homesick, have a sister who tags you to funny memes. I swear it works! Thanks Angge!
Kuya Rody is a Filipino colleague who has been living here in Stuttgart since he was young. His concern for newly arrived ‘kababayans’ is just admirable. I remember him accompanying me to my station at my first day at work and he even visits me almost every day to check if I’ve already eaten, if I’m wearing clothes are warm enough, or just to check if everything’s fine at home and at work.
If that’s not all enough, he and his family ‘adopted’ me and my colleagues on Christmas Eve. A couple of months prior to December, I was feeling a bit anxious about spending Christmas very far away. It’s my first time being miles away from my family and I thought it could be really sad, but Kuya Rody and Ate Malou (his wife), their children, and Mama Luz (Kuya Rody’s mom) were there to make us feel at home. Though unexpected, we then had the best Noche Buena ever. Many many thanks Kuya!
Yes, it’s a huge list: I’m surprised myself!
But looking back, what I’ve been through this 2018 was far from easy and so I needed and will still need all the help I can get. To the above people, there’s really nothing else I can write to express my gratitude or repay all your kindness, but I hope this blog post made you feel how grateful I am for your presence in my life. Again, thank you, thank you so much and happy 2019!