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by Rhea Santos and Nandika Ravi

Grace Dela Cruz was a nurse in the Philippines before moving to Saudi Arabia to as a nurse in the intensive care unit of a hospital, leaving her family behind for eight years. Cruz, who now works as a caregiver to two children in Canada, visits her family once every year. But for the first time in many years she won’t be able to travel home due to the pandemic. 

“I really miss my family and I ask myself, am I here,” Cruz told OMNI’s Rhea Santos.

“We have a good life in the Philippines, but why am I doing this?”

“I believe I can give my family a good life when I move here. Caregiving program is the easiest to get here.”

Channeling her depression and struggle of staying away from her loved ones, Cruz decided to dedicate a poem named “Taglagas” to her fellow Filipino immigrants who’ve been deprived of their family’s love and support. Four of her friends who read the poem decided to come together create a short film, featuring Cruz.

Cruz said the poetry is about her own experience dealing with depression, taking inspiration from not only her experience, but also from other overseas Filipino workers in Canada and around the world. 

“I wrote it when I was tired, I was depressed because I was far from family, pandemic, I could not go home.”

Her advice to her fellow Filipino workers is to “always keep dreaming and never lose hope.”