MANILA – Hark back to when you first visited New Zealand (NZ), not to settle, but just to suss out the country before making that monumental decision to call this place home … Then you’ll be able to relate to the gamut of impressions and feelings that assailed one Mika Ruhaina T. Acedilla, 27, when she stepped on our shores for the very first time.
“I was born and raised in Catarman, Northern Samar,” Acedilla briefs me. “My parents and younger sister live in NZ and I’m the only one left behind in the Philippines (PH). I miss them a lot. There’s certainly been a lot of crying and waking up in the wee hours wondering why I’m alone over here coping by myself.
“The plus side is – I get to be silly and dance around the house naked. In any case, the realization that Maxine (daughter) and I will soon be living in NZ lessens my loneliness.
“My mother was the first one to fly to NZ in 2007, followed by my sister in 2009 and my dad in 2010. They will soon be gaining their citizenship.
“I’ve been to NZ twice, the first time during the Christmas season and I fell in love with the country instantly. Who wouldn’t? I paid my second visit in June 2013 and I didn’t feel like returning home to PH anymore. When I travel to NZ it’s as if I leave all my stress at PH airport. I even gain weight overseas, so they say. Maybe it’s because NZ is truly heaven on earth. Or is it because I’m glad to be reunited with my family? A bit of both, I’d say.”
After job-hopping for a while in PH Acedilla currently works in a private hospital and is studying for a teaching license. “I see myself working with kids. Maybe at a preschool. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do.” However, she’s not fussy. Because of the fickle nature of job opportunities for newcomers in NZ she could turn her hand to anything. She’s prepared to grab the first job opportunity that presents itself.
“I went to college at the University of Philippines in Tacloban. In my fourth year, when I was with my first serious boyfriend, I had an untimely pregnancy. He went awol. Despite walking around the campus with a pregnant belly I was determined to graduate and I did so in 2007.
“There was one time when I had to bring my 1-month old baby, Maxine, to school, so I would not miss our finals in theatre class and acting on stage. I needed to bottle feed her right after class.”
Acedilla is the first to admit that being a single parent is not a bed of roses. “But looking back I feel that I did not have much to worry about, because my parents were helping me financially. Without them I don’t know where I’d be. All I know is that my life is already complete, even without a husband. I have a soul-mate for a sister and I have an angel of a daughter, the sweetest, most well-behaved kid one could ever meet.”
Acedilla loves to sing, dance, listen to music, watch movies, write and read.
One of her dreams is to star in a movie. When asked to model for the Filipino Migrant News photo shoot with photographer Rew Shearer, she grabbed the chance, she says.
Her other interests include volunteering, arts, world peace and kids. But, no immediate plans to get married. “I’ve still got much to do.”
Best thing about NZ? “Despite the modernization you care enough to preserve the beauty of the land.”
The downside of NZ? “The nightlife lol!”
Favourite spots? “Waiheke Island. Devonport. Mt Wellington. And Kelly Tarlton’s.”
Welcome ‘home’, Mika.
By Sheila Mariano