Far From Home: Conquering Distance as a Family

by Jeninna-II Soliguin | February 16, 2021

The Silver Lining

With plenty of opportunities available in NCR, quite a few job seekers from the province find themselves entering the market in the metro. This does not come without its own cons; however, most of the time, people end up moving away from their families, only being able to visit them a few times a month. After the onset of the pandemic, we can only imagine how much more challenging this has become.

This has been the case for one of RareJob’s supervisors from the Material Department, Jeninna-II Soliguin. Hailing from Laguna, Ninna shares all about her experience: from moving to NCR back in 2012, how she coped with this during her adjustment period, and even now, during the pandemic.

One big, happy family

Into the Concrete Jungle

As soon as I finished my thesis back in October 2012, I started searching for jobs in Metro Manila. I think I’m not speaking only for myself when I say that probinsyanas like me dream of working in the metro, where most of the job opportunities are. At that time, I had no idea how to commute around Metro Manila, so when RareJob invited me for a screening, my dad even had to accompany me to make sure that I didn’t get lost.

When I got accepted at RareJob, I was given one week to process my requirements and to make the necessary preparations before my start date. In that one week, I had to determine where to stay in Quezon City as I was still living in Laguna. Luckily, my brother had an apartment in Kamuning, and he and his housemates let me live with them until I could find another place to stay. At this point, I still haven’t learned how to go around the city. So being the “bunso,” my parents asked my brother to fetch me to and from the office until I learned how to commute on my own. As far as I can remember, it took me two weeks before I could brave the commute.

I started really living independently when I transferred to a dormitory near the office after one month of staying with my brother. On my first night alone, tears were shed (literally). It was my first time living miles away from my family, which was definitely not a walk in the park. It was a lot harder because I was away from my twin sister, who I’m used to doing everything with since childhood.

Away From Home

Looking back, what helped ease my homesickness was my constant communication with my family. A simple text message saying “Kumain ka na ba?” could already make me feel a lot better. I’m also very thankful that technology made it easier for me to connect with my family as much as I want to. I also tried to visit my hometown at least twice a month or as often as I can, which went on until my siblings and I decided to bring our parents to Mandaluyong to live with us.

However, the pandemic happened only less than a year after we moved to Mandaluyong. During that time, my fiancée and I decided to live together in Manila to lessen the risks associated with the commute. As for my parents, we wanted them to go back to Laguna where COVID-19 cases were fewer, but we couldn’t because the government implemented strict lockdown regulations. My parents, being senior citizens, were considered high-risk, so we couldn’t compromise their health.

Some may think that Mandaluyong may be one ride away from Manila, but the pandemic made it a lot harder to visit my family. For one, a strict lockdown was implemented. And second, there was the risk of getting infected by the virus and possibly spreading it among my family members. It was a bit of a struggle because the distance made me miss a lot of things, such as my dad’s cooking and my mom’s way of taking care of me, especially before going to work. The situation also made me miss Christmas celebration because they finally went back to Laguna in November. We were just getting used to being together again, but we needed to go back to living apart because of the COVID-19 situation.

Where the Heart Is

During this difficult time, my fiancée and her family became my support system. They treated me like family; my fiancée and her siblings even jokingly consider me the favorite in the family. Aside from that, they helped me travel back and forth to Laguna to visit and spend time with my family. To further cope with the pandemic, I also continued my hobbies like doing cross-stitch and journaling, which really helped relieve the stress of being away with my family.

A meal with the family's Favorite
I know a world better than this, where nothing's amiss, and everything is bliss

Fortunately, travel restrictions are now more relaxed, so it’s easier to go to Laguna. If this doesn’t change, I plan to visit my family at least once a month, of course, still following health protocols like wearing a face mask and face shield for safety purposes. Once the pandemic is over (which I hope will happen soon), I’d like to finally plan a vacation with them – one wherein my parents can unwind and rebound from all the worries and distress caused by COVID-19. And with the availability of the vaccine, I’m hoping that this plan will push through soon.

I know for sure that I’m not the only one enduring the struggle of being away from my family; a lot of you may be experiencing the same thing. All I can say is that in family, distance is just a number. It may sound like a cliché, but for me, it’s true. Now that we have a lot of technologies for communication, utilize those resources to stay close with your family despite the physical distance. At the end of the day, being connected with your family may be your best source of strength and support in these trying times.