Μέρος 1ο - Το ταξίδι, η ζωή και η εργασία μέσα στην πόλη
I came from Philippines; I came here 1984. Before coming here I'm working in a clinic because I am a registered midwife and I decided to come here because... to leave Philippines, I decided to come here because of poor living in Philippines. So, I have one daughter there and I have to think of her future so that's the time that I decided to come here, and I have an aunt here who is working here and she found a good employer for me. Τhose employer were very good. In the morning I'm working in a dental clinic and in the afternoon, I'm working at home, in the house.
You mean in Greece.
Yes, here in Greece.
Okay, so that was, like, your first job here the dental clinic?
The dental clinic and at the same time inside the house.
And did you travel alone? How old were you when you came here?
I'm 25, I think I'm 25. I just left a daughter with... a daughter of seven months old. It's a difficult decision but they cannot do anything. I left her to my husband and to his family, to my in-laws.
And where were you living with your husband?
In Philippines, in Pangasinan, we call it Pangasinan. A part of Philippines in Luzon. The island of Luzon.
Oh, okay. And so, you are 25, you leave the island, you take a plane...
Yes. My employer picked me up from the airport. And we went immediately to the house. They live in "Κολωνάκι" and my lady boss is a dentist and the gentleman is a cardiologist. A big cardiologist.
Okay, so you stayed at their house?
And on your day off where did you stay?
It's a little bit difficult the first time of my day off because my aunt and a friend just the two of them is here so they are not going anywhere, we are not having a flat, like for example, like mine now. So, we just stayed in the park the whole day and go home at night to the employer. I'm working five and a half days in my job, in the morning it's in the clinic, it's a dental clinic and in the afternoon in the house doing the house work chores and cooking, and started to do the cooking, and during my day off we just go anywhere, in the park, we just go and eat there, talk and sometimes we go stroll around in Athens, like the first newcomers do, to go and to do the sightseeing (laughs). But before that, like for example, from Thursday afternoon that's what we were doing but every Sunday we go also for a part time job. Yeah. Because we don't have anywhere to go. We cannot stay the whole day in the park, the whole day strolling around, so we have to do something. We go for a part time in the morning and in the afternoon, we go "βόλτα".
Okay, and how long did you work there, in "Κολωνάκι»?
I worked there for eight years. But until now I still have contact with them. Yeah. They have my phone, I have their phone, they are calling me, I'm calling them. When I had my girl, and she was... she was studying before in "Munting Nayon", Filipino school for the "KASAPI" and then after they said that we have to put them in a Greek school because of their citizenship. Because at that time we are going outside "Ράλλη", you know "Ράλλη" for citizenship of children. So then they said that one of the... how do you call this... they have to go to a Greek school at least six years, so after elementary I put her in a Greek school in "Ελληνικό". We discussed it with "Munting Nayon" because that's what now the lawyers are telling that children must be in a Greek school for at least six years before they can apply for citizenship, so that's what we did. So then after that she finished her "γυμνάσιο" in "Ελληνικό" and that's so far, so I want her to go near here in her "λύκειο". So I said where can I put her, nobody is accepting her. So I went in "Κολωνάκι" to my boss, I told her that I want to put her in "Μαράσλειο" and so my lady boss came with me there in "Μαράσλειο" and I think there is a little bit of trouble, something like that, so my sir came with me there and sign everything so my daughter was accepted there, she finished her "λύκειο" there in "Μαράσλειο".
Okay, so you worked there for eight years.
And what did you do after that?
After that, because I was pregnant then, so I decided to do a part time job, not to live-in. Not live-in, live out. So I have to find job so I can... so I can stay with her at night.
Yes, of course, of course. When you were working in "Κολωνάκι", did you also have, like you know, a permit, like, a legal permit?
Yes I did. I did for... about, maybe about seven years I have permit with them.
Yes, because you were working for them so you had a permit with them.
And then after that I didn't have permit for how long, after that, and it started only in 1997, it started, how do you call that, legalization, the legalization. That time then I had a permit, almost... maybe almost more than ten years that I didn't have permit. I didn't have permit, then and that already in "Κολωνάκι" I don't have permit and the police catch us, the "Αλλοδαπών". I have with me two friends, we are in a Filipino restaurant and... here in "Ιλίσια" also and they brought us "στο" police station in "Αλλοδαπών" also but I called my boss in "Κολωνάκι" and they come to rescue me again. They took me out from... they took me out from "Αλλοδαπών".
But why, like, when you left the job in "Κολωνάκι", why couldn't you get another residence permit? Did you try to take another one? What happened?
It's difficult and nobody can just give permit that time. It's difficult really.
And 1997 was the time when they...
Legalization came and so we started, we start to work for papers, new papers and we had then the permit, and after how many years... 1997... and after how many years they granted also the "αορίστου χρόνου" so I decided to apply for that and I took it. But after, they cut off that from the unlimited we went to ten years. So now I have ten years permit, I don't know what will happen after the ten years permit. Because now it's also very difficult to take permits. It's very difficult because if you don't have enough "ένσημα" they cannot just give you, like, the ten years or five years, they will just give you one year, two years. It depends on your "ένσημα". Because the laws here is changing always.
So this means that not only you, also other Filipinos did not have permit, right?
Yes, yes, most of us. Only the one who's working in a big people like "Μητσοτάκης" that they have a permit.
How did you work your way around that. Like, how was your life since you were not able to get a residence permit, were you able to find jobs?
Yeah, I have a job, it's easy for me to find a job without permit, it's like, we called it "TNT, Tago Nang Tago" like we are illegal. If police catch us, if "Αλλοδαπών" catch us we are being sent in Philippines. Yes, yes. When I told you that I was caught by the police, my two friends with me, the one was sent Philippines.
Yes when the "Αλλοδαπών" catch us, the police from "Αλλοδαπών" catch us, me and two friends, one friend went to "Μαρούσι, Αλλοδαπών" and two of us went here in Athens "Αλλοδαπών". The one in "Μαρούσι " was sent home, Philippines, and me and my friend were saved by my first employer. There are many people, there are many Filipinos that was sent Philippines. Oh, I was so scared, because at that time I still don't have savings with me. So, at that time I'm scared of is that if they will sent me Philippines I still don't have savings and how I will start Philippines without savings? And not only that because my daughter starts to go to a university so I have to have really a big earnings to send her in a University, because University in Philippines are very expensive. And my daughter in Philippines finished two courses, it's the political science graduate and the second one is bachelor of science in secondary education, teaching, that's all from my hardship here
At that time the employers don’t care because if you will be catch, they don't care. So you have to take care of yourself not to me before, because I had already that experience, I don't go out often, after a job stay in the house, if I don't stay in the house I'm in "KASAPI" something like that, I'm with the children. I see to it that I don't go anywhere for a long time because I am afraid someone will catch us or...
So then, without permit I cannot go Philippines. So I didn't go Philippines for more than ten years, so it means that I haven't seen my daughter for that time. So when we see each other she is already sixteen. I left her seven months old. I went home... the first time I went home she is more than a year, the second is like, about two, three years old, after that, sixteen years old. So we are just, we are like strangers to each other, you know, and at that time she doesn't have the father anymore so she just stay with my in-laws.
And you were not able to visit Philippines because of the...
So, I haven't seen my husband for the last time because if I go back, I cannot come back anymore because I don't have the permit.
And when you got the permit in 1997 how did your life... did your life change at all?
Sure, because now you can go out freely without thinking that "Oh, I have to not to go in that place because there are many police or something, or maybe they will catch me, and they will send me Philippines..." There is no more trouble, there is no more thinking about that. We can go out freely and then after, the first thing that I did is to go to Philippines. And then after that, after two years or three years I went back again because I have already my permit so I can go anytime I want.
Μέρος 2ο - Το ιατρικό λάθος
Again long time I didn't go and then I had this health problem, yeah, I was diagnosed of breast cancer, 2009.That's the most tragic time of my life, I have to cry, I said I'm going to die in how many months I have to die, and you know, I'm always crying because I'm thinking of the daughter that is here, she is still underage, she is sixteen years old, seventeen years old, so I say what will happen to her? She doesn't know Philippines. What will happen to her, who is going to take care of her if I die? So, I have decided to go for an operation again, take off my breast and then after taking off my breast and they put it in biopsy, for "βιοψία", nothing, there is no cancer. Yes, there is no cancer.
Yes, first the "όγκος" they took it out and in biopsy they found stage one cancer so they told me to take off the whole breast. That's a difficult decision I have to do if I will take out or I will just leave it like that but everybody in my surroundings, all my aunts, my sister they are all crying for me they told me to take it out, the breast. I said "No, I don't want to take it out." "Take it out" they said, so I decided to take it out. They took out the whole breast, they put it in the biopsy and after the biopsy they found that the breast that they took it out, no cancer at all. Imagine… They told me that I can complain or I can sue the doctors but for me I said never mind at least I found out that I don't have a cancer that's all it matters that I can still live for a long time. So until now I'm still here good, thank you. Yeah, I say that I don't care for the breast. It matters that I found out that I don't have a cancer and that's all it matters, that makes everything okay to me. So, I still, now, I have two granddaughters, I'm still here (laughs).
Now you have a healthy life with no worries at all.
Yes, no worry. So, I say if I like to make my breast, I can make it. So, it doesn't matter because they told me "Yes, we told you to make this, to make that, to do this don't go for operation" my friends, "don't go for operation, go for another doctor, go for this, go for that... now you see." I say it doesn't matter. So now I don't have one breast (laughs).
Μέρος 3ο - Απολογισμός
I don't have... I don’t know, I don’t, for how many years now in Greece, for more than thirty years, I don't have many friends, I don't have many friends. I have little friends here.
You mean in general or outside the Filipino community?
Even in the Filipino community. Okay the one in "KASAPI" are my friends, outside "KASAPI" I have very little friends.
Why, you didn't want to have?
I don't know, I don't stay... I told you; I don't go around, I stay at home.
You mean at the home where you were working or your own home?
No, for example now, that I don't have job now, I'm always here, sitting down, sleeping, lying down, watching TV that's all. But sometimes I have some friends, the little friends "Can we go out?" "Okay we'll go out" And if during summer we want to go outside... Athens, I have the same friends with me. "You want to go in this place?" "Yes." "Okay, I'll try to find a cheap ticket." "Okay." This, just the two of us, and if not this another one that is close, this and this and this (laughs)...
So you told me that in the beginning you were working and you had one free day.
One and a half days.
One and a half. But still in your free day you would stay at your... at the house, at the employers' house.
After, at night. Yeah, but that...after that, because I have one aunt here, who brought me here and her friend. And after I came, another aunt came here, me, another aunt, became many. So, we cannot stay always in the park, so we try to find a house. My house, the first house that I stayed since I'm here is down, in the other side, down in... "υπόγειο".
Here, in "Ιλίσια"?
Here, in "Ιλίσια", if you will go here (shows the window) you can see my house there. And I stayed there for more than thirty years. I'm here only for two years in this house. Most of my life is there, down.
So you have been living here in the area since, since when?
1984, let's say 1984, until we found a house we stayed here, we found a house here, and I stayed here. Since then, until now.
So this is your neighbourhood.
Yes, they know me here. My dentist is here, my friends with dogs are here. We are all... I have this...Yeah, they are Greek, so if we saw each other in the park for example "Hi, how are you?" and they love my dogs, my dog, they love her, they love him. Because he is kissing people, yeah really, he is kissing people. If he sees you, he will stand up and kiss you here (laughs).
So you could go out with the dog here because there is a park here.
Yes, there is a park there or else in "Άγιο Θωμά", "Άγιο Χαράλαμπος", there. We go in the forest, all around the forest, walking with him and back home and two times, three times a day we go there. That time before, you know before, the first, first time that I'm here, if you open your house at night, nobody will enter your house, not like now. Even though your house is closed they will just open and go inside. Before, it's very very safe here, we can stay in the park with my daughter and the dog until two o'clock in the morning, in "Άγιο Χαράλαμπο" and you know there it's forest but it's safe. But not anymore, now I'm afraid to go there at night.
Are they friendly, the people? When you came in the beginning how are they, were they talking to you? Were you talking to them?
No, not yet not yet. But when we... when they see maybe, they see me that I'm living here they start talking to me so then I have friends and... you know I had a lot of friends, Greek friends, because of Rex.
Yes. They knew him and they don't know me. Most of them were asking when he died, and some friends are crying in the park. Yeah, because they love him, that's where I took many friends, Greek friends. You see, they are good to me also, they know my situation. And they know that I love Rex that's why I'm very... you know, my dog is very popular in the park and everybody says that he is a very good dog and that's when they know me. Before, nobody... just doing like this all the people in the park with the dogs, but when they met him and found out that he is very friendly then the people with the dogs became friendly with me also.
How did you learn Greek? And like, did you want to learn Greek? Did you want to use it? What's your relationship with the language?
(laughs) You know what, actually, it's very difficult to learn Greek. I learn how to speak Greek with my daughter. Greek language is nice but it's really difficult, but it's really difficult but the first time I came here in a month or two months I can read already, yes, but I don't know what I am reading, I don't know what the meaning is of what I am reading, I don't know... but I started to read.
But now, do you understand what you read?
And so you learnt from listening to your daughter speaking. Did you try to go to school and learn, like, to any language school?
No, maybe because there is no time, there is no time because, like for example now, like for example I'm working in the morning in a part-time job and afternoon I go "Μέλισσα". I come home about 11-11.30 at night. How? I just lay down there and after sleep.
So, can I ask also something, before, you said that you don't know what will happen with the permit. Have you applied for citizenship?
No but actually I'm thinking, because I'm thinking of going home also and just no need for the Greek passport if you stay in Philippines. But there is a difficult now... we "KASAPI" and with this research we are trying to find a way for a bilateral security. It means that if getting old and it's time for us to pay pension the bilateral is that to have an agreement between Philippines and Greece so us instead of staying here to take our pension, we can send it Philippines so we can go Philippines to stay there and the pension will go there also. But there is no avail... nothing is clear still.
Do you think you will get your pension here?
In two years, I can apply for my pension, I'm that old. But look, here is getting difficult really, the life here in Greece. We have one officer of "KASAPI" who is taking a pension already, she is going to Philippines and if her papers getting expired she will come here to renew it, but she is already a pensioner, okay? The last, she cannot, she cannot renew her papers, it's difficult to renew her papers she doesn't have any choice but to go back Philippines she just left two weeks ago. She went to Philippines and the pension, her card, bank card, the ATM will last until 2024 only, after that no more pension, because she cannot come back here anymore she doesn't have paper...
She went back to Philippines?
Yes, she cannot do anything because when she went Philippines and for how many years and then she came back here and she doesn't have a house to stay and it needs to apply a permit you need a house…
Oh, you need an address.
Yes, because before you can apply for a permit you need to have an address, she doesn't have an address because she is only staying with a friend while working for her papers.
Are there any other thoughts you would like to share with the world?
No, just we want the law to change for better here, for us, for the migrants. Not always changing... Yes. For example the indefinite permit, why do you have to change it? Why do you have to take it out and then change it into ten years? After they abolish again the ten years and it goes with five years. Now, if the "ένσημα" is not enough you cannot renew for five years they will give you only one year or two years or three years. After, like for example, me, what will happen to me when I will be seventy years old without permit?
I think as a pensioner you can get a permit. As a pensioner.
She didn't take a permit that's why she left. There is supposed to be another kind of permit for the pensioners, isn't it? But she didn't have, that's why she went Philippines.
I see. Okay, thank you for telling me that.