Brigides Mercado and Family

Written by Canmore Museum

How long have you been in the Bow Valley?

“I arrived here in May 2013. Actually, I am 7 years here! I arrived from Hong Kong, directly here in Canada. I didn’t go back to Philippines.“

What does an average day look like for you right now?

“Always working my dear. I don’t even have day off. Like I have nights off but I don’t have days off. So. I am full-time as Housekeeping Supervisor at [a hotel]. And part-time at [a grocery store], and another part-time at [a cafe]. So only my nights are off, Saturday and Sunday nights, that’s it. Today I was off at [one store] so that’s why I’m at [another store] to open and to close.“

How are you getting along with your close relationships?

“Yeah, it’s like, big impact or big effect on my family. Honestly, I don’t have time for them. Like everyday, I left 8 or 9 in the morning, sometimes 6 in the morning. And then I arrive back at home 9.30 in the evening. It’s like 2 years like that because my family arrived 2 years now.

So they arrived here last December 1, 2018. My daughter is studying at [school], and my third son is studying. And my second son is working at [a retail store]. My special child, he is deaf and mute and he is working with me at as Housekeeper.”

Has this impacted your financial situation?

“Yeah, its like, compared to earlier than 2019, yes honestly, I had a little bit not so much savings, but a little bit.

But after this COVID, I have like hardship on my financial status. Before, like every paycheck I see to it that for myself, I need to know to save 100 bucks or 200 bucks every month for my salary. But now I can’t.

Because before Renz helped me a lot with his salary, he helped me a lot, like for our groceries, but he is studying now so I can’t take money from him anymore. Emmanuel had a part-time before at [a retail store], I think September or October like one month, he stopped working. So he stayed only at home and after a month he applied at [a retail store] I think I had already hardship like 2 months like September, October. And we moved from our new house, its not our own anyway, we are renting, so beginning of September, I really like, have hardship on my financial status. Because only me and my husband are full-time in our jobs. My two sons like helping me with our everyday expenses.”

What’s been the hardest part of this for you?

“The hardest thing for me is… I think our expenses, like financial, because honestly we bought a new car, and its like yeah, an additional expense for my family and we are renting like more expensive house than before. Before we were renting a condo unit. Now we are renting a house, a townhouse. A bit more expensive than before. So its very hard for me to budget with my financial status. I’m remitting money for my family also and for my house also there in the Philippines. That’s the reason why I am always working.”

Is there anything you are afraid of?

“Oh yeah, one of the things that scared for me is, knock on wood, I don’t want to let, that we will be laid off. That’s one thing I scared. One thing also, the increase of COVID cases in Canada, that’s the most I scared. And you know businesses will be closed, and if it’s closed, the workers will be affected too much. That’s why it’s a good thing that like Trudeau our Prime Minister, he had a policy for this special Christmas season, so he stopped the gatherings.“

Is there something that turned out to be a secret blessing from this experience?

“For me a good thing, specially, is like closeness of the family, yeah because most of the people now are at home only. But, the bad thing is instead of talking or “mama how’s your day”, instead of talking each member of the family is always bowing their heads on their phones or gadgets! I said to them “come here we will eat dinner together”, and “oh I ate already I’m doing something” instead of angry, ok, do what you want. But maybe most of the family here like here together, but for me, its not enough. Gadgets are so distraction!”

What do you think you will remember from this time?

“Oh my god! The most I can’t forget yes of course this COVID-19, and our tragedy in the Philippines, the typhoon. I can’t forget those because my family was affected. And you know when we had a vacation like March until June supposed to be, we were meant to come back in April but we locked down in our own place, we only stay at home. Even my mother or my sisters, we didn’t gather. We didn’t go to their house. Because we need a quarantine, we need to get to the Mayor to get our quarantine pass, and when we go to other place we need to quarantine from 14 days, very hard for us. Everything that we could enjoy, honestly we didn’t enjoy our vacation. But the good thing is I saw family, my mother my sisters my nieces, my nephews and they are all fine, thanks God.”

If you could speak directly to somebody in the past or the future, what would you say to them?

“At this time, like pandemic, we must be grateful for what we have. We must help the people needs, if they need like food or something like clothing, we must help them. We must be thrifty. Do not buy anything that is like not need, especially want is different from need. Just be thrifty. And another thing is we must have sympathy to others like if you can help, whatever it is financial or something, what you have and you can share, you can do it. Because of this special pandemic, for me, my friends here is also my family. We are very far to my own family.

Also, I must be thankful and give thanks to Bow Valley Settlement Services, they have lots of help to my family, especially during like late October 2019. Stephanie, she knows my depression. Together with Javan. They helped me a lot. And I want to tell to them that I am thankful for their help, everything they have done for me.”

Anything else?

“Since we don’t have a family picture yet so I’m looking for that. That was our plan, this is our first family picture so we need to wear one colour! Thank you so much.

All of this Bow Valley people, the residents, we are so lucky that we are one of your… you chose one of us, like our family. Thank you so much. I really appreciate for that. We are so lucky.”

The Stories of Resilience project offers deeply personal insights into the lives of Bow Valley residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. They each share their unique challenges, fears, hopes, and lessons learnt during this unique time in history. This project was brought to life by a collaboration of local organizations: Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP), artsPlace Canmore, Kristy Wolfe Photography, Canmore Museum. With special thanks to Community Connections in the Bow Valley.

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