When I moved out of our HR officer’s flat, I ended up renting at Kalayaan area it was basically the outskirts of Bonifacio Global City.
Just a couple of meters away from the posh bubble lies a cluster of houses clumped together. This is where the middle class and slum people mingle by day and stay at night.
My office, about 300 meters away.I rented a bunk bed in small room about 15 sq.m. Inside this little wooden room were three other girls. They, like me, were also starting out their careers in Manila. I would like to think of us all as predominantly provincial and naive girls, what we had in common though, is the need to change the course of our lives.
Jenifer, was a working student from Bulacan, she worked for GIZ in the morning as an office assistant while taking up night high school in La Salle as a scholar.
Meanwhile Ma-ann, a Bicolana accountant from Sorsogon was just starting out as a bookkeeper in Ford while saving up to afford finishing her course and licensure examination to be a certified public accountant. She stayed in the room together with her cousin, Elvie, who was also working for a different company.
I was the last addition to the group. It was my first time renting out a small bed in a humid room without any real windows. Smaller than 22 square meters, I remembered feeling still claustrophobic though lesser than the past year. See it was finally a month since I ended up living with our human resource manager after my talent manager deserted me in the apartment all alone in Quezon City. I doubt that I could get any more concerned about space after literally sleeping in one bed with our HR manager. She was the only person I knew after the only people I know left without telling me. They did not even give me the talent fee for the beauty competition. After finding this out, indeed, as a girl from a smaller city, I worried. I worried not only a little but a lot! I swore to my mother that it would be a great idea to learn business in the craziest city in the Philippines.
After making myself comfortable in the small room, I started talking more to Jenifer and Ma-Ann. Since we did not earn much, we would spend our nights buying a small serving of friend noodles. I would get the one that comes with two dumplings and save the two dumplings to pair with rice the next day. As a new employee, I had a smaller salary which was just enough to pay for everything.
I remember those times that with them, we would pretend to make it big. We would just spend our free time jogging around Bonifacio Global City, a bubble like no other in the Philippine. This place feels like Singapore to me always. I started founding groups that would give me part-time job as an event model. I tried to do as much side gig to supplement the income to cover all the expenses I had. The other girls were the same, we would do our own laundry and look for the cheapest meals.
Sometimes we try to imagine how life would be once we become successful. We went on sharing so many moments together. One day, I got tickets for a fashion show and knowing how extremely timid Jenifer and Ma an we’re, I knew it would help them be extra confident and courageous so I let them wear some dresses and made them all up. It was such a fun night with them. We felt like we were the girls from Sex and The City and I thought Carrie Bradshaw would’ve been proud of me.
After all the bonding time and Ate Elvie left, we decided to rent a different place because we became fed up with the landlady. We all slept on the floor with mattresses that were too thin just like having a thin sheet of cloth over a wooden floor.
After a couple of months of living in one small room together, we parted ways. Ma Ann found a place with a relative, Jenifer continued her studies and me, after being robbed by a guy with a knife near the area, decided to move with other friends from Couchsurfing.
Fast forward to 2018, Ma Ann got married last 2017 to her long time boyfriend and is employed in a good company. I met Jenifer over coffee in Cebu, she is working for GIZ the German organisation who also got her to fly to Germany for some training. I on the other hand, ended back in Cebu running a coworking space.
I still get updates from them over FB, I haven’t seen Ma Ann since we partied ways while Jenifer have gone to Cebu a couple of times and we would play catch up on what’s new with her. It really is different when you live with people for quite sometime, they also become a part of your history and these two girls will always be part of my motivation and a daily reminder that ambition with passion can really get you far. It is always interesting to see people evolving and how persistence is paying off for those with dreams. We were just a bunch of naive girls who were brave enough to go after our dreams and rewrite our story from victims of scarcity to victors of opportunities.