Bending Without Breaking: Book Launch

The small conference room adjacent to the Refomierte Kirche Bern looked like a typical Pinoy household frantically getting ready for a fiesta. I had never seen a much bigger huddle of Filipinos since arriving in Switzerland in 2015. The community was there to help us launch “Bending Without Breaking,” the brainchild of some of the founding members of Samahang Pilipina. So, in a way, it was fiesta.

Like all chance meetings, my introduction with these ladies was as mythical as when Paul McCartney met John Lennon. I met Lily Fen through an Italian girl I sat beside during a writing workshop in Zürich, and Lily introduced me to Anny Hefti, who was already mulling over collecting stories from Filipinas who migrated to Switzerland long before I was born. Soon after, I was introduced to the other 10 ladies who would complete the group.

After two years of workshops, writing sessions, and editing, our stories of leaving, arriving, living, and staying in Switzerland were ready to be read.

In the middle of fighting an invisible war, I am thankful for the patience of my co-editors, Lily and Lenny Bugayong, and the trust of Anny, Susan, Alice, Evangeline, Esther, Helen, Catalina, Melody, Evelyn, Lina, and Weni, all of whom held out their hands and allowed us, editors, to guide them in shaping their migration stories.

If there is anything that this book has made me realize, it is this: through these women’s lives, I see, that however hard it is rebuilding my life here in Switzerland, it will, at some point, become home.

From left to right. Standing: Weni Gamboa, Lily Fen, Alice Carada, Me, Melody Hunter, Susan Nagel, Helen Gaganao. Sitting: Anny Hefti, Lina Emmert, Evelyn Steiner, Lenny Bugayong. Not on the photo: Evangeline Bugayong, Esther Windler, Catalina Weber.

Visit the book’s website at to find out more.

Published by mon

Monette travels unhurriedly, drinks coffee excessively, and reads books voraciously. She loves to linger in between cigarette puffs and swigs of beer. She currently lives in Winterthur.

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