~Adam Gopnik. “Paris to the Moon”
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 the some of the founding members of Samahang Pilipina. So, in a way, it was fiesta.
Like all chance meetings, my introduction with these ladies were as mythical as when Paul McCartney met John Lennon. I met Lily Fen through an Italian girl I sat beside with 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 was 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.