Filipinos in France
MY PINOY LIFE IN PARIS
By Uno Rodriguez
I moved to Europe in 2010. I first stayed with my relatives in Antwerp, Belgium and after a year, I moved to Paris. I moved to Europe because at one point in my life, I asked myself about where I see myself growing old. I love the fact that in France, you can enjoy the benefits of the tax that you are paying; that you can secure your future here and you can live life to the fullest. You can live your life here quietly, or loudly, simply or extravagantly – it’s really up to you. People here are very tasteful and fashionable, but also very polite and mindful. Indeed, “Viva La vie à Parisienne”.
Well, we all know that Paris is considered an international city. Aside from having breathtaking historical sites like churches, museums and chateaus, Paris is the birthplace of “People Power”. We all know that this is the place where the voices of the people are heard – case in point, the beheading of France’s last King and Queen, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. This is the reason why France gave the Statue of Liberty to the US, as Americans tried to emulate that strong spirit of democracy. In addition, every day in my life here, I always see these three important words: liberté, égalité, fraternité which means Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. I may not be French but indeed, the French have made me feel like I am their brother as I enjoyed both equality and freedom.
Is there a Filipino community there?
There is a big population of Filipinos here in France. In fact, there are a lot of active associations here in Paris. To name a few: BBM (Bagong Bayani ng Mamamayan), Calabarzon and Metro Manila Association, Sandigan Group, Peñafrancia, Hiligaynon, VisaMin, Proud Pangasinense, Bisdak and other organizations consisting of Filipinos from from Pampanga, Ilocandia and Caviteños. I can attest to the fact that every weekend, there are different events happening all over the city.
My Pinoy Life
I see myself growing old in France. You can always feel like a tourist here and be mesmerized by the beauty of the Eiffel Tower and Sacrè Cœur, and the grandness of the Louvre and Chateau Versailles. And it’s not just Paris that’s wondrous. There are also the neighboring cities of Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Monaco, Lyon, Bretagne, Toulouse and Normandie.
It’s no secret that France has the reputation of being a culinary epicenter. If there is such a thing as “good food” in the world, you will find it in France. Plus, the shopping here is marvelous.
When people ask me if I am happy here, I answer them “No.” Why? Because, I am tranquil here. For me happiness, is just temporary – but if you are in a tranquil place in your life, then you have inner peace. Peace is always joyful.
What cultural practices/behaviors have you acquired from your host country?
A lot of people think that French people are snobs. I disagree. The French are very courteous, and will go out of their way to extend politeness to strangers. I think the issue comes from the fact that very few of them know how to speak English, and they are generally unwilling to learn it. Hence, they appear snobbish.
In France, I learned to value the time I spend with other people. A casual dinner with friends can last for hours. In Paris, after work, you can invite your friends for a dinner in your place or in a restaurant. True human interactions are important here. This has taught me how to appreciate good conversations, how be polite, and how to appreciate the arts and cultures of different people from different countries.
My message to Pinoys around the globe
Embrace the unknown! Naturally, France felt like a mystery to me at first, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to its quirks and fully embrace its unique culture. To all the Filipinos worldwide: enjoy life, take chances, travel more, and experience the beauty of this world while you still can.
I have a tattoo on my back that says, “The greatest risk in life is risking nothing.” Moving to France was a risk for, but with God’s help, I am now in the best place that I could be. I hope all of you will take risks too.
Filipino France: My Pinoy Life in Provence
Take a peek at the lives of Filipinos around the world. Read on as Malou Delamare reveals her life in idyllic Provence.
We moved to Provence just this year, in April, after two years in Cairo. My husband got a phone call one day from the President of Toque Blanche Lyonnaise (a renowned chef’s association based in Lyon, the French gastronomic capital, whose famous members include Michelin starred Chefs Paul Bocuse, Mattheu Vianay and Nicolas Le Bec among others) for an interview for a Chef de Cuisine position in a four star luxury hotel in this region. It seemed like quite a challenge. Moreso, we wanted a different lifestyle for our children, so we came to Provence and the rest is history.
Tell us something about your place.
The region of Alpes de Haute Provence is famous for the valley of Ubaye, the Route de Grande Alpes which a lot of cyclist, rallyist and motorist pass by to go to Nice, Cannes and Monaco. We are on the border of Italy and our place is a famous route for the Tour de France. Provence has museums, shops that sell artisanale and regional products. Our village is known to be of Neo-Mexican history and a lot of the houses are quaint chateau style. Hence, the place is also famous as a tourist destination. The valley has year round activities; during the winter, there as skiing, luge, hiking and mountain climbing, and snowboarding around the ski resorts of Pra Loup and Sauze. Cycling, white water rafting, and park activities are famous during the summer season.
What do you there do for a living?
I was offered the position of Marketing Manager in Villa Morelia Chateau Hotel and Spa, the same hotel where my husband is employed. At the beginning I was doing freelance work with them, but since the hotel opened their new extension with spa and an additional 14 rooms, the marketing activities became bigger and wider. So I came on board full time.
As the Consulate is based in Paris, most Filipino community groups are based there. However, in the last two years the city of Lyon opened a satellite Consulate Office and they have a Pinoy organization which is very active in all kinds of social activities, such as the Fete Consulaire, Phil Independence Day celebrations, as well as Christmas and other notable occasions. In Lyon, you also have the Interpol where a Pinoy Attache is based and they have formed strong ties with the agency. There quite a number of Filipino professionals living and working there in different sectors like hotel, banking, I.T., government posts and even the pharmaceutical industry.
Tell us about your life there.
My husband and I settled here because of his job as a chef. You could say that, in a sense, it is difficult here if you don’t live in the big city or the capital Paris, because your social life is very limited. I lived here in 2007 and learned the language easily to fully integrate myself into the French way of life. As I have just started my job as a Marketing Manager, my time is limited, juggling home, motherhood and career altogether. On Sundays, when the hotel is closed, the whole family goes around discovering the rich region of the valley with its lakes, museums, parks and wildlife. There are a lot of things to do during winter and summer; it’s just a matter of finding the right time. Provence is famous for its olive oil, lavender oils and many others. The only disadvantage since I moved here is that Ihaven’t seen any Filipino compatriots around.
What cultural practices/behaviors have you acquired from your host country?
France is famous for its cuisine. As they say “do what the French do.”So it is important to appreciate that when they eat it’s mostly three course meals and they take about an hour just with the aperitif and wine. I should say that I love the classic French baguette, but my favourite is the “campaillete.” I also try to cook “chicken adobo” often as it is my husband’s favorite Filipino dish.
I love going to my nearby boulangerie every morning. Across our street we have a Catholic Church. I pass by once in a while, but I don’t attend the mass as it’s too early for me.
Your greeting to Filipinos across the globe –
Kamusta po kayong lahat! Although I’m living and working here, I always say “I’m from the Philippines” whenever someone asks me. I’m proud to be Pinoy and I think no matter where you go, there’s always that distinct mark.