by Rachelle Cruz, ABS-CBN News
TORONTO, CANADA — It took eight years for this family reunion to happen.
Melona Banico left her family in the Philippines to set up a new life in Canada, and was finally able to sponsor her three children — including her grandson from her eldest daughter.
The film “My First 150 Days” chronicles the family’s highs and lows of their reunion as they move together to Toronto permanently.
“What we are really trying to present to audience is really the struggles… and the joys, or disappointments, displacement of all immigrants have to go through,” said the film’s maker, Diana Dai. “You know there’s a lot of conflicts between family members, because they were parted for eight years. Basically they were strangers to each other.”
While there were happy moments of being reunited, they also faced challenges learning to adjust to life under one roof in their new country.
“Nahihirapan ako ma-adjust sa kanila, because hindi ko alam ugali nila,” said Melona Banico. “So that’s the reason why we encountered conflict, they don’t know how how to approach me..”
“Sa mga kababayans, kung sino yung gusto pumunta dito, dapat isipin nila twice or more than twice, to think, kung ano yung dapat nilang gagawin,” said son Mike Banico. “Kasi, mahirap yung kalagayan dito kung ikaw lang mag-isa…”
The film resonated with many viewers, who felt that they can relate to its issues and themes of family, hope, and adjusting to a new life.
“I know the family,” said Elena Salchi. “My husband was actually the general manager that hired one of the members of the family, and we’ve been invited here, and I am so moved.”
“I really like the moments where we were able to get a lot of in depth emotions about how the kids are adjusting, especially when it comes to their relationship with their mother,” said Eirene Cloma.
Like many immigrant stories, it takes time to adjust to a new life in a new country.
Melona and her children admit that Canada is finally starting to feel like home.
The film is also a tribute to celebrate the nation’s 150th anniversary.