I am 46 years old and from the Philippines but now live in Birmingham. I came to the UK as a missionary through the missionary society. They gave me orientation and input and immersion into various places where I could meet the people we would join and help – the asylum seekers and refugees.
This place was totally new to me so without the help of other people who showed us around and gave us orientation on how to integrate of course it wouldn't have been easy, but we received orientation and updates on what the current situation in the country is. It helped us to be sensitive also because here there are people from different backgrounds, cultures and faiths so that helped me integrate into the community.
What is of interest to me is our ministry which crosses boundaries of race, culture, etc. We work by helping the poor or marginalised people and in the UK usually that is the migrants and asylum seekers.
There are some aspects of Birmingham that I enjoy but there are also aspects of the Philippines that are not here that I also enjoy, so it is just a matter of trying to live where you are.
What I enjoy the most is being intercultural and interfaith. You can sit down in a place for a meal and people are from all over, bringing their food. It is really very interesting because you can taste food from different places. In a way it is like also travelling to their country through their stories. It enriched me as a person.
I have contributed my time and presence. I go to different charities and help with different activities, cooking, meetings, take time to chat. I think that is my contribution. Whatever talents or abilities I have I try to contribute it.
Compared to before, I would say that UK is home to me now because anywhere that I go I always see or meet someone on the road that I know. Things started to become familiar to me now and I know my place. I have a lot of friends here and everywhere I go people recognise me, even the nearby shop.
The weather was a struggle for me in the beginning because I didn't know how to protect myself, to wear a hat, scarf, but I learned I have to wear several layers of clothes, several layers of socks.
I sometimes feel that they migrants are portrayed as a burden. But most of the time you can see that immigrants are contributing so much to the society. Most of the time they are the ones who are willing to do the jobs which the local people don't want to do.
This interview is part of a series of stories of migrants in Birmingham produced by participants of Migrant Voice's 'Many Faces, One City' project. The project celebrates the contribution of migrants to life in Birmingham. It brought together migrants and host community in Birmingham to build their skills in telling stories of migration through text, photo, film and social media.