Changemaker Haniely Pableo on Living a Multi-Faceted Life as a Nurse-Artist-Volunteer Filipino-Canadian Immigrant

Changemaker (n) – one who breaks the mold and challenges the status quo for the better. Meet this multi-talented, globally-oriented Fil-Canadian woman.

Changemaker Haniely Pableo Loansolutions Interview
The Multi-Talented Haniely (Photograph: Patrick Estebar; Styling: Jodinand Aguillon; Make Up: Charm Torres)

Live within your means and stay disciplined with your spending. Stay authentic – what I mean by this is allow your family back home to see how you are really living and struggling abroad.

Although countless stories have been told about the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Filipino immigrants abroad, we can never fully understand the experience until we live it.

Nonetheless, every story we hear gives us an idea of what it’s like to be on the other side or more accurately, on the opposite end of the ocean. Especially when that story is full of the humanity and soul of the teller. It makes one realize that OFWs are more than statistics, and of greater value than the economic benefits they give the Philippines.

Haniely Pableo is a young Filipino-Canadian immigrant currently residing in Toronto. She is a registered nurse, a traveler, an artist, international volunteer and an active community member of the Filipino-Canadian community in Toronto. Although she is a multi-hyphenate achiever, she is no stranger to the struggles of OFWs and immigrants

In this in-depth interview, she shares with us the self-discovery that comes from struggling and leaving home.

What made you decide to practice nursing overseas? Is it because of the challenges healthcare workers face in the country?

It was not really my own choice. It just happened that way. My family was already planning to migrate to Canada even before I graduated college in the Philippines. Needless to say, I have more opportunities abroad than here in the Philippines. Perhaps, it is the reason why my mom decided to work as an OFW. Like most Filipino families, we migrated in search of a better life. If that better life could be found in the Philippines, no Filipino would go abroad.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a Filipino based abroad?

Perhaps what is important to acknowledge is the adjustment to the new environment, culture, weather, social life, work, etc. Then, there are economic challenges. When you go abroad, there is no bed of roses waiting for you; neither is it a walk in the park. While you are trying to console yourself with your homesickness and longing for home, you are also faced with the everyday reality of how to survive in your current situation. You literally go back to zero and there is so much uncertainty of the future. Yet, you keep on going with every glimmer of hope you hold tight.

Do you have any tips on how best to handle finances when you’re based overseas, especially those whose families depend on them back home?

Live within your means and stay disciplined with your spending. Stay authentic – what I mean by this is allow your family back home to see how you are really living and struggling abroad. Show them your reality so that they will realize the value of the money that you work hard for. In addition, learn how to budget and create a back-up plan in case of emergencies. Take responsibility for your family. At the same time, don’t take their agency to be self-sufficient and take it upon yourself to carry the burden of providing for them. You’re only human. You need to take care of you too. This is very tricky especially in Filipino families. There just needs to be clear communication between the person working abroad and the people depending on them in the Philippines. Be kind to yourself in as much as you are kind to others. Learn how to say “NO”, when necessary and don’t feel guilty about it. There is this notion that because you work abroad you have a lot of money and people would come to you for their financial problems. Always know your limits.

Changemaker OFW Haniely Pableo Loansolutions Interview

Our Filipino migrant narratives are not spoken of so widely. I felt the need to be a part of a group of people who tell our stories through music. It is our responsibility to do so. Filipinos must understand that we are not just statistics, we are people.

Aside from being a healthcare professional, you are also a musician. Your song “Tawa” is amazing! What inspires you to create music?

Thank you! You can listen to more of my music through www.hanhan.bandcamp.com. I am inspired by so many things but my music is mostly inspired by my experiences as a young immigrant, a nurse, a woman and as a human being. I have the courage to express myself also because of the people I surround myself with. They motivate me to be the best of what I could possibly become even when I don’t believe in myself. My art tribe in Toronto is an amazing group of creative, intelligent social and cultural innovators themselves. They inspire me. I got lucky to have been part of such a community who I got introduced to through Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture, a non-profit youth-led organization in Toronto. Moreover, my exposure to the struggles of the Filipino migrants through Migrante International, Anakbayan Toronto and Gabriela Toronto, also inspire me to make music.

Our Filipino migrant narratives are not spoken of so widely. I felt the need to be part of a group of people who tell our stories through music. It is our responsibility to do so. Filipinos must understand that we are not just statistics, we are people. We are not just commodities awarded as “bagong bayani”, we are humans with rights and stories to tell. Music is just a medium for empowerment. You see? I’m inspired by so many things! (lol) I consciously seek inspiration, I don’t wait for it to come.

What advice can you give modern-day Filipinas who are trying to make it in male-dominated fields?

Love yourself. Love is acceptance. If you have learned to fully love yourself, no one can tear you down no matter the consequences. Be humble and seek knowledge in whichever field you want to excel in. Yet, keep your softness and your emotional intelligence intact. It is your strength as a woman, not a weakness. Believe in feminism, it is real. Do not get it twisted. Feminism is not about hating men. It is an ideological belief in equality between sexes.

Any advice to people who dream of juggling their day jobs and passion?

 A day job could also be your passion. You can be a person of many passions. The best advice I could give is “make time”. The usual comment I get with people who have forgotten to do the things they used to love to do is that they don’t have time. Then, make time. Stay committed to making that time and continue even when nobody is watching. You are doing it for you and not for anyone else. If later, it breeds fruit and inspires others, then awesome! Pursuing your passions in life whether it’s your work or a hobby or anything that inspires you is always good for your mental health. It brings harmony to your life in general. Success is not about money. Success is about being happy and content with what you do and be empowered by it. “Bahala’g hinay basta kanunay.”

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Written by Kash Avena

Kash has been with Loansolutions.ph in marketing and business development roles since 2014. Now based overseas, she is happy purveyor of financial literacy for OFWs and their families.