I was working with Filipino intelligence in Bangkok when I became close to an Australian, Tina. They viewed my friendship with her as a security risk, so I was given a choice to either ‘terminate the liaison’ or to go back to the Philippines without her. Instead, I married her!
At first, it was quite a struggle settling in Australia. My Bachelors degree wasn’t recognised, so getting a job was difficult – either I was not qualified or I was ‘over-qualified’. Finally, I got work as a clerk. A year and a half later, I decided to take up a scholarship with the Queensland Education department, and as a result I worked as a teacher for 37 years. I spent most of these years at The Gap High School and at Inala High School.
Inala didn’t have a good reputation but I liked it. I became a teacher there in the true sense of the word. At other schools, kids achieved despite teachers, but at Inala, teachers had to work hard to motivate them and win their trust. Because of the high unemployment in the area and the incidence of child abuse, many of those kids were ‘at risk’ and at times, I had to put myself in between the system and their welfare. I like to think quite a few of them regarded me more as a surrogate father because I used to spend time with them, talking about their personal problems.
I also learned from them – most importantly, to be able to say ‘Shit happens’ when things go wrong!
I’m retired now, and I’m enjoying spending time with my grandchildren. But I miss those kids. When I see them around now, they always say thank you to me, for caring.
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