“Filipinos in Greece” – look this up on Wikipedia and you’ll find a description that is at once stark and limiting… as stark and limiting as what the rest of Europe is doing to its Greek ‘brothers’ right now. But we’re here to focus on something else. We’re here to look at the Future – that of Filipinos, particularly the ones in Greece.
For many migrants in this part of the continent, the greener pastures they had come to seek have long been fading. As the country’s future hangs in a very delicate balance, these 3 Filipinos in Greece – all children of migrants – have each been finding his/her own way to keep it. And the Filipino way of facing situations with both joy and fortitude, as well as their strong sense of community, seem to be taking them forward in a way that is disconcertingly positive in these uncertain times.
FRANCIS JAY ORBIZO is 32 years old and is originally from the province of Pangasinan.
His parents moved to Greece when he was still a young boy. In 2003, he and his sister were finally able to join them in Athens where they now live. He is married to another Filipina who came to Greece when she was 3 years old; they have 2 children. Pictured here is their eldest daughter, Kayla who, at 9 years old, can speak Greek, English and Filipino. As he considers Greece his second home, he stresses the importance of speaking the language and adopting the local culture while merging it with his Filipino roots. #GREECE
FRANCIS JAY ORBIZO got into photography as a hobby when he began exploring the world in “macro” – taking pictures of the very small, such as insects and other tiny details. He has since moved on to doing photography professionally, and now prefers to capture details of the bigger world around him. Images of the world as they truly are and not how people want them to be. This image he took in Attica Mall in Athens is supposedly that of a common face around town. One of his Facebook friends made this comment on the photo: “I know him….(he’s) a person who’s fighting for the future of his children….”
BEATA PASTOR is 19 years old and was born and raised in Greece. Her parents are both from Bicol.
She is now in university and can speak Greek, Filipino and English fluently. She has close Greek friends whom she met in high school, and even closer Filipino friends whom she met in Munting Nayon Cultural School. One of the reasons she got into photography was the city of Athens, which she says is “a beautiful historical city which I really love… wherever you look, there is something amazing (and) ancient to look at which our (Greek) ancestors have made.” In this photo, we can see Beata and her favourite ancient structure of all majestically rising behind her – the famous Acropolis. #GREECE
BEATA PASTOR’s photo of a magical Greek sunset was taken on a trip to Thessaloniki with her friends. When asked if she felt she had the same opportunities for the future as Greeks did – having been born and raised there, as well as speaking the language fluently – she said: “Honestly I don’t think that I have the same opportunities as other Greeks do because I don’t look Greek, and they tend to choose by the appearance of the person and not their mind.”
ALFREDO BALAGAPO is 22 years old and was born and raised in Athens. Both his parents are Filipinos – his mother from Ilocos ,and his father from Cavite.
Although born in Athens, he insists he’s still Filipino by blood. He is new in the photography world and says he really loves it. His biggest inspiration is his mentor Francis Jay Orbizo whom he refers to as Kuya Jay (“big brother Jay”). This is a photo of Kuya Jay on one of their photo-walks around the city. Alfredo particularly likes street photography and has taken many photos of people in the streets of Athens. #GREECE
This is one of ALFREDO BALAGAPO’s photos of Greeks around Athens. When asked what he thought of the Greeks, he said that he found them sad and angry given the situation they are going through right now. He hopes things will improve soon. And when asked if he felt he had the same opportunities for the future as Greeks did – having been born and raised there, as well as speaking the language fluently – he said: “No, we Greek-Filipinos don’t have the same opportunities as Greeks do… Foreigners born here in Greece aren’t given the Greek passport and citizenship. So no, we don’t have the same opportunities.”