Welcome to Super Sari-Sari
If there is one lesson I've learned during my move to the United States, it is that being a Filipino makes me powerful.
I had always wanted to move to New York City as a teenager. I've scoured for every excuse in the book to be given the chance to pack my things and live my life abroad, and luckily, my family has always been very supportive. I had a deck of cards I was ready to play: Study university abroad (any course would have been good enough, I just wanted a change of scenery), graduate, get a stable job, and so on.
What I didn't foresee is that with that deck came a million different excuses not to push through, whether it be that I wasn't financially prepared (and so was my family), or that I had found a good drive-by career opportunity in Manila where I could "gather more experience"; there was never really a "perfect time" that presented itself to me. I ended up finishing my degree back at home, taking my first job, then my next one, then my next one. "Next year" turned into "5 years later", still in Manila and stuck on a mindset that New York will forever be an impossible goal to reach.
But one day, after a bad day at work (the kind where you're stuck in a 4 hour commute, it's raining and you're crying), the universe decided to flip a switch on my life. Growing up impulsive finally served its purpose—I was ready to take massive action over my reality.
With barely PHP 2,000 to my name, I had told my family that I was finally ready to start my life in New York, and that I was willing to do whatever it took to succeed. I set a deadline for myself. We bought a ticket. 8 months of intensive planning later, I was on a plane and I never looked back.
Growing up as part of an average middle class family in a conservative country such as the Philippines and then suddenly being thrown into the hustle and bustle of a city with no boundaries, the culture shock hits you with incredible force. It knocks the wind out of you. After my family had finally helped me settle into my new place (just 3 weeks, mind you), they booked a plane back to Manila and I was finally forced to grow up.
I believe it was serendipitous to be able to land a job a day after my family left. It was a small nudge from the universe that I was traversing the right path, but do not be mistaken, my first year in the city was the toughest year I've ever had to experience in my life. Wearing my big girl pants for the first time in years, the real world felt scary.
As part of the BIPOC immigrant community in a big city such as New York, you are forced to walk around with a lingering feeling that you need to try twice as hard to belong. No matter what you do, no matter how talented you are, you are always reduced to phrases such as "Living in a third world country must be tough", and my favorite, "Wow, your english is really good for someone who's from the Philippines". The extra level of effort is a heavy weight on your chest, yet, it is something that you must carry every single day.
But then again, it is also that very same weight that makes me feel powerful.
In the past 2 years I've lived here, I have outdone myself in all aspects, excelled beyond my wildest dreams, and smashed through my own personal glass ceiling, facing the unknown with a bravado I never knew I had. I've met the most incredible people, made lifetime friends and soulmates — all with time to spare to workout in the morning.
And so, in the midst of this momentum, I took the risk and came up with Super Sari-Sari — a project that started off as a mere means of additional income in the midst of a paralyzing pandemic, but later on morphed into an upcoming online community dedicated to Filipinos abroad like me—those who braved the unknown in the hopes of fulfilling their own personal dreams, providing a beautiful life for their family, making a name for themselves, and showing everyone around the world that Filipino talent is truly worldclass.
Being a Filipino is our power, and my ultimate plan is for Super Sari-Sari to be able to shout that message to the world.
And so with that I say with love, kindness, and gratitude: Welcome to your favorite neighborhood sundry store. We love having you here.