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‘Ireland is a country of people who are very friendly, no shooting’

New to the Parish: Kristine Lapid came to Ireland from the Philippines

When Kristine Lapid moved to Galway from Manila in the Philippines, she left her two young children in her home country for almost two years.

It was tough, going on her first international flight, alone, not as a tourist, but as an immigrant.

Lapid works as a clinical nurse manager in University Hospital Galway, and since 2018, her “not any more children” – now aged 14 and 20 – have been living in the city with her.

Coming to Ireland had been the first time she left her mother, who was also a single parent, and her children, “but sometimes you just need to sacrifice things for them to have good opportunities”, Lapid says.


“I come from the Philippines, which is a third-world country, so there’s not much opportunity and career growth given as a healthcare worker, as a nurse, so after three years of serving my home country, I told myself, it’s now time for me to at least be able to have a career growth and be able to help my family as well,” she says.

Ireland being an English-speaking country was another factor for her in choosing to move here, as it made communication easier. But the third reason, Lapid says, was that “Ireland is a country of people who are very friendly, no shooting.”

When Lapid first relocated to Galway, she had never seen a radiator in her life.

“We only have air conditioning in the Philippines,” she laughs. During her first week working in the hospital, a patient asked her to put their dressing gown on the radiator.

“I was like, ‘What is the radiator?’ ‘Yeah, that small white box in there’,” Lapid says, “Now they’re my friends, radiators are.”

Ireland is a beautiful country, she adds, with important characteristics such as good air quality and the forementioned friendly people.

“In Asia, in the Philippines, there’s a lot of people walking around, so there’s a very fast-paced life. Here, people will say ‘Hello, hi, how are you?’ Even though you don’t really know them, it’s just very nice,” Lapid says.

“Even if you go and sit down in a pub, and then you will have the conversation, and you learn from each other.”

The mother of two has also travelled outside of Galway, visiting what she calls “hidden gems” around the country such as Sliabh Liag in Co Donegal, and Co Mayo.

“For me, I like Galway as well, because there’s Salthill, there’s beach, or there’s also an option for you, if you wanted to, there’s some cliffs around, and some of Connemara. Spiddal – they still speak their Gaelic language, [so] you have the city, but then you can see the culture of Irish people,” Lapid says.

I actually wanted to go home in December and just give up, but then my mom told me, ‘You always remember the reasons you left, so just give yourself time and be strong’

But the rain is a struggle – the west of the country is “very, very rainy, but beautiful when it’s sunny”, she says.

Lapid received support from colleagues when she began working in University Hospital Galway, especially from Irish nurses who helped translate Cork and Donegal accents that Lapid struggled to understand, and the odd bit of Gaeilge used too.

“It helped me because I was alone for almost two years without my kids. So that’s when I started, homesick, but then you don’t feel it when you have a good support system at work,” she explains.

Lapid’s first experience of Ireland was a cold and wet November, when it’s dark going to work and dark coming home, followed by a Christmas spent without her family. A far cry from the 6am sunrise and 6pm sunset in the Philippines.

“I actually wanted to go home in December and just give up, but then my mom told me, ‘You always remember the reasons you left, so just give yourself time and be strong, and these things will only be challenges, these are plans for you, God’s plan, so just wait.’ Now I’m here almost eight years,” she says.

Her children, when they moved over, struggled with the weather and adjusting to a new way of life, without extended family or their schoolfriends nearby. But with time, they made new friends and are happy in Galway.

Currently, Lapid lives in a “family-oriented and quiet place” and has no intention of leaving Galway for the foreseeable future, having bought her home recently.

Here, [it’s], okay, 5pm, you have to go home, it’s now time for yourself. If work is finished, you have life other than work

“It’s really good if you have your kids around in that kind of environment, that will help them to be an adult eventually – environment is a big factor, with especially teenagers,” she says.

Irish people value family in the same way Filipino people do, Lapid believes – “you still look after your mom, your dad, and you value time with your family”.

“I think that the one important thing Ireland taught me was [that] back home, you just have to work, work, work, earn, work, spend, work, earn, and reach for your dreams, that’s it. But here in Ireland, you need to be able to have time for yourself, you need to walk, as well for your mental health, you need to be able to spend time with your family, I think that’s really important,” she says. “Here, [it’s], okay, 5pm, you have to go home, it’s now time for yourself. If work is finished, you have life other than work.”

After two years of working for the HSE, Lapid was given the chance to pursue a Master’s degree, to further her career, which she says she is very thankful for, “because if I was in the Philippines, I would never be able to pursue more education”.

A personality difference Lapid notices with her colleagues in work is the fact that they remind her to take a break, to eat, not to do too much overtime because she has children, and they say “you also need to be able to have time with them”.

Lapid had had a tough life growing up, and received a scholarship to study since primary school because her parents could not afford to send her to school, but “education’s really important”, she says.

“Even here, my kids, I’m very thankful, because if you wanted to have a good education back home, you really need to pay for it. At least here, it’s the kids’ right, it’s free for them to go to school. The Government of Ireland gives importance to education.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email or tweet @newtotheparish