There’s a twist in the tale for this Filipino nanny turned business woman
2017-02-01 18:00:37 -
The Integration Question with Princess Pamela Toyin

Unlike thousands of Filipinos recruited to Ireland as nurses in recent years, Bernadette Lagura was invited to work as a nanny. It was a big break for her to experience these shores when she arrived in September 2001. However, Bernadette’s story soon changed with a cruel twist of fate.

“I was paid IR£100 working as a live-in nanny, five days a week, from 7:30am to at least 7pm every day,” she recalls of the experience. “I was happy and contended about it, and the baby was my joy then. She brought me happiness from homesickness because I left a four-year-old at home”.

Bernadette’s experience was a dream compared to a lot of vulnerable young Filipino nannies who complained of doing back-breaking jobs with well-to-do Irish families, and brought their cases forward to the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI). But Bernadette decided to take her own situation to the Garda.

“I had a misunderstanding with my employer and went to the Garda to register my complaint,” she says of the day that changed Bernadette’s story for the better. 

The garda she spoke with connected her with a friend, and soon numerous job offers started coming in for her. Within weeks, Bernadette moved from being a nanny to working in an office as an administrator, and later to a Restaurant.

“I have no grudge over my first employer, I am only grateful that she paved my way to Ireland,” says Bernadette. “I just look at her as God’s hand to bring me here.” 

Bernadette’s job in a restaurant on Dublin’s Henry Street paid her well. “My happiest moment was getting to meet a lot of people, and the fact that for the first time in my life I didn’t bring my work home,” she says. “Work stopped when my time finished. I was just amazed at the experience of going home without thinking of work anymore.”

Another recollection of her time then was when Busáras, the central bus station in Dublin, would often be transformed into a temporary mini-embassy for Filipinos in Ireland – an initiative by then honorary consul, and retired Kildare farmer, John Ferris.
With a briefcase perched on his lap, he handled all issues thrown at him and did everything from selling Filipino newspapers, to notarising official documents.

“He was very kind to accommodate me anytime that suited me,” she remembers. “He came to meet me in the city at 9.30pm once, and it was all a free service.”

Bernadette says Ferris put her and other Filipinos on the right footing, and today she is a business woman providing financial and money transfer services, mainly to Ireland’s Filipino community from her company Lagura Enterprises on Dublin’s Abbey Street, while also lauding the health benefits of Kangen Water ionisers, for which she is a local selling agent.

Meanwhile, she enjoys the “generally nice and lively environment” of life in Ireland, not to mention its “functioning Government services”, though she believes the State could make much easier the process of citizenship applications, and hopes Ireland’s policy on housing will be more accessible for common people.

“I believe I have integrated well in the Irish system,” says the 48-year-old of her family. “We are happy and at peace living here. It is difficult to say forever, though moving out [of Ireland] is not in our plans.”

Despite all that’s happened, however, Bernadette’s fondness for the baby she cared for in her first weeks in Ireland is still vivid in her mind. 

“Up till now, I still hold the baby I was looking after close to my heart, I can still remember her baby face and wonder how she is doing now.”

- Princess Pamela Toyin has gained experience since the mid 1980s working in various fields and interacting with people of different tribes and ethnicity. With her passion for diversity, she is  propelled to report a diverse range of issues that facilitate intercultural dialogue and integration, which can change social, economic, and cultural stereotypes, and believes there are lessons to be learned from everyone. Talk to her on +353 (0)87 417 9640 or email
TAGS : Princess Pamela Toyin Ireland Life Living in Dublin Bernadette Lagura Dublin
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