“I grew up in the Philippines, in a very close family of 10 children. We grew up under the Marcos dictature. The economy was very bad. There wasn’t much to eat and the only rice we could buy smelled so bad. We also had to be careful in what we were saying. There was a lot, a lot of kidnapping and killing of those against the regime. It was really disturbing.
One day, my father disappeared. For 2 months we didn’t have any news. We didn’t know if he was still alive or not, it was terrible. And then the military found his body in the forest. He had been decapitated. We don’t know really what happened and who killed him, the communist insurgency or the military. We couldn’t do anything, or accuse anyone, otherwise, they will kill you. So we just kept quiet.
Soon after, I went to university in Manilla. I met a lot of different students activist groups operating secretly. I have a strong character, so I wanted to help throw that bloody dictator out of the country. I joined a group distributing pamphlets to students, alarming them to what is going on. I was scared at some points. Several of my activist friends disappeared, and they were never found. But I was always very careful. After 2 years, life was terrible so I left the country.
My sister was working for a foreign mission in Geneva, and they helped me to come. I arrived in 1982 and worked for them until 2015, and I loved it ! And in 1986, Marcos was finally thrown out. After I retired, I thought : what to do ? I have a strong Filipino identity and I realized China, Thailand, Vietnam, they are good in making business with their products. But we are not! So in 2018 I opened this shop to promote our products. And I love to meet people from different cultures. Life here in Pâquis is so diverse, oh my goodness ! It’s another world (laughs)! I love it ! You have to be flexible and good to everyone. Sometimes people talk about their problems. So I listen and sometimes I give them some advice. And it gives me a lot of satisfaction !”
* Meet Malou in her Filipiñana Mini-Market, Rue des buis 5, 1202 Genève *
(Pâquis | Original English)
Note : Malou was more comfortable to discuss in English, but contrarily to what she says, her French is very good !