My First 150 Days

Melona, a single mother, was a teacher back home in the Philippines before her aunt sponsored her to immigrate to Canada. She had a plan to help her family. But it was going to take time.

After settling in Toronto, Melona simultaneously worked three jobs for almost eight years before she was able to earn enough money to sponsor her daughters Judelyn and Jeah, her son Jade, and her grandson Clyde (Judelyn’s son) to travel from the Philippines to join her.

This is where My First 150 Days begins.

At Pearson airport, Melona and her children are finally, tearfully reunited. They brim with hope, excitement, and joy as they explore their new home, skate at City Hall, climb the CN Tower, and witness their very first snowfall. But, before long, the initial thrill of reuniting in a new country wears off, and the harsh economic reality of life in Canada sets in. The two adult children need to find menial jobs to help cover rent and food, and to pay down the debts that Melona has incurred in order to bring her children to Canada.

Through they had worked as a social worker and computer technician back home, Jade and Judelyn take part-time cleaning jobs at a GoodLife Fitness Centre for minimum wage. Jeah and Clyde are enrolled in schools where they struggle due to their difficulties with English. Clyde in particular feels left out, and refuses to eat lunch at school because his classmates laugh at his Filipino-style food.

To compound their financial difficulties and their homesickness, Melona and her family begin to fight. After so long apart, her grown children don’t respond well to being “mothered”. And Melona resents what she feels is an ungrateful response to her long years of sacrifice to bring them to Canada. The children want to return to the Philippines. Melona even starts to wonder whether she has made a mistake in bringing them to Canada.

Eventually, Judelyn and Jade both find full-time jobs at McDonald’s and are better able to help Melona financially. Their outlook improves, and their homesickness starts to ebb. But, just as things are looking up, more bad news arrives: Melona has lost her job. The family is in serious financial difficulty again. And, on top of this, Jeah falls terribly ill and is diagnosed with anemia at Sick Kid's Hospital. Their family doctor tells her that her condition could have been fatal. Melona and the rest of the family are so glad that Jeah is in Canada where she can be treated by good doctors in the public health care system. If she were still in the Philippines, they wouldn’t have been able to afford the doctor's fees. In a tearful scene, we see that these crises have brought the family much closer together.

By the film’s end, after almost five months in Canada, Melona finds a new job, Jeah is feeling well, and Judelyn and Jade are working full time. Clyde’s English has improved, and he is no longer afraid of eating his lunch at school. He has decided that he wants to be an engineer when he grows up.

On July 1st, Canada Day, after their first 150 days in Canada, the Banico family is cautiously celebrating their new life. The road ahead won’t be easy, but they have hope. And they have each other.


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