Ilongga Digest # 1: Being Kathy in Aussie

Feb 15, 2011 by

(This article was first published in SunStar.Iloilo on 2 June 2009 for the column OUTLIVE! written by myself and Ana Detoyato)

When Kathy was still in Iloilo as a BS Biology student in UP Miagao, she wasn’t the type whom you’d see frequenting very public places. She was a self-confessed hermit who’d rather spend time reading Stephen King or James Patterson than go to malls. Or watch an episode of Friends on VHS. Or just lounge in her cozy home in La Paz. So she probably isn’t too familiar a face to most Ilonggos.

Mary Kathryn Jardeleza-Tajanlangit is an Ilongga gem whose lineage proves that beauty can only be perfect if there’s a lot of brilliance inherited from one’s folks. It’s short of saying that beauty comes with brains, and that alone makes Kathy a Miss Universe in her own right (haha!). Thanks to her parents Maria Theresa Ravadilla Tajanlangit and Dr. Teodoro Jardeleza for having such a gorgeous genetic combination that resulted to Kathy and her two other sisters, Ma. Stephanie and Camille.

It’s been seven years since Kathy left the country to pursue her Nursing degree at Syndey University in Australia. But distance did not hinder her love story to reach the pinnacle of it: marriage. She just got married to Stevie Tajanlangit, a business tycoon and visionary who also hails from Iloilo. Outlive! had the chance to chat with Kathy who enthused about being interviewed for the first time. Her charm and sincerity are just overwhelming and her sense of humor is something that kept us glued to her every utterance.

OUTLIVE: What made you decide to go to Australia?

KATHY:  I’ve always wanted to live and study in Australia. I first visited Australia in 1988 and even when I was little I fell in love with the place. I loved the culture, the laid back lifestyle, the clean environment and the lovely people. My sister, Camille was the one who initially wanted to go to school (in Australia). But she already passed the UPCAT then and she kinda forgot about it. But I so wanted to go to school there, so day and night I’d bug my folks. Until they relented…seeing Miaga-ao wasn’t working out for me. My folks didn’t force me. I forced them. “Forced” is kind of a nice word…”bulldoze” is more appropriate. (Laughs)

Kathy with her parents, Teret and Teddy Jardeleza

OUTLIVE: So you didn’t have any difficulty adjusting to the way of life in Australia?

KATHY: I had a hard time understanding people coz of the accent. But Aussies are pretty easy to get along with. My parents bought an apartment close to Sydney University so I wouldn’t have to pay rent. They paid my tuition and gave me allowance. But I felt I had to pull my own weight. So instead of being a spoiled princess, I got me a part time job while I was studying to help pay the bills of course, and for a bit of extra shopping money.

OUTLIVE: You have always been a princess when you were still here! How hard was it to work for money?

KATHY: Honestly, I loved it! It made me feel useful, more independent — Which I think sadly is not really fostered in most Filipino households coz most of these “kids” still live at home and live off their parents at the age of 30! Oh, and it also made me feel I was helping my parents. I knew how hard my dad worked to send me to school with my tuition being outrageously expensive (compared to UP), so to lessen the guilt and to show my appreciation, I looked for work.

OUTLIVE: So you went to Sydney University the first time you got there. Tell me about the experience studying there, after taking off from UP Miagao.

KATHY: It was “different.” Education there is not so theory based; it’s more on the practical side. Say with nursing, they don’t test us on how we make beds or the different types of sheets or whatever. Just as long as we can make a decent bed, that’s ok. I didn’t really socialize much coz I was working and studying…I was too busy to mingle.

During Kathy's graduation at the Sydney University in Australia

OUTLIVE: So you didn’t have as much friends as you had in UP Miagao?

KATHY: I had friends…but I had much closer friendships in UP Miagao. Friendships are not easily fostered there in Aussie. People are friendly, but I find friendships are not that meaningful coz people here are so busy. It’s not like the Philippines where students just concentrate on school and have a lot of extra time in between. In Australia there’s school, and work, and bills to pay, and errands to run, and meals to be cooked. There’s little time for anything else.

OUTLIVE: How was your experience as a nurse in Australia?

KATHY: Honestly, it was difficult. I moved hospitals like 4 times. I was trying to find a happy workplace, and I got lucky on my 4th attempt. The night shift was a killer, especially for a sleepyhead like me!

OUTLIVE: Have you ever experienced discrimination?

KATHY: I never experienced discrimination in all honesty, coz everyone is mean to everyone. Ha ha ha! Kidding aside, horizontal violence is really something. Old nurses like to pick on the young ones. They feel threatened that these young ones come in and have the same position as them even if they’re 50 already. The nursing profession is notorious to have that type of work environment. Doctors, bankers, and teachers don’t do it to each other.

OUTLIVE: Have you ever felt lonely being away and all? Or did you enjoy the independence?

KATHY: It gets lonely at times. But I like the anonymity. It’s hard being famous eh. Ha ha ha!

OUTLIVE: How’s married life for you? How is it because Stevie is here and you’re there? Have you planned out how to go about building your family later?

KATHY: Married life is lovely! But we’re not really in a hurry to start a family. I’d like to think of our marriage as unique because instead of tying each other down we encourage each other to live our dreams, our individual dreams. Through that, there’s no bitterness and blaming in the end or any regrets even if it means sacrificing and living apart for a while.

During Kathy and Stevie's wedding

OUTLIVE: How do you stay in love with each other despite the distance?

KATHY: I think we stayed in love with each other BECAUSE of the distance. Everything was always “new” for us. We had a lot of “firsts” and “lasts” until we saw each other again. Then we’d have another set of “firsts” and “lasts.” We never got tired of each other coz we barely saw each other. It was like falling in love all over again and again and again. Is it becoming too mushy?

OUTLIVE: We love mushiness! Aside from Stevie, what else do you look forward to in coming home to Iloilo?

KATHY: The food…breakthrough, regatta Friday night buffets. SM city! Ha ha ha! My home!

OUTLIVE: But while in Aussie, what are some of the things that you really enjoy doing in your spare time?

KATHY: Oh, I really enjoy going to the movies. I enjoy shopping! I enjoy going to the local library and borrowing tons and tons of books! I read 92 books last year! I have a list! Ha ha ha! I also enjoy jogging in Hyde Park.

OUTLIVE: So tell what keeps you busy these days?

KATHY: School. I’m taking up Masters of Public Health and I’m majoring in Biostatistics. I plan to save the world’s problems with numbers. Ha ha ha! But seriously, I plan to work for an aid organization, either Ausaid or CARE Australia. I plan to network, get contacts, and get experience working in other developing countries. I have a couple of long term plans which involves the Philippines. I wanted to set up an orphanage in Iloilo. I want to put a school in that orphanage. Not just ANY school with any teacher. I want to get volunteer teachers in Australia to teach in that school. That is why I want to work for AusAID and CARE Australia because they send a lot of teachers overseas: Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Sadly none to the Philippines.

OUTLIVE: Aside from the big dreams you have for the world (hahaha!) what are the two other things you’d like to achieve soon?

KATHY: One is to graduate from my master’s degree with full class honors — that sounds yabang. Ha ha ha! The other is to tour and explore the Philippines and Asia with Stevie, coz I plan to take 6 months off just to be with him.

OUTLIVE: After all the experiences and the growing up that you have been through, what’s your biggest realization in life (for now)?

KATHY: That you can be anything you want to be — with a lot of hard work and determination and prayer.

1 Comment

  1. Yuni Septria Lubis

    so Nice mrs Kathy,
    i want to be as you
    but, i’m difficult to find scholarships
    i don’t have enogh money to it
    could you help me to find scholarship sis ? :)
    i’m happy if you can help me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>