Family Portraits by Ryan Arbilo

Michelle Moro and husband Neal Caffrey with son Marcus
Milan, Italy

I’m a single mother of three. I came to Italy in 1998 when my mother petitioned for us to join her.
I was three months old when my mother left for abroad. I sensed her absence when I was in elementary school. I envied classmates with moms who are always present and active in school activities. I grew up with my father, and missed the affections of a mother. There was even one school activity where I was the only unaccompanied child, for even my father was at work.

My mother came back to the Philippines when I was 12, to start the petition process for us, her children. When I asked if my father will come with us, I actually believed her when she said that he’ll follow afterwards.In Italy, our mother-child relationship was tested, because she did not raise us. We tried to adjust our behaviour but we couldn’t seem to get along. This was difficult especially since we didn’t have our father. In the end, I felt my mother’s love for us. I understood our dynamic when I had my own child, and understood why she had to leave for the sake of improving our lot. I never saw our father again, and only got to speak with him over the phone. We rushed back to the Philippines when we learned that he passed away.
I met the father of my children at the restaurant where I was a chef. Italians were not my type as they are only after having a good time. He courted me for nine months, and showed me that he is not the typical Italian, that he had a Pinoy heart. He eventually introduced me to his parents.
After two years, we were blessed with two children. Our lives are happy, and we were able to build our own restaurant. Our 10-year goal is to build a restaurant in the Philippines.
My only regret was that I didn’t get to spend time with my father before he passed away.