Seven women on what it’s like living on their own

Four years ago, I came to Manila to attend university. I grew up in a province far up north with my Papa’s family but since I would stay with Manila-based relatives for my summer vacation, it wasn’t that difficult for me to adjust to living in a new environment.

I’m lucky to be staying with relatives but I still miss my family more often than I should. That's why I admire women who are completely independent, and either live completely on their own or with roommates! We talked to seven women about what the experience is like and if their hard-earned independence is worth it.

Vicky Abagon, student

To be honest, I didn’t exactly choose to live alone. It was simply the most practical and economical option that my mom and I agreed on while deciding what to do after my dad died. I didn’t want to leave UP and study in Bohol (where my mom has moved), or stop studying and work instead so that I could support us living together in Manila. I see my studies as a long-term investment that will allow me to happily live with my mom again after graduation.

I do enjoy the freedom though. Since I'm responsible for looking after my finances, I don't feel guilty whenever I spend for an overpriced cup of coffee. I enjoy being able to decide for myself, and feel that it helps me to be more mature and responsible. I don't have anyone else to blame when I make mistakes so I’ve learned to stand by my decisions and deal with their consequences.

It is both a luxury and a challenge to be independent. Living independently is all about gracefully managing the freedom that we have in order to survive and to maximize what life has to offer.

Diana Tang, certified public accountant

I am used to being surrounded by my family and friends so I never thought I'd live a life outside of my comfort zone. But the day came and I just needed to be on my own. I stepped out, found my second home, and met new wonderful people. It was hard at first, but being brave enough to be the person you want to be makes everything worthwhile.

I've been living independently for almost five years now, and it comes with exciting experiences and mixed emotions. There are times when doing everything on my own (making my own decisions, cooking my own food, buying my own stuff) makes me miss my family even more. It is fun to have that freedom; I can go anywhere I want without my parents having to monitor me every time. But this also makes me realize that having people who care about me is one of the best things I have. I chose to live an independent life, and I will always be grateful that, at the end of the day, I have these amazing people who keep me going.

Liezl Mae

Being held back in life by someone is something I don't want to experience, which is why I live mostly by myself. I can pretty much do anything I want without having to worry about someone's preferences, and the clocks are always set to Me o'clock.

I do live far away from family, and only have a handful of friends in my area to hang out with from time to time, so it does get a tad bit lonely sometimes. The upside of things though is that I have become more self-reliant whenever I face difficulties, and have a lot of time to learn and explore new things in life.

Micah Tobia, student

I used to live alone and enjoyed the freedom that it gave me. I had my own space so I didn’t have to worry about being too loud or walking around in my underwear. I especially like playing music or watching shows at maximum volume, and having a roommate restricts you from doing that. You don’t have to worry about anyone else but yourself when living alone. As selfish as that may sound, living alone means being able to go home to your “lala-land” after a long day.

There are some cons to living alone, though. It can get pricey, especially if you don’t know how to manage your bills. You don’t have anyone else to rely on during emergencies, and that can be really hard if you don’t have any other family close by, as I did. Having a roommate is easier.

I never really encountered any judgment from my peers, and some were actually amazed by my independence because it’s not so common. The only somewhat negative feedback is a recurring question: “Hindi ka ba natatakot?” I always answer no. As long as you know what you are doing and are confident with what you do, I don’t think anyone should be scared of living alone. Personally, it all comes down to being comfortable and independent.

Genecel Bautista, student

By nature, I prefer to have things to myself, and I’m very particular about privacy. When I first moved to Manila, I had to live alone because I couldn’t find a roommate or an appropriate dorm room. Soon after, I realized I wouldn’t be a good roommate since I don’t really like sharing my space.

What I enjoy about having my own space is that I can have my set of own rules in my apartment, and not have to worry about making someone uncomfortable. There is a challenge I constantly deal with though: food. I know how to cook but when I get back to my apartment, I’m either too swamped with school work or just too tired to function. So I mostly buy cup noodles or sometimes just forget to eat while working my plate.

There is often a tone of surprise when people find out about my living arrangements. Awe, surprise, and curiosity are the normal and common reaction, but so far, no one has judged me negatively. Some even ask me why I don’t use my freedom to attend parties or do the fun, reckless things that people my age would do. I just prefer to stay home.

One of the perks of being independent is being able to do things by yourself. You’ll probably learn things the hard way, but you’ll also find yourself being able to do all sorts of things without needing any help. The experience helps you to make better decisions and handle money better.

Liz Lanuzo

I like being able to do what I want when I want to do it, even if it’s the most boring, unexciting thing. I also like being in control of my finances. I can spend as little or as much as I want without having to explain anything.

Sometime the cash is tight especially when payments don’t come when expected. But often it’s the loneliness that’s the most difficult to deal with. Not having anyone to talk to or hang out with when you need the companionship can be tough!

A Japanese friend once expressed surprise that I live and travel often alone. He said it’s not common for Filipinos to do things the way I do, but it’s not a negative judgment - it’s more of, wow, that’s unexpected.

Kristina Devora, physical therapist

Living alone does not necessarily mean literally having a house for yourself. Living alone is about being independent: being able to decide for yourself, knowing what you want, and dealing with your dreams on your own. I enjoy making decisions on my own, discerning what is right from wrong, and taking a different path from what my parents would allow.

The biggest challenge is that, when you want to portray yourself as an independent individual, people around you will have gotten used to thinking that you don't need help anymore. They think that just because you are independent, you can take all of life’s challenges and not fail. Being independent allows me to live life to the fullest and be truly happy.

Have you ever experienced living alone? What was it like for you?