One of the groups hardest hit by the COVID-19 control regulations is the Filipinos who are here in Australia under a student visa. They have lost their part-time jobs which are generally twenty hours of work allowed by their visa.  They do not qualify to receive government financial aid.

It is heart warming to see many Fil-Aus community groups and even small businesses which despite their reduced operations also extend assistance to the international students.  The provide food packs, grocery items and clothing, and in some cases financial assistance.

I have been to a number of these outreach events and have been touched by the resilience, positivity, cheerfulness and appreciation shown by the students. Even on a rainy and cold day, they did not complain about taking public transport, walking to the venue and back to the train station as they carry bags of what they had been given.

One of these admirable people I have connected is Rizza Janea, 47 years,  of Fairfield south-west suburb of Sydney.   She was happy to respond to a few questions and we are glad to share her views and thoughts with our readers.


What course are you and your husband undertaking?

 Currently my husband is doing Diploma in Hospitality and Management. The tuition fee is $1,525 per term and he will finish the course in 2022. He chose this course to have a qualification and that he can use this knowledge for our business either here or in the Philippines.

As for me when we arrive here in July 2015, I studied Masters in Professional Accounting and graduated in July 2017. The cost of the course that time was $6,000 per term.  I chose the course to continue my bachelor’s degree in the Philippines and learn the accounting system here for our dream business.

What job did you hold before the impacts of COVID-19; and how it fitted with your studies, ie: what does a typical day and typical week look like?

For my husband, he works as an assistant baker as their employer supplies the airlines and almost all the cafes in the airport. He has been working in this field since we arrived in 2015. Typical day and week for him is waking up very early to work at 2:30am or 4:30am and comes home after 5 hours or 7 hours of work.

On the other hand, I worked as an accountant and barista in a café. My typical day and week normally start at 5:30am at the café doing the barista. After the 5 hours work at the café, I go directly to my second job doing the payroll, accounts payable and other accounting related tasks for another 5 hours work.

What are the direct impacts of the COVID-19 on you as a student, with your part time job and socially?

Both my husband and I lost our jobs since we are employed in the hospitality industry. Our children were left in the Philippines due to lockdown when we all went home last March to attend my father-in-law’s burial.

Looking for other jobs is difficult, and the competition is too high because there are lots of people who lost their jobs as well.

Socially, we have to do our household meetings with our Couples for Christ group via zoom or messenger. Even our Community gathering are done via zoom. We are hearing mass via the internet. No meet ups with friends.

How are you supporting yourself?

My husband totally lost his job and I, on the other hand only have 2-3 hours per week work in the café doing the payroll and accounts payable. Our Couples for Christ group as well as the Filipino organisations are supporting us. We don’t have to buy for our food because of the free groceries. We applied hardship to some of our payables and they are very considerate.

Baking and selling Torta de Cebu has been our main income since last month. The income from the shops and direct orders supports us financially now. Torta de Cebu is supporting us in a way that we can pay part of our weekly rent and other bills. A lot of customers loved this muffin/cake-like delicacy that my husband bakes. To reach more customers, we have displays of these Tortas to some Filipino shops.

What message would you like to give to your fellow students and to those who have been extending help to you and the international students?

To our fellow students, just hold on, this will pass. Keep praying and trust in God. Be creative to do ways to get income.

To the organisations who have been helping us since the beginning of this pandemic, we are very grateful to all of you. We don’t know what we will do without your help and we are so touched by the gestures and sincerity to help. We hope someday that we, too can help others.

What message would you like to give to your family in the Philippines

To our sons, pray always, we will be together soon. To our parents, please always be careful and look after your health. For the whole family, we’re just here for you.


Please share a bit of information about you.

I’m from Cagayan de Oro City. I have three sisters from my mother’s side and seven brothers and sisters from my father’s side. I’m the second child from my mother’s side and the eight from my father’s side. I am married to Cesar Janea Jr,48 years.  We have three sons.  Carlos Gabryel my eldest 21 years old, Carlito Enryque 19 years old and

Carmelo Adryel 17 years old. I graduated from Ateneo de Cagayan, Xavier University with a bachelor’s degree in Commerce major in Business Management. I came to Australia together with my husband on the 14th July 2015 and our sons followed the year after on the 14th of July 2016.

What do you consider fondly to be your achievements in life?

As a mother, nothing else matters than to prepare the future of our children. Bringing our kids here in Australia is one of my most achievements. Despite the negative feedbacks and discouragements, my husband and I pursued our desire to be together with our sons here in Australia even if we are still holding a student visa.

We know the difficult life of being a student and how it will be more difficult for us financially to bring our children here. But the desire to be together as one family overpowered that fear.

What challenges have you faced and overcome?

The biggest challenge I faced was when we lost our one and only baby girl in 2013. We waited for 10 years for her and on the day we all waited for, the unexpected happened. After that day, I lost sense of   direction and blaming myself. I was hopping from one job to another. I couldn’t move on. Trying to overcome the pain and regrets, I think of my children’s future and how to move forward. That’s when I told my husband that we must transfer to a place where nobody knows us, start a new life so I can focus on our children, work and heal my pain.

Australia might be the answer to that since coming over was smooth and bringing our children here was not as difficult as what others say. As for our daughter, I told her that we will never forget her. I just want to move on with the pain of losing her and she will always be in my heart. It’s just that we have to help her brothers get on a better future and told her to whisper to God to bless our plans and guide us through.

What else do you wish to achieve in life? 

Aside from our sons’ personal achievements, that’s a parent’s pride, we want to have a business either here in Australia or in the Philippines when we willgo home after our visa expires.

If there’s something you can change in your life, what would that be?

My life may not be perfect, I have ups and downs and trials, but I always getthrough with prayers and God’s guidance. Even the lost of our daughter was God’s answer to my prayers. Why? Because I prayed to God that with mychildren, if He can choose one who is the best for him, I will offer that child to serve Him, maybe one to become a priest and He did. He took one of the best of my children, our daughter who is pure and an angel.

I don’t have to change anything in my life because everything happens for a reason and God designs our life according to His plan. I always believe in God’s will.

What would you advise those who are having difficulties settling in their temporary home?

Always keep the faith, trust in God’s time. Be strong to face the difficulties and since this is our temporary home, be friendly. You’ll never know that the person you put a smile on or had a chat in the train can help you or you can help.

Lastly, how you define “success”?

Success for me evolves with family, raising my sons and being a mother. When we brought our sons here in Australia, that’s already a success for me.

Being married for 22 years is a success as well in the midst of a changing world.


Rizza's was also interviewed by Radio Tagumpay which airs on Mondays, 2-4pm on Triple H 100.1FM ; it will be aired on August 3, 2020 can be streamed globally via:



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