Editor’s Note: FOCUS is a multimedia series that highlights the diversity and depth of our community through interviews and photographs.

Rose Canilang grew up in a small town in Pangasinan, a province in the northern Philippines.

“In my town, there are no jobs,” she said. “You have to go to Manila.”

As the oldest of seven siblings, she always took care of her younger brothers and sisters while her parents were working.

“My little brother, he calls me ‘Momma’,” she said with a laugh.

But life in the Philippines was hard.

“Our house is very small for a big family,” she said. “When it rains, it floods.”

That’s why she came to America with her grandmother in 2007, to support her family better by sending money home. For the past five years she has worked multiple jobs, including as a drive-thru attendant at Burger King.

Canilang was naturalized in September along with dozens of other immigrants, bringing her one step closer to fulfilling her dreams. She hopes to live with her family again someday and start her own restaurant in the Philippines.

“My mom is a really good cook,” she said. “And then my brothers and sisters could help out…like a family restaurant. That’s my plan. And then when we save a lot of money, then I am going to build a house.”

Listen to her story:

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