‘I always shut up’
But for Cuid, who came to Korea in 1997 to teach, taking first in the talent show meant more than just a simple win, it was about regaining her voice and fulfilling a promise to her children that she was going to bring home first place.
During her marriage Cuid lived a life of fear, keeping quiet to avoid the drunken violence of her husband.
“He would hit me, smoke cigarettes and drink a lot,” she said.
“So I always shut up.”
Her husband was unemployed, and a constant drunk.
Cuid said that she met her husband soon after coming here to seek employment, and that he had threatened her with a knife on multiple occasions.
“He was always drunk, and when I would tell him that I wanted a divorce, he would take a knife and threaten to kill me,” she said.
Cuid, a kindergarten English teacher, was not even allowed to give her children the English education that many other parents pay high prices for.
According to Cuid, her husband would not allow her to speak English with her children, lacking concern for his children and frustrated that he could not understand.
“He wasn’t very caring for the children, he didn’t want to play with the children and when he was at home, he would never talk,” she said.
Eventually, the husband had granted Cuid the divorce that she had so long desired.
“He met another woman who was very young, had lots of money, so he left me alone,” she said.
Cuid said that the woman her husband had an affair with, was also married with children.Chance to prove her worth
Cuid did not have any vocal training, nor did she even get to practice at home, so her loved ones were even more surprised when she won.
“My children did not know that I was a good singer,” said Cuid.
“I told my kids that I could sing the same songs that they liked, and they thought I was lying.”
For Cuid, the chance to prove her worth came through her local multicultural center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
“They asked if I wanted to sing in a competition, and I told them I would try it, but it has been a long time since I sang and I didn’t have any practice,” said the Manila native.
But the courage that brought her to participate paid off for Cuid. She won over eight other women in the solo division, giving her an opportunity to compete at the national level.
During the finals on Dec. 11 of last year, she was able to sweep the audience off their feet and send shivers down their spines with her powerful voice singing “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston.
“The lyrics are very important to me; it’s telling me that if I fall down, I can try again.”
After Cuid had won the talent show, she sent a picture of her holding the trophy to her daughters and friends.
The prize included round trip tickets to her native country.
“My daughter called me, and she was crying, asking if they were really going to the Philippines, so I cried too,” she said.
“Now my youngest daughter, eight years old, is always singing, ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston,” Cuid added, the song that took first in the regional round.
Despite difficulty speaking the language and following cultural traditions, Cuid plans to continue living here and provide her children with a bright future.
By Robert Lee (email@example.com