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Filipino nurses celebrate 20 years in Swansea

Filipino nurses standing in a line on the pavement outside Morriston Hospital

Main image: Wearing commemorative 20th anniversary hoodies, some of the Filipino nurses celebrate outside Morriston Hospital


When Marietta Tunay came to Swansea from her native Philippines in 2004 to take up a nursing post, cultural differences resulted in some humorous moments.

“Once a patient said to me they wanted to pass water, so I passed them a glass of water. I didn’t know it meant they wanted to use the toilet,” said the mum of four.

Marietta was among a group of 56 Filipino nurses who took up posts in Morriston and Singleton hospitals. The group has now marked their 20th anniversary.

A large number of people stand on stage holding their certificates The Filipino nurses at a 20th anniversary celebration at Manor Park Country House, where they were presented with certificates Credit: Marietta Tunay

But while there was humour following their arrival in 2004, it couldn’t mask the strain of leaving their families behind to begin a new life almost 7,000 miles away from home.

“It’s a big sacrifice for us and our families to learn a new culture,” said Marietta, who is now a Senior Sister on the Acute Medical Unit in Morriston Hospital.

“I had two boys at the time and I had to leave them and my husband behind. I really missed them.

“We were put up in a hotel on Oystermouth Road at first and then we moved into houses.

“At home the culture is that we get a lot of help from our family with the cooking and cleaning, but we didn’t have that anymore, so working full time and having to do all the chores was a big adjustment too.”

But Marietta was determined to make it work, having promised God that if given the opportunity to use and improve her skills abroad, she would fund a party every Christmas for disabled children through her church in Iloilo City, the Philippines.

Her prayer was answered and the first party was held in late 2004, which involved a trip to McDonald’s before a gathering at Marietta’s mum’s house.

Marietta’s husband joined her in Swansea in 2005, followed by her boys in 2006. She has since had another son and daughter.

And the annual party is still going strong 20 years later with Marietta’s colleagues in AMU also contributing.

A group sits at a table with food laid out in front of them Filipino nurse Marietta Tunay, fourth from left, during a celebration for her first birthday in the UK Marietta Tunay

Marietta with her family on stage Marietta Tunay, centre, was joined by her family at the 20th anniversary celebration Credit: Marietta Tunay

The 40 Filipino nurses who remain in the area have held a celebration to mark 20 years in Swansea, which included a church service and a party at Manor Park Country House where everyone was presented with 20th anniversary certificates signed by Gareth Howells, Swansea Bay’s Interim Director of Nursing and Patient Experience.

Marietta now uses her experiences to mentor other overseas nurses as they settle into their roles while battling home sickness, helping them to make connections with others going through the same thing.

She also makes sure to celebrate wherever possible with her AMU family, which held a celebration last month to mark International Nurses Day and the huge contribution all nurses make to patient care.


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