Joey de Vivre

In the Philippines, Joey Albert was a superstar known for her extraordinary voice. When tragedy struck in the form of cancer, the singer decided to focus on her family and move to Vancouver.
Research As told to Lawrence Sarabia

My husband and I decided to move to Canada so we could afford to give our children an international education by the time they got to university. Making the decision to move here from Manila was difficult; I remember crying for a very long time. I was 35, and would be facing a new country and leaving a singing career that I loved. I was certain none of my fans would be able to find me and I’d never sing again.

I didn’t have as much difficulty adjusting to my new life as many immigrants do, but I had my share. Losing my financial independence and comfort, and trying to do everything myself, was difficult. But at the beginning, the hardest thing of all was not having my friends and family around for support. I miss many things about the Philippines, and I will always love my home country—no matter what. Political issues aside, I think the Philippines is a country of beautiful sights and beautiful people. I miss the beaches, Sunday family reunions, Christmases, and of course my friends and family.

Life in Canada has given me the family life I hoped to have when I left Manila. I had just had my first encounter with cervical cancer when I left, which made me realize I needed to focus on my children instead of my career. Today, when I see my children, I think that taking care of them instead of leaving them with a nanny was the best thing I ever did in my entire life.

My experience with cancer was very difficult for me but I think it must have been more difficult for my husband and children.

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BELTING IT OUT: Albert contemplates her past as she shares her inspiring story.
My children were young at the time, and facing the possibility of losing one’s mother is always a frightening thing, but they were extremely courageous. My husband took time off work to take care of the children and me. He did a wonderful job, and although I had no doubt he would, it was a first for him to be the caregiver and definitely something he never expected. As for me, I left everything in God’s hands. As they wheeled me in for surgery, I asked myself, “Will my children be alright if I don’t survive?” The answer was, “Yes.”

Now a typical day for me involves seeing my kids off to school, running a daycare, cooking, and spending time with my family. Somehow, in between, I fit in appearances, shows, trips abroad, and on weekends I sing with my band.

Long ago, I wrote a song about boundless love. I wrote it for my future children even before I became a wife and mother—I wanted to leave something behind for my kids. Today I want to make a mark in this world, and most of all in people’s hearts. I am content with life right now. I still have dreams, of course. I believe we have to keep dreaming and evolving and becoming everything God would want us to be. But if my life had to end today, I’m fine with that.