Luzviminda Duvage (Née Cabrera)

Mum came to Sussex from the Philippines in 1973 at the age of 21. She moved over for her education and career, with the goal of having a better life and supporting her family. She was recruited as a student nurse and obtained a work visa in the UK. While studying as a nurse, she was also able to earn income during her training and eventually became a permanent resident. Mum chose psychiatric nursing training as at the time, there was a big demand in that niche.

We don’t know for sure what Mum’s plans were, but she wasn’t likely to go back to Philippines at the time. She came alone, but stayed in nursing accommodation and met many new friends and colleagues in the UK. She eventually met her husband, my dad, who had also immigrated to the UK from Sri Lanka to pursue a career as a physiotherapist.

Mum’s family were happy about the move: she was able to help them a lot by being in the UK. They were happy she was able to have a better life here and during both studies and work, she supported them. She also helped her sister pursue nursing (in the Philippines) and helped to educate the rest of her 5 siblings.

Mum found that the dating and relationship culture was very different in the UK. She was brought up Catholic, and had strict values within the culture growing up. When she moved over, she was able to pursue romantic relationships – her first boyfriend was Burmese, but as he was on a scholarship in the UK, he had to eventually return to Burma. Mum was also exposed to western popular culture here, exploring and embracing a love of music, collecting records and buying herself a guitar. Some of this was influenced by her family back home – her father owned a guitar and she used to sing with him while he played.

Mum always lamented leaving her family behind, and not being able to return as frequently or easily. She wasn’t able to attend her grandparents’ funerals because of the distance and difficulty leaving during her studies. This was especially hard on her as she was raised by her grandmother, Elisa de la Cuesta, and they were very close.

After meeting my Dad, Rupa, in 1979, they got married in 1982 and started a family. They had me in 1984 and my sister in 1987. A special note is that both myself and my sister were delivered at the hospital that she worked – Shoreham by Sea in Worthing – by her midwife colleagues and friends!

Shortly after that, they decided to move to the USA to pursue other opportunities. After 18 months in the US, they moved the family to Canada where we are now. Mum made sure to visit the family in Philippines, even as she fell ill with cancer. We kept a close connection with the cousins, aunts and uncles. This continued as Mum sponsored her sister and brother to live and work in Canada.

Mum sadly passed away in 1995. In July 2021, we marked the 26th anniversary of her passing. A week later, I gave birth to her first grandchild: Inessa Luz Duvage Gordon.

Mum made a home in the UK. Once she and my dad started a family, they searched for a home where they wanted to put down roots. I am sure she still felt the Philippines was home, considering she made a trek to say goodbye to her relatives and family members there when she knew she was dying. She did however ask to be buried in Canada, where her children and family here could visit her.

She was always proud of her journey, and enjoyed travelling the world – an opportunity which she wouldn’t have had if not for the doors opened by her journey to the UK. They took me and my sister abroad every year, and this instilled a love of travel in us both. We have also kept a special connection with both the Philippines and Sri Lanka, one which I hope I can share with Inessa.

The family lives on in Canada. Dad is nearing retirement from his career in physiotherapy. I pursued a career in Speech Language Pathology in the public sector, and my sister is an indigenous rights lawyer. I believe our career choices were influenced by our parents being in Healthcare, and working in service of those in need.

I’d say that Mum’s legacy is her family, and also includes her siblings and their children, who are thriving here in Canada. She also supported family members back in the Philippines to start sustainable businesses, and sponsored those who were less fortunate.

She is so well loved and respected by friends and colleagues – she really touched everyone she met. She instilled her values of hard work, compassion, artistic expression, and generosity in me and my sister – and uplifting family whenever possible.

Mum was an extremely brave woman, who faced the reality of her cancer and impending passing with grace and courage.

Mum enjoyed the midwifery part of her career the most. She delivered more than 1000 babies. She was passionate about babies, and cared for the children of her friends and family often.

She didn’t tend to complain – always working hard and striving to excel no matter the circumstances. She was so loved, by her patients, colleagues, family members and friends. It’s been really special to honour her story for this project

This story is part of Ingat-Ingat (, an exhibition curated by Becky Hoh-Hale about Southeast Asians who came to work for the NHS between 1959-1979.