By Elizabeth Hsu, Hsu Chih-wei
CNA Staff Writers
Jessica Ronco Chien (吉絲卡) grew up on a farm in the Philippines and migrated to Taiwan 16 years ago to work as caregiver.
She was hired on a three-year contract to care for a disabled man, Chien Ching-tung (簡慶東), who had lost both arms and a leg in an accident at a power company worksite in 1999.
During those three years, a spark was lit between them, and a few years later they got married.
The story of the love that grew between them has been immortalized in an illustrated e-book titled Jessica's Wish (吉絲卡的願望), which won a prize last week in a competition sponsored by the Ministry of the Education (MOE).
The illustrations were done by Jessica herself, with the assistance of a government-run digital opportunity center (DOC) in Hualien County, and the text was written by teachers at National Dong Hwa University based on Jessica's account of the romance.
The book recounts how Jessica set about learning Chinese, after she began working for Ching-tung, so they could communicate better. She also encouraged him to try painting with his right foot.
Ching-tung became attracted to Jessica's open and optimistic personality and her strong desire for learning.
By the time her three-year contract ended, Jessica has also developed great affection for the man whom she called "boss" and she was reluctant to leave Taiwan. However, she returned to the Philippines to look after her sick mother.
Ching-tung later followed her there, traveling alone, to meet her parents and ask for her hand in marriage. Touched by Ching-tung's determination and love, Jessica's mother gave him a big hug that said "yes."
In 2004, the couple had a son, and four years ago the family was honored by the National Immigration Agency as one of 20 role model new immigrant families.
Ching-tung, now 55, has gained a reputation as mouth and foot painting artist.
"The happiest time for Jessica is watching her husband painting along with their son," the last page of the book reads.
Light Lin (古林光樸), a lecturer at the Hualien County DOC's branch in Soufeng Township, said Jessica is one of his students at the center, which offers basic computer and online courses for people living in remote communities.
"I hope Jessica's story can encourage more new immigrants from Southeast Asia to adapt to the life and culture in Taiwan," he said.