TYPHOON Bopha carved through the Philippines in December 2012, killing more than 1000 people but Porzha Lorilla and her family were some of the lucky ones who escaped with their lives.
The category five typhoon, that reached wind speeds of up to 280km an hour, left in its path unimaginable devastation causing more than $1 billion damage and leaving thousands homeless, making it one of the most destructive natural disasters.
Wanting to leave the nightmare behind them, Ms Lorilla, her parents and three brothers sought a better life in Australia.
“We knew Australia as the land of opportunity,” she said.
She said it wasn’t always easy settling into Australian life but on Australia Day, the Leederville resident will mark her fifth year here by becoming a citizen with 52 others at the City of Vincent ceremony.
“It was a bit of a culture shock; where I come from there are people everywhere but here you don’t see as many people out on the streets,” she said.
“At high school at first it was hard to socialise with people who came from cultures I had not even heard of.
“Then we had a problem with our visa and had to go back to the Philippines for a bit until it got sorted out.
“It is a big privilege to become an Australian citizen; it means more opportunities, a better future and that I will be accepted here. It will mean I am Australian and part of this country.”
She said her family plan to become citizens at a future ceremony. It is just the beginning of a big year for Ms Lorilla, who also works as a part-time supervisor, as she commences her nursing degree in March.
A City of Vincent spokeswoman said people originally from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Malaysia and the USA will become citizens on January 26.