To celebrate December 18 (Migrants’ Workers Day), the PMRW (Phil. Migrants’ Rights Watch) organized a forum entitled migrants voices which featured three OFW returnees sharing their personal lives as migrants.
, CMA (Center for Migrant Advocacy) member of the board, shared his quarter-of-a-century journey through the desserts of Saudi Arabia. A migrant “by accident”, he left for Saudi in the 1980s with very little preparation for himself besides what he knew of the people around him in Pampanga who left for abroad for greener pastures. He experienced the typical ups-and-downs of a typical OFW, in Saudi at that, such as discrimination, non-recognition of his skills, prolonged separation from his family. His two children were 4 and 5 years old when he left them the first time. He missed their growing up years definitely.
Now back in the Philippines, Mike reflects on his 25 year-journey abroad- “Based on my experience, I would enjoin the OFWs now to exert everything possible to preserve their families at all costs. Knowing then what I know now, I would have done things differently to preserve my own. Despite the distance, the OFWs should try to be as close to their children as possible so that they will not be “mapariwara”.
It appears to me that the risk is high and the probability is great that the children may not grow up like those with both parents around them most of the time. In which case, is the social cost worth it? But other OFWs would say they had no choice.”
Mike today is a successful businessman and still continue to get involve in the migrant advocacy, he is currently a member of the board of CMA. He is CMA’s resource person on OFWs and Saudi Arabia/Middle East. Also, an active in the overseas absentee voting campaign.
The other OFWs who willingly shared their tears and triumphs abroad were Mary Joy Barcelona, who went to Japan to make her dream of becoming a teacher come true. But it brought her only miseries and more tears. She came home battered but not beaten. She pursued her studies despite the odds. Perhaps, she was not meant to be a teacher so she shifted to another course. This month, she graduated from PUP with a degree on BS Entrepreneurial Management.