“I signed the contract…”

May 27, 2008

She sent me this sms while I was away at a youth camp. I knew what she was referring to and my head started to spin at the many ramifications of that contract signing entailed.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in a recent conference by the denomination stated that on the average 2,800 Filipino workers leave the country on a daily basis. That is a staggering number. My head still reels trying to see that number of people lined up being process through the immigration gates.

Last year, a young friend left to work in one of those cruise ships. I was really anxious for him – and while we were gathered hours before his flight, I could not help but pray hard for him because he was braving to go out into the world at a very young age.

Last year when we went to Kuala Lumpur and as I was paying the airport taxes, the young lady before me had a very frightened look as she presented her brand new passport. She timidly answered “OFW” when she was asked if she was traveling as a tourist.

Two years ago, while waiting to check in my luggage, I started chatting with another young lady. She caught my interest because of the big contrast in the size of weight of our luggage. I was pulling my luggage that almost weighed like a ton and she was just carrying a small backpack… and all the time, she would look behind her back. I asked if she was waiting for somebody else and she said that she was supposed to go to KL with another lady but this woman didn’t make it to the bus headed to the airport. During our conversation, she revealed to me that she had worked in Hongkong before as a domestic helper and without telling much, shared some of her difficulties there.

I noticed her small backpack and I asked where the rest of her luggage was…”I only brought these…”

“How come? That might not be enough for you as you will be working there.

“I brought only this so that they might have pity on me…”

I will never forget her words. A young lady’s strategy in her workplace is to create a pitiful image so that her employer would be kind to her. Inside the plane, I was comforted when I saw her mix with other ladies bound for KL for their jobs as well. She did not even have a jacket and the temperature inside the plane was a little too low for her….she was wearing a plain white collar-less shirt and a pair of basic blue jeans…

We have heard stories upon stories of our OFWs getting the raw end of the deal. Passports taken away, starved by their employers, domestic helpers abused sexually and physically… the list goes on and on. I was very painfully aware of these things as I tried to digest the message that was just sent to me “I just signed the contract”

In the coming weeks, my sister will be joining the ranks of the OFWs. In the coming weeks, my nephew will be psychologically orphaned. My sister said that she really needs to go overseas so she could send my nephew to college.

I wish life was a little bit different for my sister, my nephew and for the many thousands of Filipinos who lose a parent, brother, sister, father , mother because of the economic needs back home.

2,800 of them leave the country on a daily basis. What a diaspora. My generation has seen a lot of children who grew up without a Dad or a Mom. This generation has seen double of what we had experienced. There are times when I am fearful of the future when all of these ramifications would come back to haunt us.

We pray for our countrymen who toil overseas away from their loved ones. Our brothers and sisters who go through untold trials just to have something for their loved ones here and to secure their future by affording them an education. Lord, have mercy and surround them with your grace and mercy. Protect them from evil and any untoward accidents. Guard them and provide for them. Embrace them when the loneliness seems impossible to bear. Reach out to them when they cry out in pain. Lord hasten the day when the families no longer need to be separated for economic gain.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: