Holidays Away From Home (A Tribute to OFWs)
The main reason why one becomes an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is to provide a better life for his/her family. This translates to sacrificing the freedom that living in the Philippines entails, which includes spending time with loved ones for as long as a Filipino desires to. This also means having to endure endless lonely nights and going home every day to a place that he/she would never consider a permanent home. Ultimately, the saddest truth that haunts an OFW is not being able to celebrate important occasions with the family, specifically Christmas and New Year.
Confession of an OFW: I Cry at Christmas
Judy Ann, 31, has been providing domestic assistance and personal care to foreign employers since 2010. She started in Saudi Arabia where she worked for two years, followed by another two-year job in Malaysia. She eventually spent the next four years in Singapore where she is currently based until today.
When asked what does a holiday look like for an OFW especially during the Christmas season, she confessed:
“During these important occasions, it’s really sad to be far from your loved ones in the Philippines. Nevertheless, it’s a relief when we are able to send to our family knowing that they will be having a happy Christmas. Endurance is the key knowing that all the sacrifices you make is for your family. Even if they are celebrating already while we are still working, we only think that everything we do is for them. I myself am already contented that my family is happy even if I am not able to save up as long as I provide for their needs back home. It is difficult indeed, but I can endure it. I just think of the future that awaits my family in the Philippines, although I don’t dream to be an OFW forever. But even if I celebrate Christmas by crying, whenever I call my family and find out that the dining table is not empty, I become happy already.”
Judy Ann is an example of how most Filipino domestic workers sacrifice for their loved ones in the Philippines. Out of their selfless love and dedication, they decide to look after other people’s children instead of their own and spend their holidays away from home to be able to provide more for their family.
Homesickness Hurdle and All the OFW Struggles
To overcome homesickness and lessen their loneliness, overseas Filipino nurses likewise choose to stay in the hospitals they are working at during these occasions since going home to celebrate with their loved ones is an impossible dream.
Still there are Filipino engineers and construction workers who work for the building structures and infrastructure in a foreign land instead of doing the same in their own country where they can be with their families during the Christmas season and beyond. They may be building a strong foundation for their family’s future financially, but their absence in other important aspects of their children’s growth and development disheartens them deep inside.
Moreover, Filipino home care professionals take care of strangers abroad to make a living even if it breaks their hearts because they would rather do the same for their own family members back in the Philippines for free.
And who would forget about the Filipino seafarers who are in the middle of the sea unaware of what lies ahead of them while making sure that their family’s future is secure? These seamen and sea women embody strength that can withstand life’s biggest trials like the largest ships that can withstand the strongest storms. Imagine them not being able to go home for a holiday vacation whenever they want to because their employment is contractually fixed for a certain period of time?
These scenarios are just tip of the iceberg so to speak because there is more about being an OFW than not just spending holidays with their loved ones. But, the tears that they cry while spending the holidays alone and the pain that they endure while their families are celebrating Christmas and New Year together are already incomparable.
So to all the 2.3 million OFWs around the world, especially those who are spending their holidays away from home, Subnet RTA wishes you strength, happiness, endurance, and blessings beyond measure.
Happy holidays, and happy OFW day every day!
Do you have an OFW relative or friend who will not be able to go home this holiday season? You can reciprocate the love they give by showing them how much they are loved, too in your own sweet way.