"Their heart is my home..."

"We keep the love alive in our home, our home in their hearts and theirs in ours"

"A family is a unit of socialization and basic institution key to the structure of society necessary for the formation of an economically productive household" thus this relates to the Pinoy Expat Blog Awards theme for 2010

Building a Strong Foundation for the Family-A MUST

I am one of the few lucky people who are able to stay abroad with their families. Often friends and acquaintances tells me that I am fortunate given this kind of opportunity. I am just thankful. I came to the UAE with my family waiting for me. I have my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece (who was in her moms' tummy back then) my nephew, my mom and my brother to greet me at the airport when I arrived in December of 2002. I was spared of all the homesickness, boredom, sadness, loneliness and buckets of tears because I have them with me. But that doesn't mean that I am better off than other OFWs, I was once in their shoes and back again...

Back in 1998, my sister decided to become an OFW after college. Right after her graduation in April, she and a friend started applying at different placement agencies in the Philippines for a job abroad. After few months of continuous search, interviews and completing the required documents, their visas arrived and a local employer is waiting for them in Dubai. My sister was very excited to go to a place which she has little knowledge of only armed with courage, love and dedication for our family. She braved the life of becoming an OFW far away from her comfort zone.

I was a freshman at the university back then and after I was informed that my only sister will travel miles away from home, I took a bus from Manila to Bulacan just to be with her before we say our goodbyes not knowing when we will see each other again. I was sad and I cried a lot, I love my sister so much. I was also happy and excited about the idea that she will be riding on a plane for the first time, going abroad and will see a whole different world. I knew and and it was clear to me that she will be working overseas to help Dad sustain the family's already small income. She saw hope from the horizon that was not reachable in our homeland during those days.

My sister and I had a heart-to-heart talk the night before her flight. She promised to send me letters and post cards, call if possible to the neighbors land line. In return I promised to send her copies of my class cards to see how I am progressing at school. I promised her that I will not fail her and that I will finish my studies. She warned me that I must not join any activist group at school because it will not do me any favor, it will only ruin my quiet life. She adviced me to focus on my studies because with good education, I will find a better job abroad. 

We exchanged mails for quite some time. That was a decade ago when we couldn't afford to have a mobile phone and an Internet connection. Pen mails and postcards became our avenue to connect and communicate with each other. I used to received post cards with her handwriting behind it, with lots of love, hugs and kisses embossed on it, invisible but are sensed by the one reading it. I can still remember her writing stories about her first year in UAE. How cheap ice cream and chocolates was. How hot is when it is summer and cold during winter. She even draw an arrow in one of the post cards to show me where her accommodation was.

After a year and a half, she had to come home and waited for about six to eight months before she could go back because an employment ban was imposed on her which was actually a normal procedure in Dubai. During the time she was in the Philippines, dad died of cardiac arrest. It was a very difficult time for our family but mom stayed strong for us. My sister was able to go back to Dubai on a visit visa after a month or two of dads' funeral service. Her Filipino boyfriend (now her husband) helped her until she found a new job. Then she's back in her OFW life. When my sister was still in the Philippines and while they are far from each other, they managed to keep in touch through love letters. My sister receives one every week and it was so cheesy. It tickles me pink seriously. (Wink*) We also managed to buy a bill crasher mobile phone and he used to call her at least once a week.

On the other hand, my brother, struggling to get a decent income to sustain his family’s needs decided to leave behind his wife and son in the Philippines. I know how hard it was for my brother to be away from his family. His son was only seven years old when he left to work abroad. He landed a job as a sales executive for an electronic shop in Dubai where my sister’s husband was working. By this time my sister had a son and was pregnant with her second child. She needed mom to stay with her in Dubai to mind the kids while she is at work. Mom flew to Dubai only after I graduated college. My sister-in-law, my brother's wife, was held in-charged to look after me. I am soon to follow mom but my sister needed a few months to save money for my visa and air ticket.

Worried that I am alone in the Philippines, my mom and my sister used to call me to check if I am doing fine. I already own a mobile phone so the letters and the postcards were gone while we communicate via SMS and mobile calls. After five months, my visa and plane ticket was ready. I arrived in Dubai on the 23rd of December 2002 and that year I had one of the best Christmases ever. My family and I all in a foreign land, which I never thought would happen to us looking back at how we were before. This only shows that working abroad can really make one family's life better. We are no longer in the poverty line, we managed to uplift the quality of our lives and strengthen our position in the society without having to sacrifice our togetherness as a family. My experience might be different from yours but this is how we managed our lives and we prevail, our family prevails.

Nothing is permanent you know. My mom is not accustomed living abroad, her life become limited to staying at home and taking care of the kids, not being able to go out like she used to do in the Philippines. This was one of the reasons why she decided to go back home. Another reason was that I got married early which upsets her so much, she thought that all her dreams of having a better life was ruined when I got pregnant. I met my husband in Dubai, he is a family friend. He was also fortunate like me because his family was already in Dubai when he came here. We had our baby by April of 2003 and mom came back for me when I requested her to take care of my daughter. She wanted to go back to the Philippines after a year and I did not think twice to let her go. I love mom a lot and I don't want her to take over my responsibility as a mother to my child but as all OFWs are aware (whoever has their husband/wife and kids with them abroad) that it is hard to balance ones life with work and family when you are far from your home land. One needs some support coming from other/extended members of the family and if you are in the Philippines, you have everyone.

My mom is not a techie but she has a mobile phone where we used to call her weekly and send SMS. I started writing her letters too with printed photos since she is not a computer savvy to check Facebook and Friendster regularly or look at our new uploaded digital pictures at Tumblr or Photobucket. She received the photos I send her just last Friday morning and when I called her she was so delighted, she was even talking at our pictures.

Fast forward to today, my mom stays in the Philippines and my sister transferred to Qatar with her family. I get to talk to my sister using Skype and she was like next door. Me and my brother are still in UAE and we keep in touch every once in a while. I normally visits him at work. Now that my mom and my sister are far from us, we have all the reasons and the ways to communicate with them, I know that nothing will replace the warmth of hugs and kisses but to hear their voices over the phone, see them on the web, read their e-mails and SMS alleviate that feeling of longing because I know that they are safe and healthy. We have all the reason to stay in touch and to top it all is our love for one another and the desire to keep the family together. You don't need to be a genius to dial a number or to write letters, all you need is the burning desire in your heart to keep in touch with your loved ones.

"Let's keep the LOVE alive in our home, our home in their hearts and theirs in ours" 

So you see I am blessed, I have an intact family and a strong bond is there that keeps us together whenever and wherever. You are also blessed. Please don’t think you are not because you have your family too, no one is ever born without it. You might be far from them right now but don't forget that we are in the advance age where loved ones are just a click away.

I must say that my mom and my late dad laid and built a strong foundation for our family. It is with love, courage, hope, understanding, discipline, humility, forgiveness, honesty, care, responsibility, patience, thoughtfulness and confidence. It carries us a long way and even now with our own family we are able to apply and teach the same values our parents inculcate in our minds to our children. I am not saying that we are a perfect family but we always make it a point even with all the trials, the distance and the differences, our LOVE that lives in each other’s HEART is bigger than all this because we know that LOVE conquers all.

My family's foundation-in progress

Now that I have my own family, me and my husband is in-charge to build its foundation and I ought to copy the blueprint of the foundation that my mom and my dad made many years ago. We chose to stay in Dubai and raise our own family here. It is not easy I am telling you but it is better than having to be away from our kids. My mom is willing to take care of them but she want us to send them back in the Philippines and that is not an option for us. Having to stay in Dubai with a very high living standards is quite difficult but we are able to manage somehow. It is sad to say that my husbands family had go back to the Philippines for good. I pity my daughter sometimes, she used to have her three cousins to play with. It is good that we had Lance, our four-month old son who now giggles when his ate chants and sings to him songs or just simply talk to him. Lanna is now six years old and already computer literate. She chats with her cousins when she misses them. We call them often so she hear their voices. It was a big adjustment on her part, she is still very young to understand why they had to leave but we try to explain to her in the way she can easily comprehend. We are doing our best to instill the Filipino culture and values is our children's mind. That Filipino families has a strong family ties and wherever your feet takes you in whatever purpose in life you choose, you are like a homing pigeon who always comes back where you came from and where you belong...to your family.

This is my official entry to the Pinoy Expats Blog Awards 2010 (PEBA 2010), if you are touched or you like what you read, please click HERE to vote.

MABUHAY ANG PAMILYANG PINOY!

17 comments:

  1. I really liked the way you express your thoughts :) I hope I can meet your sister here in Qatar, More Power To You and your family! God Bless, You've Got 1 vote from me sister!

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  2. "Let's keep the LOVE alive in our home, our home in their hearts and theirs in ours"

    inspiring entry!gudluck!

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  3. @ Unnamed Psalmist: My sister works at Marks and Spencer Villagio Mall, her name is Jhoce, tell her in case you had a chance to shop at mns that we have met over the net. Thanks for liking what I have written and thanks for voting.

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  4. @bhing, thanks a lot, I hope that more readers will get inspired about our story.

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  5. Thank you for joining PEBA 2010! congrats for being a nominee!

    I sooo love this quote:

    "We keep the love alive in our home, our home in their hearts and theirs in ours"

    Godluck Yellow Bells!

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  6. iba talaga ang lakas ng kabataan, ito ang nagsisilbing tulay sa maganda at buong pamilya...

    sa ama, sa ina, sa anak at sa
    pamilya!...

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  7. @ Mr. THoughtskoto: thanks a lot. Me too, I sooo loe it too, if only all OFWs will live with it, no family will be a broken home.

    @pamatayhomesick: ako ba yung sinasabihan mo ng bata este kabataan hehehe. oo totoo yan, but still everyone must contribute para di mawasak ang tahanan.

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  8. congratulations, carla for being a nominee. good luck sa atin. God bless.

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  9. Oh, hi Carla! May entry ka pala sa PEBA. Congratulations for coming up with a contest piece. I wish you the best of luck! Will visit the voting site later.

    Thank you for dropping in again and for leaving a comment. It is very much appreciated.

    God bless sa 'yo at sa buong family mo.

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  10. nice sharing of your adventures...it is really good to have a strong family bond, it will keep one going despite the hardships...

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  11. @docgelo, thanks for visiting here, oo good luck to us! :)

    @windsandnuts, thanks ha san ka ba sa AUH? Sana pwede magmeet ang mga UAE bloggers!

    @Ms. N, you know I love your heart, its a place where there is a love

    @Carnation, you are definitely right.

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  12. nakaka-inspire...
    yup masuwerte talaga pag meron ka na kasamang family abroad..
    pero ang importante ay united lahat sa puso at isip malayo man or magkakasama ang family...
    gudluck....

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  13. isang nakakalungkot na katotohanan na kailangan pang pumunta ng ating mga kababayan sa ibang bansa para lang makakuha ng mas maganda at rewarding na trabaho.

    ito'y isang dalangin na pagpalain nawa kayong mga OFWs sa inyong pagpapatuloy na maitaguyod at matulungan ang inyong mga mahal sa buhay dito sa Pilipinas.

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  14. some family unit is under attack because, people are preoccupied with money, pleasures, and self.
    we should not be surprised, then, to see children becoming “disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection”
    meanwhile,you inherit natural affection from your mother. she trained her children well to be also good parents. All the best!

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  15. Thank for sharing your thought to us hope you can make it on top... I like your blog also so i keep in my blog your Blog you can visit mine too...here's the link http://buhayofw2010-2015.blogspot.com/

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We love to hear your thoughts. Any comments, suggestions, violent reactions are welcome. We will try to reply to you as soon as we can.

Xoxo
Carla