For Mother’s Day, OFW talks decided to give the platform to a mother who truly embodies what it means to be a mom. For her, it will always be her family first no matter what hardships she needed to face. She made the ultimate sacrifice and chose to be an OFW. She endured being apart from her family to give them a bright future.
This remarkable woman is Ms. Alma Garcia, an OFW working in Riyadh for the past 11 years. May we all learn from her difficulties, be inspired by how she faced and survived her predicaments and be more appreciative of our own lives.
Disclaimer: The story is in the words of Ms. Alma herself, edited only for brevity and clarity.
HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY to all the mommies out there. Alam nyo kung tutuusin di lang dapat sa ganitong panahon nagbibigay pugay sa mga nanay kung hindi all the time in the world. Why? Because mommies play an important role in our lives – they will give and sacrifice everything for their children; kaya nalulungkot ako pag nakakabalita ng mga inang iniwan, pinamimigay or hindi maganda trato sa kanilang mga anak.
We, mothers have a great influence on how our children would turn out to be.
And for that I want to pay tribute to my own mother for a job well done she did for us. She sacrificed her own career kahit na for promotion siya noon, she quitted her job to take care of us when my father decided to work abroad. We are five in the family and kahit mahirap ang buhay namin noon, at si tatay lang ang nagtratrabaho, naalagaan kaming mabuti ni Nanay ,lalo na yung dalawa kong kapatid na lalaki na lumaking walang bisyo at lahat kami nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral.
So growing up, I told myself that I’ll see to it na magiging maganda ang buhay ng magiging pamilya ko. But life has its own twists and turns.
People who knows me says that my story is worthy of an MMK and Magpakailan Man episode.
During my school days, I am that school-house-school because the schedule is posted on the ref. On the side, my sisters and I joined a religious group that got us hooked into it and we were happy to help others. Nung makatapos, bumarkada, disco every Friday, pag walang pera hahango ng mga suman sa Lipa City, Batangas ibebenta para lang may pang-disco. For about a year or two ganun ang ginagawa ko but I do not forget my obligation every pay day – hati kami ni nanay nyan walang bawas kaya di ako mapagalitan sa ginagawa ko. These things got me occupied that made me leave my religious group and remiss with my obligations. Until, one day I realized na pagod na ko and I have to invest on myself.
I decided to get a Masteral degree in Marketing at UST Graduate School, so I have to manage my time between working and studying again. For two years it was okay, until I met someone, fell in love, got married and got pregnant. I have to stop working and studying because I had a heart enlargement during my pregnancy, hindi lang 2x ang laki kung hindi 4x, almost filling my whole chest, kaya ang air sa akin hanggang leeg lang tapos nag co-collapse ako pag tumayo, at the same time I have a low-lying placenta so that blood comes out pag lumakad or mag banyo man lang. Natutulog ako ng nakaupo all through out my pregnancy.
My mom, my sisters and my cardiologist brother took care of me and were told before I gave birth that I may not be able to endure it and that they may have to choose between me and the baby. I prayed and talked to my baby in my tummy not to give me hard time otherwise, we will not see each other. Nakinig naman at di nya ako pinahirapan. She turned out to be a quiet baby and gave me free time to spend with her after.
During those painful time, my husband was not with me, nasa provincial assignment siya, so he has no idea of what’s happening to us. My sibling paid my hospital bill.
After eight months, I joined the work force pero after three years nagsara yung company. One of my office mates was pregnant and due to stress suddenly bleeds. She cried since she doesn’t have any money so I decided to give my remaining money. I went home, exhausted and depressed then I realized I forgot my daughter’s milk, and only have a cup of rice and biscuits and prayer – that’s what we had. I am so shy to ask my mom’s help although I know she’s watching. Then again, my youngest sibling came. “Ahh! what a relief!”
Once again, I was able to find a good-paying work. So medyo nakaahon ako, I didn’t even noticed na hindi na pala nagbibigay ang husband ko , kasi nakayanan kong pag-aralin sa isang exclusive school for girls ang anak ko. But as the saying goes, hindi laging Pasko, nagsara na naman yung company after five years. Na-absorb ako sa mother company, hindi ganun kalaki ang sweldo but at least may natatanggap ako every 15th and 30th of each month.
In year 2000, because of the tensions and problems, I was diagnosed with skin disease called psoriasis. It is a genetic disease that makes you shed every hour and your skin flares up. Di ako makalabas ng bahay, kasi nahihiya akong magpakita sa tao dahil minsan nagsimba ako, lumabas ng konti yung balat ko, lumayo lahat ng katabi ko kaya nag-decide akong huwag na lumabas. For 2 years nasa kuwarto lang ako. When my brother visited me and saw my condition, he seek help from his colleague for referral to a good dermatologist. Na-control siya at continuous medication until now.
Dahil na-control ang psoriasis ko, nakapagtrabaho na naman ako.
My husband and I were In the same company. Hindi niya ako binibigyan ng respeto bilang nakakataas sa kanya, pati manager namin, pag mainit ang ulo di rin niya nirerespeto. So the management decided to separate us, nasa site ako siya nasa office. But still pumupunta siya sa akin to pick a fight. Ang ayaw kong ginagawa niya ay yung kahit nasa daan kami, dakdak ng dakdak, hindi ko naman siya pinapansin hanggang makarating kami sa bahay,
In March 2007, a former colleague called up and told me that there is an opening for secretaries in Saudi Arabia. I discussed about it with my husband citing that our daughter was about to go to college then. He wasn’t sold to the idea but I was accepted. When I tendered my resignation, the General Manager didn’t want to accept it so he told his wife (she’s our Marketing Manager) to offer me a higher salary so I would stay. But since she didnt make any offer, I pushed with my resignation and I left the couple while in a heated argument.
Habang nag process ako ng paper, pinahiram ako ng brother ko ng pambayad sa placement fee ko, pero bago ko pa naman maibayad, nalaman ko na hindi nagbabayad ng loan ang husband ko, so binayaran ko pa iyong loan kaya nagkulang ang pera ko. Naghanap pa ako ng mahihiraman para mabuo ko ulit yung 40K pesos. Iyong isang kapatid ko ang sumagot.
Ayaw ko sanang umalis kasi maiiwan ko ang anak ko, kaya iyakang umaatikabo ang nangyari habang naglalakbay kami papuntang airport.
Kaya hello – Saudi Arabia.. –
TO BE CONTINUED…