OFWs rush to come home this Yuletide season

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

AROUND 40 to 60 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) go home every day to spend their precious time with their loved ones on Christmas and New Year.

“The bulk of Filipinos coming home have started on the third week of November this year,” said Eugene Mesias, overseas workers welfare officer of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration-10 (OWWA-10).

He added most of the people visiting their offices including their satellite office in Iligan come from Northern Mindanao region who want to secure an overseas employment certificate (OEC) as an indicator that they went abroad and sought to go back in time.

Director of OWWA-10, Harry Borres, told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro that spending Christmas and New Year is very meaningful for the OFW who are working hard abroad.

“You will know that the person is an OFW because he brings his family here in the office when they secure an OEC,” said Mesias adding that these workers spend almost all of their time with their families.

Mesias said OFW workers also plan out their vacation in the Philippines, and prepare an itinerary to ensure their time is not wasted.


Pacencia Tadlas, an OFW in Taif, Saudi Arabia said not all workers abroad could come home this Christmas and New Year.

“When I started working abroad this is the second time that I will enjoy Christmas and New Year with my family,” said Tadlas stressing that she was working abroad for the last 11 years.

She worked for three years in Riyadh and eight years in Taif, Saudi Arabia.

Since I am not with my family in the past Christmases, Tadlas said she feels excited to meet her family and see the fruit of her labor abroad.

Tadlas has three children who already finished college because of her hard work.

Due to her excitement, like any other Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, she plans her vacation and secures a plane ticket last year.

“Apart from excitement, not everyone can avail the slot to come home on Christmas and New Year,” she added.

She added that sometimes an OFW could not come home on Christmas depending on the available slot for leaves.

Tadlas added that in a year, she has 35 days vacation leave, and she spends it wisely in the Philippines.

Borres affirmed what Tadlas saying that Filipinos abroad plan their vacation carefully while considering their limited budget.

He added that they also tend to avail their roundtrip ticket from their employers ahead of time to save money.

In terms of money, Borres said Filipinos from the Middle East received bonuses other than the living pay and indemnity pay that is included in the contract.

Missing home

Eric Layno, a graduate of Xavier University who is now working in Kunshan City in China, said he misses home and he keeps thinking about it because that is the only thing he can do.

Layno added he could not feel the spirit of Christmas in China because the Chinese do not celebrate Christmas and New Year.

As to their celebration in China this Christmas, Layno said they cannot celebrate Christmas because all of them will be working at night.

He said they do not have a day off, and all of them have been working 12 hours per day the entire week.

Layno works as a maintenance engineer—he fixes machines.

He cannot come home this Christmas because the contract he signed permits that home vacations once in every two years.

“I wanted to spend Christmas at home, but maybe next time,” he said.

However, Layno said the Filipino community in the area will celebrate New Year.

Daughter’s view

Alva Mae, the daughter of Pacencia Tadlas, said she is excited and afraid at the same time when her mother came home.

Alva Mae is 27 years old who lives in Bugo, Cagayan de Oro City.

She added that she is rarely with her mother during Christmas for the last eleven years.

“Since my mother went abroad, this Christmas will be the second time she is with us,” Alva Mae said.

She added although her mother is rarely home, she is happy with it in general because it will be something dandy and heart-warming.

Asked why she is afraid of her mother’s presence, Alva Mae preferred not to disclose it.

“I’m not a good girl all the time,” she added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 22, 2013.


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