Mom leaves farm life to work as domestic helper abroad

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Monday, February 27, 2012


FOR Flordeliza Santiago, to work abroad means to leave her three children behind.

The 39-year-old high school graduate arrived in Manila last week for training, before her agency will deploy her to Qatar in the Middle East.

“Para ni sa ilang kaugmaon (This is for my children’s future),” she said in a phone interview.

Her eldest, Mary Rose, 17, dreams of becoming a nurse one day, but her daughter is out of school and sells fruits. Her youngest, John Rey, 12, also stopped going to school because of an illness. He is confined inside their house in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City.

Mary Chris, who is 12 and Santiago’s second child, is with her relatives in Valencia, Bukidnon. She is a second year high school student.

“Ganahan ta ko mausa sila (I want them all together),” said Santiago.

A church official said yesterday that the government should provide job opportunities to every Filipino so no one will have to go abroad to provide the needs of their families.

“If there are enough jobs in the country, the right of one person not to migrate will be provided,” said Bishop Precioso Cantillas, chairperson of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrant and Itinerant People (ECMI).

Families of Cebuano OFWs gathered at the JSU-PSU Mariners Court in Cebu City yesterday for the 26th National Migrants’ Sunday, which was hosted by the Archdiocese of Cebu.

Cantillas, a bishop from Maasin City in Southern Leyte, underscored the need to “find ways and means how the community can help alleviate the situation of migrant workers and their families.”

Records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) 7 showed that 39,289 OFWs were deployed to different countries in 2011, which is higher compared to the 34,678 OFWs deployed the previous year.

Of the 39,289 OFWs who left in 2011, 17,621 are women working in different industries. In 2010, 15,012 women left Cebu for a job abroad.

POEA 7 Regional Director Evelia Durato said that female OFWs have better employment opportunities abroad. When before they usually worked as domestic helpers, there are more women working as professionals in health facilities and hospitality industry.

Santiago took a rest from her training yesterday while the country celebrated Migrant Workers’ Day.

Three years ago, Santiago worked in a farm in Valencia, Bukidnon. Last year, she returned to Ginatilan, Cebu, her hometown.

One day in July, while she was walking along the street in Barangay Looc, a stranger handed her a flyer. She accepted it.

Urgent

The flyer said the recruitment agency “urgently needs domestic helpers... bound for Dubai, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar for free.” After reading it, she said to herself she will apply for a job.

Days later, she went to the agency’s office in Cebu City and submitted her resume.

After passing the interview, she started to process her documents, like her passport.

Santiago said the agency shouldered all the expenses.

While waiting for all her documents to be completed, Santiago earns by distributing the agency’s flyers starting in October last year. She earns P2,000 a month.

“Maayo nalang naay magamit inig abot sa Manila, palit tambal ug balon para gawas (At least there’s money to use in Manila for medicines and allowance),” she said.

Santiago said her children tried to stop her from working abroad, but she told them she had already made up her mind. She said she badly needed money so she can continue to provide for her children. Her husband left him in 2003.

Sacrifice

Santiago said she was supposed to go to Manila two weeks ago for training, but she asked her employer that her training be delayed for a few days.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma celebrated yesterday’s mass while Cantillas delivered the homily.

Cantillas noted that there are 200 million migrant workers worldwide.

He said going abroad to provide a better quality of life for the family is “an expression of the deepest need of man to be free and happy.”

But he lamented that many Filipinos are forced to work abroad because of the lack of job opportunities in the country.

“One should be free to choose to work abroad and not be forced,” he said.

“The church is neither encouraging nor discouraging migration. The church respects human freedom,” he said.

More women left Cebu to work abroad last year, with some 17,621 female overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) taking on a wide range of jobs.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 27, 2012.

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