Conquering the life of an OFW

2015/5/17 / Edna C. Villanueva / Conquering the life of an OFW / Pilipinas 菲律賓 / The MIgrants

Conquering the life of an OFW
By Mafe Villanueva
The life of an Overseas Filipino Worker is never easy. There are long nights of homesickness and strong desire for belongingness. As an OFW we have to be responsible enough to know our rights and obligations. Also, we must learn how to adapt on different lifestyle and customs in a foreign land.
It was sometime in December 2004 that I took my flight with a feeling of excitement and fear about my fate in Taiwan. Nonetheless, I was always filled with hope and faith that things will turn out well. I already expected the hardships that I have to endure but I did not imagine that it will be worse than what I have thought. Everything went well during my first two weeks in Taiwan. Until one day, the cold weather affected my body. I got sick and immediately consulted the doctor. I was deported because of miscommunication. They accused me of being a liar because of the doctor’s remark during the consultation. It was a misunderstanding between the word “yesterday” and “three days”. I was sent to a place nearby the airport and was locked-up in a secluded room overnight without my belongings. The next morning I was asked to sign some documents stating that I am severely ill. I refused to sign those papers but they forced me to do so. My broker showed up at the airport. She informed me that my employer doesn’t like me. So I was left with no choice but to go home. Just because my employer doesn’t want me I was easily deported without due process. I tried asking for help, I was even detained at the police station for three hours. I met a fellow Filipina who handed me NT$30.00 and she also gave me a phone number where I can directly ask for assistance. I spoke with a representative from MECO and she told me that they can’t help me because I am already at the immigration. I was advised to talk to authorities in the Philippines and my local agency should facilitate my re-deployment for free.
I went back to Taiwan and got a new employer. I took care of a bed-ridden old man, I did all the household chores. I am so thankful for this another opportunity. Having a positive attitude towards life’s circumstances will surely lead you to a brighter future. Even though I spent most of my time at home, I enjoyed my job and I did my chores wholeheartedly without ever complaining. I took care of grandpa as if he was my own grandfather. My employer started to trust and appreciate me. After three months, grandpa passed on. I was greatly troubled because I always thought what might happen to me? Will I be sent home again? During those times, I was ignorant about my rights. But I never lost hope for I know in my heart that God will not forsake me. My former employer assured me that I should not worry because they will help me find a new employer.
I got another job but my new employer was very strict and they like to nag and they always finds fault in everything I do. I feel like I was not good enough for them, I had a hard time taking care of a special child, but I need to be more patient and understanding . Though I was unfairly treated by my employer, I always give them my utmost respect and I never stopped giving my best effort so I can help them. Because of my positive attitude, I was able to bring out the best in me and I managed to get along well with the child and most especially I was able to build a better relationship with my employer. I learned that learning the language is an important tool to connect with them, we started having better communication and we managed to understand each other. No matter how hard it is for you, you just have to let love, respect and patience reign in your heart. You will have more strength to overcome every hardships that you will encounter. Good fate will come into your life.
Another tragedy happened to me, My marriage was broken and it was the most devastating point of my life. I had to keep it to myself so it will not affect my work. I was pushed to move on and be strong enough to accept things just as they were. I did all of these for my children. I ended my contract with my employer and got re hired for another 2 years. I have to move on to a different employer for one more year to complete my contract. It was another year of horrendous life. I had to take care on an old couple and a special patient while doing all the household chores. I am so glad that I survived it all.
September 2010, I came back to Taiwan and by that time I was taking care of a grandma in Sanchong. I was given an opportunity to take a one day off every month. They are very kind and considerate. I could not ask for more. If not for a certain circumstance, I would have renewed my contract with them. Until now, me and my previous employer has been in constant communication. It really meant a lot for me when they gave me one day off from work. I hope every employers will realize how important it is for caregivers like us to have our free day. Having an interaction with fellow Filipino will make us feel the sense of belongingness. We get to relax and recharge. Our job as caregivers is never an easy task and it is a good thing to know that once every month you get to share your experience and learn from fellow Filipinos. In Sanchong, we gather at the park every afternoon, we are just so happy to see each other, we dine together, take pictures and have so much fun. It feels like you are experiencing a piece of your homeland through them. I can relate to their stories it’s like each one of us has been through the same situation. Some of them cannot have a day off so they only have a chance to join us if they take their ward to the park, I can relate to them because I also experienced not having any day off for five straight years. I told my fellow Filipinos to be patient, cheerful and always try to be at your best. At the right time, your efforts will be recognized and who knows they will eventually give you a day off. After all There are no good deeds and sacrifices that are left unrewarded. Just have faith in God and do your part.

Today, I am back in Taipei, taking care of a nice grandma and a very good employer. They gave me their trust and I get to manage all the household chores at my own convenience. I am still learning a lot of things specially when it comes to cooking. My madam would teach me how to prepare food she even showed me videos on how to make certain meals. They would let me dine with them during special occasions or just over a weekend vacation. They have been very supportive and they encouraged me to learn new things.

Taiwan has become my home for a decade now. Every time I look back, I realized that I changed a lot. I found true friends, we were together through thick and thin. We are willing to lend a hand for and we’ve known each other by heart. Finally, this is my last contract and I will take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Taiwan for such a wonderful experience that I will cherish my memory with you be it happy or sad.