Once, the attraction of greener pastures abroad so consumed me that I finally decided to give it a try. With a seafaring father and a number of uncles and aunties who are OFWs themselves, it seemed natural for them to urge me to work outside abroad as well. In fact, they have been prodding me to apply abroad even while I was still in college because it is a sure way to earn big. As proof, I have enjoyed their pasalubongs and dollar souvenirs whenever they went home while I was growing up.
My father was able to send us to good schools, bought us “stateside” stuff, and generally made the whole family’s welfare better. However, deep inside of me is a dread that I find hard to explain because I know how difficult it is to be away from the surroundings I am accustomed to. I know how hard it is to adjust to a different culture, and deal with various types of people and a different working environment. I can’t help feeling wary of having to be alone, because I know it is so hard without any friends to share feelings with, without family to help me with problems, and without anybody to turn to especially in times of sickness.
Meanwhile, I cannot refute the fact that having a career abroad is one of the quickest ways to achieve my dreams. It is the ticket to which I will be able to afford a new car, build my future house and help my immediate family’s financial needs. Plus, I had this notion back then that if my relatives were able to do it, why can’t I? These are my inner conflicts before having decided — weighing my options up, down, and in-between because I want to really convince myself that it is for the best.
Finally, the lure of green bucks finally settled the matter for me. And so the process of preparing my papers and necessary travel documents started, and I was with high hopes that I will be accepted in a cruise liner fast. Coming from Cebu, I settled myself with an Aunt in Quezon City so that I can easily report to my agency’s office. This alone is sacrifice enough as I am not used to being away from Cebu for a long time. The first time I passed my application papers to the recruitment agency, I was told that I have to be in the waiting list. This is a big drawback for me because I wanted to work out of the country while my mind is still intent on it and get the process done in the soonest time possible. But with the seemingly long months that I have to wait, I know I have to find temporary work or else my family will incur lots of debt even before my application gets accepted. At this time, my father had now retired from being a seaman so the pressure on me was even greater.
I headed next to Clark, Pampanga, because a friend’s company based there was looking for a new inventory officer. There, I worked for four months, tried to adjust to the new surroundings and braved the homesickness that envelopes me most of the time. I considered it to be a little stint and a kind of exercise for me to be prepared when I have to work thousands of miles away from my homeland. When December came, I decided to file for leave to celebrate Christmas in my own hometown, but I no longer hold the conviction of working abroad. I planned to talk to my family about it and look for work in Cebu City instead.
Yes, after months of bearing the hardships of missing my family and everything that I hold dear, I chickened out. I decided that I will not go back to do follow ups for my cruise line application and to just forget everything about my grand dreams. That is, for now.
Hence, I congratulate every OFW out there who are brave and strong enough to sacrifice everything just so they can provide well for their family. I salute my aunties and uncles for looking after the welfare of their nieces and nephews and their other relatives even if they now have a family of their own. Most of all, I thank my father for having provided me with good education that equipped me with the right skills in faring well for the corporate world (wherever that world maybe). And to OFWs who are presently serving their contracts now, I say you are great heroes indeed!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stanley Briyce Batao, 30, works as a web content writer for an SEO (search engine optimization) company.