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Thursday, August 5, 2010

OFW Family: An Emergency Case

This is a repost from Francesca in France, a two years winner as PEBA Best Blog in Europe Region, and No. 4 in 2009 Top 10 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards.

We are so grateful for this nominees and winners who is supporting PEBA 2010 all the way!


As previous winner of two years' PEBA contest, I became an automatic member of PEBA, so I cannot join anymore the contest, to give others the chance to win. Instead, Im posting this as a support entry to PEBA website.

Sorry po mga readers ko, winner na ang Lola nyo, NAKS!

Overseas Filipino Workers' Family, a growing emergency case.
The married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife,” and that
“the married woman is anxious for the things of the world, how she may gain the approval of her husband.”

The Husband or the Wife work abroad, to improve financially the married life they started, that he or she can do more, earn more, and prove more of each skills and and self dignity in the idea that if they are abroad, their value is better than they work in their own country.

This is the story of Mario a very responsible husband. He had a growing business. He had five children that grows too. Eventually, a travel agency offered him to work in France.
He sold his business, left his family with a heavy heart and a promise: "Ill make it sure to be succesful in France. I will bring you all in France too."

He arrived in Hongkong, he met a Kababayan, who cried, she cannot board the plane to France. The travel agent that supposed to meet her in HK Airport ran away with her money, and her visa to Europe was found fake.Mario felt pity, he gave his pocket money of 200php to the Kababayan for a phone card to call her relatives in Manila. Mario went through the HK immigration to Paris France.

He arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport,Paris, the immigration do not speak English, Mario was interrogated,(by a translator) for two hours in a room, and when asked, how much money he brought for his tour in Paris, Mario was clever enough to say, he doesnt bring cash when traveling, it is dangerous, but he has a Visa card. He showed them, his visa card. Later Mario saw the immigration agent stamped his passport. He was allowed to come in to visit France.

If the Immigration agent checked his visa card, it was zero balance. Oh yes, part of the agent's scheme, they put your money in it, but when the flight left Manila Philippines, the agency empty the bank account.

Mario went out of the airport. It was shivering damp and cold in November. He asked for the direction of his hotel from the information, the lady desk said, the hotel doesnt exist. Another scam.

Mario, with out money and no hotel to stay, went to a park, try to coil himself from cold and managed to sleep with the homeless in the park. The next day, Mario woke up to see Paris and fortunately found a Kababayan working as a Nanny. Mario found refuge.
The Nanny lived in a 30sq mtrs damp and cold apartment. With five others. All irregular situations. Mario showed to them the address of where he can work as an engineer. The Kababayans all laughed. The company does not exist.And to work in a company , Mario must have legal papers in France.

Mario felt , the world crumbled,he imagined already he was in deep trouble.

The Kababayans (co filipinos) told Mario to come with them the next day, they found some work in a newly built villa. As cleaners.Ten euro per hour(or 600pesos)
Mario said, but I am an engineer. I cannot work as a cleaner??!!

"As you wish. If you dont like it, you can come back home here, wait for us to bring you food, and wish that we will continue to feed you. Remember, you dont have money, you do not speak french, and you are homeless. Your choice is ZERO."

Mario accepted the work as a cleaner.He even did some ironing that he never did in his life! On top he cannot stand the cold winter months.Snowing, damp, cold. Really bitter cold that juggled his jaws.November to April.

Mario experienced culture shock about the weather, and another shock was,his Kababayans were all living an adulterous life.

At first,Mario cannot understand them.Eventually he got it, with the situation they were in, when love ones are far from the eyes,will be also far from the heart.
Mario saw also how they deal with their family.For each OFW family they just text:
" I send you the money now."
The response (in a flash of a second):"How much, can we get it now? What? Thats all? Its not even enough!? How about your Auntie? Your cousins? Your god mother, she brought you up????!!! DONT YOU REMEMBER!!!!"

OFW marriages are sinking. It sinks,due to long distance separation. Countless OFW's marriage remain afloat(by keeping the marriage bonds) but are stuck in stagnant waters.No communication except the ones mention above.They missed their family, but they cannot see them. They can go home, but they cannot come back.

Five long years of hiding from one hole after another, working day and night as a house employee , exploited, without social security, Mario wanted to give up and go back to Philippines.

But he ventured in Nice, France, tried to befriend with the filipinos in the area and he found a work as a deck hand in a Yacht. It was another hardwork. He scrubbed the boat while hanging in a rope, varnishing wooden rails and floors. Pulling the Yacht when docked.He had to beat the scorching sun.His hands were not as soft as before.

Pictures are some daily sceneries Mario has to sink in being alone.He missed his family.

He was optimist. He was already in France, just deal with the situation.
Besides,every euro earned has a purpose.

In those years, he accomplished valuable decisions.
He rented a "chambre de bonne" (room) to have an address. He also open a bank account and calculated his expenses religiously.

30%for his cost of living
30% for his family in Philipines
30%for his savings in the bank
10%for his piggy bank as calamity or emergency fund.

Some months he was not able to make it,due to jobs lost, but he was determined to keep his plans and stick to it.
He also avoided unnecessary expenses and pleasures. He stayed at work and at home.

On the sixth year , he applied for his legal papers to live in France.
Denied, instead of legal papers, he received a deportation letter.
He tried again.Denied again.Deportation Letters again.
After third try, he got it.

God is good, Mario said.

He was able to work legally and he was able to bring his family to France.

Mario has difficulties...

Promise, hindi po eto parang Flor Contemplacion story.
Wholesome and blog ko, kaya walang madugong kwento, hehehehe.

Mario and Lina loved each other very much. After a year that they lived in France with their children,Mario and Lina decided to separate lives. Here's their version.

Mario: After so many years of not being together, we realized, we do not cooperate together as a couple.If we watch television, she prefered TFC Channel, which is not really my cup of tea.I'm more fond of watching football.She wanted to go places ,Im fed up of going out to show France to her.

Lina: Mario does everything for his family in Philippines but he never asked me if I agree or not.I asked him, who is important, your father, mother, sister and brother, or us? And, unbelievable, he lied to me many times.I told him, once you lied to me, you will always do it, and if you do not stop lying to me,it would be best we separate lives.I'll get an annulment.

Mario: I dont know what to do anymore. I asked my co worker,he advised me:
"Tell her to shut up,if she still nag, beat her up."
Once I slapped Lina,and kicked the table,the television falls down the floor ,it was a big fight.Lina packed her things and went to a filipina friend.Later, we decided its over and will file an annulment of our marriage. The children cried, but we both stood our grounds.Lina started to pack ALL her things.

Lina: I was about to go out the door, when the door bell rang. A Filipina lady was standing outside our door with her french husband.I let them in.

Mario:At work, I have doubts to let Lina separate with me and the children.
So I decided to ask a leave from my employer and ran home.At home, I found Lina discussing with another filipina and her husband.She told me: "Both of you must do something together"."Yes", I answered. "Whatever it is as long as it will save our marriage."

Lina: Francesca and her husband Michel visited us regularly and started counseling us God's arrangement on marriage. That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.

Mario: I immediately got the point. I discussed with my parents: "From now on, I must discuss first with my wife before I decide on something.I will also give way to her about her TFC Channel films. I will buy her a computer so she can watch her films anytime without disturbing my football programs.Also, I learned from the Great Book that God hates liars, I will do my best to tell Lina the truth.

Lina: I changed also. Before, when he arrived from work, I nagged him: Where did you go again, we do not have a budget anymore of this and that...You always send money to your parents...your relatives...etc etc..."

"Also I always contradicted his decisions.When I saw he changed for the better, I submit to him."
Mario: "We are now retired,at 65 years old, and we are still together after 28 years.We will be spending our retirement pension in Batangas,Philippines ,a beach front, and if you like, Francesca and Michel, you are welcome to spend your holiday with us."

The couple left France, to Philippines,for good, last July 15,2010.

This story is my tribute to them. - Francesca In France


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