Small yet powerful voice

Going through this process, we have to wind ourselves and grasp that parents’ love, a mother for that matter, lingers even after they let go.

September 4, 2022

Once in my life, I was among the more or less 450,000 Filipinos in Dubai who formed 21.3 percent of its population.

Home to the largest population of Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai became mine, too, for four months. Unlike many kabayans (a term used to address fellow Filipinos when abroad) who continually renew their employment contracts, my brief stint was a personal choice — prompted by a realization that my teenage children don’t need an absentee mom.

Every page of my “abstract” book written while in a faraway land spoke of anxious days — worried for three growing-up children left in the care of a trusted nanny who may have performed the outward duties of a mother but not for the inner interests like empathy with struggles, response to emotions, and comfort when downhearted.

Fast forward, coming back proved immensely rewarding.

A co-worker in Dubai finally came home for good a few months back after more than a decade of overseas work. It was a fulfilling homecoming as all her children have their framed college diplomas hung on their house walls, not to mention the material investments that guarantee a worry-free retirement. Her eyes beamed with gratification and contentment. Not too long after, the children lost her to the Big C. Heartbreaking to learn of the sudden halt of a euphoria long yearned.

While losing a parent who spent long years as an overseas worker is a devastating experience that family members cannot avoid going through, it can nevertheless be, to some extent, empowering. Going through this process, we have to wind ourselves and grasp that parents’ love, a mother for that matter, lingers even after they let go. We just have to nurture the fruits of their sacrifices.

A mother archetype is a universal role, so they say. And we will essentially find someone, male or female, older or younger, who will be there for a short or long haul.

Amid all the struggles confronted by overseas working parents and children is the hope that there will come a time, it may be a long shot, when many children will not have to grow up under the care of relatives, when parents wouldn’t have to sacrifice leaving their children behind for a higher salary abroad, when overseas workers wouldn’t have to spend half their lives working in a foreign country, when children will not have to be abused by their caretakers, or when children wouldn’t have to long for their parents to physically celebrate milestones with them.

We may or may not see ourselves through the eyes of our OFWs or their children, but one thing is evident, we have a voice in upholding their dignity. In a society of stillness and apathy, small voices are powerful.

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