Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day

Miles Away:
Reflections ng Isang Nanay na OFW Expat

By: Lynn Carpio (Seoul)

A year had passed since I left my children under the paternal care of my husband. Leaving them wasn't that easy. It took me a lot of courage and determination before I finally settled on this decision. I thought that the problems I had experienced were the toughest ones, but I was wrong. I never thought that being separated from them would be very difficult for all of us and will be most painful too. Everything had changed abruptly and I didn't know how or where to begin.

The first few months were very hard for me, every morning when I woke up was a totally different day. I missed the things I normally did everyday when we were together. I used to cook and attend to their needs personally, and my children were accustomed to that. At the end of the day, when all of them got home, we used to eat together, talked and laughed together, and even made funny jokes on each other. Sometimes, misunderstandings occurred just like in any normal family, but we didn't allow it to become serious. We patched things as soon as we could. Even at a young age, my children were very sensible. We were very dependent on each other. But the separation resulted in a lot of changes and adjustments.

Since I left, I no longer witnessed the important events in their lives. How I wished I was there to comfort them when they were sick or when they had I wished I could hug them tightly and kiss them the way I used to. Every second...every minute...everyday of my life...I missed them.

But that was life....

The innovations of technology paved the way not only for the people who lived in distant and different lands, but it also made distance parenting possible. Though homesickness is still a disease we cannot avoid, but at least the intensity has been lessened. We no longer experience the difficulty in communicating with our family. There are many ways now how we can make it up for our absence.

For instance, I make sure that as much as possible I talk to them everyday, check if everything is okay or if there is something wrong. During those times that they are sick, I see to it that the communication line is always open, so that I can monitor their condition. As a mother, it is one of my greatest fears. And maybe I am overprotective of my children but I think all mothers are. Not a single moment did I miss calling or chatting with them via the internet.

Physically, I may be miles away from them and nothing can compensate for those moments when we are together, but my thoughts and love are always with them. Little by little, they are learning to be independent and I'm proud to say that the distance between us did not change or diminish their love and respect for me. Already they are grown-ups but they are still my babies who seek my guidance, advise and my opinion before doing anything.

I am very thankful because God has blessed me with very loving and thoughtful angels, "my children". And I am looking forward to the day...the day of our reunion.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pacita Abad


a Abad

Filipina Artist (Singapore)

Alive in color even after cancer ended her life in 2004.

Click here to learn of her story and the tribute to Pacita by her brother, Butch Abad.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jonathan Zaens

Jonathan de la Paz Zaens
Bass-Baritone Singer
Berlin, Germany

"There are singers and singers, but only a few have a gift for interpretation that goes beyond what the text and music signify." Pablo Tariman wrote this in The Inquirer concerning Berlin-based, Filipino bass-baritone singer, Jonathan De La Paz Zaens, on the release of his CD, "Kundiman, Philippine Art Songs".

Jonathan de la Paz Zaens earned his Bachelor's Degree in Voice, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines under Prof. Andrea O. Veneracion and his Master's degree in Voice from the Academy of Arts in Berlin, Germany under Prof. Dr. Herbert Brauer.

Engagements have brought him to the Prague State Opera and Prague Estates Theater where he sang the Mozart roles of Leporello from Don Giovanni and Guglielmo from Cosi fan tutte. Other guest appearances include: Dulcamara from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore and Alidoro from Hasse's La Sorella Amante at the Neukoeliner Opera Berlin. The Abbot from Britten's Curfew River at the New Opera Stage Berlin and King Xerxes from J.C. Bach's Temistocle at the Berlin Chamber Opera.

He has recently ventured into contemporary opera, singing for the Berlin Festival 2002, the roles of Malaspina from S. Sciarrino's Die Toedliche Blume and Luzifer in K. Stockhausen's Michael's Jugend aus Donnerstag aus Licht. For the Salzburg Festival 2003, he sang the baritone part in the world premier of Stockhausen's Duefte-Zeichen.

The Berlin based Bass-baritone is also a much sought interpreter of Oratorio (sacred) Music, performing regularly the bass solo parts in: J.S. Bach's St. John and St. Matthew Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, the b-minor Mass and his cantatas; Mendelssohn's Elijah and Paulus; Handel's Messiah; Hyden's Creation; Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle; Saint-Saens' Oratorio de Noel; Dvorak's Stabat mater and the Requiem settings of Brahms, Mozart, Faure and Verdi.

Jonathan is a prize winner of the 7th Sylvia Gesxty International Coloratura Voice Competition and a Finalist of the 13th Jonathan Bach International Competition.

A former member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Jonathan joined the group in their 1989 world tour, covering the United State, Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia. He was also the Philippine representative to the World Youth Choir in Norway (1993) and South America (1994).

In 2008, Mr. Zaens was in Manila to perform in a concert called Virtuosos 2008 at the CCP, where he performed with fellow classical artists, soprano Camille Lopez Molina, mezzo soprano Clarissa Ocampo, and tenors Nolyn Cabahug and Randy Gilongo, countertenor Mark Anthony Carpio, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, visiting French bass baritone Jerome Correas and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. (Photo below shows his mom, Mely, on the piano in one of his performances in Manila.) He impressed the crowd, critics called him a Virtuoso. He not only impressed with his singing but also because he was very good-looking and charismatic on stage. Floy Quintos called him the Piolo Pascual of classical music.

Jonathan released a CD entitled Kundiman, Philippine Art Songs. This CD was produced by Sundro Keller and recorded in St. Paulus GermendeGrosser Saal in Berlin and features kundiman compositions of Nicanor Abelardo, Francisco Santiago, Mike Velarde Jr. and Resurreccion Bunyi with musical arrangement by Ryan Cayabyab, and piano accompaniment by Abelardo Galang II. Zaens' way with words and phrases blend with the music with magnificent results and brings back to life this treasure trove of now nearly forgotten Phillipine art songs.

Jonathan's mother, Mely, is a music teacher herself. She narrates that Jonathan's interest in singing began at a very early age, when he and his brother sang in a choir. The choir master recognized Jonathan's talent and encouraged her to enter him in some competitions. One thing led to another, and Jonathan went on to sing with the UP Madrigal Singers, and to graduate with a voice degree from the University of the Philippines. He then went on to Germany on a scholarship, which stopped after 18 months. Jonathan had to support himself doing odd jobs, but he never gave up his dream of singing. With help from his brother, a physical therapist in America, he persevered. One day, Jonathan saw an ad for a singing competition, and he approached this German professor to ask if he would prepare him for the contest. The professor told Jonathan to sing, then said that he would think about it. A week later, the professor called and said that he would teach him at a rate of Euro 175 per lesson. Jonathan almost choked, and said all that he could afford was Euro 75. The professor agreed, and Jonathan went on to win. They were two winners, out of almost 150 contestants. This launched his career as a singer in Europe, and the achievement of his dream. His mother explained that, even with the success he is enjoying, Jonathan's hard-work and discipline continues, with hours of daily practice, even when he is not performing.

Jonathan de la Paz Zaens--an overseas Filipino with world-class talent, overcoming personal hardships with support of his family, and achieving his dream!


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cristeta Pasia Comerford


Cristeta Pasia Comerford
Executive Chef
The White House
Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Story and pictures gathered from various publications, including The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, January 9, 2009.

Today Michelle Obama announced that Cristeta Comerford will stay on as White House executive chef, putting to rest all the speculation surrounding the decision.

Cristeta Comerford took the job in 2005 and is the first woman and first minority to serve as executive chef.

"Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family," Michelle Obama said in a statement released by the transition team. "Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families."

Comerford is a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Philippines who studied French cooking in Vienna, Austria, and specializes in ethnic and American cuisine.

From The Washington Post:

She's come a long, long, long way, this former hotel "salad girl." Before she was hired as an assistant chef in the White House in 1995, before first lady Laura Bush promoted her to White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford -- "Cris" to her neighbors and co-workers here in the Washington area, "Teta" to her large but tight-knit Filipino family in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove --was in charge of a salad bar.

"That's what I called her, 'salad girl.' She prepared Caesar salad, Cobb salad," says Juanito Pasia, Cristeta's older brother, trying not to laugh. It was Juanito who drove Teta-- then 23, newly arrived from the Philippines -- in his blue Ford van to and from work at a Sheraton Hotel near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. "Can you believe it?" he asks, giving another hearty laugh. "Can you believe this is happening?"


In the White House kitchen

Comerford presenting the holiday menu in 2005:

And in 2006....

And in 2007...

Cristeta Comerford (neƩ Pasia) is the White House Executive Chef as of 2005. She is the first woman to be selected for the post, and also the first of Filipino descent.

Early life
Cristeta Comerford was born in 1962, as Cristeta Pasia in the Philippines and grew up in Sampaloc, Manila. She completed her secondary education at the Manila Science High School. She attended the University of the Philippines, Diliman in Quezon City and majored in food technology. However, she did not earn her degree because she had left school to immigrate to the United States.

She immigrated to the United States at the age of 23. Her first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near O'Hare International Airport. She also worked at the Hyatt Regency hotel. After Chicago, she moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She spent six months in Vienna as a rotating chef. Comerford was recruited by executive chef Walter Scheib III in 1995 to work in the Clinton White House.

Scheib resigned as executive chef in February 2005. Comerford was appointed by First Lady Laura Bush on August 14, 2005. She is the first female executive chef and the first Filipina to hold this position.

She reportedly was appointed to this position due to her handling of a large dinner that was held in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. On January 9th, 2009, the Obama transition team announced that Comerford would be retained as the administration's head chef, Michelle Obama stating "Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families."

Personal life
She lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband, John, and their daughter, Danielle.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Rose Oplas Rendon


Rose Oplas Rendon

OFW: Domestic Helper
Seoul, South Korea

I’m Rose Rendon, married with one child, taga Sagay Negros Occidental. Dito ako pinanganak at dito na rin lumaki. When I was in grade three, my father died. Dito ko naranasan ang hirap ng buhay. Huminto sa pagaaral ang aking mga nakakatandang kapatid para matulungan lang ang Inay sa pag hahanapbuhay. And even me, my mother asked me to stop my studies, but I didn't. I was angry. Gumawa ako ng paraan para mapagpatuloy ko lamang ang aking pag–aaral. Every Saturday, tumutulong ako sa kapitbahay namin sa pagtitinda sa palengke para may pang enroll at pambili sa mga gagamitin ko tuwing pasukan. Ang iba naman kinikita ko ay binibigay ko kay Inay para sa ganoon parang makatulong ako sa aking pamilya. Nakatapos ako sa primary with patience and sacrifice to gain my goals in life, but God is so good! Hindi nya ako pinabayaan sa mga pangarap ko.

One of my teachers offered me to study high school, but I needed to stay with him, to help in some housework or whatever I could do, para sa ganoong paraang makabawi ako sa pag-papaaral nila sa akin. Mabait sila and they treat me like their own child. Maaga ako nagigising at gabi na natutulog para magampanan ko ang aking obligasyon bilang working student. Nakatapos ako ng 2 years secretarial course, with the help of our God and the Seguras family.

It was 1995 when I decided to work abroad and it was in Singapore. Every month my employer deducted from my salary, 300 Singapore dollars for my placement fee, 50 dollars for my savings and he gave me only 20 Singapore dollars for my allowance. Masyado mahigpit ang aking mga amo, hindi pwede lumabas na walang pahintulot na galing sa kanila, hindi din pwede makipag usap sa kapwa ko Pilipino, at tuwing weekend pinapalinis nila ako sa bahay ng kanilang mga magulang. Hindi ako pwede manood ng TV or makinig man lang ng music, at hindi rin ako pwedeng gumalaw ng pagkain na walang pahintulot galing sa kanila. Once a month lang ang day off ko, magsimula ito ng 9:00 am, at kailangan 6:oo pm andiyan ka na sa bahay. Natiisan ko ang lahat ng hirap, lungkot at pangungulila sa aking pamilya. Three years and four months lang ako nag work sa Singapore. Umuwi ako dahil as an applicant going to Singapore, hindi tinupad ng agency ang promise nila sa aking salary. I planned to work abroad again dahil nag-aaral pa ang aking bunsong kapatid. It was in Hongkong na napunta ako. At dahil nagtrabaho na ako sa Singapore, madali sa akin ang makahanap ng amo.

Mabait ang aking mga amo and they were very understanding. May dalawa silang anak at dalawa kaming Pilipina na katulong sa bahay nila. Maswerte ako sa naging amo ko sa Hongkong at nong una mabait pa sa akin ang kasama ko sa bahay at ako naman nagkaroon na ng mga kaibigan sa Hongkong. Noong una masayang masaya ako nagtratrabaho sa Hongkong dahil everyweek ang day off ko ay 24 hrs. Dahil baguhan pa ako sa Hongkong, madali lang ako maimpluwensya ng kasamahan ko sa bahay. Two years ako naging sunod sunuran ako sa lahat ng gusto ng kasama ko sa bahay. Dumating ang punto na naging ka relasyon niya ang bestfriend ko, dahil tomboy siya. At dahil kaibigan ko, naging involved ako sa problema nila at ito ang dahilan kung bakit nagka gulo gulo at nasira ang trabaho ko. Naging kakampi ng kasamahan ko sa bahay ang aking mga kaibigan, and even my own relative kakampi na din nya. Naging kaaway ko na ang bestfriend ko, at ito ang ginamit ng kasama ko sa bahay para masira ako sa trabaho namin.

Walang araw, walang gabi na hindi nila ako sinisiraan. Pumayat ako noon ng hindi ko na makayanan ang mga problema ko. That’s why I decided to break my contract pero hindi pumayag ang amo ko dahil sabi nya hindi naman daw siya naniniwala sa mga nangyayari dahil nakikita naman daw nya ang ebidensya na wala akong kasalanan. Pero dumating ang panahon na naaabala na talaga ang mga amo ko, kasi walang gabi na hindi nila pinariring ang phone. Hinde nila ako hinintuan! Hanggang we decided ng amo ko na we terminate my contract para manahimik na ang lahat. Binigyan ako ng 30 days to stay in Hongkong ng amo ko, para makahanap ng panibagong amo at good release papers.

Sinuwerte pa rin ako nakakuha ako ng amo na Korean-American citizen at nakuha ko rin pati ang kapatid ko na makasama ko sa bahay. Tuwang tuwa ako ng makahanap ng amo, at matulungan pati na din ang kapatid ko. Pero Im very sad, dahil wala man lang ako kahit katiting na pauwi sa pamilya ko pag uwi ko, dahil sa nangyari sa buhay ko sa Hongkong. Pero masaya pa rin ako dahil sa kabila ng lahat ng pagkukulang ko sa aking pamilya, naunawaan nila ako.

And then sabi nila sa akin, na kung babalik pa ako sa Hongkong mag-iiwas iwas na ako at pipiliin ko yong magiging kaibigan ko. Nong bumalik ako sa Hongkong, nalaman pa rin ng mga kaibigan ko, hindi pa rin nila ako tinigilan, thats why malaki ang pasasalamat ko dahil noong 2003 nagkaroon ng SARS sa Hongkong, at nag decide ang amo ko na they’re going for good to Korea. Sinasama nila ako at hindi ako nag-dalawang isip na sumama sa kanila. At the same time, na meet ko ang husband ko through the introduction of one of my friends. 2004 nong nabuntis ako sa baby namin and then 2005 nong nanganak ako. Nong nauwi ang anak ko sa Pilipinas nag plano na rin kami na magpakasal pero hindi pa kami nakapagpakasal kaagad agad dahil marami pa kaming inaasikaso na papers.

At last, natupad na rin naming ang lahat ng kailangang gawin at nagpakasal kami ni Diomedes Rendon noong September 21, 2008!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lourdes Hufana Yuvanasiri


Lourdes Hufana Yuvanasiri
Director of Human Resources, Conrad Brand, Asia Pacific
Bangkok, Thailand

m Poverty to a Good Life Through the Power of Knowledge
sang Kwentong Makabibigay ng Inspirasyon sa Kapwa Pinoy)
Story written by Michelle Dayrit-Soliven

The Philippine Star, October 5, 2008. Republished here with permission of the author.

To those armed with extreme patience and perseverance, poverty is not a handicap but a passport to success. Being impoverished pushed Lourdes Hufana Yuvanasiri—director of human resources of the Conrad Brand, Asia Pacific— to achieve heights of success beyond her wildest dreams. This made her life rich in more ways than one.

“I was born in Aringay, La Union to a very poor family. My father died when I was only one year old. I was raised by my mother, Herminigilda Hufana, a simple Ilocana merchant,” she said. Though her mother didn’t even finish school, this strong, determined woman managed to support all of her six children and even her grandchildren.

Lourdes was a witness to her mom’s generous soul. Despite the little that they had when they were growing up, her mom would readily share their food with hungry neighbors. She said to her children, “I don’t have anything else to give you but an education.”

Because of the good old-fashioned Filipino family values instilled in them, the siblings grew up disciplined and close knit. Much to their mother’s delight they willingly supported one another in order to fulfill her dream.

Lourdes dreamt of being a doctor but was forced to push that aside due to financial constraints. Her eldest brother Primo gave her some money, advising her to take a secretarial course. Yet her heart was somewhere else. “ I had big dreams which included becoming a very successful person one day.”

Like her brother, Lourdes became a working student. While completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in FEATI University, she took on a job at the Philippine Senate office. It was an eye opening experience. She was deeply fascinated by the powerful people she encountered daily and that made her wonder why there were so successful. By following and observing these dynamic individuals closely, she discovered a common factor.

“Those people are powerful because they are smart and filled with knowledge. It suddenly dawned on me that knowledge is power! I further concluded that without knowledge one cannot empower people,” she surmised.

This discovery paved her way to a bright future. Lourdes had finally found her purpose in life. With renewed vigor she earned her certificate in Teaching at FEATI University. Unfazed by severe financial struggles, she managed to obtain her Master of Arts in English at the University of Santo Tomas. At Araneta University in 1969, she started working as an English lecturer. She augmented her income by giving English tutorial lessons to countless students day and night, thus honing her teaching and interaction skills.

In 1971, destiny brought her to meet Pongsak Yuvanasiri from Thailand. He came to the Philippines to pursue a course in plant pathology and ended up pursuing Lourdes in the process.

"My siblings, cousins and I were all living together in a rented place. Every day he would come for his English lessons. He was very kind to my family. They were so charmed by him,” Lourdes said. She also recalled that it was to her brother Primo that Pongsak first bared the love in his heart: “I want to marry your sister.” To abide by her mother’s wish they were married in St. Lucy’s Parish in Aringay, La Union, the same church where Lourdes was baptized. Pongsak was given the Christian name Paul.

The time came for the couple to move to Bangkok. Paul’s job required him to travel extensively. Left at home, Lourdes was not used to being idle. She got restless. Within a few weeks she found a part time job as an editorial assistant. Other part time jobs came up—as English lecturer at Bangkok University, International School, Kirk College, and St. Theresa Business School. Lourdes took them all. She also gave private English lessons to individuals, Thai families and their employees. This extra income provided schooling for her nephews and nieces back home in the Philippines.

One afternoon in 1981, she walked into The Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok for an afternoon snack. Upon taking her order the server mispronounced her favorite soft drink. Sprite was pronounced “Saprite.” This did not escape her and she promptly wrote a letter to the manager. After reading her letter, the manager asked to meet with her then offered her a job. She ended up training and developing English programs for their guest service staff. She also assisted in the evaluation, promotion and personnel recruitment until 1985.

From 1985 to 1989, Lourdes worked as training manager at the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok. From 1989 to 1992, she was director of human resources at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Bangkok. In 1998, she was director of human resources at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok. In 2002, she joined the Conrad Bangkok as director of human resources.

Her passion for teaching has earned her a brilliant reputation in the hotel industry. Today, this indefatigable Filipina is widely regarded as the hotel human resources “guru” in Bangkok.

Once a teacher, always a teacher. Day in and day out she continues to be an inspiration, a tireless mentor and devoted teacher to many who are likewise striving to meet their own dreams.

What is the very first lesson she imparts to her students?

“Whenever I give my first lesson, I simply can't help but look back at my childhood poverty which has given me the determination to enrich myself. I encourage them to finish their university degrees and keep learning because knowledge is power. Once empowered, they can reach for their dreams!” she said.

Lourdes added the most important lesson she leaves with them is the consciousness of being patient and persevering. “I teach them to have faith and trust in God and everything will be taken care of. I make them understand with their hearts the prayer “Make me a channel of your peace…”

What is the best part of your job right now, I asked her.

“My job promotion to oversee HR projects for the Conrad Brand in Asia Pacific gives me the opportunity to travel and visit Conrad Hotels in other countries, be exposed to diverse cultures, explore new challenges and learn from them.”

She added: “Being known as the first and only Filipina director of human resources, having worked in various leading five-star international chain hotels in Bangkok, as well as having an HR corporate overseas responsibility are the things that I appreciate about being where I am now.”

She said she takes pride in being able to provide leadership and drive to her staff. To date, most of the key HR executives in five-star hotels in Thailand are her previous staff. And if that is not enough, Lourdes has also helped a number of Filipinos get jobs in hotels in Thailand.

She mentioned with pride that the most important thing in her life is that she has a happy, supportive and loving family! Her son Paulo, who finished his MBA in Sydney, is an assistant director for a telecommunications company. Her second son John is in senior high school.

Surely, Lourdes’ story is what fairy tales are made of. Does she still dream of anything?
“I still dream of exploring new possibilities in my career...and to continue to inspire needy youths to dream big dreams and educate them so they can be empowered to make their dreams come true,” she concludes.

Picture of Lourdes receiving a Thai Red Cross Plaque of Appreciation from Thai Princess Soamsawali for initiating a special project and policy at the work place to provide care for HIV-affected employees and retain their employment.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mercy R. Otelo


Mercy R. Otelo
OFW: Family Caregiver
Seoul, South Korea, 12 years

Ang tunay kong pangalan ay Pricilla Balbalosa Viadallo, pero sa passport ko ay Mercedita R. Otelo, in short Mercy. Isinilang kaming anim na magkakapatid sa Dalisay St. Bacood, Sta. Mesa M.M. Sa parte ng aking ina, ang lolo't lola ko ay purong Kastila. Samantalang lola ko sa ama ay Intsik at ang lolo ko ay Bicolano.

Mula pagkabata ay nakagisnan na naming magkakapatid na maraming paupahang bahay, mga kwarto at apartment ng aming mga magulang. Sa kahabaan ng kalye Dalisay, kami ang may pinakamalaking bahay Kastila noon, kumpleto sa gamit at kasangkapan at de kotse. Hatid at sundo rin ako ng School Bus ng Sta. Catalina College {Legarda} mula elementarya hanggang highschool. Dito ko nakasabayan sa school bus ang artistang magkapatid na sina Alona Alegre at Nina Aragon.

Nang mag teenager kaming magkakapatid at magpipinsan, ang hilig namin sa sayawan at discohan. Hanggang sa may magalok sa aming bakla na kumukuha ng mga extra sa pelikula. Naging extra kami sa pelikulang "Tubog sa Ginto" nina Jay Ilagan at Hilda Koronel. Naging dancer na rin kami noon sa "Winners Take All" noontime show nina Pugo at Patsy. Sa gabi naman ay sa Disco Rama, na naging Nite Owl ni Archie Lacson. Nang magdesisyon ang aming talent manager na si Baby de Guzman na idedestino kami sa Canada, hinde na ako sumama dahil 4rth yr college na ako noon at ibig kong makatapos ng aking pagaaral, tanging pinsan ko na lamang na si Perla Adea ang sumikat na artista.

Sa awa ng Maykapal ay natapos ko ang BBA {Bachelor of Business Administration} major Management sa University of Manila. Taong April 1972. Ikinasal din ako sa ganon ding taon Oct 1, kay Sammy Vidallo at ito’y isang marangyang kasalan. Malaki ang handaan sa aming bahay at sa La Moderna sa Escolta.

Subalit ang karangyaan ng aking mga magulang ay nagwakas, nang ang nakababata kong kapatid na lalaki ay napatay ng pamangkin ng ex Mayor ng Maynila, na kaeskwela nya at kaibigan ito. Niyaya nya ang aking kapatid na mag inuman kasama ng iba pang lalaki. Dahil paalis na patungong Saudi ang aking kapatid ibig ng umuwi ng bahay dahil takot siya na magagalit ang aming ama. Nagkaroon ng mainitang pagtatalo at siya’y sinaksak at napatay. Lumaban ng kaso ang aking mga magulang subalit sila ay natalo dahil ang kanilang mga testigo ay di sumipot sa hearing dahil sa sobrang takot. Dahil din sa mga threats ng mga kalaban, minabuti na lamang ng aking mga magulang na lumayo sa lugar na iyon. Ibinenta nila lahat ang mga bahay, lupa, mga paupahan doon sa Bacood Sta Mesa. Bumili din sila ng bagong bahay malapit sa tinitirhan naming mag asawa sa Antipolo. Doon na sila namuhay ng tahimik. Dito nagpasya na rin ang aking mga kapatid na mag ibang bansa. Ang panganay ay nag Saudi, bunsong babae ay nag Japan at ang bunsong lalaki ay sa Las Vegas.

Ako naman ay pinalad na magkaroon ng 3 anak. Panganay ay si Sheryll Anne, pangalawa ay si Sheila Anna at ang bunso ay si Sherwin Andrew. Si Sheryll ay hanggang high school lamang pagkat 16 edad ay nagasawa na agad at sa ngayon may anak. Si Sheila simulang elementarya, high school, college ay honor student at nakatapos sa kursong Fine Arts major Interior Designing. Si Sherwin ay nakatapos lamang ng high school at ibig makarating ng Korea upang maghanap buhay, ngunit ako’y laging kapos upang matustusan ang pagpunta nya rito.

Mga bata pa sila ng sila ay naulila sa ama. Namatay ang aking asawa sa aksidente at mag-isa ako sa pagpapalaki sa kanila. Nagnegosyo ako ng motor and bicycle parts and supply. Napaunlad ko ito at nagkaroon ng branch. Maginhawa ang aming buhay noon, subalit sa isang idlap ito’y biglang naglaho.

Tumawag ang aking Ina at sinabing nakagat sya ng isa sa 4 niyang malalaking puting aso. Ako lamang sa mga anak niya ang makakapagalaga sa kanya dahil ang mga kapatid ko ay nasa ibang bansa. Tamang tama naman na mga ilang araw ng nasa akin ang pamangkin kong babae kasama ang 3 maliliit nyang anak pati asawa. Nag away away daw silang magkakapatid kaya pumunta muna sila sa akin. Sinabihan ko ang aking pamangking babae na siya na muna ang bahala sa tindahan ko at sa mga katulong at mga sales lady. Noon kasi 2 ang katulong ko, para sa maga anak ko 2 tutor, para sa tindahan ko 2 katulong, 4 na sales lady, 2 lalaki para mag assemble at repair at 2 saleslady para sa branch kayat 14 lahat ang aking mga empleyado.

Makalipas ang 3 araw na pagbabantay at pagaalaga ko sa aking ina ay wala na ang pamamaga ng kanyang kalahating katawan. Maya maya ay tumawag sa akin ang panganay kong anak na si Sheryll at tinatanong kung bakit magulong magulo at wala na ang mga paninda. Akala niya kami ay naglipat ng ibang tindahan. Nabigla kami sa kanyang sinabi kaya't kami'y dali daling sumugod doon. Subalit wala na talaga at ito'y nalinas at ninakaw na ng aking pamangkin at ng kanyang asawa. Nakausap ko ang mga tauhan ko at sinabi nila na binigyan sila ng aking pamangkin ng 2 araw na day off. Tinanong din namin ang aming mga kapit bahay na may mga tindahan din at sabi nila na 4 na malalaking 10 wheelers dump truck ang humakot sa aking paninda bandang ala 1:00 ng madaling araw, 8 armadong mga kalalakihan sa pamumuno ng asawa ng aking pamangkin ang humakot nito. Nagkagastos ang aking mga kapatid na 100 thousand sa mga pulis para masundan at hanapin sila subalit di na sila nakita. Nabenta ko ang aking malaking bahay at 3 sasakyan para bayaran ang aking mga bouncing check. Umupa kaming magiina ng bahay sa Vista Verde, Novaliches at ang nagbabayad ay kapatid kong nasa Japan. Ang kapatid kong lalaki na may Travel Agency ang siyang nagpapunta sa akin dito sa Korea.

Nagbilin ang aking Ina na hanapin ko daw ang Panginoon sapagkat nakalimot na daw ako sa Kanya, na kahit daw anong mahahalagang okasyon ay di ko naaalala dahil sa aking negosyo. Pati mga anak ko ay pinabayaan ko na sa mga katulong at di ko nahila para magsimba. Kaya't nangako ako sa aking Ina na maglilingkod ako sa Panginoon at mag hahanap buhay ng maayos para sa aking mga anak.

Noong nasa eroplano pa lamang ako, masyado na akong excited, kinukurot kurot ko pa ang akin balat na para baga akong nananaginip na makakarating bigla sa ibang bansa. Sinalubong ako ng kaibigan ng aking kapatid. Noong unang gabi ko rito ay masayang masaya ako; pangalawang gabi ay medyo nalulungkot na ako at laging naaalala ang malungkot na pangyayaring naganap sa aking buhay. Ikatlong gabi ko humahagolgol na ako sa kaiiyak dahil namimis ko na ang aking mga anak, ilang gabi na ako umiiyak ng todo at dito ko naisip ang habilin ng aking Ina na hanapin ko ang Panginoon.

Pagsapit ng Linggo ay nagpapasama ako sa simbahan at pumasok ng Church Volunteer bilang Choir. At dito rin sa simbahan ko nakilala ang dating presidente ng mga Church Volunteers na si Lydia Rabi. Siya rin ang nagpasok sa akin sa French family pagkat umuwi ng Pinas ang katulong nilang pinay para ayusin ang kanyang mga papeles para sa sponsorship. Masakit man isiping namamasukan akong isang katulong dahil noon ako ay maraming katulong. Ngayon ako ang katulong. Subalit kailangan kong tanggapin ang katotohanan. Iba na ang takbo ng buhay ko; kailangan ko magtiis at mag sakripisyo alang alang sa kinabukasan ng aking mga anak.

Ika 12 taon na akong naninilbihan bilang katulong ng iba ibang tao, iba ibang ugali, iba ibang karanasan pero tuloy ang buhay. Di ako sumusuko. Halos araw araw ay tinatawagan ko ang pamilya ko at kung minsan ay nakikita ko sila sa webcam. Masayang masaya ako kapag kausap ko sila lalo na ang mga nakakatuwa kong apo. Sa ngayon ay unti unti ko na nababawi ang mga nawala sa akin. Sa awa ng Maykapal, nakapagpatayo na rin kami ng bahay na may 5 palapag at tindahan sa buong garahe at harapan ng bahay. May 2 puwesto rin kami sa SM Fairview na Boutique & Accessories at ang kabila ay tattoo shop para sa manugang kong si Randy na Tattoo Artist. Mayroon na rin kaming brand new car-- Adventure latest model 2007.

Ang pangalawang anak kong si Sheila na kailanman ay di ako pinoroblema ay may sariling pagsisikap sa buhay at nakakatayo mag isa sa kahit saan siya makarating ay di mo aalahanin. Napakabait at napakatalino niya, napakarami niyang magagandang katangian na aking ipinagmamalaki. Sa ngayon ay 4 na taon na siya sa States at nakapangasawa ng Puerto Rican. Ang problema ko na lang ang aking bunso na si Sherwin. Di ko pa kayang papuntahin dito sa Korea. Ibig na ibig na niyang makapiling at makita ako at tuloy makatulong sa paghahanap buhay para sa amin. Lagi ko itong pinapanalangin ngunit di ako nawawalan ng pag asa.

“GOD IS HOPE”. Kaya't ang mapapayo ko sa mga katulad kong OFW: huwag makalimot tumawag at manalangin palagi sa Poong Maykapal at magpasalamat sa mga biyayang ating natatamo mula sa Kanya. Anytime, anywhere, anyplace nandyan lamang Siya. Nakasubaybay sa atin upang tayo'y gabayan at protektahan. Kumatok ka at ika’y pagbubuksan, tumawag ka at ika’y pagbibigyan. Huwag mawawalan ng pag asa, nandyan lamang Siya para sa atin........ GOD IS THE ANSWER......

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