Saturday, August 12, 2017

The OFW Spouse Who Inspired Me to Write This Post

I have always had a soft spot for Overseas Filipino Workers. No, I am not an OFW, nor am I a spouse of one. But I have many friends and relatives who have sought greener pastures abroad. Although I personally believe that the family should always be together, I can understand why one of the spouses sometimes needs to make the difficult decision of leaving, to work a thousand miles away. However, it is not only the OFW, but the whole family, who suffers and continues to do so contract after contract.

One of my closest friends, who is like a sister to me, is a wife of an OFW. Let's call her Irish, and her husband, Gilbert (not their real names.) Gilbert is a mechanical engineering graduate but was not able to take the board exam. When their first child (a girl) came, Gilbert decided he needed to work abroad to give his family a good life. Being a submissive wife, Irish agreed. Anyway, they still live with her mother and siblings, so she wouldn't be alone to raise her daughter while Gilbert was away.

OFW Spouses - Husband leaves family to work abroad
Photo credit: twitter / respectofw
Our friends and I soon learned that Gilbert was kind of strict. Irish, who was also a choir member like me, stopped attending church activities. During the few special occasions that she joined us, she would always hurry up to go home because Gilbert might call and he wouldn't be too happy to know that she wasn't there. We would tease her and call her Cinderella because of this. Facebook and cellphones did not exist yet that time and they talked to each other through landline.

Irish used to work in a startup company owned by one of her sisters and her husband. But during that time, she had already quit and was now a full-time housewife. We tried to understand Gilbert's side. We thought, maybe, he was afraid of the many stories about OFW wives who fell into temptation because their husbands were far away. We missed Irish's company, but we soon got used to her situation. When Gilbert's contract expired (usually every two years,) we would have a get together, then after a month or so, he would leave again.

This went on for many years. In between those years, their second child (a boy, this time) was born. Fast forward to the present, the son is now in college, while the eldest has just passed the board exams and is already working.

I left the choir a few years before my son was born. He is now 11 years old. Irish, on the other hand, became active again in church. I assumed Gilbert, after more than two decades of being an OFW, had loosened up because Irish has already proven that she will forever be faithful to him. Besides, their children are now grown-up and could already take care of themselves. I was happy for her.

My family had moved to a new house somewhere in a nearby province some years ago, so I only get to talk with Irish a few times each year. I was shocked to learn, just very recently, that Gilbert is no longer coming home to Irish and the kids. He has stopped all communications with them since last year. My godmother, who is Irish's leader in church and also her constant companion, accidentally mentioned this to me, thinking that I already knew it. According to her, Irish once received a call from an unfamiliar female voice who told her that she is now living with Gilbert. The way I understood my Ninang, it seemed the mistress was quite feisty and even threatening. Irish was in shock. She had no idea Gilbert could do that to her and their children. Gilbert called later that day and said he would try to fix the situation. He assured her of support, but he needed to stop communications to protect them from the woman.

I felt so sorry for my friend. I could feel her pain. I contacted her right away and she assured me she was better. After all, it had been a year already. My Ninang said Irish cried really hard to her and poured out all her emotions, but after that, she did not like to talk about it anymore. I know she is still in pain, but because of her faith, she is able to overcome this very difficult trial.

OFW Spouses: She cried so hard after learning her OFW husband has a mistress
Gilbert remained true to his promise that he would support the family, but still has not reached out to them. That day he called Irish after his mistress called her was the last time she heard his voice. He had also deactivated his social media account.

Irish inspired me to write this post. If only OFW spouses, like Irish, would have done some things differently, then perhaps, the circumstances would have also been different. Don't get me wrong. I have so much respect for Irish and I would never blame her for what happened. She had been a very good wife and mother, and she should never regret anything that she did or did not do. But for the sake of other OFW spouses who still have the chance to prevent something as devastating as this to happen, I hope this post would somehow be an eye-opener.

MamaGoals of the Day
I end each post with the lesson/s I learned from the particular experience for the said post and keep them in mind as my "mama goals" that I can apply in everyday life and future events or activities. Perhaps they can be your parenting goals as well.

Here are my MamaGoals for this post:
  • Think hard, pray hard before deciding when an opportunity such as working abroad comes along. Exhaust all other means to have a good life instead of being separated from the family. Lately, Papa Bong has been opening up this topic and suggesting that there could be an opportunity for him to work in Japan. Two of his sisters are immigrants there and any one of them could probably provide him a job offer that is only good for six months. That is quite short compared to Gilbert's 2-year-contracts. But still, we need to discern if that is the right thing for us.

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About the Author

Our Family | mamagoals.comJust call me MamaFel. I'm from the Philippines and I'm a work-at-home mom, homeschooling my 15-year-old son. I've been married to a faithful husband for 26 years now. This is my story.