Pinay DH dons another 'uniform' in Doha
MANILA – Many are quick to judge others who risk their lives by taking menial jobs overseas for just a meager salary. But arriving at that decision is not an easy one for both the family and the OFW.
"Una, hindi naging madali dahil ayaw akong payagan ng pamilya ko na mag-abroad dahil nga rin sa takot na baka salbaheng amo ang mapuntahan ko," said Jovelyn Bayubay Revilla.
For OFWs like Revilla, it's not just her bags that she takes with her overseas. Her baggage also includes apprehension, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and homesickness.
"Dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay lalo pa't 16 years old akong nag-asawa kailangan kong mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang aking anak at makatulong sa magulang ko kahit may sariling pamilya na ako," she said.
She first stepped on foreign soil in 2004, as 22-year-old domestic worker in Dubai. The first few years abroad proved right some of her family's concerns.
"Ang hirap na dinaanan ko bilang OFW ay ang makaranas ng magutom na kailangang magnakaw ng tinapay at patagong ilagay sa bra o sa mga damit para di makita," she said adding
She stayed in Dubai for five years before moving to Qatar where she experienced being slapped by her first employer for the smallest mistakes she committed.
But it's these experiences that keep the now 30-year-old OFW strong for herself and her family.
The native of Zamboanga del Sur is an undergraduate of the course Associate in Computer Science at the Southern Mindanao Colleges in Pagadian City. She is proud that with her salary overseas, she was able to help send her sibling to a two-year course.
Now fortunate to be working for a good employer in Doha, Revilla has found a way to maximize her time after doing her chores. She found the company of pen and paper and technology as her new outlet to express herself and, at the same time, provide other OFWs like herself with something to entertain themselves.
"Araw-araw naglilinis ako ng bahay ni Amo, at, pagkatapos ng trabaho ko pag free time ko na ibininubuhos ko sa papel at ballpen ang oras ko at sa cellphone ko tina-type ang mga kwento para mapasa at mapost ang mga akda ko," said Revilla.
Writing stories culled from everyday experiences of OFWs is what's keeping Revilla preoccupied and sane while thousands of miles away from her loved ones.
"Isa sa naging inspirasyon kung bakit ako nagsulat ay ang mga ibinahaging mga karanasan ng aking mga kaibigan, kakilala at kapwa ko OFW—ang iba't-ibang uri ng karanasan sa isa isang pakikipagsapalaran," she said.
With the blessings of her employer, Revilla was able to publish two books under her name. The first one, "Masaya Din, Malungkot Din (Karanasan ng OFW)" is still available at amazon.com.
Her second book, "Sindi ng Lampara OFW Stories" was co-authored by another OFW, caregiver Raquel Padilla from Canada, whom she met through social networking site, Facebook. "Sindi ng Lampara" is available at National Bookstore nationwide.
"Ang nais ibahagi ng librong 'Sindi ng Lampara OFW Stories' ay ang salitang 'pag-asa'—na, kahit anong unos man ang dumating ay may sinag na masisilayan sa hinaharap," she said.
She said the readers, mostly OFWs, gave them positive comments.
"Sa mga nakabasa ng libro, isang linya ang ipinarating nila sa amin at yan ang salitang 'inspirasyon'," said Revilla.
That passion in writing opened more doors of opportunity for her. Her family, at first, could not believe that she was able to author a book.
"Nasanay kasi sila na puro ako biro at mahilig magpatawa at sa ilang saglit biglang nag-iba ang direksiyon ng buhay ko---ang magsulat ng libro at maging kolumnista sa Pilipino Star Ngayon Middle East Edition kaya 100% ang suportang binigay nila," she said.
She is likewise grateful for the support that she continues to receive from her employer.
"Ang amo ko ang nagpalakas lalo ng loob ko na kaya ko at may isang pinto ng buhay ko ang dapat kong buksan. Dahil sa kalayaan na ibinigay nila kaya natupad ang hindi inaasahang pangarap sa buhay ko lalo na si Madam ko 101% ang suporta niya sa akin," she said.
Aside from writing stories, Revilla is also busy with a charity she founded with her friends, the "Handog Ngiti ng mga Inday".
"Kasama ang mga kaibigan ko, sa taong ito nakapagbigay kami ng mga school supplies at feeding program at scholarship sa ilang estudyante sa Buburay Elementary School at sa Davao. Sa nalikom naming donasyon, nabili naming ng simpleng bagay na nasilayan naming ang ngiti sa labi nila," she said.
To OFWs like her, Revilla urged them to stay strong, to take care of their health and save for their future. For their families, she urged them to value and put to good use every centavo—the hard-earned money-- they remit home.
"Sa kapwa ko OFW, ano man ang suot nating uniform dito sa abroad, kaya nating abutin ang mga pangarap natin. Pananalig sa Diyos, malalagpasan din natin ang lahat na pagsubok at muli nating makakasama an gating mga pamilya," she said.
|Jovelyn Bayubay Revilla with her husband and son|