Their cheeks are sunken and tired. The skin in their hands shriveled by too much hard labor. Their eyes easily drip with tears when they talk about their experiences abroad.
Particularly those who worked as Domestic Helpers or Construction Workers in the Saudi Arabian region, life was tough.
For USD 385 (Php 18,000 to Php 20,000) per month, the Filipina women wake up at 5:00am and work till midnight, serving three families, cooking, cleaning, laundering, taking care of children… the list is endless.
“We do not have any rest days,” they tell me as I interview them. My work involves interviewing many job applicants, and many of them were ex-abroad.
Their contract lasts two years, and usually, their passports are confiscated when they arrive. Many struggle to finish the two years.
Many do, but many escaped to the Philippines embassy, begging to be returned to their country.
“Why did you not finish your contract?” I asked.
“I could not bear it anymore,” she cries. “My employer’s wife is jealous of me. My employer sexually harasses me and there is no rest.”
There is Skype.
But many do not come home until their 2 years is up, and most do not want to return.
“How much do you send back home?” I asked.
“Php 12,000 to Php 13,000 per month,” she answered. “If even my employer pays me in full. Usually they do not pay me in full.”
The only reason why these Filipinos persist is because of their family. And ironically, it is because of their families that they SUFFER.
Many of their children grow up in parent-less households, left in the care of a grandmother or a sister who do not give a damn, except to see the children as ATMs where they can withdraw money every month.
Many of these caregivers back in the Philippines are unemployed and spend the hard-earned money on cheap beer and new gadgets.
If the woman has a husband back home, she comes back to see her husband cavorting with another woman, spending the money she sent for him and their children.
The caregivers do not work. They spend a lot of time lazing around. Why work when you have someone else to do the work for you? The Filipinos are shameless in getting money from their OFW sibling. Filipinos have a word for it —- tambay —- to hang around and do nothing, wasting time in the process.
When the parents come back after 2 years, they see richer siblings but neglected children. There is no savings, and their heart breaks into a million pieces.
And despite all the pain they go through, they have to work back in their hellhole again, just for the sake of their kids.
So they survive on the outside, but break on the inside. They don’t survive actually. When they come back, they’re only an empty shell of themselves.
It’s very sad.