When I left for Saudi, my two girls were four and five-year old, and later I also had a son. I think I did not fail as much with them, Except for the fact that I was not there when they were growing up and when they needed a father most. I thought that since there were many children like them with fathers working away from home, either Manila or abroad, they were kind of psychologically prepared to miss me. Even when my children were still young, we traveled together often, around Asia, in the US as well as in Europe.
I was able to send my two daughters to good schools. They did well academically. One of them completed a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She is now married to a dentist, has two kids and she put up a drugstore. The other daughter completed a BS in Pharmacy and has electronic and internet business interests.
The problem I encountered with my children was in relating with them when were growing up. They would be spending money left and right, as if to punish me. One was more responsible in handling financial matters, but our separation may have affected her adversely. For instance, to date she has not gotten married. The other daughter really maximized the credit card I gave her while she was studying abroad.
I think my daughter Michelle can better appreciate now this issue of migration and its social costs. She is now a professional. It is easier to say now that she wished mothers would not need to tell their children they have to work abroad to buy food and to send them to school—it is a lot easier for someone who is not financially poor or suffering. But we do not live in an ideal world. Definitely, they enjoyed the luxuries my work abroad provided them. It is different from those who cannot afford such as luxuries. I know of OFWs who return to the Philippines for good only to be back in Saudi after six months, crying that it was difficult to tighten up belts and their children themselves told them to go back abroad.
My Relationship with my Wife
However, I failed as a husband. My wife and I got married in 1975, while I was studying. It is possible that at that time my wife already had some feeling of insecurities. These feelings intensified because of our longer separation and lack of communication or miscommunication. At that time, the main form of communication was letters and it took a month for letters to reach and get reply from Saudi. Telephone calls were expensive, costing $5/min. In fact, the best communication channel for a Kapampangan OFW is the “padala” or the “OFW postman” with OFWs and their partners networking sufficiently that every week, at least one OFW is leaving or returning to Saudi. With promotion that is not common for OFWs and for whom, compared with Westerners, it is tougher to achieve and therefore one’s performance has to be glaringly better, I became very busy with work forgetting to communicate with her.
I was away for two years for my…
...to be continued