I joined the Saint Paul Marriage Encounter Pampanga Series. Things started to come into its proper perspective. It was a long struggle. There were moments in our relationship that almost ended up in tragedy, but I believe in the loving forgiveness of our Lord. Forgiveness from my wife was not served in a silver platter. I had to win her back and proving it to her that all of us do some glitches in our lives one way or the other. Likewise our conversion took quite a while. The ME community gave us their full support and understanding that mostly inspired us to give our best without expecting things in return. It is for this reason that we give back our time, talent and efforts to serve others who are in the same fate we have been.
Our marriage journey was never that smooth. I had to bite the bullet for what I had done. Knowing that being an OFW and had been gone for a long time, things could not be that easy in my reintegration with my family, the community, and work. I found it difficult until now to reach out to my children and express myself. I know I am not alone in this predicament. There are lots of OFW parents giving their children the best education and financial stability. But some children fail to consider the sacrifices of their OFW parents to provide for their financial needs. We can never be at the same time at two places. But we can be of use at one place even at a distance.
I know that I was not at my children’s sides when they needed me most. I was not there when they marched receiving their diplomas. I was not there when they were jilted by their friends nor was I there when they wanted to share their triumphs. I was not there when they sick. Painful as it was, we could not do anything about it, for me we were far away earning money to provide exactly for their daily needs, school; tuition and other needs which for a fact could not have been provided had we stayed in the Philippines.
Do I feel morally right when providing the best for my family was my first priority? I was hoping I was right. But after finding and experiencing it first hand and knowing what it costs, keeps me pondering, possibly also the parents who are planning to work abroad, that not a chance that I would exchange the money for the destruction of my relationship with my family. For until now I am still wooing my children to be close to me.
As I have said time and again, we are traveling in the destiny of our own for the rest of our lives. My wife and I never realized that we would be involved in an apostolate for the Catholic Church until we were called upon by then Msgr. Robert Mallari, now a Bishop as the Director of the Commission for Family and Life in the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga. We were invited to represent the Archdiocese in the EXODUS 4th Wave: Asian Seminar for Pastoral Workers of the Migrants’ and Itinerant People held at Tagaytay on March 21-27, 2004. From here, the new apostolate called the Migrant's Desk came to life. The Bishop’s simple yet sacrosanct approach could not make us say No. From that point on we decided to stay and help him and the CBCP-ECMI to form the Diocesan down to the parish level of organizing the Migrants’ Desk.
It is rough sailing, sometimes knowing that the stressors in our mission are the very people in the parish we are trying to help, giving us hard times and at some points putting us in awkward situations. But we already have pledged an oath to the Lord that we are giving our best time and efforts to help other OFW families. What makes us different from the missionaries giving themselves for the Glory of God? To some extent, we became fired up by the inspiring words of our very own Archbishop Paciano Aniceto to move on undemanding for this is where the Holy Spirit comes in as an inspiration.
To us, the work ahead has just started. A small difference is looming up so that we can make the dysfunctional families of OFWs perform their best in spite of the odds. We are working hard to discourage them in forming up a culture of money in the future. A long shot? It is. But it is not impossible with God’s help.
And looking back at all these experiences, I can’t but say I owe these all to my wife that in spite of the pains I gave her, she remained loyal to me. They way she raised my children, all performing well in school and of good moral standing in spite of the peer pressures besetting this teenage world now. They themselves have their own families now and eventually will have children to become future migrants “disciple.”
As we continue to struggle to be a good couple, we sustain our strength by clinging to each other’s strength and remembering always that God’s love to us is greater than our own frustrations.
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