In the mid-eighties when I entered the seminary to check if ever I really had the vocation to the missionary life, one of the reasons why I decided to join the Scalabrinian Congregation was due to my family situation. My father was then working as a mechanic in Saudi Arabia. I also had a brother in Kuwait and another brother who was a seafarer. That time, there were also my aunties who were working as nurses in Canada who later on asked their families to join them as immigrants. Later did I realize that we will become a family of migrants.
We are nine siblings and only one did not have a chance to travel outside the country. After my ordination, my eldest sister decided to migrate to Canada while my second youngest brother after finishing his contract in Kuwait decided to move to the US with his wife. So migration has almost been a part of our lives. Sometimes, we go to the airport without anyone accompanying us. Except for my youngest sister, all of us have our own stories to tell about living, working or vacationing in other countries.
What then is the big deal about working abroad? It was the recent unpleasant experiences of my younger brother who was in Dubai as an OFW, and later moved to Iraq that gave us many problems. Why Iraq? Let me tell you the story of the ordeals of my younger brother.
Domeng, my younger brother was contracted to work in a factory in Dubai last February 2005. This is his nth time to go abroad as an OFW,. He left just a week before our second eldest brother died of a lingering illness in 2005. He was a seaman and it was in fact Domeng who took care of him before he met his Creator. But I am not going to tell the story of my seafarer brother even if his was another interesting one, but my story is about Domeng who was posted in Iraq against his will. Being a newly deployed contract worker he was not allowed to go home to attend the burial of an elder brother.
Four months after working in Dubai, he was requested to go to Iraq along with two other Filipinos and a Canadian supervisor. A week before he was moved to Baghdad, he called by long distance informing us that he will be moving to that turbulent country. As I listened to him, he was voicing his concern. He had never shown any fear in his life as he was strong and a brave man. However, listening to him over the phone made me feel he was a different person. His voice was more solemn and serious yet subdued when he called all of us, particularly myself. I asked him if he could back off from the assignment. He responded he could, but if he did he was likely to lose his job. He had no choice, but to accept the illegal deployment to Iraq. On my part, I really wanted him simply to pack up his luggage and return to the Manila, but I had nothing better to offer him once he comes back in terms of a job. I just assured him our prayers as we ended the long distance conversation.
Since then, my other siblings and myself decided to…
… to be continued