The year 1995 was very much instrumental in my awakening consciousness to the issues of migration. It was the year when a letter-reply from an agency addressed to my husband arrived with a job offer as an Assistant Engineer in a manufacturing company in Singapore. It came as a surprise because we did not remember sending any application for overseas employment. It was only after responding to it had we found out that one of the positions he applied for earlier on was a work overseas. We felt happy because it was one rare opportunity that came in unexpectedly and at the right time. But there was also doubts and fears especially since the employment will be in Singapore. I remembered the execution of Flor Contemplacion a few months earlier. She was the Filipina domestic worker in Singapore who was criminally charged, and sentenced to death by the Singapore court. The whole nation including myself prayed, mourned and was saddened by that tragic fate of Flor in a foreign land. That was the reason why we doubted and feared that employment offer in Singapore which was a real gamble during that period.
We were torn between fears and anxieties of a job in Singapore and the tempting offer for overseas work. We had to choose between local jobs that offered bleak future due to short stint of employment with a meager wage, and an overseas employment that offered better and longer employment contract with a much higher salary. We felt that there were no other options for us but to accept the offer.
I love you, Goodbye.
Difficult as it was, a decision had to be made, but not without hesitations. What about the family? What about the ideals of building a family and home together? How about the Sundays when we used to attend and hear Mass together, stroll with the kid, and enjoy simple family meals? On the other hand, what about the husband who will be leaving behind his family, friends, and community? Can we cope cup with the homesickness? What kind of life is awaiting him in Singapore? These were some concerns which occupied my mind from the start. In the end with our fervent prayers for guidance, we came up with a firm decision. We realized that our love for each other and for the family will withstand all the odds of an employment abroad.
The following days and months have the toughest experience because as a wife left behind, I had to deal with my husband’s homesickness, and worry about his situation in Singapore. I wanted to hear his voice, to be assured that he was fine, hear his good stories about his job, and to know that he was healthy. During the first few months he would starve himself for a once-a-month long distance call to us. He said that he was so homesick but he would not call us often because he wanted to save. I could sense homesickness in his voice which I fully understood. I felt the same even if my situation compared to his was better off being left in my own community, living with our daughter, surrounded with other relatives and friends. I persuaded him to call us twice to thrice a month if that will….
...to be continued