In Oman or even other countries in the Middle East, Friday is the day-off of every worker who does not work in fast food chains, shopping malls, and government establishments. Indisputably, the malls would be packed with many people from diverse countries–Turkey, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, and so on. This is the time to let everything go, chill out, and unwind after a stressing week from work. But for selected people, they are not given the opportunity to come into contact with liberty. Why? Because they work in the fullness of time to sustain the needs of every family member relying on them. They miss out that one free day to be able to meet our requests when, in reality, they deserve that day of the week to settle down and relax.
That’s the power of love–putting others’ happiness before your own.
Every time we go to church on Fridays, I see our kababayans kneel before our Almighty Father, eyes shut and praying for the protection and physical well-being of their loved ones in the Philippines. Although the painful truth is, sometimes, they feel neglect even from the very same people they pray for. Isn’t that excruciating and tear-jerking? Parents who strive hard to earn a living sometimes end up being forgotten by their children back in the Philippines.
The most famous misconception about OFWs is that they are rich. Once you hear the word balikbayan, the words you conjure up are conscientious, bighearted, and, of course, moneyed, yet what half of the population does not know is the story following the achievement of these balikbayans. Well, perhaps, a quantity of them are rich, but not all. Did you know that majority of them even apply for a bank loan just to afford an airplane ticket to visit the Philippines? Don’t be deceived. They might take home extra money, but that’s all hard-earned.
They also have to cope with the country’s weather. Most of the time, it’s too hot from where we are and, sometimes, it’s too cold. They get laid up with no one to take care of them, except of course, their caring friends, if possible. Those with severe illnesses have to go through life alone, temporarily. The OFWs do not even inform their families that they are experiencing that, for them not to be troubled. Time is ticking and they’re wasting it in another country. They are growing old! Another reason why having them away can make us anxious. In a fraction of a second, anything can happen to them and we can’t be there instantly.
Photo from Alice Marasigan Lontok
Despite all of that, they smile to let others know they’re okay.
Not only OFWs should be appreciated, but also all of our guardians whom we have to thank for not abandoning us. Because from their point-of-view, we are worth every drop of sweat. Surely, they are the real heroes of this generation.
“Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
-Robert A. Heilein