Alexa

'All I want for Christmas is my mom,' says daughter

Worshippers put on candles at the St. Christopher's Church, December 24, 2006.

Worshippers put on candles at the St. Christopher's Church, December 24, 2006.

A few days before Christmas, my husband text me a Yuletide greeting. Since I find texting inadequate, I phoned him during my break. After a few rings, I heard his soft voice on the other end of the line. I smiled. I could sense that everyone in my family wanted to speak with me. When my five-year-old daughter, Erika, finally got hold of the phone, she said without any preamble, "Mama, does Santa Claus really exist? Is he real or is he only a product of our imagination? If he is real, I'd really want to speak with him. I want to tell him my wish Mama." Surprised, I said, "Why baby? What would you like for Christmas? In case Santa's too busy to see you, Mama would get the toys that you want." To this, my daughter replied, "No, Mama. It doesn't work that way. It's you that I want for Christmas. You are the present that I am going to ask Santa to give me when I see him. I'll be happier if you, Papa and I could go to church together. Papa does not even know how to dress me. He does not even know how to dress up the Christmas tree. It would have looked much better if you did it."
I was so touched by what my daughter said that I burst into tears. Since I did not want my family to feel too nostalgic during the holidays, I quickly hung up the phone. I did not want Erika to hear me sobbing. It took me an hour to compose myself. I rang my husband again, and spoke with Erika. I tried my best to cheer her up. I explained to her that I could not go home just yet. I need to work in Taiwan to provide for her future. I was not sure if she understood everything that I said. As I turned off my cell phone, I looked up and prayed, "Lord, give me the courage to go on."
One Sunday morning, my employer came up to me and said, "Which would you prefer? A week-long vacation in the Philippines or would you like your daughter to visit you in Taiwan? Do not worry about the expenses, I will shoulder it." It felt as if all the angels in heaven had come down to earth, and my employer was one of them. She is really one of a kind. I think all of the positive adjectives could be used to describe my boss. I embraced her, and with tears running down my cheeks, thanked her for her kindness.
We have agreed that I will go on a week-long vacation after the New Year since it is now quite difficult to book tickets. Albeit a few days late, my family and I will still be celebrating Christmas and the New Year together.
My fellow migrants, do not forget to walk with God whenever your hearts need company. Turn to God if you need someone to lean on to. Take His hand if you are feeling the most alone. I assure you, He will always be there for you. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all!
EVA
Taipei
Divine plan
DEAR KABAYAN,
I arrived in Taiwan five months ago. Fortunately, I have found a friend in Cecille Malvorosa, a fellow Filipina. We met near her employer's apartment building. I was buying vegetables at the time. To ease my homesickness, she lent me two copies of Taiwan News and some pocketbooks. Her act of kindness meant a lot to me. I will never forget her.
After reading our fellow workers' letters in your column, I felt compelled to write you too. You wouldn't believe the experiences that I have had.
My life had taken several wrong turns. I got married at age 16. Big, big mistake. I came from a broken family to start with. Hence, I had a very unstable childhood. I was five when our father, a police officer, abandoned us. Wala siyang kuwentang ama. Lahat na yata ng bisyo, nasa kanya. (My father was a good-for-nothing man. He had so many vices.) Since father was not supporting us financially, mother was forced to find employment abroad. She left my siblings and I under the care of her parents. Mother's siblings however maltreated us. We had no choice but to put up with them. Life was hard. We had to take a five-kilometer walk to get to the school everyday - rain or shine.
One day, we learned that father had an accident. Mother flew back to the Philippines to be with him. Unfortunately, he had passed on by the time she got home. I thought things would change for the better after that. Unfortunately, mother remarried. Her new husband, our stepfather, was a soldier. Despite our objections, mother still married him. In hindsight, I really could not blame her. She was still young, and she only wanted to be happy. Our stepfather however maltreated us too.
After graduating from high school, I found myself with child. My boyfriend - he was more like my puppy love - had no feelings for me. I only had myself to blame. I did that to myself.
Six years ago, I found employment in the Middle East. My work visa said I was a domestic helper. I did work as a helper for nearly two years. However, I also worked illegally at an Internet cafe. As fate would have it, I was caught by the police. Following my arrest, I was jailed for a week. That was my most traumatic experience. The prison cell was over-crowded with migrants from various countries. You could not even sleep sa dami ng tao. Siksikan. (It was so congested that getting a few hours of sleep was virtually impossible.) I was devastated. "How could something like this happen to me?" I asked myself. I worked 12-hour shifts at the Internet cafe. I was only trying to earn a living. Did I really deserve jail time for that? Some of my Filipino cellmates - some were young and others were quite old - told me that they had been detained in that cramped cell for a few months already. Some of them had fallen ill. It was not surprising since we were like animals packed in a small cage. Many of them felt hopeless. They told me they did not even want to dwell on what the future had in store for them since they did not have a single cent in their pockets. Some of them did not even get the chance to work since they were caught at the airport carrying questionable documents.
Compared to them, I was fortunate. My employer did not abandon me, and I was released after a week. My boss also promised that he would hire me back.
More problems awaited me in the Philippines. My estranged husband did not even want me to see our children. I was so miserable. What was I supposed to do?
I decided to apply again for overseas employment. After waiting for a few months, I got a Taiwan job. My personal struggles however continued. During my first month in Taiwan, halos gusto ko nang tumalon sa bintana. Pagod na talaga ako sa kakaisip sa mga nangyari sa buhay ko. (I felt like jumping out of the window during my first month in Taiwan. I had no peace of mind. I kept on thinking about all of the bad things that had happened to me.) I refused to throw in the towel. I tried to keep my mind off my personal worries and heartaches. It is a good thing I have a very understanding employer. One day, I found myself opening up to her. I felt better after that. Eventually, I finally understood that everything - both the good and the bad - happens for a reason. God has a plan for all of us.
I learned to read the Bible with an open heart and mind. This was something new to me. I sometimes found myself in tears while reading the Bible. I have since realized that many of us remember God only when something bad happens to us. He is tapping on our shoulders, reminding us that He is there in case we need a helping hand. He has been tapping on my shoulder for a long time now, and I have been ignoring Him for years.
I also realized that I have to stop blaming others - my parents in particular - for my misery. I have to be held accountable for my actions. God loves me so much because He has never abandoned me. He has given me peace of mind. As an added bonus, my relationship with my mother and family has also improved. Sometimes, one has to go through pain to find joy.
MIG
Taipei
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Updated : 2021-02-26 15:38 GMT+08:00