For our OFWs, this Yuletide season is a yearly test of mental fortitude as they are left with the anticipation that their sacrifice will bear a greater effect in the future. For Jhohana Perez, an OFW in Hong Kong, she plans to celebrate Christmas with fellow kababayans despite being away from home. She is presently the chairman of Annak ti Segundo Distrito Ilocos Sur Hong Kong Chapter and the deputy chairman of the Assembly of Ilocanos Associations. She says that they are planning for a grand celebration this Christmas. “We’ve been doing this for quite some time now since we treat each other as family. Most of us attend Misa de Gallo and everyone brings in Filipino food.” She also mentioned that they prepare parlor games for everyone and put on costumes for a more lively Christmas Celebration.
For Odie Ilasin, an OFW in Middle East he mentions that they need to stay working because they are monitored by their company – no holiday considerations. “Kami-kami ng mga Pinoy dito we decided na kanya-kanya kaming luto tapos pagsasaluhan namin. Nakakamiss lang yong mga fireworks o ingay ng mga kantahan na nag cacaroling, kasi dito bawal. Malungkot din lalo malayo sa pamilya pero dahil iisa din lang naman kami ng nararamdaman ng mga kasamahan ko dito, we make it to a point na magsaya pa din kasi para din lang naman sa pamilya namin ang sakripisyo”.
Just like Jhohana and Odie, they celebrate their Christmas with their friends who are with them. They make sure not to stay lonely and since it’s just a yearly celebration, fun and excitement should fill their hearts.
“Isa pa, there’s social media. I can video conference my family and we sing and pray together as if we are in one area. I know my sacrifice for them is worth it since I was able to send my kids to a great school and got their own condo as our investment” Perez added.
“What we earned from working abroad may be used to have a grander Christmas celebration to make up for the lost time we’re not together. I know every day that passes makes the time shorter for us to meet again,” Ilasin ended.
Christmas is not so lonely for our OFWs after all because they can celebrate it together with fellow kababayans and with their families in mind. *** –Jacqueline Gumilet