self sacrifice

a filipino overseas foreign worker was found dead inside the lavatory of a ‘gulf air’ plane the other day. that plane is the same one i take every time i go home for days off. i read he took his own life while the plane was preparing to land in manila, using a ‘clothing article’ to asphyxiate himself by hanging.

it is not easy being away from one’s family. here in the middle east, there are instances that one will be assigned for work remotely, with limited ways of communication. i have been working here in saudi arabia for five years and have seen co-workers who were in the brink of ‘losing’ it, specially when there are problems back home with their families.

i remember way back, my ma never tells my father who is also in saudi arabia any ‘bad news’ as much as possible. she even warns me and my siblings not to write or call about to him anything that might make him worry or make him sad because she said being away from us is already hard for him and it will just leave him feeling helpless. i followed my father’s footsteps of working here in the mideast, it was then that i appreciated my father more, for i clearly saw the sacrifice he did for our family.

i am thinking of the man on that plane. is it self-sacrifice or his last resort to escape? his exact reason no one will really know for he has brought it with him to his grave.

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tatay

i was at a young age when my father left to work abroad, i did not understand then why he chose to leave us.  everytime i see an airplane in the skies, i thought my father is on that plane and i shout “tatay! tatay“! (father! father!), waving my hands till it was out of my sight.

my parents sacrificed a lot for me and my siblings, i know it wasn’t that easy for them being apart.  my mother used to cry when she arrives home coming from the airport after my father leaves again to go back to work.  she usually goes straight upstairs in our small two-storey rented house and after a while i will follow her and i’ll see her weeping.  all i can do was sit beside her.  i knew she’ll be missing him again.

my father is not perfect, but i can say that he truly loves us, his family.  it is very fortunate for me that he is my father, i wouldn’t choose anyone else.

happy father’s day, “tatay“..  i love you.

not the same person

i have read of a story of a filipino ofw (overseas foreign worker) in qatar who was deported back to the philippines because his name is “almost” the same with that of a murder suspect on the run.  the thing is, the scenario was a complete fuck up by the authorities for he is not the same person they were hunting!  although they say that he still had to be deported for further confirmation of his identity, the traumatized man already lost his job.

almost a year ago, i blogged about my name being included in the hold departure order list at the manila airport immigration because a number of filipinos have the same name as me (see related post, hold departure order).  i was named after my father,  a name that seems too common.  there are at least six criminals who even have the same name.

i then applied for a clearance in the national bureau of investigation and a “not the same person” certificate in the main immigration office.  i downloaded a form thru the philippine bureau of immigration website to apply for this document and personally visited their office to acquire one which took me a few hours.  it  seems like a common thing on government offices in manila for one to encounter some snobbish and not so helpful employees (i say, not all) so i tried my best to be courteous and patient with them.  i’m telling you some of these people can really treat you like shit.

hold departure order

ever had that instance wherein you are about to leave the house but you cannot ignore that jittery feeling that something is “not just right”?  well i just had one.

my flight back to work was scheduled on my birthday.  i had it organized, and i travel light, i always make sure that everything has to fit in my laptop backpack, prioritize the most important stuff,  then leave behind the ones in excess.

i realized then that something was missing, which was my travel document organizer bag.  my mom was insisting that she never saw it since i went back for days off but i told her i had put it in my cabinet drawer.. i started to doubt myself if i really left it somewhere.. and was thinking what was inside it and all i remembered was it has my frequent flyer cards and luggage tags, an old e-ticket and some used boarding passes.

so i left the house without it, anyways, i considered it then as not that important.  i arrived at the airport 0900H, boarding time was at 1100H and when i was in line for the boarding passes the guy behind the glass window grinned at me and said “sir, it’s your birthday today, happy birthday!” , i smiled and told him thanks as he handed me my pass: economy class, 49A, a window seat.

next step was immigration and i went to the queue area and when it was my turn, it hit me:

there are about 6 filipinos of the same name as me who have legal cases from attempted murder to homicide, i had known this since i applied for a clearance in the national bureau of investigation –  the one on the HDO (hold departure order) list was the one with the civil case.

i had a photocopy of my clearance in the bag that was missing, i always bring this with me for i always get that look from the immigration officer as if telling me that i’m in trouble.

“ma’m i left it at the house”.  was all i can mutter as she stared at the computer screen.  “you have known that you always encounter this problem and you still forgot your clearance”? she said, “what if i put you on hold, and not make it in your work destination”?  all i can make was a worried expression.

luckily, she did let me go, but only for now.  the next time if i don’t get a new clearance i will not be able to leave the country.  i will surely fix this problem when i go for days off in september.  while waiting to board the plane i called on my mobile phone to say my farewells to my mom, siblings and some close friends.  after i told my mom about the incident she called me back and said she found out where the bag was.. my eldest brother mistakenly took it in my drawer, thinking i wasn’t using it anymore.

and you know the legal case of the person of the same name as me that put him on the hold departure list?  here it is:

the offense of willfully and knowingly having more than one wife or husband at the same time.  the offense of willfully and knowingly entering into a second marriage while validly married to another individual is bigamy.

the case was filed in 1991, i was 16 years old then.