- Cecelia Abajeto finished her two-year contract as a domestic helper in Oman
- On her first year abroad, her husband died and her employer did not allow her to go home
- More than a year after, she still cries at the thought of her dead husband
Like all OFWs, Cecelia Abajeto wanted a better life for her family. But after two years in Oman, she deeply regretted ever leaving the Philippines.
On October 29, 2015, Cecelia arrived in Oman. It was her first time abroad. She left her husband and two sons in the Philippines so she could earn enough for her sons' education and her husbands' medical bills.
The day after arriving at the Arab country, she immediately got to work. She woke up at 3 AM every day to tend to her employers' needs. Her day ends at 10 PM.
"Ang pagkain, kubos lang at tsahi. Once a day lang ang kanin sa kanila. Di ko alam ang gagawin ko, sabi ko ito pala ang buhay abroad," said Cecelia in a letter to KAMI.
She cried all her hardships and culture shock inside the bathroom.
"Kung anong buhay meron ka sa Pinas, triple ang kabaligtaran sa bansang Arabo. Ilang weeks lang bagsak agad ang katawan ko. Ang hirap pakisamahan ang Arabo. Hirap intindihin ugali nila, matanda man o bata," recalled Cecelia.
She tried bearing it all, but tragedy struck less than a year into her contract.
Her husband, who was already sick before she left, died while she was miles away. Worse, her employers did not let her go home.
"Grabe di ko alam anong gagawin ko. Iyak ako nang iyak. Gusto kong umuwi pero di sila pumayag. Parang masisiraan ako ng ulo ng time na 'yun," said Cecelia.
She tried getting out of her contract, even if she had to pay her employer for the unfulfilled months. But they did not agree.
"Halos araw-araw patagong umiiyak ako. Nililibang ko na lang sarili ko sa trabaho para di ko pansin ang oras at araw. Kayod kalabaw. Pero ang isipan nasa Pinas," said Cecelia.
Without a father back home, one of her sons became irresponsible in school. Cecelia made sure to talk to her son after work, so she could monitor his school progress and inspire him to study.
Because of her loss, Cecelia began regretting her decision to become an OFW.
"Minsan sinasabi ko na lang sa sarili ko siguro kung di ako nag-abroad sana buhay pa asawa ko, maalagaan ko siya. Kahit namatay siya nakita ko siya sa huling sandali. At di nagloko anak ko sa pag-aaral," said Cecelia.
Cecelia was able to finish her two-year contract. She is now back here in the Philippines.
But her tears still hasn't finished falling.
"Hirap na hirap po ako maka-move on. Kasi nung umalis ako di kami nagkita nang ilang buwan din kasi ayaw niya talaga mag-abroad ako. Tiniis niya din akong di makita kasi. Di niya tanggap na magkahiwalay kami," confessed Cecelia.
"Luha ko na to, galing pang abroad hanggang Pinas di maubos. Sabi ko sa kanya, sa pag-uwi ko, siya at anak ko ang makita ko pagbaba ko ng plane, pero wala. Gusto ko humingi ng sorry. Gusto kong yakapin siya ng buhay pero semento na lang ang makita ko," she added.
In the middle of her grief, Cecelia also lamented that she couldn't see the fruits of her sacrifices. She wasn't able to save enough money and her house is still in poor condition.
The little that she saved was used for the burial of her sibling, who died in December before she went home.
"Akala ko abroad, makakaahon na ko at makaipon. Ala pa rin. Gusto ko pa sana bumalik at makipagsapalaran ulit pero sabi ko baka same story ulit," said Cecelia.
The only thing she's thankful for is the fact that her two sons were able to graduate from college.
"Kahit umuwi akong luhaan dito sa Pinas, 'yan po ang naging tagumpay ng mga pangarap ko at ng dalawa kong anak na nakapagtapos sila ng pag-aaral," she said.
"Sa likod ng hirap at sakripisyo, pagod, luha, at dugo ang puhunan ko bilang isang OFW. Kapalit ng buhay ng asawa ko. Proud pa rin ako bilang isang katulong sa bansang Arabo po," said Cecelia.
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