To all of you Filipinos out there who work overseas for your family. Spending time away from your family just to make a living so you can provide for your family. I feel you.
I feel your pain of not being together with your loved ones, not seeing your wife, your kids. I feel you.
I know the pains you are going through, when the first time you saw your children or child for the first time and they run away from you because they have no clue who you are—even though you spoke to them various times over the phone and through Skype and you thought that that was enough until you finally met them and they thought you are stranger. I feel you! If you have older kids, I can’t say much about it because I don’t. But none the less, I know how you are going through. I am living it at this very moment.
I don’t consider myself as an overseas Filipino worker though. I have been living in Australia for most of my life. I call this country home. Actually, I am not a Filipino at all. I am by heritage and by blood line—partially by culture too, but my allegiance is here with Australia. I call my self Filipino-Australian.
I have a family who lives in Philippines though. My fiance Jobelle Alaysa and our daughter Tahnee. I will get into those details much later in the blog if I indeed write about it. The fact is I do have a family who are still living in Philippines and we are working our way of being together eventually, here—living in Australia. Until then though, this is how our lives will be.
This is a story of how my daughter met me for the very first time and the struggles I had to go through to gain her confidence and to tell let her know that I am her dad and that I was not a threat to her—or that I was there to take her mother away from her.
The First Time She Saw Her Dad
My little girl, was just under two years of age, when she saw her dad for the very first time. At Surigao Airport, I gave her hugs and kisses which she did nothing. I think this was more of a shock for her than anything—because there I was, a stranger hugging her and kissing her and she has never seen me in person. Yes, she saw me over Skype but it’s different when you see somebody in person.
A Stranger In The House
When we got home, I had this two pairs of eyes on me, constantly watching me as if I was an intruder. Sadly, it’s true though, I was an intruder in her life. A stranger who would hold her mums hand and gives her hugs and kisses. A person who would touch the plates in the kitchen, sit on the sofa and lie down on the very bed that her mum would.
She would constantly follow me in her home – her safe haven, her castle and protest with everything I touch. She would tell me— “mama na!” (that’s mums)
Eventually, I got the message. I heard her loud and clear. She was threatened by my presence. I was not wanted in that house—perhaps she felt threatened too that I take her place.
Damn it! This is my family. I am the man of the house—sorta anyway. But I am the man in the house! There is no way I would let a little girl tell me that I have no place in this family. I had only few days to get this sorted. As I am only in Philippines for four weeks.
So, I respected her wishes. I asked her first if I was allowed to touch this or that. I asked permission for just about everything to gain her confidence, at the same time giving suggestions when the right time aroused.
This strategy allows her to realise that I was not a thread to her and that if anything it’s an addition to her life. I worked and worked at gaining her confidence and also slowly stamping my authority towards her.
In a weeks time, she knew her place in the family. She knew that I am her dad, and that I was not there to take her mum away, but be there to spend time with the family. Of course she also knew that being the only child we have, she can still flex her muscles and get what she wants because it is her right being our daughter.
Spending Time With Dad
After a week long of gaining a child confidence, it’s all about dad! She would look for me in the morning. When I am not around, she would pay special attention to the entry door and will run towards the door when our squeaky gate opens. Dad is home!
Going to Town With Dad
I would frequently need to go to town, to get small supplies for home or just because, I hate being stuck at home. You bet you know who would be with me.
We would be going out, walking, running—mostly me chasing my little girl around because she would do what all toddlers do—take risks and explore their surroundings. Then we would eat… and eat.. and eat… like ice creams and chocolate drinks… or anything that is tasty and not worry weather it was healthy or not. As long as it tasted good! We even ate what they called a “dirty ice cream”. Dirty ice cream is a term Filipinos used for an ice cream sold by vendors for a pittance – where talking 10 pesos per cone. Though it’s edible, there are tendencies that you might get sick—most likely by how it was made. And that was true, because myself and our little one each time we ate it and not tell my wife—her mother—she would find out a day or so later. I will leave it to your imagination for this one.
Walks With Dad
Sometimes we get people telling us, that our little girl is darker than normal. It was to no surprise to us, because, we would go for little walks mid morning and we would be gone for at least one hour walking along the highway. Before coming home to a nice home cooked brunch! We had to take showers first though, because we were filled with dust and dirt and also drenched in sweat because of the heat. You know how it’s like in Philippines. It’s hot and humid!
Over To You
I know I was meant to write this blog on how it is like for an overseas filipino workers (OFW) and this is how it turned out instead. I hope at least you can relate to it somehow.
But one of the messages, I hope that you can gain from this is this. Being overseas and have long distance relationships to your spouse or children is a hard and tough road. But sometimes we have no choice but do this until we find a way to be together.