My Papa lived a “Maalaala mo kaya” life, and this is a story I grew up with. He told this to us time and again, not to brag, but for us to appreciate that God has blessed our family so much, and we must be grateful for it.
He came from a family of 12. Like most of the big families on their time, they lived in poverty. Our grandfather worked as a shift driver, and our grandmother had to take on laundry jobs just to make ends meet. On the early age of 5, he knew what he had to do. He knew he had to help our grandmother work and get money. He would go around the Davao airport to sell sweepstake’s tickets and talk people into buying his tickets. He even gave away free shoe-shine just to sell them all. In some mornings, he got up early to help our grandmother prepare empanadas to sell to people for extra-money. All this while walking kilometers to school, because he knew, to get a good life, you have to get good education. He always had this attitude that he would tell his brothers “Ngayon na ako maghihirap para sa pag-tanda ko na ang sarap.”
This life went on until he was going to college, and he was finishing up Accounting. On the side, he became a “house-boy” for his uncle. He became an all around boy for their family. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, feeding the dog, picking up the children even giving a massage to his uncle. On the side, he collected “copra” (empty coconut shells) to sell per kilo for extra money. All this went on while his uncle maligned him, telling him he’ll never amount to anything, that his face was a the face of failure, even telling him that his dog’s life has more worth than his. It was extremely hard for him as I can imagine, but this didn’t flinch what he knew God was leading him, he knew his success was ahead of him.
He then graduated college, went to Manila and got an accounting job, he met my Mama and started a family. It was always his dream to provide all the good things for his family, he always wanted what’s best for us. So when I was 3 years old, he decided to be an OFW and flew to Saudi Arabia for better opportunities. When he was there, he experienced a bigger salary and being able to buy all of the good things for us and him. But he had to experience, being robbed, hurt and the loneliness of not being with his family for 2 years. It may look like he was now having it all, but something struck the whole family when I was 10.
Papa was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1991. It wasn’t malignant but still the brain surgery would be dangerous, but by God’s grace, he was able to make it.
It was for him to get back on his feet because his left side had to re-learn how to move like clockwork. It was a challenging time for our family to go thru, especially when Mama had to be the one to go out of the country this time to work in Singapore. So he gathered up all his determination, and made a remarkable recovery that he is still enjoying up to this day.
My Papa is still an OFW, still working in Saudi Arabia, but in a much better environment, better job. Plus, he now has Mama with him there to accompany him (because me and my brother are now married).
I just wanted to take this opportunity to share my father’s story and how God has been good to him. I just wanted to honor all of his hard work, sacrifice and his unconditional love for his family.