Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) prefer to work abroad because they earn more and have better job opportunities.
But they are filled with sadness and longing for home and country.
There is no place like home for them, as Dorothy, played by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz,” found out.
Resty C. de Jesus thought this as he quickly unloaded his baggage, along with other OFWs looking for checked-in luggage, from the conveyor belt at the airport in Manila upon arrival from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital.
“First and foremost in my mind has been my family,” said de Jesus, who is turning 66. He is the cashier and accountant of the Saudi International Trading Company (SITCO), a Riyadh-based pharmaceutical firm.
His family was the reason he left in 1991. He and his wife Annie wanted to give their children quality education so they could have a productive life and be good members of society.
All three children are successful professionals. Two of them, Mark Marion and Luigi Lauren, live and work in Canada and the United States, respectively. Rex Danielle, the youngest, is the chief financial officer (CFO) at the Don Bosco School in Mandaluyong.
“Rex Danielle, who’s still single, plans to tie the knot with his girlfriend Bea in 2025,” de Jesus said.
De Jesus admits he secretly felt guilty for staying away for over three decades. While he provided well for his family, his wife looked after the children by herself as they grew up.
“Mark was just five years old when I left, now he’s 38; Luigi Lauren was 3, now he’s 36, and Rex Danielle wasn’t even born yet. Rex is now 25,” he said.
But de Jesus does not allow the blues to get the better of him. Instead, he chooses to dwell on the good things while on a month-long vacation— relatively brief for one who always thinks of home while away.
He lives with his family in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium unit in Mandaluyong City.
Enjoying each other’s company, they seldom go out unless necessary, like visits to his hometown of Marilao in Bulacan with Rex Danielle driving their beige Toyota Fortuner.
“We visited and stayed in our ancestral home, where our youngest sibling, Mike, also stays,“ he said.
The ancestral house was subdivided among six surviving children after their parents, Faustino Ventura de Jesus and Cecilia Francisco Cortez, passed on. Two siblings have died.
“I also met and attended a reunion with former elementary and high school classmates. We were nostalgic about the old days during our youth. We had great fun sharing our own experiences, ” he said.
He studied at the Marilao Elementary School and the Meycauayan Institute (now College), then at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), where he got a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), Major in Management.
Their parents told him they could only leave him and his siblings a good education since they had no wealth to bequeath them.
He wistfully recalls how, at dawn, he would take the train for the 17-kilometer trip to Manila to attend classes at PUP, which was then in Sampaloc before it transferred to Santa Mesa.
His siblings helped with his expenses while in college. “I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
He would supplement his education with work experiences later.
“Whatever my professors taught us was supplemented by knowledge acquired while I was already working at EEI (Engineering Equipment, Inc.),“ he said.
He treasures “the five years I worked at the EEI on E. Rodriguez Ave. in Quezon City.”
“Working there, I was earning and learning,” he said.
On a visit to EEI, he met former colleagues, some of whom had also been living or working in the US, Europe, Canada, and Australia, among other countries.
Some left behind were sick or suffering from ailments due to old age.
“We were idealistic young men back then, aiming high or hoping for great things to come. They (former colleagues) might not be willing to accept any amount out of pride,” he said.
Mindful of their feelings, he tried to give them a little money for their maintenance medication.
“I was happy they accepted it. That gave me a surge of happiness to share with the less fortunate and contribute something to society,” he said.
He also thanked SITCO for enabling him to do it. The company is a distributor of drugs and medicines for well-known companies such as Astra Zeneca, Sanofi, Glaxo, H. Lundbeck S/A, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, LifeScan, Inc., Acino Pharma AG, Aspen Medical, Benostan, and Eli Lilly.