Filipino Family Series Part 1 :Cell Phone Mom
Graphics from the presentation of Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java on Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers Challenge at the Asian Conference of the Family’s May 13 Conference for Educators and Catechists. – NJ Viehland Photos
Manila (CiA) – Hong Kong domestic worker Emilie Gaje said a prayer of thanks after hearing her eldest daughter tell her on the phone that she was to graduate from college last month.
Gaje’s whole family has lived such a “poor and rugged life”. She could not think the graduation of the little girl she left behind 15 years ago to work overseas as anything but “a blessing from God.” Her daughter can now have a chance at a decent and productive life in her central Philippines home in Iloilo province, or anywhere her bachelor’s degree in tourism will take her.
Gaje, 38 year-old mother of four spoke with CiA from her employer’s home in Tai Po, New Territories, about her overseas work, her family and her faith. She paused periodically then apologized for sobbing.
Her family, she said, consists of her mother, father, grandmother, siblings and four children. Her husband has not been in touch with the family since she moved their children from their house in Badiangan barrio to her parents’ house in 2001 after learning they were not getting fed enough, that he was holding drinking sprees in their house and hurting the children.
Though far away, she kept in touch. The overseas mother explained:
All the years I was working here, I regularly called my children every week on my day-off. I was focused on them. My eldest was six when I left my two daughters and our son with their father in 1999. Our youngest was only three so I left her with my mother. From here I would call my husband’s cell phone and then my mother’s.
I would have a heavy heart after calling my husband because the children would say they do not eat. My husband was eaten up by his vice – drinking with friends. When he got drunk he got violent with the children.
The children would tell me when we talked that they do not eat and that their father is hurting them all the time. Neighbors told me about this also, so I went home to get the children out of there and brought them all to my parents’ house.
Transnational families and parenting have evolved over the 40 years of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon, reported Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java.
The former Cenacle regional superior and current counselor, spiritual and retreat director to priests religious men and women, and lay Catholics of various nationalities lectured on the theme Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers’ Challenge on the first day of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family.
Close to 1,000 delegates attended the Conference for Educators and Catechists at the start of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family in Paco Catholic College. – NJ Viehland Photos
Mar Bautista of Kidapawan Diocese told a session on transnational parenting that he chats with his children working overseas on Facebook and via cell phone about their problems and successes, how to cook adobo and monggo, and
shared a “self-centering prayer.” – NJ Viehland Photos
Read the full article on Sr. Java’s presentation on transnational families here
[Working on: Filipino Family Series Part 2, Splendor of OFW Family]