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Homes for heroes

By: Senator Manny Villar

WHAT do you call a mother who, through no choice of her own, leaves her family in the Philippines in order to earn a living abroad taking care of other people?

What term will you use to describe a husband and a father who endures the loneliness and pain of working in a different country just to provide for his family only to lose that family while he is away? People call them overseas Filipino workers or OFWs.

I call them heroes.

We have heard countless stories – some painful, some happy – of our new Filipino heroes as they struggle to provide a bright future for their families, and by extension, for the country. Two stories are particularly heartwarming as told by our very own Camella Homes in their social media account.

One story is that of a Filipino father, Carding, who endured the hardships of working in a strange land, suffering humiliation, isolation, and sometimes even inhuman treatment. He weathered all of these so that as he sleeps at night he can look at the picture of his wife and young child and imagine a beautiful future ahead of them.

But as he returned home to that future, he discovered that he has lost his family. Someone else took his place as he labored abroad. Despite the gut-wrenching situation, he managed to pick up the pieces and just like many of our brave Filipino heroes, moved on to a new tomorrow; a new future.

The other story that became viral on social media is the story of a mother who worked abroad taking care of other people. You would think that for all of Norma’s sacrifices her children and loved ones look to her as more than a provider of money. Have the sacrifices of our OFWs become so commonplace that even their loved ones take it for granted?

For an OFW, returning home is probably as difficult as leaving. What if they have changed? What if they just want the pasalubong and not the person who brought it home? But a mother is always a mother. Even in the most difficult condition, a mother will provide for her children. And despite all misgivings, a hug from her children makes all the pain go away.

I hope you were able to watch those Camella videos (if you have not, check them out on Camella’s Facebook page). I did. And when I watched them, it strengthened my belief in the human spirit, no, in the Filipino spirit.

I have been a witness to the bravery and heroism of our overseas Filipino workers since I sold my first house and lot to a wife of an OFW – Mrs. Magtibay – who entrusted to me the hard-earned money of her seaman-husband so that they can have their first home as a family.

Since that day, I have dedicated my entrepreneurial endeavors to making sure that we can provide our OFWs a place they can call home and a future to look forward to as they come back home. As best as we could, we have helped welcome home Filipino heroes since 1975.

Our OFWs are our modern-day heroes. By sharing the stories of OFWs, we want to show them that we truly understand what they go through in life, their real day-to-day struggles and family issues.

This way, we will all learn to appreciate them and be more grateful for their sacrifices. We want to tell them that despite of all their problems, there is always hope for a better future.

Last August 28, the nation commemorated National Heroes Day. We have a special day dedicated to Filipino heroes like Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. We have Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, Teachers’ Day, we even celebrate National Pet Day. These are all very important.

When is Overseas Filipino Heroes Day?

(For comments/feedback email to: mbv,secretariat@gmail or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph.)