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First Time OFW – Journey to Canada


Virgin means FIRST TIME OFW

No matter how brilliant you are or how many medals you get in school, most of the time, undergrads go through fiery hell just to find a decent paying job. Especially when you are a nurse like me. You will review for months (some even go to review centers which costs more money) then you’ll take the board exam only to join in the growing number of unemployed nurses. Some opted to volunteer in non-government organizations to gain experience, but some did not only volunteer, they even paid to join those NGOs just like me. Yes, being a nurse is hard but paying money just to volunteer is so much more than suffering,

I need to find a job. How much money do I need to spend on jeepney fares just to reach my interview? How many bottles of mineral water do I need to drink in the hot summer sun just to relieve my thirst after my long marathon from point A to point B? How many resumes do I need to print and submit? My shoes wore out because of walking, I sweat like crazy and I smelled like I forgot to take a shower for a month but I still haven’t found a job. Until when? How long do I have to wait?

Even though I know it would be arduous, even though I know that it involves a lot of risk, I took the chance to work abroad. I went through a lot of agencies and I called different employers and I paid thousands of pesos to process my papers, just a never ending cycle of suffering just to complete all the necessary requirements for me to have at least a shot for a decent job abroad but finding a job didn’t come instantly.

How many days and months did you have to wait for you to complete and process all the documents the agency requires? How many people did you have to borrow money from for your placement fee? Everything’s just so exhausting, everything’s just so costly, everything’s just endless. But nevertheless, I never lost confidence that one day my family would be rich and I would be able to renovate our house that has been worn out over time. Every beep of my cellphone I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, it’s the news that I’ve always been waiting for. The waiting game is just unbearable! Why is it taking so long? Is the agency legitimate? Is the agency a scam? Most of the time, that is what’s running in my head but so they said, “a person who willingly waits has a ton of blessings awaiting them.”

Until one morning, I received the happiest call of my life! My parents were so happy and my younger brother and sister were so proud of me. There are no words to express the happiness and excitement I’m feeling. At last! I have a job! Not as Nurse, as Caregiver. But well, still overseas.

Immediately, I prepared my things, my clothes were organized by my mother while my little brother always kept reminding me to not forget the pasalubong especially his sneakers and touch screen cellphone. Of course, how can I say no to that especially now that I have a job. But happiness and excitement aside, I realized, what would happen to them after I leave? It’s my first time to leave my family for a long time. I would never hear my mother’s sermons in the morning again. I would never see my siblings play in front of the house again. I would never hear my dog’s bark again. How many birthdays will i miss? It’s like the family is incomplete when I’m gone. I never expected this to be so hard. It’s such a depressing feeling knowing that tomorrow you’re not with your family especially in those important moments where you can never turn back time.

Typhoon Ondoy is currently rampaging in Luzon when I left Bulacan for Canada. There’s no electricity at that time that’s why my shirt wasn’t even ironed before I left the house. We also don’t have a gas tank causing my siblings to cook through coals while trying to clean the house from dirt caused by the flooding. Then, hours passed and the car that was rented by my father to take me to the airport arrived. My heart pounded uncontrollably. Here it goes, there’s no stopping it. My heart wants to stay and just try to live life and survive in the Philippines but my mind says that my family needs this, that we will forever be in this situation if I don’t leave. I carefully looked at every nook and cranny of the house, memorizing every corner of it and burying every detail of every plant, every pet, and every neighbor in my mind. I saw my mother become teary eyed even when she’s smiling. I know she’s crying deep inside, she just doesn’t want to show it.

I was amazed when we came to the airport. It was my first time to see a real huge airplane! I know I sound crazy but IT’S REALLY REALLY HUGE! So before I go in, I tightly embraced my parents and siblings one last time and bid my last farewell. I chose not to look back while I was walking towards the door of the airport because I know I won’t be able to bear it when I see them crying. The airport was crowded. I saw different people from different races and most of them wore new and beautiful clothes. However, I didn’t lose courage even though I had a little panic attack because I didn’t know where the queue is for baggage check-in. The airport was too big for me and I feel like I’m so small but then I mustered all the courage I could get and asked several strangers for directions then there it is! My line was at sight! Now I’m a step closer to my flight.

I came at the boarding gate really hungry and thirsty from everything I’ve been through but my courage never dwindled knowing that I’m doing this for the future of my family. From the glass windows of the airport I could clearly see the humongous airplane right at my fingertips and then I thought, how could something this big and full of metal be able to fly above the clouds and not crash? I was hoping against hope that everything would be alright and we would not end up at the bottom of the pacific but still, I feared the thought of cruising above the clouds, reminiscing the days when I thought that riding a ferris wheel would be my dead end.

The time has come. One by one we were allowed entry to the plane. My knees wobbled and my hands sweat as I came nearer to the entrance while in my head I was repeatedly saying “Lord, please help me”. The flight stewardess welcomed us with smiles of greetings and assisted us until we are seated. I immediately fiddled with every feature of the plane being overly amazed as it is my first time to ever actually enter one but still I have this doubt in my heart and an initial certainty that this aircraft cannot fly but with a few deep breaths I was able to hold it.

The airplane finally moved making its way towards the runway until… everything slowed down and the plane took off in a massive burst of speed! I was terribly frightened during the take off that I never removed my sweating hands from the armrest! I almost wanted to turn back but it was too late. My mother’s face and everyone that I was going to leave flashed into my memory giving me assurance that everything that I was doing and experiencing is for them. I went pale during the first few minutes of the flight not knowing what happened or what I should do but after a while the airplane leveled and everything was back to normal. I was amazed. It was my first time to see the clouds upfront and the light turn in to darkness as we cross different time zones but all the excitement turned to boredom after a few hours. The whole flight lasted a grueling 18 hours and it was nighttime when we arrived but I can still see the snow atop the mountains. It was all beautiful. Everything was picture perfect just like what I saw in the pictures and I would never ever forget that moment until I die. I didn’t want to get out of my seat when the plane landed in British Columbia because I knew that the real battle is waiting. My whole journey starts when I get out of the door. I knew that I am going to experience all the pressure again and maybe a lot more. Questions rattled my mind. Doubt filled my mind. Fear covered my heart. But I’m here, equipped and ready to face life’s toughest challenges for my family. I can do this!

To be continued…

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