Chapter 16:

Chapter 16: Meant To Be An OFW

OFW: Billionaire's Life Story

It's my day off; I had more time to search and apply for a job abroad. I went to the Makati area where I began my adventure, in finding a job.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the square was the glass stained windows. They were awash with water, and paused to look enchanting because intricate designs had always intrigued me.

Water streamed down the glass like a fine, undulating curtain. It was probably being released from hidden ducts or some kind of similar system in the ceiling, then recycled back through intricate piping. I watched it for a moment, fascinated, before pressing closer to the glass, peering through this constantly moving, liquid curtain, my eyes resting on banks of the most beautiful flowers I had seen for a long time. Color flamed vividly in a profusion of variegated reds and oranges intermingled with magenta and purple, paled to soft fading yellows and crisp white; and interspersed amongst these brilliant hues and the more fragile ones were innumerable dark light greens, leaves so luxuriant and shiny they looked as if they had been individually polished to a glossy sheen.

A smile touched my lips and my spirits lifted.

The array of flowers and plants was like a breath of spring, evoked images of sharp clear sunlight on green meadows, trees newly bursting with tender young leaves, and blue and radiant skies. And if the flowers made me feel light-hearted, then certainly they would bring luck to me.

This time there was no hesitation on my part. Decisively, I pushed open the door of the Sampaguita Manpower Agency and went inside. Instantly my nostrils were assaulted by all manner of mingled scents of the applicants and workers too.

I sat down observing other applicants; the information table and the system of processing for the new applicants. Each applicant paid five pesos for the form, including me. I filled it up with my personal information, waited for almost two hours, and was told to complete the requirements first to be included in the personal interview list.

I roamed around the places nearby which consumed the beauty and wealth of the surroundings. Rich people were the only ones who deserved to share their fame, the comfort and privilege which came with their wealth. But I had not lived to see and enjoy these blessings, for I was the one making my life who truly knew the heartaches, the sacrifices, and, the immense work it had taken to grasp it. And later, the effort expanded to hold onto what I called love. That was perhaps the hardest part of all – holding on to my dreams to fulfill.

I went home feeling quite exhausted for I was wondering what lies ahead for me, my family, and, my dreams.

"Ayah, love, get dressed, and the children too."

"Where to?" she asked me surprised.

"Manila Zoo, next to Harrison Plaza! Anne, Kent, John, let's go!"

I was happy to see them roaming around feeling contented with us, the joy of having these innocent children, brought satisfaction and challenges. With them, I felt the greatest love of all, love that can never be equaled by any wealth in this world. They were the prime movers of my life, a life so hard to comprehend with my being and the strengths that I reserved for them. I valued them as my gems; the shining light that showed me the way, the hopes of wanting for a bright tomorrow, and, the inheritor of my innate self.

Two weeks had passed; I received my educational documents coming from Edward. I was glad for the development that I pursued my job application abroad. I skipped my duty hours or asked for a day off if I had to process my papers.

The Manpower Agency called a meeting for all that were shortlisted. We were screened by the Company's representative with strictness and care. I excelled at other management applicants because of my job knowledge and personality, which they told me after the feedback session. I knew I had the capabilities of managing people through the system and procedures of the company. I was selected as a Store Manager of a fast-food chain of restaurants in the United Arab Emirates.

I went home feeling the joy of being an OFW already, but I didn't have the knowledge of being one. Heard some news about it in the past, but not fully in my head to contemplate that one day I was one of them. I resumed my daily duty hours at the restaurant but my mind kept on evolving to where I was destined.

One day while I was on duty, my assistant manager said, "Sir, our Operations Manager, Mr. Villanueva's on the phone."

"Okay, work this out, I'll answer the phone."

I answered the call inside the restaurant office, but I hesitated when I heard our superior's voice to report to the office, as soon as possible, (ASAP). I instantly went to the Caloocan Office to meet Mr. Rene Villanueva.

I went inside the Main Office hall, seated, composed myself, and, looked around for office workers that I knew of. It's a usual office day for them; nothing seemed so unusual in their behavior. I went to the Operations Manager's room, knocked, open the doorknob slowly. "Come in Mr. Fernando, have a seat."

"Thank you, Sir," I responded courteously. He got a piece of paper in the folder and handed it to me. "Please read that memo."

"Yes, Sir."

"Is it true that you're planning to work abroad?"

"No, Sir, that's not true. I went to the manpower agency for a possible job for my cousin, not for me, Sir," I lied defensively.

"Then, this is just a rumor? You know, your performance is exceptional and truly an asset to the Company. I am planning to promote you as the next Area Manager of your territory. So, please, Mr. Fernando, stay away from any negative elements while you're under the system of this Company. I'm sure you can do that. Thank you for coming."

I extended my right hand to him, "Thank you, Sir!"

I left the main office feeling undecided, back to the restaurant, and held an emergency meeting for the staff, "Today, I met our Operations Manager, and he told me, that there was some staff who applied to work abroad. Any one of you, really did apply?" I asked with strictness in my voice.

"Sir, as far as I know, in some other branches, I'm positive about it," a staff said.

"Okay, give me the list of those people. Thank you. That's it. You can go back now to your assigned work."

The next episode of my life was meant for me to decide, or to hold on to whatever I can do with my employment status. I knew too well, that to be promoted to a job, was an opportunity of the century. It's a feeling inside of you which conformed to your performance to excel and proceed with dignity. But, working abroad was an unknown destiny molded to be explored and discovered, without the presence of your loved ones. Really, intimidating for me to think in a manner that I had to choose between two different employment opportunities choosing between Danielle Gustilo and Ayah Isabel Gonzales.

I was meant to be an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), that's my fate, that's my destiny and my future.