Due to the ongoing pandemic, thousands upon thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are finding themselves out of work, with limited income and job opportunities, and having to return back to the Philippines.
One of these OFWs is Prime Villariasa, who worked as a duct man for five years in Saudi Arabia, and for nine months at a perfume manufacturing company in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Earlier, this March, his contract was shortened because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Former OFW from UAE Starts New Business Upon Returning Home
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Villariasa recalled that he worried a lot during his stay in Abu Dhabi. His wife was pregnant, and he would not be at her side when she gave birth. Thinking about losing his job also added to the stress, he shared.
He found comfort and relief by keeping in touch with his family through video calls, especially when talking with his one-year-old daughter. However, online calls are just not the same as being with them face to face.
To make matters worse, Villariasa became worried and afraid for his life, since some of his fellow OFWs got infected with COVID-19, with others even succumbing to the disease. And so, he decided to return home. It wasn’t easy, however, since flight tickets were expensive at that time and airlines often cancelled flights due to travel restrictions.
Fortunately, after about a month of waiting, he received a call from the Philippine Embassy in Dubai, telling him that he was included in a repatriation flight offered by the Philippine government. He was among the 86,000 OFWs who were able to return home at that time.
He arrived in Manila on July 2 and stayed there for seven days, while waiting for his RT-PCR test result. The test turned out to be negative, so on July 9, he travelled to Davao City, where he had to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before finally going home.
Upon seeing his family, including his one-year-old daughter and newborn baby girl, Villariasa felt relieved, even though he could only see them from afar. During his quarantine period, he thought a lot about how to start anew and make a living.
Today, he manages a “sari-sari” store along with his wife, as well as a small “carinderia” together with his in-laws. He is also planning to raise poultry and livestock animals as an additional source of income for the family.
When asked whether he is planning to go abroad after the pandemic, Villariasa shared that for now, he doesn’t have any plans just yet. He is simply enjoying his time with his family, especially with his two lovely daughters.
Indeed, the current crisis may have affected our jobs and our livelihood, but it can never extinguish our hope and determination, especially when it comes to providing for our families. After all, the safety and well-being of our families is what matters most, whether we are working in the Philippines or abroad.