CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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The best mangoes are from Cebu

I worked for a family in Cebu as a domestic worker on a small salary. But they liked me so much and treated me as part of their own family.

My husband’s family had a fishing boat and some fields in Leyte, so we were able to make ends meet until the terrible day Typhoon Yolanda struck in November 2013.

Our children, who were aged three, four and 13 at the time, were trapped inside our home while my husband and I were working outside.

For nearly a week, we were not able to reach our home due to the flood. I knew that even if the house did not collapse, there would be nothing to eat inside.

I could hardly sleep or even breathe because of the immense fear of losing my children. But my husband told me to pray, so I did pray among the flood waters and wherever I went.

When we finally reached our home after the water subsided, it was all debris. And there was no sign of my children. I screamed, cried and nearly fainted.

Then the biggest miracle of my life occurred. My neighbour found us and told us that they had saved our children. They had fed them with the poultry they were lucky enough to have on higher ground up the hill a bit.

Because of this incident, I have never doubted that prayer can work, as God had obviously saved our children!

However, the fishing boat and our farmland were all destroyed. Our house was classified as totally damaged by the government and we are supposed to receive some subsidy sometime. But we got nothing!

My husband then found a job in Cebu as well. For two years, my family was supported on our meagre salaries. My children’s activities at school have had to be limited to save money. We could not afford a proper meal for dinner. 

My eldest daughter enters high school this year and the school fees are a big burden.

After my mother complained that she felt sick without her vitamin C tablets, I knew I could not wait to do something any longer.

I asked my uncle to lend money to me so that I could work abroad.

I kept watching my phone waiting for a potential employer to offer an interview. When it rang, I picked it up at once. My employer in Cebu understood my situation and allowed me to talk on the phone during my work time. I will thank her family forever.

After two months’ waiting, there was a call from a Hong Kong employer who asked me a lot of questions and described her family in great detail. I got the impression that she would hire me. And it was true. Thank God!

I could not remember why and how much the agencies in Cebu and Manila had charged me for the repeated items they said I needed before I went to Hong Kong.

Whenever I asked for a clarification, the staff would become impatient and give a rude reply. One simply answered, “Do you want to go overseas or not?”

I went to Manila for training alone. My children and my husband then came to visit me in city before I boarded the plane for Hong Kong. They reminded me to remember the instructions of my employer and gave me some mangoes as a gift for them.

“Tell your employer that the best mangoes are from Cebu,” my husband said. “Remember we love you no matter what happens,” he added as he held my hands.

My children promised to behave themselves while I am not there. My husband promised to save money even while I am working overseas so I can return home for good a lot sooner.

Looking at the well-wrapped mangos, I thought this is not ordinary fruit, as it embodies the best wishes of my family and the hope of my new life.

I am grateful that my plan to work aboard was supported by my whole family. I am willing to make this sacrifice so that my daughter can have a proper graduation ceremony, my sons can have their new books and uniforms, and my mother can have her extremely important Vitamin C.

                                               

 

• Lily Luzares