Coming home

IT’S not easy being popular, but Miguel ‘Mike’ Bolos Jr. seems to manage the fame attached to his name quite well. A 57-year-old entrepreneur, the story of the former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) inspires many migrants who would one day also want to come home for good.

Reputedly the highest paid Filipino in Saudi Arabia, Bolos decided to head home and put up his own business here in 2005. Never mind that he might never earn the same income he had as an accountant and chief financial officer; all he wanted was to invest the money he had earned for 25 years in his hometown of Guagua, Pampanga, a bustling town north of Manila.

Rediscovering daddy

VANCOUVER — For him, she is his little girl, his princess, the apple of his eye. For her, he is the most important man in her life, a disciplinarian, tough but soft

Father and daughter relationships are difficult to characterize. For every father who deserves the “best dad in the world” award, there is a deadbeat, absent, or abusive father.

Wary of the new wave

TO A common Juan, a Chinese is a Chinese is a Chinese. Ask him to distinguish between the old and the new and you might as well ask him what jiuqiao and xinqiao mean. They’re alien to him, pardon the pun.

But the Tsinoys want to make sure people can discern the differences between the jiuqiao and xinqiao, and several of them have even written papers to help ensure this.

Alien Nation

HERE’S one reason for staying in the Philippines: the world has been coming to our doorstep, anyway, so why even leave?

Overseas Filipinos

The jumpy ladies of Lebanon

BEIRUT — Miramar Flores stood on the ledge of her master’s second-floor balcony. As she tried to make up her mind — whether to stay on under the Israeli bombardment or to flee — it may well have occurred to her that it was a choice between death and death.

“If you don’t die from jumping, you die from nervousness,” recalls Flores, a 25-year-old domestic helper from Bacolod City. She chose to jump. She says that when she hit the ground, she thought it was the end. The pain in her legs assured her it wasn’t.

My Arabian nights

THERE WAS no saying no to Ramon. He invited me to his one-room apartment one day in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan. There was no work for a week and most shops were closed during the day. There was nothing to do but watch television. Ramon, a Filipino who had worked in Saudi Arabia for 10 years, was my driver, guide, and friend. He said he wanted to show me something that I would enjoy.

Second-generation Fil-Ams

The Philippines is in the heart

THE QUEZON City apartment, like many others on the same street, has a thick grill gate meant to deter break-ins. Just as I ring the doorbell, about six children, perhaps around the ages of three to seven, surround me, saying, “Sira ang doorbell! Kakatukin na lang namin siIa (The doorbell’s broken. We’ll just knock on the door)!. Before I can muster a response, all the kids squeeze their little heads into tight openings in the grill gate; in less than 3O seconds, they have made it to the front door. “Ate Jo! Kuya Tristan! May bisita kayo (You have visitors)! they yell.

OFW Special

Men as mothers

AS THE youngest of the three Leyba children, McLauren gets pampered in the manner all bunso are in a Filipino family, including being able to share bedspace with his parents. And up until three years ago, bedtime meant going through a peculiar ritual to help induce him to sleep: snuggling against his mother and rubbing one of her ears, a soporific massage that she would also give him.

OFW Special

Digital families

THE SINGLE-windowed post office in the Manara District of Jeddah opens only between ten o’clock in the morning until around three o’clock in the afternoon. That would cover the time of day when the heat from the desert sun is at its fiercest and just standing outside already feels like being inside a furnace. But until a few years ago, there was always a long line of men sweating it out in front of the post office. More often than not, the line would be made up mostly of Filipino workers, literally suffering a slow burn while waiting for their turn to mail letters and voice tapes to their loved ones back home. Mailing letters was probably the only advantage female OFWs had over their male counterparts, since women did not have to fall in line and were allowed to approach the window anytime and drop their letters.

The yaya sisterhood

A nation of nannies

SOME MONTHS ago, a Danish couple living in Australia created a tempest of sorts when they posted this message on the website philippines.com.au, an online forum for Filipinos Down Under:

Danish family is looking for a part time (3 days a week) amah in Jindalee…live out. Must be 100% trust worthy, independent, love our 2 chinese kids / 9 year old retriever and master of cleaning. Prefer non-smoker and QLD drivers licence.
Start late Jan 2005.
Email Sten & Ella

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