Ang Kuwento ni Nanay Somera

13 12 2007

Iba dapat iba-blog ko ngayon (baka later na lang ‘yun), pero may nabasa ako sa Internet that really got me…

She left her home in the northern Philippines with a dream: To give her 6-year-old daughter Marivic a brighter future. After 18 years, Leonora Somera, now 64, has yet to realize any of that dream, a dream that has turned into her worst nightmare. After working diligently for her employer for two years, he died and his son moved to Al-Baha, about 275 kilometers south of Jeddah. He brought Leonora along and that is where her sufferings began.

“There my work became harder. I washed clothes, ironed them, and then I shepherded a flock of more than 45 sheep and goats. This is on top of taking care of the sick uncle of my employer,” she told Arab News in her native language, Tagalog.“Every day, I tended the flock, took them to the mountains and herded them. I also fed them with vegetables that I begged from my friends in the market. I didn’t have money to buy food because my employer don’t give me any and neither did he pay me my salary.”

Without money, Leonora had to scavenge for food. She told how she rummaged among the vegetables and fruits and picked those that were still edible.

“I made a makeshift pushcart that I used to bring the vegetables from the market to our house. I would go back and forth at least five times a day. Then I would look for vegetables and fruits that I could eat. Sometimes when I had more than I could eat, I would give them to our neighbors,” Leonora said.

Leonora described how her employer deprived her of money.

“Once I told my employer that I needed money for my daughter’s examinations in school, but he didn’t give me any. I cried and I cried, but he never gave the money that I requested.” Her employer later moved to Makkah, leaving Leonora by herself in a three-story house. She found ways to pass the lonely times.

“I talked to the sheep. I told them; ‘You are better because you eat regularly every day, while I don’t know if my family in the Philippines has food on their tables.’ I talked to the animals and asked them, ‘When will I have money to send to my family?”

Through these years, Leonora could only write to her daughter back home occasionally, telling her she was alive. She said she wanted to write her regularly but she didn’t have money for stamps.

In 1999, Leonora told her employer that she had had enough. She told him that she wanted to go home because she was not being paid her salary regularly. He employer promised to “personally bring her back to the Philippines” but it never happened.

Four years later, she approached her employer again begging that he send her home. This time, Leonora was shocked when her employer told her bluntly, “You can’t go home. Your passport and iqama have been lost.”

Without her iqama, Leonora said the police interrogated her many times. When she explained who her employer was and where she lived, the police let her go.

Of course, she was scared; every time they talked to her, she had to put on a brave face.

Finally, Leonora mustered enough courage to leave Al-Baha. First she contacted a neighbor who worked as a seamstress. She in turn, referred her to another woman, Vilma, who contacted the consulate.

Vilma and Leonora planned her escape. However, Vilma was scheduled to go on vacation and Leonora begged Vilma to help her because her employer was visiting in a few days. So she postponed her trip and helped Leonora.

Labor Attaché Bulyok Nilong, upon learning of Leonora’s plight, sent welfare officer Anwar Ampang to Al-Baha to rescue Leonora. He couldn’t simply go and take Leonora out of her house; she had to get out. Leonora was fortunately able to escape and meet Ampang who helped her get to the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) on Dec. 1.

Social Welfare Department representative Pearl Panganiban told Arab News her impression after meeting Leonora for the first time.

“When Leonora came to FWRC on Dec. 1, she was literally skin and bones. She was crying all the time, especially when she recalled what had happened to her. She was also shaking. I conducted a series of crisis interventions, stress debriefing and counseling. We also provided her some basic necessities she needed because she didn’t bring any when she came. We also had her checked at United Doctors Hospital.”

Leonora has recovered somewhat from her ordeal. She was coherent when interviewed by Arab News, but she couldn’t help crying when she recounted her ordeal.

She still has one wish, “I’m asking for help from you so that I can get my wages for the past 18 years from my employer. I am old and can’t work anymore. Hopefully, I can have a little money to start a small business when I go back to the Philippines, and bring something to my daughter and sisters,” she said.

Labor Attaché Nilong said his staff had contacted Leonora’s employer, who reportedly said he was willing to pay her what she was due. “After we have collected the salary due her, we will help her go home,” Nilong told Arab News.

Leonora is from San Jose City in Nueva Ecija province, about 140 kilometers north of the Philippine capital, Manila.

Nilong said, “I would like to take this opportunity to ask OFWs in the Western Region who are in the same situation as Leonora — if you can’t contact us directly, please contact any of our kababayans (compatriots) so that they can contact us. Wherever you are, we are ready to help you. We are ready to get you out of trouble.”

As for Marivic, she is now 24 years old. She graduated from college, sadly with very little help from her mother.

Nonetheless, she is anxiously waiting to be reunited with the mother she has not seen for years.

Sa awa ng Dios, nagkaloob ang mga kapwa-OFW sa Saudi at kahit papano’y mayroon na siyang US$3,000. Kaya lang, hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin siya binabayaran ng amo niya, pero pinatawad na niya’t haayaan na lang niya ang bayad makauwi lang siya sa Pilipinas bago mag-Pasko.

Ano ang moral lesson? ANYWHERE BUT SAUDI…JOKE!




8 responses

13 12 2007


13 12 2007


sana dumating yung time na ang mga Filipino pupunta nalang sa Saudi or anywhere in the world as aid workers… as tourists… as advisers…


14 12 2007

isa pa lang yan.. marami pang hindi lumalabas na mga kwento tungkol sa pagpapakahirap ng mga pinoy sa ibang bansa..

15 12 2007
blue harajuku

nakakalungkot ang story ni mama… haaay nakakatawa naman ang moral lesson mo hehehe..

kahit papaano, i should be thankful my parents didnt go to horrible places just to keep us alive and undeprived.. yun lang

17 12 2007
Sirena Down Under

Thanks for posting this, Empress M. I will always remember this story when I get bored shitless with the job I do here. I still am a hundred times luckier. Yes, we should fall asleep counting our blessings. G’dday!

22 12 2007

nalungkot ako dun.. grabe ang hirap tlagang mabuhay.. ang swerte ko tlaga khit dmi problema.. nice blog

28 12 2007

curious lang ako. sumagot ba naman yung mga hayop? charuz!

9 03 2008

Yes this is a story of one sad woman
but where are the other happy stories for the millions living happily in saudi
don’t complain about it leave it!!!
if you don’t like saudi then why do you allow your poeple to come???

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