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OFW couple left PH together; husband returns home with wife’s remains

by | Feature

When overseas Filipino worker (OFW) couple Allan Gemina and his wife Elena decided to leave the Philippines, they had simple plans—to build a decent life for their children and return home together when life is better.

They did come home together, but one of them was carrying the other in a coffin.

Life has not been kind to the couple. To support their children, Allan had to work as a UV driver in the Philippines, while Elena had to be away from them to work as a domestic helper in Dubai.

After three difficult years, Elena had to return to the Philippines. To worsen the situation, Allan took a blow when his vehicle was confiscated by authorities along with his license.

For a while, Allan’s meager income as a tricycle driver in their area supported their family. In the beginning, it was enough to get by. Then two of their children would soon be admitted to the university and the couple is faced with another tough decision.

“Magcocollege na yung dalawa naming anak kaya nagdesisyon kaming mag-OFW. Marami kaming pangarap ng asawa ko,” Allan told The Filipino Times.

Allan and Elena arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 4, 2017, two days before their daughter’s birthday. While leaving their children in the Philippines was hard for the both of them, they found comfort in each other.

After a series of misfortunes, they saw a glimmer of hope when they met their employer who was very accommodating and kind to them. Allan worked as a driver while Elena worked as a household helper.

Every night, the two would talk about how their day went and shared their plans and dreams for themselves and their children. But the little hope they had in store was easily crushed by the events that took them by surprise.

One week into their new job, Elena was getting ready to bring her employer’s children to school when her vision blurred. Feeling light-headed, she decided to sit down. But she later lost consciousness and collapsed on the floor.

Allan brought his wife inside their employer’s car and rushed her to the King Saud Hospital. Everything went by so quickly and in a blink of an eye, Elena was already in a coma inside the intensive care unit of the hospital.

Twenty-four hours later, November 15, at 7 in the evening, Elena died. The last children that she saw before passing on was her madam’s and not her own.

A devastated Allan could not help but figure out what was next for him and his children. Their employers shouldered all the medical bills and Elena’s morgue expenses. They also did everything they could to help Allan cope from the emotional trauma of the sudden death of his wife. They asked Allan to stop working and just wait for their flight back to the Philippines.

The two decided to reach for their dreams together overseas, but the husband went home alive and his wife in a coffin.

Elena’s remains were repatriated to the Philippines through the help of their employer on December 21—four days before Christmas.

“Ang hiling ko lang makauwi kami noon bago mag-Pasko para magkasama-sama kami ng mga anak ko kahit patay na siya. Gusto kong makapagpahinga na siya ng maayos. (My only wish used to be to go home before Christmas so that we can be together with our children. Even though she is dead, I want her laid properly to rest)” Allan mourned.

During Elena’s wake, Allan promised to pursue the dreams they built together in his eulogy.

“Hindi kita makakalimutan kahit masakit. Nawalan man ng ilaw ng tahanan ang pamilya natin pero ipapangako ko sa’yo na ang lahat ng huling napagusapan natin, mga pangarap at plano para sa mga anak natin. Tutuparin ko kahit mag-isa nalang ako para kapag dumating ang oras na magkikita na tayo magiging masaya ka sa pagsalubong mo sa akin dahil tinupad ko ang lahat ng pangarap natin (I will never forget you no matter how much it hurts. We may have lost our family’s beacon but I promise to you that I will not give up on the dreams and plans we talked about on our last conversation, even though I have to do it alone now. So that if the time comes and we will be together, you can welcome me with an embrace because I made our dreams come true),” Allan’s message read.

“Alam ko na inihatid mo lang ako doon para masanay at maranasan ko ang buhay ng isang OFW na malayo sa mga bata. Maraming salamat, Ma, dahil kahit bago ka nawala tinuruan mo akong maging matatag (I know that you only accompanied me so I can get used to the life of an OFW, to being away from our kids. Thank you, Ma, because you taught me how to be strong before leaving me).”

The last post Elena shared on Facebook showed how much love the two had for each other. “Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is very special,” Elena’s post read.

Like their old days, Allan tried to look for that glimmer of light after a series of misfortunes. He continued to live his life with their children and visited Elena’s grave frequently. He even celebrated her birthday last January 20.

“Happy birthday mama. Kahit nasaan ka ngayon sana masaya ka na. Hinding-hindi kita nakakalimutan at ang mga masasayang araw natin. Ang mga pagsubok na pinagdaanan natin. Hindi ka sumuko at mahal na mahal ka namin ng mga bata, Ma, kahit masakit sa kalooban ko bigla ka nalang kinuha sa amin ng itaas. Pipilitin ko magpakatatag para sa mga bata at ang lahat ng plano at pangarap natin nung huling magkasama tayo. Tutuparin ko pangako ko sayo. Mahal na mahal kita Mama. [Elena], I miss you,” Allan’s post on Facebook read.

Today, Allan is back in Saudi Arabia for their children. But this time, he will reach for his and Elena’s dreams alone. This time there is no Elena to see in the morning preparing their employer’s children’s needs for school. There is no Elena to talk to at night.

Despite all these, Allan still has their children to draw inspiration from.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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