DUBAI: It’s that time of the year when families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) would be having balikbayan boxes filled with goodies for Christmas.
But not the Evangelistas.
They would instead have a wooden box with something different in it: A kin’s remains; that of Leonora’s, a single mom who left her infant to their care so she could take her chances in Dubai and prepare a bright future.
“Napakalungkot po ng nangyari,” said Leah Evangelista, Leonora’s cousin who is based in Abu Dhabi and working as secretary at a contracting firm. “Walang makukuha ang family nya kasi hindi sya OWWA member. Tatlong buwan pa lang sya dito tapos ganun,” she added.
Leonora, who arrived in Dubai on a visit visa around August last year, got a job as a household service worker. She was rushed to Rashid Hospital in mid-November following a ruptured brain blood vessel and was moved to the Intensive Care Unit after going into coma.
She did not regain consciousness and died a week later on Nov. 29.
“Pumutok daw yung ugat sa utak at kumalat agad ang dugo kaya sya inoperahan,” “Rosemarie,” a volunteer said.
Upon arrival in Dubai, The Filipino Times learned that Leonora was referred to an agency which processed her employment as a household service worker — a known modus operandi of human traffickers.
Leonora’s remains arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board a Philippine Airline flight the morning of Dec. 11, according to Leah. The OFW hailed from Rizal, Nueva Ecija.