LOVE STORIES are often about boy meets girl and how they fight to have their “happily ever after” but I have come to know love as deep and selfless as it should through the stories of the Overseas Filipino Workers, a kind of love story worth telling this Christmas.
Loneliness is a very familiar feeling, it is something we have to endure every single day we are far from home but somehow the cold winter breeze and white snow by the window make us feel bluer than blue than any season of the year. Christmas here in London is grand but not as festive and long as we do it back in the Philippines. No dawn masses and hot bibingkas early in the morning, no inaanaks knocking at your door on Christmas day, no monito monita (Pinoy style of exchanging gifts), no carolling and the famous “thank you, thank you ang babait ninyo” after giving them few coins… but most especially, the family is not here on Christmas eve for noche buena. Christmas is indeed different back home.
I guess like most OFWs, I prepare for the Christmas season for months. Little by little I’m filling in the box I have to send home and make sure it will arrive before the day itself. I cover extra shift so I can have enough money to buy every member of the family, good gifts, send aguinaldos for my inaanaks and for my family to have a feast on the noche buena. People think Filipinos are sending too much for Christmas and maybe we are, but all the preparations and sacrifices we have to make are all worth it once you hear the voice of your loved ones saying “thank you Ma,” and see their smile in a photo.
So while all London is busy celebrating with parties and gift giving left and right, I would rather stay home and watch them have their Noche Buena because somehow by doing so I feel like a part of it too. “Merry Christmas po!” they say, one by one they would approach the computer and tell things like “ang sarap ng lechon, uwi ka na dito” or sometimes even dedicate a karaoke song for me. Some of them are even wearing the clothes I bought for them and they would say “Salamat po, ang ganda ng regalo nyo!” with the biggest smile on their faces. The little kids are even willing to sing and dance for me in front of the computer anticipating for their aguinaldo and it gives me such joy to see their faces after they open my gifts for them and the little red envelope from their ninang.
Christmas is about the joy of Christ’s birth, it is a celebration of love and peace all over the world. One day, in God’s time, I will be home for Christmas and will have the chance to hug and kiss everyone as the clock strikes twelve; eat our favourite food, hand over our gifts personally to our loved ones and finally have the chance to make them feel loved. I am sharing this grand dream with thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers across the globe who long to be with their family more than anything else this Christmas. For now, we have to let go of this dream temporarily.
Puso kong Imported
By Justine Imbag