Every year, many Filipinos leave the country to seek greener pastures abroad. This scenario usually involves parents leaving their families and believing that a career overseas will be able to provide a better future for them. They sacrifice by being away from their loved ones in exchange for a more financially-secure life. One of these overseas Filipino workers is Cecilia Alcaraz, an English teacher in Taiwan who ended up in prison and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Taiwan Appellate Court for the robbery and murder of a Taiwanese jobs broker.
BY ANNA KRISTINA P. VIRTUSIO
Reprinted from Bulatlat
May 9, 2009
Every year, many Filipinos leave the country to seek greener pastures abroad. According to independent think-tank and research institution IBON Foundation, about nine to 10 million Filipinos work in 192 countries worldwide. In 2008 alone, more than 3,5000 Filipinos were leaving the country everyday.
This scenario usually involves parents leaving their families and believing that a career overseas will be able to provide a better future for them. They sacrifice by being away from their loved ones in exchange for a more financially-secure life.
One of these overseas Filipino workers is Cecilia Alcaraz, an English teacher in Taiwan who ended up in prison and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Taiwan Appellate Court for the robbery and murder of a Taiwanese jobs broker.
Forced to leave
Alcaraz, 48, is a single parent to four boys. Jerome, her 19-year old son said that his mother was able to provide well for them even before she went abroad. She tended their own sari-sari store and sold rice cakes.
“Para lang makaraos kami sa araw-araw, ginagawa niya lahat kasi siya’y single parent,” said Jerome. (Just so we could meet our daily needs, she does everything because she is a single parent.)
However, the time came when her income from having a sari-sari (variety) store and from selling rice cakes was no longer enough for all four children who were attending school. Thus, in 2001, she was forced to work as a domestic helper in Taiwan to earn a larger sum of money for the family.
“Siyempre apat kaming nag-aaral noon, kaya siya nagpunta sa ibang bansa para makaahon (kami) sa hirap,” Jerome explained. (There were four of us studying then, so she went abroad to ease our difficulties.)
A happy person and a loving mother
Alcaraz’s older sister Rosalinda described her as a happy person. She used to be the life of the family, especially to their parents when they were still alive, as she was loud and talkative.
“Kaya kapag ‘yan ay nawawala sa amin, wala ang gulo. Siya ang nagbibigay ng kasiyahan sa amin, said Rosalinda who even laughed while talking about her sister. (That is why the fun stops when she is not around. She is the one who gives us joy.)
Rosalinda described Alcaraz as the type of mother who persevered so much just to be able to support her family.
“Si Cecilia ay matatag, malakas ang loob at saka mabait sa mga anak, kaya maski solong katawan talagang sinisikap niya na masalba ang kanyang pamilya kasi siya ay single parent,” Rosalinda said. (Cecilia is strong and courageous and she is kind to her children, which is why although she does the work alone, she strives to keep her family afloat, especially because she is a single parent.)
Away from home
Jerome told Bulatlat that her mother regularly sent money for them. Whenever she called and asked them about their needs, especially in school, they would be receiving money from her in just two weeks.
Rosalinda also recalled that reading letters from the family became Alcaraz’s pastime while working in Taiwan.
“Kaya ang hiling niya, siya ay sulatan kasi iyon lang ang kaniyang inaasahan (nang) sa araw-araw ay meron siyang nababasa, pinababalik-balik,” said Rosalinda. (That is why her request was for us to send her letters regularly so that she would have something to look forward to everyday. She read our letters over and over.)
Sons want her home
While Alcaraz’s fate in Taiwan remains uncertain, her children still hope that she would be returning home soon.
“ (Sana ay) tutukan nang mabuti ang kaso ng nanay ko, huwag pabayaan. Saka 'yun nga ang hiling nami, na mapauwi. Lagi ko ngang sinasabi gusto ko makasama ang magulang ko. Syempre ilang taon namin siyang di nakakasama,” said Jerome. (I hope they monitor and follow-up my mother’s case thoroughly. Our only wish is for her to be sent home. I have always said that what I wanted was to be with my mother. We have not been together for years already.)
This coming Mother’s Day, Alcaraz will be staying in jail. Many mothers like her will not be coming home to celebrate the occasion with their children. Mother’s Day, for them, remains to be one of the many important dates like Christmas, New Year and birthdays which pass without being with their loved ones. (Bulatlat.com)