Working abroad is usually the only option left for our fellow Filipinos who want to provide a good future for their family since they do not have enough opportunities to do so in their homeland. In the February 6 episode of Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, we feature some of the most inspiring and moving stories of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who faced tremendous challenges in life but succeeded in the end.
Myrna Padilla was an OFW who worked as a domestic helper for almost 20 years. She described her family as among the poorest of the poor in their fishing village. She shared that there were times that they would wake up and have nothing to eat. That was when she would initiate to find ways to provide food for her siblings. Her motivation to strive hard was the usual perception of most people that you will not succeed in life if you don’t get a good education.
However, because of poverty, Myrna had to stop school when she was in third year high school. She would then join amateur singing contests just to help her family. A recruiter would then offer Myrna an opportunity to work in Japan. However, the recruiter only gave her false hopes, and this left Myrna serving as the recruiter’s house helper. But she pushed through with her dream of going abroad. She immediately grabbed the opportunity of working in Singapore as a domestic helper. While did succeed in getting that overseas job she always wanted, Myrna suffered maltreatment in the hands of her employers.
But her life changed when she worked for the Fung family. She worked for them for a decade and she made a special bond with Jonathan Fung, now a mixed martial arts (MMA) coach and businessman. She took care of Jonathan ever since he was little. Jonathan said that among all the nannies who took care of him, Myrna was the one who stood out because of the way she cared for him. One of their bonding moments was when Myrna would sit next to Jonathan to watch him use the computer. She would be so curious about how it works that’s why she would ask a lot of questions to Jonathan. One day, he was surprised to see her nanny Myrna reading a book about computers and he was so happy for her when she told him she wanted to learn about computers.
Jonathan shared that Myrna wasn’t really just a helper to their family or a nanny to him, but she really became his second mother because Jonathan did not have a very strong relationship with his real mom. He would always vent out to Myrna and that’s how they built a special bond with each other. Jonathan said that Myrna is always one of the most important people who left a major impact in his life and his journey towards success. To express his appreciation to Myrna, Jonathan gave her a medal that’s very sentimental to him.
After 20 years working as a domestic helper, Myrna saved all her earnings, learned more about computers and the Internet, and set up a company named MYND Consulting, which specializes in web design and development, servicing not only the Philippines but also in the U.S. and Europe markets as well. And one of her company’s social projects is OFW Watch, an online-based platform which connects millions of OFWs around the world—an initiative quite close to her heart.
One of the OFWs Myrna helped through her pet project was Janneth Fudalan, a contract worker who did everything for her family. She decided to grab the opportunity to work as a domestic helper in Singapore for 11 years to support the medication of her sick father who was diagnosed with diabetes, and to support the education of her siblings as well. One of the lowest points in Janneth's life happened when her mother died. She got back to the Philippines to mourn her mother’s death. Another challenge came when she went back to Hong Kong and got terminated from her work. That’s when she remembered Myrna and asked her help. Janneth asked her if she could work for her as a house helper but Myrna gave her a job way more than Janneth expected. Since then, she has been working as chat support and volunteer in OFW Watch and quality assurance in MYND Consulting. At first, Janneth thought that she couldn’t do the job because she’s computer illiterate but with Myrna’s help and guidance, she was able to make it. And for that Janneth is forever grateful and thankful for Myrna. To give her huge thanks and appreciation, Janneth gave Myrna a candle which symbolizes the light that she gave her during the darkest times of her life.
Myrna also assisted fellow ex-OFW and domestic helper, Jenilyn Bergonia, who is currently the OFW Watch Support Team Lead. She also came from a less fortunate family. They had to sacrifice a lot and work extra hard for her studies. She succeeded and graduated from college. After graduation, Jenilyn became pregnant with her first child although she and the father of her child separated when their baby turned one. But Jenilyn’s strength was challenged when she lost her baby and when her partner cheated on her. That’s when she decided to work in Kuwait supposedly as a private tutor. But when she arrived there, Jenilyn didn’t expect that she would work as a domestic helper. What saved her during her darkest times was her connection with her co-OFWs through Myrna’s OFW Watch. She enjoyed talking to them and relating to them. After finishing her contract in Kuwait, she went back to the country and Myrna gave her an opportunity to work in OFW Watch. And Jenilyn is very thankful to her for all the help and guidance that she’s given to her.
Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, hosted by Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, airs every Saturday at 7pm on the Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.