Repatriated OFW Starts New Business Amid Pandemic

Repatriated OFW Starts New Business Amid Pandemic


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Filipinos who work abroad aspire to give their families not just a roof over their heads, but also a home that gives you sense of security which makes all their sacrifices worth it.

This is also the aspiration of Prime Villariasa who served as a duct man for five years in Saudi Arabia, and worked in a perfume manufacturing company in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for nine months.

However, his contract abroad was shortened when the coronavirus pandemic 2019 (Covid-19) started in March this year.

Villariasa recounted that during his stay in Abu Dhabi, the global pandemic brought him fears and to his entire family in Davao City.

“I worry a lot because my wife is pregnant, and I am not on her side when she gives birth. The fact that you can’t come home because of the pandemic made me really sad. Thinking about losing my job adds up to the stress,” he told the Philippine News Agency over the weekend.

During that period, he continuously reached his family through video calling and found relief in talking to her one-year-old daughter.

“Somehow, I find comfort and relief. But it is still different when I am with them,” he added.

With the threat of Covid-19, Villariasa said he feared for his life since some of his fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFW) got infected with the virus while others succumbed to the disease.

To conquer his fears, Villariasa said he wanted to go home.

“My goal is to come home safely. During that time, airline companies frequently canceled their flights, and fare prices were really high. I am happy that I was able to avail of a repatriation flight from the Philippine government. I waited for a month to get confirmed and just as the time that I wanted to give up, staff from the Embassy in Dubai called me and said that I was included in the said flight,” he recalled.

During that time, over 86,000 OFWs went home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Home at last

On July 2, Villariasa landed in Manila and stayed for seven days while waiting for his reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result which turned out negative.

On July 9, he safely landed in Davao City and was subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

“It was a relief. I may not be able to hug my one-year-old daughter and my newborn baby girl, but at least I can see them from afar. During my quarantine period, I think about how to start our living. My wife and I had initial plans. What’s more important during that time is I am with my family,” he added.

Moving forward amid challenges

Villariasa has put up his own ‘sari-sari’ store and also started with a little ‘carinderia” along with his in-laws.

“I will make up for all shortcomings when I was not with them. My wife and I will do anything for our family,” he said.
Villariasa also planned to raise livestock and poultry animals which he said is another source of income for their family.

“Anything that can be a source of income, I will try it — for us to survive,” he added.

When asked if he wanted to work abroad after the pandemic he said, “right now, I don’t have plans yet. I am enjoying my stay here with my family especially with my two lovely daughters.” (PNA)

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