“You are part of those who will leave for Manila on Monday, the 10th of August, 2020!”
I can hardly believe what I’ve just heard that day, August 6, 2020.
I thought that call would be coming from the agency that tried-yet- failed to book for me on several attempts due to the scarcity of seats & flights with the ongoing global crisis.
it was beyond my expectations as the call was from DFA-Philippines in Dubai.
I felt my hands literally shaking. I was overwhelmed with great joy. Am finally going home! (the longest time so far of being away.)
On the other hand, it was heart-wrenching knowing that I shall leave my son & his family behind after almost nine months of being with them.
In my past & various experiences, going home from domestic & international trips had never been as challenging as this time.
The global pandemic, needless to say, allowed me to experience my share of repatriation, and am more than grateful for it.
I was supposed to fly home to Davao last March 19, 2020 but was constrained by the global halt. After having waited for several (failed) schedules, I finally asked my son if I can look for other means to fly me home.
So on the 4th of August, I sought the help of DFA-USec ERNESTO C. ABELLA for the Philippine-government’s repatriation program.
The following day I was instructed to come up with a Request for Repatriation. Everything went so fast that after his personal call, the DFA-Philippines Officer in Dubai interviewed me via call.
The next day, my number was part of the chat group created by Sir Ron of DFA-Philippines, Dubai.
All specifications and details were laid down to us. A number in our group had seemingly insurmountable challenges especially those whose visas already expired for months, even years, due to unemployment & other problems. Others still had countless concerns like having loans, physical & emotional challenges with other family concerns.
We also learned that due to the crisis, a number of repatriated Filipinos were still stranded in the different hotels in Manila waiting for their swab test results. We were then instructed to bring extra food good for two weeks.
I was swept away by inexplicable joy & excitement with all the emergency preparations of going home.
My last night in Abu Dhabi was filled with mixed emotions. I was honored as my family in AD sent me off with a boodle fight.
During the opening of gifts & pabaon, a highly-emotional tear-jerking time just went on with the crying of our dear Mochi-the friend, neighbor & playmate of our dear Keona. She blurted out…”I want to go with Owah to Davao, she’s the best teacher & best Owah.
ino ba naman ang hindi makaiyak? (Who wouldn’t cry with such expression of emotion?)
It was a well-spent night with my family in Abu Dhabi, felt their overflowing love & concern
The following day, August 09, I was happy & can’t help but be grateful for my son driving us to Dubai.
The sky displayed spectacular cloud formations, assuring me of the Divine’s direction & protection.
As we reached Dubai, I was more than happy for my two LJ nieces who joined me & my son James for dinner.
Mel & Micah joined us too, followed by Jasmin & Alvan. It was a bundle of joy for me to see them just before I flew back to the Philippines.
My last night in Dubai was in a hotel as my son continued working from there too.
Waking up to a brand new day filled my heart with so much glee. The sun was shimmering bright in UAE, beaming so much delightful hope & happiness.
This is it! The day of my going home finally came.
As we checked out from the hotel, I was with mixed emotions.
Had a quick visit in James’ DXB office & met some of his warm & friendly colleagues.
Earlier than expected at Dubai airport across Terminal 2, I was one of those who joined the long queue of excited early bird Filipinos to check in for our flight back to Philippine soil, notwithstanding the profuse perspiration brought about by the intense heat of the afternoon temperature.
Sir Ron of DFA was so preoccupied in entertaining queries from our batch. His presence brought a lot of assurance & strength as a number of us still had other emerging concerns.
I personally met Governor General Paul Cortes of the DFA-Philippine Consulate in Dubai while I waited for my turn in checking in. He & Sir Ron were more than fulfilled to see another batch of Filipinos being repatriated.
My heart was more than grateful for such a journey. I overheard a number of Filipinos with happy experiences while many have been feeling exasperated with all the difficulties, more so for the bread winners & family men & women.
As I read (in our chat room) & heard story after story of OFWs who lost their jobs & had to dance with the music of difficult change, I can’t help but empathize with them, sending them prayers, love & light.
It was a long yet exciting queue as we boarded. I was almost at the end of the queue in search of somebody who’s supposed to fly with us on that great day,
We were more that three hundred passengers. There were children in our PAL flight PR 8569. I guess the youngest among the children were the 5-month-old twins. I cant imagine how the parents managed having them in the full-packed craft.
Our body temperature must have absorbed the temperature inside the plane as almost all of us were literally cooling ourselves with hand fans. The restlessness of the children were seen & heard.
Amidst mixed emotions, happiness & gratitude to our Philippine government thru DFA filled my heart.
Filipinos abroad have been repatriated over the past months due to the pandemic. I’ve learned thru Sir Ron that there are still more than three-thousand Filipinos in UAE who are waiting for their chances of being repatriated.
Thanks Philippine Airlines (PAL) & other airlines for your valuable partnership with our Philippine government in bringing safely home the Filipinos from across the globe.
As we arrived Manila after an almost 9-hour flight, swab tests were administered & for tourists like me, we each paid for the said test. We all headed to our choice of hotel as we waited for the release of our results. The OFWs (current or past) & tourists traveling with an OFW were billeted to their respective hotels, for FREE after also their free swab tests.
Coast guards were deployed to help us leave the airport thus, wait for a cab.
Stepping on my homeland once more after a 258-day long journey in UAE made that day-August 11, very memorable.
I opted to stay in the nearest hotel from the airport as I was aware that there were no public transportation as Manila was in MECQ from August 4-18 while waiting for my swab test result & my flight back to Davao.
The day after arrivals in Manila, my swab test result was released.
Part of the New Normal is this…The New Positive is NEGATIVE.
I was more than joyfully privileged to extend a little help to one of those that have been repatriated-knowing that no amount of kindness no matter how small, is ever wasted.
After four (4) days in Manila, my flight back to Davao was for me another miracle. You may read my blog “My Best Flight (Seat)” dated August 24, 2020.
In August 15, 2020, I was part of the happy & proud DAVAOENOS who were warmly welcomed & oriented at the Davao Bangoy International Airport.
We were directed to claim our luggage with FREE packed meal & water, FREE swab test & FREE facility (overnight) with two meals, water & coffee as we stayed for 15 hours for another swab result.
I have never been HAPPILY…NEGATIVE (for two times for my swab tests in Manila & Davao) in my life.
THANKFULNESS to the great Source filled me with everything that transpired.
We declare for more provisions for DFA & our Philippine government as they continue to combat this pandemic thus, repatriate Filipinos across the globe..
To our National & Local PHILIPPINE Government…MABUHAY po kayo!Isang napakalakas at MASIGABONG PALAKPAK sa panggobyerno ng PILIPINAS!
For all the Miracles thru the help of DFA USec Ernesto C. Abella, my families in Abu Dhabi & Davao, my sincerest GRATITUDE for a Wonderful Repatriation Journey!
Ctto for the Cover & last PHOTOS