Working abroad keeps you away from home, your family, and other love ones. But if it is the only means to keep your family alive, then, what choice do you have?
Life in the Philippines is bleak. Although the economy under the Aquino administration has become better, the poverty index remains unchanged since 2006.
It means, even the dole out program Pantawid has not successfully eradicate poverty in the Philippines, at least for the time being.
That is why the Filipinos almost always take any opportunity to work abroad even as laborers or unskilled workers. In fact, 1 out of 3 of the 2.220 million OFWs is an unskilled worker says NSO data.
About my friend Jove
My friend Jovelyn Jerez Fernandez, 26, was one of the two million Filipinos who chose to try their luck abroad few years ago.
But due to the mounting crisis back home in the Philippines, her salaries were barely enough to sustain her family. She has two kids.
She killed herself today through drug overdose, said a workmate.
A hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates declared her dead on arrival. She will be sent to the Philippines in a sad casket.
Relatives question the incident
But some of her close family members, like Angel Devie can not accept that she had really committed suicide.
"Di' kame mgkahagad ngpakamatay sya,y reason para mgpakamatay sya,tuhan da n maka ingat. Ha 44 Ubat bata bata ma dead on arrival sya pa ospital?" Angel Devie said commenting in BassaKao post.
Another cousin Saphira Imbok commented in The Sulu Kris:
"My cousin was so brave and us her family we don't believe that shit!! She can't kill her self with so many reason.. i've got a chance to chat with her friend in the house and same work, she said she killed her self with 44 tablets for kids and dead on arrival.. how they that the tablet mas total of 44?"
My personal take on this
She might have been a coward, in my opinion, for ending her life that way, but if she had done it, your love ones, when stressed out and pushed to the wall, could have done it, too.
Working abroad is not always comfortable, especially living in an Arab household, it might also be a nightmare!
One of a UN worker in Cotabato, a Muslim African, warned me about the Arab people. “They are bad people,” he said.
It is of course stereotyping, and it is only partly related to the case of Jovelyn, but the sad fact is that, being OFW is having to take a great risk for yourself. There is always that possibility that you'll get an "Arab Jahil" for a boss.
But Saudi Arabia continued to be the most preferred destination of OFWs with 20.6 percent of the 2.22 million OFWs who worked abroad at any time from April to September of 2012 reporting it as their place of work, says the NSO data.
Some Christians even purposely convert to Islam just to get job placement in Saudi Arabia.
It’s about life and survival. The minimum salary for new workers in Saudi Arabia is around 3,000 Riyals, or roughly P40,000. That is of course way bigger than most salaries in the Philippines, including the Government employees, who are earning an average of P20,000 monthly only.
Caine Dhie in FB has this interesting share, however: "The minimum salary is 400 US dollar which is equivalent to 16,000 pesos or higher depending on exchange rate of dollar to peso for every household worker in saudi."
"And as of now saudi arabia is the only country that is strictly following this salary requirements for every household worker, meaning workers from other middle east country like abu dhabi receives lower than 16 thousand pesos monthly," she added.
To get a decent job
The reason people work abroad, then, is to have a job. There is not much job opportunities in Sulu. But despite the forecast of massive poverty in Sulu, however, majority of the people in Sulu is not really poor.
How can you call the Tausug people poor when even the families who are living in “barong-barong” houses have TVs, electric fans, washing machines; and each family member has their own assorted model of cellphones?
But of course, people always want for more. It is normal for people to be forever unsatisfied. So the preference for work abroad is always strong.
The reality of business in Sulu
When the minimum wage law of P250 a day in Sulu is not even respected by most establishments, how can you stop Tausug Filipino workers from seeking out for their luck abroad?
Giving wages of P250 a day for every worker, however, will bankrupt the employers in Sulu, as a matter of fact! There are many factors, but foremost is the uncertain and unexpected arrival of extortionists.
The maximum monthly salary that establishments in Sulu can afford for their workers is P3,000 only, that’s equivalent of P100 per day. How could you possibly survive with this amount of salary if you were sustaining a family / families?
I am not aware however how does Government agencies write in their reports of business and industries in Sulu. But I suspect those reports are full of exaggerations of bloated numbers and figures.
When our situation won’t change in Sulu, there could be a new Jovelyn every day in Saudi Arabia.
But some reminders for the self
Take note: Suicide is Haram in Islam!
Life is precious. No matter how hard our problem is, let us not waste it. Albert Nemeth said: There is no burden that is not lighten by the sharing of it.
But then, good bye, Jovie. See you, again.
It is so wrong and haram to commit suicide, but then it has been done. You must be so brave to do that. And yet, you are a big coward! Why choose death when there is a thousand more reasons to live. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun.
May other people take lessons from your experience. May the living learn to avoid that horrific blunder you have done. May other people learn to accept fate with sabar.
Allah is always merciful, and won't give us problem that we can't bear. Let us never commit suicide.
A good 26 years of life has been wasted by one awful decision. Life is indeed cruel. People are indeed cruel. Bad family is the most cruel thing in life. Please be kind to your love ones.
A twist and turn of the alleged suicide incident
Jove last post, which now has more or less 50 comments from friends and relatives, however, is very suspicious:
This last FB post may contain some hint to the investigators:
Allegedly, Jove had broken these properties of her Boss in Abu Dhabi because of Jove's problems at home in the Philippines:
Ito ang update niya after niya nasira ang mga gamit ng boss niya sa taas:
Then, a few hours later, she was found frothing white liquid from the mouth. It was alleged that she took the 44 tablets which her ward owned, and overdosing Jove.
She was then taken to a Hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (still verifying the name of the Hospital.)
Then, Jove was allegedly declared dead on arrival.
There are more questions to be answered and missing facts yet to surface.
The video below was taken by Saphira Imbok, Jove's cousin. Here, the mother Jove and her daughters sang along through internet chat.