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DOHA, Qatar (MindaNews / 02 July) — For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs),  taking an annual vacation is one of the most exhilarating moments because it is when we can reunite with our families and loved ones at home.

As soon as our vacation is officially approved by the HR department, the happiness and excitement we experience would reach beyond the sky. We keep on thinking about it. 

As a matter of fact, we rush to look for airline promotions so we could purchase the round-trip ticket as soon as possible. 

Leaving Zamboanga City for Manila on June 30, 2022, to return to Doha in Qatar for work. Photo by GAMSON JR. MAWALLIL QUIJANO

Some of us would also think of the “pasalubong” we will bring to our immediate family members and special people in our lives. 

Some OFWs, however, opt to ship packages home in advance because they could not carry all of the things they want to bring home as checked-in baggage due to the limited baggage allowance imposed by the airlines. 

To make their vacation more meaningful, OFWs plan the itinerary and prepare a list of the things they want to do back home. 

When our vacation ends, we’d look at the list and to check we’ve done what we set out to do. 

It’s funny and perhaps you won’t believe it, but most OFWs, even when we have not yet begun our vacation, would already think of  the native food we would eat back home. 

We don’t just miss our precious family at home, but also the food we used to eat with them. 

The life of most OFWs revolves around work, home, eat, sleep and a repeat of this daily routine. 

Going to work every day to perform our sworn duties as an employee is our main priority since it is the core reason why we work overseas in the first place.

Sunday in Jolo A Sunday morning scene at the Jolo wharf is framed by Sulu’s Grand Masjid Tulay (left) and the mountain, Bud Tumantangis, on 26 June 2022. MindaNews photo by GAMSON JR MAWALLIL QUIJANO

Hence, the annual vacation is the best time for us to relax without thinking about any job for tomorrow. 

“To rest well” in order to rejuvenate and invigorate physically, mentally, and emotionally is the primary objective of OFWs going on vacation. 

Delight fills us the moment we board the plane. We badly want to reduce the length of travel because we are eager to see our families and loved ones. 

I recall a time when, as soon as the the wheels of the aircraft safely touched down at the runway, passengers on board could not help but squeal with euphoria, relief and gratitude for having arrived and returned safely to their homeland. 

Imagine the feeling when you finally see once again the most important people in your life after having been away for such a long time? The moment when you can hug and touch them? When you can see the gay smiles beaming on their faces? 

This is the  priceless moment at the airport when they pick us up on the day of our arrival. Everyone is elated on this day. 

Vacation is really important to us. It is the time when we can share personally with our families all the good and bad experiences we went through while we were away from them. Also, it’s the time that they could personally share theirs. 

This is also the time we could eat together, see each other every day, go out for family bonding like going to the beach and doing some recreational activities together, and many more. 

It’s all about togetherness. Being reunited after ages of distance. 

Going on vacation is one of the happiest and most fulfilling things in the lives of OFWs. We pray this blissful feeling would never end. 

But you know, when the vacation days are about to end, separation anxiety overwhelms us. The thought saddens us so much. 

The feeling when we are still about to go on vacation and when the vacation is almost over is completely different. 

We are so anxious about our family that we would be leaving behind again. Likewise, they are also woeful because we will be leaving them again shortly. And we would be seeing each other again only after a year. 

One day before our flight back to work, a profound kind of sadness engulfs our hearts. There is a cloudless sorrow beyond the window of our eyes, albeit our tongues deny it. 

The feeling that when we will bid farewell to our precious family members and you would say to them, “ba bye, kamaya’ kamu dii daran. Tumtumun ta isab kamu” (Goodbye, take care always here. You’ll surely be missed). And they would reply with a heavy heart, “kamaya’ dakaw isab didtu daran, anak, tumtumun namu’ kaw. Kalasahan namu’ kaw” (Likewise, take care always there, our son. You’ll surely be missed, too. We love you.) 

Listening to our mutual farewells is utterly heartbreaking.

Being physically and distantly apart from our beloved families and those who are dear to us is one of the saddest things in life. 

Before leaving our loved ones behind, we always remind them – and ourselves – that we will see them again. 

Here’s to seeing you again in the next vacation!

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano of Sulu is a registered Radiologic Technologist who works in Doha, Qatar. He came home for vacation last month and left Zamboanga for Manila on June 30 and Manila for Doha on July 1). 

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