Home for the holidays, back for good
MANILA, Philippines–Three former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) share why they returned to the Philippines to spend a hope-filled season with family and friends, only to learn that they can pursue their dreams and look for green pastures in their own country.
No longer pining to be with their loved ones especially during the holidays when feelings of being homesick affect even the most formidable, the three are happy to be home. Here are their stories:
Marc Josef Dionisio
‘Happiness is right here’
Marc helped his parents put his three siblings to college and live a comfortable life by working for six years in Qatar.
When he arrived in Doha, the construction company that recruited him offered him a contract different from what he initially signed up for. Marc turned it down and decided to head back home.
“While at the ticketing office, a man came up to me. He turned my luck around and offered me a job as an accountant at one of Doha’s top hotels,” he said.
As a night-based auditor, Marc had no fixed schedule. In his spare time, he enrolled in Arabic language classes. He was earning well but he missed his family.
On a brief vacation in Manila, Marc met his future wife. It was a turning point in his life. After his contract expired in Qatar, he decided to come home for good, get married and start a family.
In Manila, Marc applied at Convergys, knowing the competitive compensation, benefits and world-class training in the business process outsourcing (BPO) company where he saw the potentials of career growth.
Even with zero experience as a technical support representative, Marc soon became a consistent top agent.
Three years into his call center career, Marc is now a team leader and a top performer at the Convergys UP Technohub site in Quezon City.
‘Home is being with my daughter’
Ramoncito “Mon” Calixtro worked in Taiwan for two and a half years as an engineer for a computer company. His daughter was barely a year old when he left the country.
Mon’s contract ended when the company relocated outside Taiwan, prompting him to return to the Philippines.
“Going abroad meant being out of my comfort zone. But more than the weather and the cultural differences, it meant being away from my daughter,” he said.
“I was grateful we had a supportive Filipino community, which helped ease the homesickness. But one question kept me up at night: What am I doing here? So when I had to choose between remaining abroad or coming home, it was easy to decide.”
Upon his return, Mon set up an Internet shop in Muntinlupa City. For the first two years, business was good. But when competition became tight, he had to find another way to support his daughter.
“After hearing so much about the BPO industry, I decided to try my luck,” said Mon.
He has been successful in his career as an agent in the Convergys Libis site for almost eight years now.
“I enjoy it here because the company cares for its employees and it helps me provide well for my daughter,” he said.
A dream house for parents
Portia left the country in 2009 to work as a nurse in Qatar. An only child and the breadwinner, she supported her mother, a retired teacher, and her father, a former soldier.
“My dream was to build a house for my parents so they could move from Zamboanga to my father’s hometown in Pangasinan,” she said.
As a nurse, she earned a salary good enough to fill up several balikbayan boxes for relatives back home. But being away meant spending lots of money for overseas calls “because I was homesick.”
When Portia’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she knew that her father, who had heart problems, needed help. She rushed to their side in no time.
“I was home taking care of my mother for a year,” she recalled.
Portia soon run out of funds. A friend then tipped her about a job opening at Convergys in Makati City. She flew to Manila for a job interview and was hired the same day.
“I had to adjust quickly, working in a different environment. With the support of my teammates, I gained confidence and honed my skills in customer service,” she said.
After putting in two years in the company—the country’s largest private employer—Portia was able to save and has pursued her dream to build a new home for her parents.
Breaching one million in workforce head count in 2014, the local BPO industry continues to grow. Returning OFWs can find not just jobs but career opportunities in this new workplace and enjoy a life with their loved ones.
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