Stranded OFW in Saudi wishes Christmas reunion with daughter in RP
09/17/2007 10:00 PM
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The stranded 65-year-old Filipino shepherdess in Saudi Arabia is hoping to return to the Philippines before Christmas and be reunited with her only daughter after 18 years of separation.Leonora Somera had worked in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Baha area since 1987 without receiving a regular salary.
Somera said earlier she is willing to forego some P784,000 in back pay just to get home.Financial assistance from fellow Filipinos and other nationals kept pouring in for Nanay Somera, as she was fondly called by the Filipino community in Jubail, since her case saw print last month.
Robert Constantino, Western Region business manager of the Philippine National Bank (PNB), said the bank has been getting a number of inquiries regarding the bank account opened two weeks ago in Somera’s name. Constantino has turned over the passbook for the bank account to Somera in the presence of welfare officer Adburajik Samain.
The account was in her name at the PNB’s branch in San Jose City, close to Somera’s hometown in Nueva Ecija province.The PNB account number is 471-530606-4. All donations for Somera can be deposited at any Telemoney branch in the Kingdom. Only Somera can withdraw the money in the Philippines.
Telemoney handles the Philippine National Bank’s financial services in the Kingdom.Somera’s first deposit to the account was the SR7,000 (P86,858) she received from her employer more than a year ago when he appeared at the consulate and pleaded insolvency.Ador Tanedo, president of one of the biggest and active organizations in Jubail, visited Somera at the welfare center inquired on how his group could help.Labor officer Digna Diaz said various groups have promised to help raise money for Somera’s air fare to Manila, and provide for her future in the Philippines.“We launched an awareness program of one riyal per OFW for Mrs. Somera and it will continue until she goes home. We are not trying to get the 63,000 riyals that was waived by Nanay Somera. We are just preparing for her future when she goes home. She is already old and we just want her to be in a secured situation in the Philippines,"
Tanedo said.According to him, community leader Tony Fajardo has expressed willingness to join Somera in her trip back home. Fajardo and Somera come from the same province of Nueva Ecija.Somera marked her 65th birthday on Sept. 12 at the Philippine consulate in Jeddah. Consular officers and staffmembers tried to bring joy to the old woman who Somera worked as a shepherdess for 18 years in Al-Baha and has weathered unpaid salaries, ice storms and being arrested several times by the police.Her daughter is now 24, and works in a hotel in Manila.
“Please help me go home. I want to see my daughter," she said. Her daughter was only six years old when she decided to seek employment abroad following the death of her husband. She worked as a bus conductor before leaving for overseas job.Misfer Al-Ghamdi became Somera’s sponsor after his father died in early 1988. Somera had joined the family in Riyadh in December of 1987.But after her sponsor died, she moved to Al-Baha with her sponsor’s son, his wife and children.There they left her in a large house to look after their goats, while they moved to Makkah for the education of their children. Her employers had since been leaving her inadequate money for her expenses and the animals.
After long years and she was finally brought to the Philippine consulate in 2005 for assistance, her employers had declared insolvency and admitted they could not pay the salaries they owed her.Somera could not go home yet because of a pending labor case consular and labor officials helped file against her employers on her behalf. But Somera said she was willing to waive her claims for back wages for as long as she could go home to the Philippines and be with her daughter.On her 65th birthday, Somera said her birthday wish was to “go home before Christmas… I am longing to see my family and my daughter." - Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV