KORONADAL CITY, Philippines — For five years, the Padilla siblings, Junie, 19, and Rochel, 21, prayed every day for a miracle to reunite with their mother who was working in Kuwait who was reported missing since 2014.
Both of them were excited when they heard from Newsline.ph that their mother, Maricel Agustin Padilla, 43, would be coming soon. It remains unclear though when she would arrive but still, they are holding on the hope .
Junie and Rochel are among the children of 3,000 OFWs in Kuwait who missed their mothers.
They said their father, Rogelio, 48, felt the same. Rogelio, a farmer in a remote sitio in barangay Kalanawe in President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat province.
Last Monday, the March 6, the Office of the President informed Newsline.ph to relay the message to Rogelio that Maricel will arrive at the General Santos City Airport at 2:35 in the afternoon.
The Newsline.ph call was followed by the call from the OWWA Manila informing them, Maricel is finally coming home.
Arnel Palado of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) met Maricel at the airport and later turned over to Mr. Padilla and their children
Maricel who is now a grandmother, cried as she embraced her Rochelle.
Richel was in high school when she left their home.
“I really cried while embracing her. We both cried. I really missed my mother,” Richel described the reunion.
Richel’s last conversation with her mother was in 2013. She never thought that it would be the last.
She said her mother left them for Kuwait in 2011 with the hope of sending them to school and augment the family income. Since then, she said, the entire family, and even their relatives, started to worry.
But Richel said she hold on praying, asking God for the safety of her mother.
“I am so happy that my mother is alive and safe. I am thanking God because nothing bad happened to her,” a teary-eyed Richel said.
Junie, who was 12 when her mother went abroad, was more than happy. Junie will be turning 20 on March 19, this year. He considered the return of his mother as God’s “birthday gift” to him.
“Bahala na wala kaming handa basta nandito lang si Mama ko. Isa na siyang magandang regalo para sa birthday ko,” Junie told Newsline.ph.
Like his sister, Junie also broke in tears when his mother hugged him.
“Umiyak din ako. Hindi ko kasi mapigilan umiyak. Na miss ko din talaga si Mama ko,” Junie said.
For Junie and Richel, one of the two most important persons to their lives is their mother. The other one is their father.
Mrs. Padilla has also an emotional moment with her two aunts, Elena Fernandez, 63, and Victoria Padilla, 73, who joined her family in fetching her in General Santos City.
The two elders were also glad seeing their niece again. They cried too.
The Padilla family was accompanied by Kalanawe barangay kagawad Dexter John Padilla, who arranged the vehicle of the family in going to General Santos City.
An emotional Mr. Padilla said his worries vanished when he saw her wife coming from the OWWA car.“Nawala lahat ng mga pag-alala ko sa kanya ng makita ko siyang lumabas sa sasakyan at papunta na sa amin,” Mr. Padilla added.
Padilla thanked Newsline.ph. for helping them connect with the Office of the President and Department of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello II.
Mr. Padilla said whatever happened to her does not matter to him.
“Ang importante ngayon bumalik siya na buhay at walang masamang nangyari sa kanya,” said Mr. Padilla who gladly added that his appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to help him find his wife got good results.
“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako kay Presidente Duterte at tinulungan niya ako sa aking problema tungkol sa nawawala kong asawa,” Mr. Padilla said minutes after reunited with his wife.
Mr. Padilla also cited the efforts and assistance extended by Newsline.ph and the OWWA personnel that led to the safe return of his wife.
When asked why she lost contact with her family for more than four (4) years, Mrs. Padilla said she had no phone.
“Hindi ako pinayagan na bumili ng phone ng amo ko. Hindi rin ako binigyan ng sweldo ng amo ko,” Mrs. Padilla said. She is set to file a complaint against her employer to get her salary.
“Hindi nila ako na-sweldohan ng limang taon at 11 months. Magrereklamo talaga ako. Kukunin ko talaga ang sweldo ko,” Mrs. Padilla said. –Ramil H. Bajo/Newsline.ph
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