Fight against the wind
By Yueyang Ge
Ynnel Villarias left his hometown the day his youngest daughter was 6 years old.
“I had to explain to her over and over that this is for her future. Our future. Mama is going to make money so we can pay for college and build our own little house,” he said. In front of the house, we will plant lots of orchids. As much as we like. “
Seven years later, Ms. Valarias will remember this dream, which she painted for her three daughters as much as for herself. She remembers the night she landed in Singapore and became an immigrant domestic worker. Remember squeezing every last piece of toothpaste and scraping for seven years. The remittances he has sent. Pictures of her dream home are playing brick by brick.
Ms. Valarias recalled all of this when Typhoon Roy hit her hometown in the Philippines and swept everything away. This interview has been edited and condensed.
What was your initial reaction when you heard about the typhoon situation in your hometown?
On December 16, around 9 pm, I received an SMS message from my eldest daughter: “Mama, the storm has hit our town. We are going to take refuge in our uncle’s house.”
Immediately I encountered night flashbacks when I first experienced a Category 3 storm. My younger sister and I were on our way to our aunt’s house for shelter when a tall mango tree hit the ground just behind us – less than five steps away. I felt a splash of water on my back. We could die
I was only 13 then. You are my youngest daughter. What if the same thing happened to him? My other two daughters? Can they hurry to avoid a falling tree when the power goes out and it is dark around them?
But no one could tell me what happened. Signals were completely disconnected for the next 48 hours.
What emotional challenges did you face when you lost touch with your family?
I’ve never felt so upset. He kept awake at night and prayed: O Allah, protect us. Every time I turned on my phone, I said to myself, “Maybe this time.” Maybe, just for once, one of my daughters will be online. “Please, let me talk to them.” But not. Nothing for 48 hours.
How did you compete
I knew I needed to keep working – to fight. When I got stuck in Singapore because of Cowade, it was the only thing I could do for my family. This is difficult for me as a mother because when my children needed me the most, I was taking care of other people’s children. I was making breakfast for my employer’s children, cleaning their bedrooms and sending them to school.
My friends (migrant domestic helpers in Singapore) also helped me deal with my anxiety. Each time, they texted me and asked, “Are you all right?” I always replied, “Yes, I’m fine. Still fighting.” A friend of mine told me, “You take it positively. You fight. I am here to help you as your sister.”
How has this storm affected your family and other people in your city?
When my eldest daughter woke up on December 18, she saw that every house in our city had collapsed. The fishing boats were wrecked, and the carcasses of pigs and cows were lying around – destroying my city’s livelihood. There was nothing left of my house. My sister’s little shop was gone. But I really thank God that everyone in my family is safe. The house can be rebuilt but if my loved ones are gone they will never come back. I felt lost because it was a lot of money I spent building a house, but I can start over.
What’s next for you Any tutorials to move on?
I will continue to work in Singapore until all my daughters enter college and our home is rebuilt. All the trials of life are like a hurricane – a violent hurricane that destroys everything you have. But you never let the wind blow. Fight it and fight until you are strong. I’m still fighting