“‘Nay, si Rose po, dito na po siya titira sa atin”, Ramil told his mother, Gloria.
“Ano’ng pinagsasabi mo? Bakit mo siya ititira dito?” Gloria replied, holding her breath.
“‘Nay...magiging tatay na po kasi ako.” Ramil announced.
Ramil grew up in Laguna and at age 18, got his girlfriend Rose pregnant. Being dependent on his mom, Ramil was totally unprepared for fatherhood.
“Ano’ng ipapakain mo sa mag-ina mo? Wala ka namang trabaho. Puros barkada pa inaatupag mo. Ang hirap na nga ng buhay natin, nagdagdag ka pa ng problema!”
“‘Nay, magtatrabaho po ako. Huwag kayong mag-alala. Gagawin ko lahat para guminhawa tayo. Pangako hindi kami magiging pabigat sa inyo”, Ramil promised his mom.
While other young, first time dads usually feel overwhelmed, shocked, scared or just not ready to face fatherhood, Ramil took it as a challenge.
Habang nagbubuntis si Rose, sumubok silang magtinda ng mga lutong ulam sa harapan ng kanilang bahay. Ramil would go to the market in the wee hours of the morning and Rosa would cook as soon as her young husband returned home.
Hindi naging madali ang mga unang buwan na ito para sa kanila.
One night, Ramil discussed his plans with his wife. “Mahal, apat na buwan na lang manganganak ka na. Kulang pa ‘yung ipon natin para sa panganganak mo. Walang mangyayari sa’tin dito. Mukhang kailangan ko’ng mag-abroad. Tapos sunod na lang kayo ni baby ‘pag stable na ako doon.”
After a couple of months, Ramil was able to go to Taiwan for a two-year contract. Two years became four, six, eight, 10 and 20 years. Two decades had passed since Ramil, barely in his 20’s, took on a responsibility other boys his age won’t be easily prepared for. Now he and his wife Rose have built their own house, bought other properties, put up a business and sent their 20-year-old daughter Jenny to college.
Afraid that Jenny might get used to his absence, Ramil decided to come home. “Pwede na akong mag-retire, may mga naipundar na rin naman ako at si Rose, malakas na yung mini restaurant niya sa lugar namin.” Finally, after twenty years of hard work, Ramil is now back to his family. Tulong sila ng kanyang misis magpatakbo ng kanilang negosyo.
Naging maganda ang buhay dito sa Pilipinas. Business was doing well, and Ramil was able to make up for lost time with his wife and daughter. Jenny understood why her dad had to be away for so long. Ramil never stopped giving credit to his wife Rose who made sure family finances were managed well and all her husband’s hard work was not put to waste. It was a happy ending to an OFW story. Kaya lang, hindi naman laging ganoon.
One morning, Ramil complained of not being able to breathe. He was also feeling dizzy and was vomiting profusely. They went to the doctor for a check-up and were immediately referred to an oncologist. The doctor said he has cancer. There are lots of nodules in his lungs which are rapidly spreading to the different parts of his body. He was then advised for a PET scan to see how far the cancer cells have spread.
“Ang bilis ng pangyayari. Buong buwan lagi kaming nasa doctor for a thorough check up. Hanggang ma-confirm na nga that he has Stage 4 Lung Cancer”, Rose narrates. “Nung mga panahong nasa abroad si Ramil, paninigarilyo ang naging libangan nito panlaban sa homesickness.
Hindi na rin nakayanan ni Ramil ang chemotherapy at radiation. Mabilis nag-deteriorate ang katawan niya lalo na nung kumalat na hanggang buto yung cancer cells. Napakalungkot dahil kung kelan nakauwi na siya dun naman sya binawi sa amin ni Lord. Pero siguro nga, may dahilan ang lahat. Hanggang sa huli hindi niya kami pinabayaan. Bukod sa bahay at munti naming negosyo, may mga kinuha rin pala siyang insurance.
Malaking tulong ‘yon nung na-diagnosed siya ng cancer. Wala rin kami halos ginastos sa ospital noong na-confine siya. May lump sum benefit pa kaming natanggap noong mawala siya.
Ang masasabi ko lang, salamat mahal. Kahit maraming kumutya sa atin noon, nanindigan ka pa rin para sa pamilya natin. Huwag kang mag-alala ipagpapatuloy ko ang mga pangarap natin. Happy Father’s Day in heaven, mahal. Magkalayo man tayo, andito ka pa rin lagi sa puso at alaala namin ng anak mo.”, says Rose.
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