A young OFW following his passion and seeking personal growth in New York finds ways to spend the holidays with his OFW father. While the past two years have been a series of missed opportunities, their story reminds us that staying connected with our family should extend beyond the holidays. Regardless of the occasion, location, and timezone, it’s being able to share the everyday moments that counts. And with social media being more engaging than ever, it becomes a lot easier to keep our loved ones part of the picture. Well, at least until they’re finally complete again.
Based on the real-life story of Lord Pomperada.
Young STAR: How long have you been an OFW? Have you always wanted to work abroad?
Lord: I moved to New York City in October 2016 to serve as the fifth President of the World Youth Alliance (WYA), a global coalition of over one million young people in over 160 countries that aims to promote human dignity and build solidarity among youth people from developed and developing countries.
Growing up, I never really thought of working abroad since my dad was an OFW and I wanted to stay in the Philippines to be closer to my family. My plans changed when I took up Consular and Diplomatic Affairs at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. I knew that eventually it would lead me to work abroad either for the government or an international NGO. Working abroad, especially in New York, is a great dream for any millennial like myself. There’s just so much excitement and learning in having the opportunity to work abroad and to be working with people coming from different countries and cultures. I really planned on working abroad, but not this early on. It came really early but I’m grateful for it because I know that everything always happens for a reason. My passion has actually led me to becoming an OFW and to work in New York City, one of the best cities in the world.
Are the challenges as a young OFW different from the challenges that your older peers go through?
For many of the older OFWs that I know, they are really working hard so they can provide for their family. Some of them have lived in New York for over 10 or 20 years. Some of them have never gone home just to save money. Their love for their families really inspires me.
I’ve worked with many young people and seeing the many great projects that they have done in their communities and countries make me think even stronger that we can still have a brighter future and better world.
It’s a challenge. But I think the experience has brought my family even much closer.
What was your family dynamic like when you were growing up with an OFW dad?
My dad worked as an OFW even before I was born. I grew up seeing my dad once a year for one to three months. He would miss most of my birthdays but he would always be there during my graduation. It’s a challenge. But I think the experience has brought my family even much closer. It made us appreciate more the time when we spent together as a complete family.
When I was small, we would send messages to my dad using cassette tapes and personalized greeting cards. When technology eventually came in, it was much easier. Even though my dad was abroad, I never felt that he was far from me because we came in contact regularly, almost every week. He would call me or we would have online chats. Of course, it’s not a complete experience but there are always disadvantages when you have an OFW parent. Recently, there were opportunities for their cargo ships to visit Manila so my family and I would visit him and we would spend some quality time together. My mom is a great housewife. She also manages our businesses and she is very involved in our local community. I’m very grateful for both my mom and dad for their great love and support to me and my brother.
How did your family relationship change when you started working abroad as well?
It’s just been a year and two months since I became an OFW and one of the most challenging things is missing the visits of my dad to the Philippines. Since now we’re both OFW’s, it’s much harder to set up our days together. I haven’t seen my dad in person for almost two years now so it has become more challenging. When I was working in Manila, my mom and brother were also both in the province in Antique, so we would always communicate by call or online. Moving to New York, we had to adjust because of the time difference. And now, the Philippines is farther so I cannot go home anytime I want or need to.