UAE-based Rowena Castillo Umahon, like any other overseas Filipino worker (OFW), has a fair share of tragedies in life. But through her perseverance and trust in the Lord, she was able to overcome all of it one at a time.
Umahon, now working as an administrative staff at a Dubai-based real estate company, recalled her troubles while she arrived in Dubai in 2005.
She was a visit visa holder when she set foot in the emirate with sufficient work experience while her stint in the Philippines. “But it seemed that Philippine experience has no bearing at all, and it wasn’t easy for a first-timer like me,” she said.
Before her visit visa expired, she worked as a telephone operator in a four-star hotel with a monthly salary of AED800. Her tears were cascading while signing the employment contract since she had only two options—push through with the low-paying job or go back to the Philippines empty-handed.
“I told myself that I will find other opportunities that Dubai can offer. The challenge did not defeat me,” Umahon said.
A person with willpower, she started selling home-made candies and snacks which she did when she was in grade school. She invented her own recipe and tried to up her small business.
Soon after her contract expired, she applied for a new job as a receptionist at a real estate company and property developer and got fourfold of her previous salary.
“I enjoyed my work dealing with clients, help them solve their issues and questions,” she said noting that she had stopped selling snacks after she was hired in the better-paying company.
Initially, she only intended to work overseas for two years. But due to the fact that her family’s necessities are getting bigger, she stayed for long until she was able to get them one by one.
She worked in the same company for seven years until the recession came. Umahon was one of the employees who was retrenched. She lost her seven-year-worth gratuity and left her with about AED27,000 debt from different credit cards with incurring monthly interest.
Things went worst, her whole world turned upside down. The apartment she’s living in was under her name and as a good Samaritan, she sheltered eight homeless Filipinos. She was forced to pay the house rent because she had no intention to kick out her jobless kabayans.
As she continued to believe in the presence of God, she was able to find a new job a year after and closed her credit cards one at a time. “Truly, I could not make it without God’s help,” she added.
A known religious person, Umahon has been an active member of their church—being part of the music team and prayer intercession during her day off. “I knew then that this life is not all about earning money but reaching other people’s lives to know God is much more important than money could buy,” she said.
In 2010, the OFW admin staff was ordained as a pastor by the home church and selected as a supervising pastor in Dubai right after the ordination.
“The life of being a pastor is quire more challenging while facing different kinds of situations of many people who were spiritually oppressed, bonded by sins, troubled and anxious about life,” she added.
As a pastor, her call is to guide people to a straighter path and pray for them. She also provides counsel, helps them fight their battles, feeds them with inspirational words, and help to uplift their lives.
“Though it was a big responsibility, I also see this a fulfilling because you change people’s lives and depart their sinful ways,” she added.
Umahon has a piece of advice for singles who are looking for the right partner: “Take time to know him or her and pray to God if he or she is the right person. Choose a God-fearing person, yung tipong number two lang si partner, ang number one ay si God. A God-fearing person is afraid to make you cry, to cheat on you and abandon you.”
This story has been featured on the sixth issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact Mr Orli Gayeta at +971503196856. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email at email@example.com.