A cashier for five years in a hypermarket in Abu Dhabi, Cherish Coton Sergantes works hard to fulfill her multiple dreams for her family in the Philippines. As a cashier, she is responsible for scanning items purchased by customers, received payments through cash or card, and answering customers’ questions and complaints.
She opted to work overseas as she believes it offers greater opportunities, higher salaries compared to the Philippines. Way back home, Sergantes used to work as a factory worker. She also worked at a plastic injection company as a machine operator and quality controller at the same time.
Despite applying for several companies abroad, she got hired in UAE. Sergantes applied as a household service worker in the Kingdom of Saudi of Arabia. “Ilang beses na akong muntikang makaalis pero hindi natutuloy. Siguro kasi hindi ako para doon. Heto yung binigya sa akin ni Lord sa mga dasal ko sa kanya. Blessing ni Lord hetong trabaho kong ito kaya mahal ko ang work ko,” she said.
Through her work, she gets to immerse herself in various people of different nationalities and cultures. In this work, Sergantes learned how to interact with people, and learned to be patient. “Madami akong natutunan. Dito na-boost yung communication skills ko and self-confidence. Dito nakilalala yung mga kaibigan ko ngayon,” she added.
The Filipina cashier also commended UAE for having a good healthcare system. She said what she likes about UAE is that if one gets sick, that person won’t feel the burden of paying a large amount of money, especially if he or she has health insurance. In Covid-19 times, she also applauded the government authorities in the capital for having a free swab test every 14 days. “If nag-positive ka sa Covid-19, wala kang gagastusin sa isolation. Sagot ng UAE government at libre vaccine dito. Second is the cultural diversity. It is also one of the safest countries in the world with less crime rate. Yung tipong kahit umuwi ako ng late in the evening at maglakad mag-isa pauwi, feek ko secured ako,” she further added.
Sergantes won’t forget the time when she was a newbie in UAE and their landlord, who is also a Filipino, took their one-month rent away. The building owner, according to Sergantes, did not consider the situation and ordered them to leave the place.
“Sobrang struggle kami ng mga kasama ko noon kasi wala pa kaming sahod at nagsisimula pa lang kami dito. Pinalugitan pa kami na dapat alisan na namin yung flat bago magkatapusan kung hindi, babayaran namin yung excess na araw ng 25 dirhams per day,” she recalled.
Their internet and electricity were disconnected. She thought: ‘Ano ba tong kamalasan nangyayari samin?’
“Walang wala kaming pera noon kasi nagsisimula pa lang kamin dito sa Abu Dhabi. Sobrang stress namin kung asan kami hahanap ng pambayad sa kalahating buwan na upa namin sa bahay at para sa bagong bahay na kailangan namin lipatan,” she recalled.
Sergantes remembered carrying their heavy home equipment, including their mattress, because they could not afford to hire a car lift. She said that experience was unforgettable as she didn’t expect a Filipino would trick her fellow.
To further develop herself, the Filipina took a Caregiver course at the Filipino Institute where she graduated with flying colors. According to her, she plans to work in a European country to seek greener pasture.
“Sa mga OFW na nag-struggle ngayong panahon ng pandemic, huwag kayong mawawalan ng pag-asa. Sa mga naapektuhan ang trabaho, sa mga nawalan nang trabaho–laban lang, kapit lang–makakaraos din tao,” Sergantes said.
This story has been featured in the 15th 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 to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.