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This OFW Traded Comfort In Dubai For A Simple Farm Life In Quezon Province
PHOTO BY YOUTUBE/Smart Parenting Buhay Probinsiya
  • Dubbed as “modern day heroes” for helping uplift the Philippine economy, Overseas Filipino Workers, or OFWs, truly embody the concepts of love and sacrifice. As if answering a divine calling, Filipinos were encouraged to emigrate to different countries to aid in the different economic issues during the 1970s. Today, that calling has evolved into one for the country, to one for the family.

    In this episode of Buhay Probinsya, we follow the story of Ivy Celemen and how she chose to go back to the Philippines after a life in Dubai.

    Ivy used to work in Dubai, where she established herself as a financial manager in an investment company and started a family as well. Dubai was their home for the past 10 years. Things were going smoothly as an OFW until the 2020 pandemic hit the globe, which Ivy shared was “the last straw.” 

    Alongside the pandemic, another unfortunate event happened only a few months prior. Her daughter was diagnosed with left focal epilepsy due to the overuse of gadgets and limitation of doing physical activities in Dubai. Ivy took a look at her situation and decided one thing: It was time to go back home.

    RELATED: This Dubai-Based Mom Shares Her Breastmilk To Children In Need: 'May Volunteers Na Rin Kami'

    The Next Step Forward

    Ivy never lost sight of the Philippines, sharing that the “ultimate goal” was to really go back home and settle there. The Celemen family then took a look at the differences between settling in Metro Manila or the province. Seeing as NCR had stricter restrictions due to the pandemic, the family decided on establishing their new lives in the quaint municipality of Tiaong, Quezon Province.


    A lifestyle change was a great motivation for the Celemen family in their decision to move back to the Philippines.

    Despite considering other foregin countries to move to, they decided that there really was no place like home. Rather than starting again in a foreign country, they opted to go home.

    PHOTO BY YOUTUBE/Smart Parenting Buhay Probinsiya

    Moving to the province meant that Ivy and her family would be able to have a place to do multiple family activities such as biking and going to the beach. “Nakita namin ang pamumuhay dito [Tiaong] na mas maluwag, mas nakakapag-activities kami, family activities.” shares Ivy.

    The next step forward from a life in Dubai wasn’t a solo decision by Ivy. It was a decision made by the entire Celemen family. Her daughter Yanie mentions that moving to the Philippines was better than living in Dubai because of all the free space around their property. Here she can do many activities like biking. Yanie also enjoys being in the company of her family. Her husband Benzon also had a reason to return. He wanted to personally take care of his parents and let his daughter experience growing up with her grandparents.

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    The move to Tiaong, Quezon was also driven by the fact that they had two farm lots to cultivate. One they bought for a future investment, and one handed down in the Celemen family from generation to generation.

    The Motherland of Opportunity

    The two farm plots consisted of a one-hectare farm lot that they plan to turn into a calamansi farm and a rice farm that was passed down to them. Ivy and Benzon are now the third generation to work on this farm.

    The palayan (rice field) is worked by the Celemen family along with other workers who have been with them since before. Despite the need for improvements, Ivy shares that the local government has really assisted with their farm, adding that they have shown much support for the farmers of their area. The Department of Agriculture helped the Celemens source livestock and assisted in solving irrigation issues as well. Ivy mentions that the strategy to get support from the local government is to learn certain processes and know who to contact.

    RELATED: From Paluto To Turo-Turo! Where To Take Your OFW Loved Ones For A Fun Pinoy Food Trip

    Establishing their farm was a product of a lot of patience and love. Their one-hectare land took almost 8 years to acquire via tax declaration. Ivy says that as an OFW, it needs extra diligence to do follow-ups when dealing with land back in the Philippines. Another strategy that the Celemens follow when planning their future is using a drawing board.


    The drawing board is a very essential way to visualize hopes, dreams and plans for the future, says Ivy.

    From start to finish, all their plans are placed on the drawing board, “and we pray very specific ‘dun sa plan na ‘yon.” says Ivy. From the one-hectare plot, their 8-year journey to get its title, to their expected yield and plans for the other farm lot they have, everything was on this drawing board.

    Besides their farm plots, Ivy and her family also took the opportunity to invest in several businesses such as condo units, a laundry business, a water refilling station and a Bayad Center franchise. Their farms are part of their long-term goals whereas their other businesses fulfill their short-term goals to have additional sources of stable income.


    PHOTO BY YOUTUBE/Smart Parenting Buhay Probinsiya


    The Ultimate Lifestyle Change

    Ivy remembers the life she and her family had while they were still living in Dubai. She recalled spending weekends traveling, staying in hotels, and with an established career, she also was able to experience a stronger spending power. After ten years abroad, she chose to shift her focus entirely from traveling to family.


    RELATED: OFW From Dubai Gives Birth On Manila-Bound Plane With The Help Of Cabin Crew

    Re-starting a life in the PH

    Using her experiences and mindset forming strategies, Ivy shares a few tips for OFWs who want to restart their life anew back home in the Philippines.

    • Plan ahead.  Thinking of settling back in the Philippines isn’t an easy decision to make. So even if you’re still living abroad, it’s good to have some foresight on what you want to do. Ask yourself what is your purpose for returning, what are the pros and what are the cons of your plan?
    • Explore your passion.  With the availability of information anywhere and everywhere, Ivy firmly believes in expounding your knowledge about what you’re truly passionate about.
    • Don’t lose hope. Even when surrounded by challenges that are out of her control, Ivy believes that “God’s grace, determination…hard work, and perseverance” are the keys to pushing your plans forward.
    • Live a happy life. A happy life focuses on quality of experiences and spending time with the ones who matter the most. “It’s no longer yung payamanan, ngayon pasayahan [na] ng buhay,” Ivy mentions.

    Ivy is one of many OFWs who made the ultimate decision to go abroad and work for the future of their family. Her story is a testament that with anything is possible with a focused mindset, a strong desire to move forward, and an incredible love for family.

    Her story is a realization that there really is no place like home.

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