The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the jobs and livelihood of many Filipinos, including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were forced to repatriate when lockdowns began in other countries. It became a challenge, then, for our kababayans to find a new source of income.
For Rain Paul Cervantes, it was shifting his career path from being a cruise chef to a fish vendor just to be able to support his family in Bulacan. Rain, who got back to the country a few weeks before the start of the enhanced community quarantine, thought the lockdown in the Philippines would only last for a month.
“’Yung ipon ko pinamigay ko sa mga kamag-anak ko kasi mag-lo-lockdown, walang trabaho. At saka sa pamilya ko kasi yung mga kapatid ko lockdown din po sila, lahat po walang trabaho,” he shares in an interview with Summit Videos.
He adds, “Shinare ko muna — akala ko kasi makakabalik agad ako. So, hindi ko napaghandaan talaga ‘yung lockdown natin kasi masyadong tumagal.”
With his funds quickly depleting, Rain thought of starting a business so they can get by day-to-day. He decided to sell fish and cooked meals — he would offer breakfast meals and then barbecue in the afternoon.
Becoming a fish vendor was a hard pill to swallow, especially because he was already successful as an OFW. But Rain quickly got over the feeling of embarrassment because he knew his family had to come first. “Sa ngayong pandemic, wala namang kailangang pinipiling trabaho talaga. Ang importante talaga ngayon ay maka-survive tayo kasi wala naman tayong ibang aasahan kundi tayong sarili lang,” he shares.
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He hopes his story will be an inspiration to fellow OFWs who are facing the same hardships. “At least naipakita ko sa lahat na marami pa pala tayong madi-discover na kaya natin. Kahit mahirap basta para sa pamilya, kaya,” he says.