Amy is Coming Home…

The skyline of Mactan International Airport as seen at 35,000 feet. Credit: Author

It’s been such a long time that I haven’t written on this space on the net… And I thought now is as good a time as any…

Amy looking out through the airplane’s window… coming home after 36 years! with my sister on her left. Credit: Author

A cousin of mine who we will call “Amy” (names are changed to protect the privacy of the individuals whom I hold dear in my heart) left in her 30s in April of 1982 due to personal reasons to a place called Sandakan, Borneo in Malaysia. That’s the nearest City in Jolo, Philippines, the Southernmost tip of the Philippines. She left in a rush and her sister Macy, whom I lived with (I was in college studying) when I was staying with them in Cebu Philippines, asked for help from Helga, Nadia with their brothers who were residents of Malaysia then.

Amy couldn’t go through the normal channels of travel (i.e. Airports, Ports) because some people of shady backgrounds were out to get her (literally)… hence the reason why Macy contacted cousins Helga and Nadia in Malaysia… and we were able to contact Helga and Nadia because their two brothers Fabio and Gerry were studying in Cebu City.

Why Malaysia of all places, why not just the Southern Philippines? The people Amy “riled” in Cebu were people of high places and comes from the old rich so to speak and who could literally locate a single individual among Ninety Million Filipino citizens… they have their own guns and goons, practically a small army…  they were and are that powerful still. The Philippines’ I am embarassed to say, still has a very systematic form of corruption as what others would call it… they instill fear among its citizens to pay their travel taxes, process their documents properly when they go outside the country to travel, of course so the government can raise money for its coffers, which what every country do to make money. But that is not all black and white… there is a small town in Tawi-tawi and Zamboanga where it has become notorious where one can easily go out of the country and come back in unnoticed in broad daylight. It has even become so notorious that the locals and people who use this system call it “Bakdur” funny yet clever… because it literally is the Backdoor way of going out of the country… The Philippines Customs Administration there, turn a blind eye to these shenanigans because each time Customs deck inspections are done on every ferry traveling from Bongao, Tawi-tawi or Zamboanga to Sandakan, Malaysia they make money. These people going out the “bakdur” just hand out their usual “fee” to these so called government authorities and off they go to wherever they want in Malaysia or vice-versa.

Amy went from one job to the next to make a living and to survive in Malaysia and I admire her for her survival instincts because she did survive on her own for 36 years with no contacts to any of her own family, her relatives and most of her friends where she came from. She kept houses, cleaned houses, even taught English, acted as a secretary in a construction company and God knows what else. Nevertheless, she made a close friendship with one of her neighbors from these wanderings of her own and became very close with her… Let’s call her Sally… Amy and Sally became very close friends and Sally came to know her and her background from the Philippines and admired her for having come that far. Whenever Amy is in a bind, she would call Sally for help whether its financial or just plain company. Sally never stopped helping Amy… and we are very grateful for this kind-hearted woman.

Sally (second from right) gesturing while talking to my sisters in NAIA.

Sally’s hometown in the Philippines is in Tangub, Misamis Oriental. Sally constantly travels between the Philippines and Malaysia for business reasons. She happens to have a neighbor in Tangub who’s a teacher and who happens to be our relative Geli. They were talking one day and Sally sometimes mention Amy to her so Geli knows a little bit about Amy. But then in one of these talks just last year 2017, Geli realized that Amy’s surname was the same as ours and she said not in so many words “…holy mother of God!” she is our long lost cousin! So Geli ask her cousin to try to locate us in Facebook and then one them tried to request friendship from my sisters, then from me … and this took several months. We’ve all seen the facebook friend request and no one took heed because it came from a completely unrecognizable first name and you know how it is when a friend request comes from a total stranger… Finally Geli’s son Mario asked one of my brothers and my brother and Mario became facebook friends. Mario explained why he kept trying to befriend anybody from our family then and explained that he knows where Amy was at that moment and gave Sally’s phone number in Malaysia (she was in Malaysia at this time). I then phoned Sally in Malaysia and Sally gave Amy’s number. So I called Amy after so many years hearing her voice made me cry… and Amy kept saying I just want to go home…

Amy and her sister hugging on her arrival from Manila in Mactan International Airport’s arrival gates.

We made contact with one of our cousins in Malaysia Fabio, who is a CPA/Lawyer there and told him we’ve found Amy via our cousins from Tangub and Amy has no travel documents at all, she lost all her papers going from one job to the next all these years alone. So Fabio helped us with the travel document and took Amy to the local Philippine consulate so she can be issued a temporary travel document in lieu of a passport. The day she was issued a travel document, my cousin Amy was so happy as recounted by Fabio and so grateful to him. I spoke to Amy several times on her coming home and purchased a ticket for her coming home. She has to go through Manila (where we are located) since there was no direct flight from Malaysia to Cebu. So that’s what she did, she flew to Manila on July 2018 and stayed with one of my sisters for 4 days because I couldn’t accompany her yet because I still have work. Nevertheless, on the 28th of July Amy with myself and 2 of my sisters accompanied her to her hometown Cebu where we were met by her sister and her sister’s grand kids. Arriving home, was like a dream for Amy, she met her sister’s husband and family and her brother’s family and it was the culmination of several months of anticipation and excitement. We are so grateful for angels in our lives, like Sally who befriended Amy, like Fabio who helped with the travel documents and to GOD who made all these possible and enabled all of us to facilitate Amy’s coming home… Praise GOD!

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