Estelita "Lita" Perez-Credi, a former OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in Nigeria (Africa) and domestic helper in Batangas (Philippines), looks around the house in Cairo (Egypt’s capital).
She’s looking for things that need to be done before her flight to the Philippines on Sept. 2, aboard Qatar Airlines business class.
She had just arrived two weeks earlier from Brossard in Montreal, Canada, where she stayed six months, and is now again about to hop on a jet plane for the Philippines, which she still considers home despite her citizenship in Canada and Egypt.
She feels tired due to jet lag as a result of the long flight. In Montreal, her family saw her and son Victor off at the airport where they boarded a Lufthansa aircraft for Europe, in Vienna, where they changed into an Austrian Airlines Jetliner onward to Cairo.
Of course, the long flight was tiring, she thinks, but at age 74, her strength and stamina in her 50s, much more in her 30s, for long-haul travel have petered out.
"I’m no longer a spring chicken," she whispers to herself, not without regret.
But while Father Time has caught up with her, she has retained her poise and the elderly lady’s good looks, though she still worries a lot, as she did in her youth, as she thought of how to help her mother raise her eight siblings and make food available on the table daily.
Sometimes, there was no basis for her angst, and she realized that it has been a habit she has acquired since she gained consciousness of her surroundings, especially after the passing of her father, which deprived them of a breadwinner and caused her to pick up the slack and help provide for the family.
Lita noticed several things, making her call the attention of Victor, her second child, the first one being Maribeth, who’s working in Brossard, Montreal.
"Victor, son, please call the plumber after I have left and ask him to fix the leaking faucet in the bathroom," she said.
"Yes, mommy, don’t worry. It will be done," he said from a distance not too far off. Is there anything more you want to be fixed?"
"Ask the carpenter we called in an emergency to fix the kitchen cabinet," Lita suggested.
"What’s wrong with the kitchen cabinet?" Victor asked.
"Son, you’re so busy with work. You've probably not noticed that the kitchen cabinet has become an eyesore. It seems to tilt to one side instead of the work of art that finishing carpenters do," she said.
"Its screws," she said, "might have turned loose."
"It now tilts to one side," Lita said, with tenderness in her voice.
Of course, she cares about Victor, like she does her two other kids—Maribeth and Fady, who are both working in Montreal. She plays no favorites.
After studying in Cairo, Victor wanted to take up cinematography for a college degree, but it was not on offer in local universities.
He asked his parents if he could be allowed to go to the United States to study for it. He was 20 years old.
Victor was born in Los Angeles (USA) but decided to go to Chicago. He stayed there with friends who were also Egyptians.
While studying, he also worked to augment the allowance sent by his parents each month. He worked with UPS and DHL, logistics firms, carrying baggage.
Victor made the right move in crossing the oceans for the degree he wanted. He’s successful in his career now in the local film industry.
It’s paying off as he can do whatever he wants, like travel if there’s a need for it or buy high-end cars. He has remained single, though it’s long overdue for him to raise a family.
"Mommy, I’ll do the things you’re telling me to do." However, for your peace of mind, why not postpone your trip to the Philippines for a few days so that you can see the things you want to see?" Victor asked with concern.
"Victor, you know pretty well that my travel plan was prepared in Montreal. So why to change it now?" she said in a raised voice.
"It’s you whom I’m concerned about," Victor said. "Why not slow down a bit? I saw the video of you playing tennis in Brossard and it shows you’ve slowed down in your reflexes and movement," he said, his voice laced with concern.
Lita remembered Victor fondly, her son, born more than three decades ago in Sokoto, Nigeria, while she and her husband Farid were still there—she was an OFW teaching mathematics and he was a project engineer for the university under construction at the time.
They left for Cairo in 1983, just before civil unrest broke out.
Lita wishes to give in to Victor’s suggestion that she postpones her flight, but she has urgent reasons for leaving for the Philippines on September 2 as planned.
She has projects and wants to have these finished in three months before she leaves again for Canada. Such projects involve the community.
"It’s my way of giving back to where I came from," she tells herself inaudibly. - Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
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