OFW Story in Taiwan

Gemma Comiso is Bhing to friends and Gumamela as a broadcaster. The third child in a family of four who hails from Catanduanes in Bicol, she comes from a simple family. Her father passed away when she was 10 yrs old so she is left under the care of a loving Mama, a plain housewife. Under this circumstance, she has to work abroad even before graduating college. Her journey as an OFW started in Taiwan.

According to Gemma, “at first it was a series of unending challenges and obstacles being away from the family”. Homesickness played a bigger role in her daily activities to the point she wanted to give up but because of her desire to attain her goal, she persevered and mustered all the courage to make her stay in Taiwan worthwhile. Although language barrier affects the way Amah treats her, in the long run, Bhing was considered a granddaughter. Unfortunately, Amah passed away. Another employer, the Tsai family, treated her as part of the clan. In fact up until now she is invited to come to Taiwan and visit Yeye, her ward, and spend special occasions with the family. Her ambitions in life is the driving force to strive for more that is why she armed herself with knowledge and skills. She researched and studied online, composed essays and wrote poems with passion using the pen name Gumamela which later on evolved as Gumamela Sa Paraiso, a literary blog, recognized by award giving bodies in Taiwan and other countries including the Philippines.

In 2011, she decided to go back home from Taiwan and pursue her dreams of finishing college. She took up Nursing and graduated with honors. Her dreams didn’t stop there because that same year, she enrolled in St Paul University Quezon City, at the Center for Career and Development Program (CCD) and become an Outstanding Graduate in 2014 Not yet satisfied with what she has achieved, she started an advocacy aiming to be the voice of the less fortunate. She conducts monthly feeding programs and values formation to the street children, to convince them to go back to school.

One of her advocacies called Lapis at Papel Project was conceptualized. Every June she spearheaded the donation of school supplies to Elem Schools in Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Cubao thru the help of her Facebook friends and followers of the Radio Program where is a co -broadcaster of Ms Hannah Seneres, her personal friend. Radyo OFW is a daily program @ Radyo Filipinas 738 kHz AM (8:00-10:00pm). It is an advocacy driven show for OFW’s, a venue for them to be heard especially in dealing with employers, recruitment agencies and their families. Asked for advice, Gemma has this to say “As an advocate I want to inspire OFW’s like me to aim high. Education is one of the best gift you can give to yourself not only as a stepping stone to become successful but it will give you self- fulfillment. There are tools that can be easily accessed in the internet through social media, grab that opportunity to level up your career perspective. It is never too late to have an education while you are working. Save and invest. At least 40% of your salary should go to your savings. Do not spoil your family. Teach them how to value the fruit of your labor. Live a simple and humble life. Invest in your health. Get an insurance while you have the resources to pay, it’s hard to go home without savings and investments. I am not rich and financially equipped to do all these activities but I am blessed to have generous people around me.

My goal now is to continue my advocacy by inspiring others to do the same. I may not solve all the problems in the world but at least I have made a difference in my own little way, and with passion.”

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