GOING HOME. Leonida Sevillano (right) and her two children leave Manila en route to Bantayan Island, Cebu on Friday (Nov. 12, 2021). The Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa Program will help them settle into a new life. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler)

MANILA – A former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has abandoned her plans to leave the country anew and will restart life in the province, thanks to the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2) program.

On Friday, Leonida Sevillano, with her two children and three siblings, left Manila for good and returned home to Bantayan Island in Cebu.

With the financial and livelihood assistance from the BP2 program, Sevillano said she could now take care of her children, aged 10 and 5, after working for five years in Kuwait and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates as a nanny and house helper.

She went home in 2017 and stayed in Manila until the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) again disrupted their lives.

Itong pag-a-apply ko sa Balik Probinsya program ay nakakatulong samin ng malaki sa pamilya ko kasi sa halip na ako ay babalik sa abroad, ifo-focus ko na lang ‘yung pag-aalaga ko sa kanila instead na mag alaga ako sa ibang bata (The Balik Probinsya program is a big help because instead of going back abroad, I can now focus on taking care of my own children instead of looking after other people’s kids),” Sevillano told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

She thanked the national government and all agencies behind the BP2 program as they are able to unite families like hers.

Aside from her children, Sevillano also supports her siblings.

She is also thankful that she worked under kind employers who are fellow Muslims.

Alhamdulillah, ma-i-share ko lang. Nung time na nagipit kami na nagkasakit yung anak ko, ‘yung amo ko nagbigay samin ng tulong kahit hindi siya Pilipino. Iba siyang lahi, nagpapadala siya samin. Sa Islam kasi, hindi tinitingnan kung anong lahi ka, mayaman ka man o mahirap as long as willing talagang tumulong, tutulungan ka talaga (Glory to Allah! If I may share, during the time that we really needed money for my child who got sick, my former employee helped us even if they are not Filipinos. In Islam, if they are able to help, they will help, without considering if you are of a different nationality),” Sevillano narrated.

Her salary as an OFW was bigger but Sevillano said taking care of her children is something money can’t buy.

Napag-isipan ko dati na ‘yung years na napalayo ako sa anak ko, sapat na ‘yun kasi po makakita nga kami ng pera sa ibang bansa pero ‘yung pag-aalaga sa anak, hindi siya mapapantayan (I think that the years when I left them were enough. Yes, I can earn more abroad but taking care of them personally is priceless),” she said.

They will temporarily stay with a relative in Cebu as they wait for the housing unit from the local government unit.

Sevillano promised to make the most out of the assistance of the BP2 program.

Kung may mga matatanggap pa kaming ibang tulong, pagbutihan ko talaga na pa-unlarin pa ‘yun para hindi na kami mahirapan. ‘Yun ang plano namin. ‘Yung tulong pinansyal para sa negosyo (If we receive other assistance, I promise to make it grow. That is our plan. We will put up a small business),” she said.

The BP2 is a program of the national government that addresses congestion in Metro Manila by encouraging dwellers here, especially informal settlers, to return to their home provinces and assist them during the entire process.

Ten families, composed of 39 individuals, left Friday morning – six for Cebu and four to Bohol. (PNA)