A Father’s Hope

With his wife away from the country for 10 years, a Filipino dad learns to care for his children in ways he hadn’t known before

June 08, 2022 | Be Inspired

Rogelio and Susan are like most married couples. They love each other, work hard and try to provide a good life for their children. They also place a high value on communication and make it a point to talk every night. That hasn’t been easy because, until recently, they lived more than 4,500 miles apart and their nightly conversations were over the internet.

Since 2012, Rogelio has taken care of his home and children in the Philippines while Susan worked overseas. Their situation isn’t unusual in a nation where unemployment is high and the export of human labor has become a major industry.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, an estimated 1.77 million Filipino citizens worked outside the country in 2020. This was down from 2.18 million in 2019. The drop is attributed to the pandemic, but with the easing of travel restrictions, the numbers are likely to climb again.

About 60% of what the government calls Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are women, and most of them are engaged in “elementary occupations,” meaning jobs that require no special training. Since most of the overseas jobs available to men call for specific skill sets, many Filipino couples opt for the wife to be the one to work outside the country.

“If only I could interchange my situation with the situation of my wife, I would do it,” Rogelio said. “But the problem is, I don’t have enough educational attainment to be hired working abroad. I’d rather stay here with my children and wait for my wife to come home.”

My only dream for my children is for them to finish their studies and have a good future. That would be our only treasure that we could give to them because we are not rich.

— Rogelio, Father of sponsored youth in the Philippines

a time of growth

The day Rogelio and the children were waiting for happened in late May when Susan returned to the Philippines from Qatar after resigning her job as a nanny. The family is encouraging her to stay this time. After 10 years of only intermittent visits, it’ll be an adjustment for all of them.

Rogelio has grown in those 10 years. In the early days after Susan left, he had little experience taking care of their home and six children, three of whom were still under 7. Juggling domestic responsibilities with his job taxiing passengers around Manila on his “tricycle” (motorcycle with sidecar) made for some long days.

“Before the pandemic when they still had classes in the morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. to prepare their breakfast,” Rogelio said. “Then, after they leave for school, I prepare [to go] to work. … Sometimes I go home for lunch to cook food for my little children whenever their sister is at school, then I return to my work afterwards. I usually go home at night around 10, or until midnight depending on the volume of passengers.”

As the children have gotten older, they’ve learned to care for themselves and help out with household chores, which has lifted their father’s burden considerably. Rogelio’s daughter Angela, 22, was especially helpful while her mother was overseas. Sponsored through Unbound as well as an Unbound scholarship recipient, she is studying hotel and restaurant management in college.

“She wanted to work abroad with her mom or in any country where there is an opportunity because she wanted to help us,” Rogelio said. “I will feel quite sad to let Angela work abroad, but it is for her own future, and I will not stop her to reach her dreams.”

Photo 1: Rogelio’s chief source of income is transporting passengers around the sprawling Manila metro area on his “tricycle.” It was a boost for the family income when he was able to purchase the vehicle, but the work can be exhausting, starting early in the morning and often lasting until late at night.

Photo 2: Rogelio, second from left, stands outside his home in the Philippines with three of his children. From left are Angela, who’s sponsored as well as an Unbound scholarship recipient, Jacob and Ryan. Jacob, now 10, was a baby when his mother left the country to work overseas.

support through difficulties

Involvement in the local Unbound community has been a blessing for Rogelio’s family. Through Angela’s sponsorship, they’ve been able to purchase food, medicine and school supplies. Like most of the mothers in the program, Susan was the family representative in the local Unbound parent group until she left the country. Then Rogelio took over. He says the experience has helped him overcome his natural shyness.

“They [tease] me and they always make me feel like one of them,” he said.

Rogelio’s family lives in a squatter’s village on the outskirts of Metro Manila. Homes in such communities are typically tacked together with whatever materials are available, and they’re susceptible to severe weather. When Typhoon Ondoy destroyed the family’s home in 2009, Unbound support helped them recover.

“Unbound helped us with the materials [and we also received] support from the local government unit to rebuild our house,” Rogelio said. “It’s hard to start all over again, but we always stay resilient so that we can overcome those trials and face the new day again.”


Angela shows a photo of her mother, Susan, on her phone. In her mom’s absence, Angela has been a major support to her father, caring for her younger siblings while also maintaining her university coursework. She is studying hotel and restaurant management and hopes to travel abroad.

their only treasure

Whatever the new day brings, Rogelio, Susan and their family are grateful that they’ll be able to face it together again.

Angela is eager to graduate and start living her dreams. She knows how much her father has given her and her siblings.

“My father can do anything for the sake of us, his children,” she said. “He handles his time perfectly for us and for his job, even without my mom. He gives us his full support even if he is tired and we know he is missing our mom.”

As for his other children, Rogelio’s hopes are the same as his hopes for their sister.

“My only dream for my children is for them to finish their studies and have a good future,” he said. “That would be our only treasure that we could give to them because we are not rich.”