COVID-19 and its resulting quarantines have put the world on pause, closed businesses, and displaced thousands of employees both locally and abroad. Overseas Filipino Workers had no choice but to come home and hope there was some work waiting for them here.
Cruise ship chef Rain Paul Cervantes got back one week before the lockdown in Manila began, thinking it would only last 30 days. One month turned to several and money was running out fast. With cruises prohibited and restaurants closing due to the quarantine, he had to rethink his strategy.
Though initially hesitant, he turned to selling fish full-time to make money.
"'Yun na lang naisip ko talaga, 'yung magnegosyo. Ito 'yung pantawid namin sa araw-araw (That is really what I thought of, to start a business. This is what will get us day by day.)," Cervantes said.
He also sold breakfast meals, viands, and barbecue on the side.
It's very different from the fancy meals prepared at his old job, but Cervantes said he's in no position to be picky during the health crisis.
"Ang importante talaga ngayon ay maka-survive tayo kasi wala naman tayong ibang aasahan kundi tayong sarili lang (What is important now is we survive because we have no one else to rely on except ourselves.)," Cervantes said.
Slipping into the new routine and job is difficult, but Cervantes persists for the sake of his family, and remains optimistic that he and other OFWs can bounce back from these setbacks.
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