Ofie, a Friend to Cherish Always

This was a copy of the essay below which originally appeared in a Souvenir Program during the "going away" party organized by the Filipino Community leaders in Kuwait for OWWA Welfare Officer Ms Ofelia M. Castro.

This was a copy of the essay below which originally appeared in a Souvenir Program during the “going away” party organized by the Filipino Community leaders in Kuwait for OWWA Welfare Officer Ms Ofelia M. Castro.

A friend is a gift from God. Keep her in your heart and she’ll forever be with you.” These wise words were once spoken by my late father. They still are vivid after all these years and easily remembered when I think of a particular friend, in the person of Welfare Officer Ofelia M. Castro.

Ofie, to me, is that kind of a friend, as I know, I am to her. She is a friend who is always there and even if we don’t see each other or talk to each other for sometime, she is always there, will always be there. I consider myself lucky to have known her and to become one of her closest friends in Kuwait, the closest to her heart, actually, as she will always tell me.

Ofie was the emcee during a brief program which commenced after I arrived. I actually arrived with her, bringing with us, staright from her place, the two red sofas Waleed and I sat on. This was during the celebration of my wedding to Waleed held February 16, 1997.

Ofie was the emcee during a brief program which commenced after I arrived. I actually arrived with her, bringing with us, straight from her place, the two red sofas Waleed and I sat on. This was during the celebration of my wedding to Waleed held February 16, 1997.

I remember the first time I met her. It was in the early days of June 1994. I went to the Labor Office, then situated at the basement of the Philippine Embassy, to conduct an interview with Labor Attache Lamberto Marin in relation to a story I was to submit to Kuwait Times. She was sitting in front of her desk talking to somebody on her left and I was standing sideways to her, waiting for a chance to approach Mr. Marin who was then busy on the phone. I smiled at her and she smiled back. By then, she didn’t know who I was and why I was there. After maybe five minutes of exchanging uncomfortable “glances” with her, she asked me: “Ne, anong kailangan mo?” Those first words she uttered, believe me, made their place in my heart! From then on, unknowingly to both of us, a special friendship started to grow.

Contrary to those claimed by other people who don’t even know her much more haven’t met her at all in person, Ofie is not a hard person. That “hardness” she shows is just a façade, a shield she uses to protect her from getting hurt. I know so because I know her more than anyone else. Behind that hard composure is a soft, kind and loving person.

She may shout at you – who doesn’t anyway? – but she does it with concern. Her voice will sometimes be too loud but that’s when she gets excited or angry about something.

Have you ever witnessed how she gets mad at a person who had done something very bad to a Filipino? Or how she talks unceasingly to a wrongdoer until her point is understood? Have you ever seen her shouted at by employers in her effort to protect our hapless domestic helpers and other workers? Did you know that she was even slapped on the face by one angry employer? Or how she was threatened and verbally abused by some unsatisfied individuals? Yes, she had been to these all, and more – situations which are sometimes beyond your imagination. And then you wonder why she seems to be hard?

Some people may even think that Ofie is so hard she doesn’t feel at all. Contrary to that, Ofie is a very sensitive person. I’ve seen her sad and feel sorry for unjustly treated workers. I’ve seen her how she reached out her hands in order to help the needy – and there are too many of them. And I’ve seen her cry! Yes, she is a living person, a human being, just like you and I. She feels and more than anybody else. She gets hurt and deeper than anybody else. She forgives and forgets better than anybody else. And she loves deeply and loyally than anybody else.

Now, you understand why I’m lucky to have known Ofie. She will always be my friend and will always be with me because I’ve kept her in my heart.

About Author

Freda Editha O. Contreras
Writing is a God-given talent which I try to utilize the good way. I used it as a means to earn a living, my very first job after graduating from college, when I got hired as an Information Writer by the Provincial Government of Antique through Governor Enrique A. Zaldivar in January 1982. By profession, I am a Registered Nurse, and was only able to practice it when I got recruited to work in a private hospital in Kuwait. This was in November 1987 and since then I have been living in Kuwait, now retired since June 2002. Because of my knack in writing I got hired in 1994 to write for Kuwait Times and later became an Editor of 'Pinoy News' a weekly supplement of KT. In March 1996 I published the very first independent Filipino newspaper in Kuwait and the Gulf bannered as Pinoy Expat News or PEN. The paper lasted for only 10 weekly issues. This was followed by another publication and came out first as an insert of an ad paper and later as a separate tabloid. I used then 'Pinoy News' as it was my idea the first time it was used for Kuwait Times. This again failed and produced only three weekly issues. I then turned to the Internet and in 1999 I got hired as a Contributing Editor of Suite101.com, a writers' portal on the web. The last of my articles was published December 31, 2002 but my topic 'Overseas Filipino Workers' was still visible until January 2006. All the 38 articles I wrote have been compiled into a book which I published in August 2007. I discovered blogging in 2006 but was not really serious about my writing. I wrote according to my whim. Having this blog under my own domain name is now a welcome development and I plan to concentrate again in writing. As is commonly said: "A writer will always be a writer." http://fredacontreras.com/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *