I lived in The Philippines from 2005 until 2015. Since then I have been living and working in UK and returning to the Philippines every Christmas for as long as I can afford. I met my wife in 2007, we were friends until 2009 and married in Jan 2017. We have three children, two young daughters (5 & 8) and my wife’s son (11) from previous. We also had another son but he died at five weeks old.
I used to own a popular sports bar in Puerto Galera and my wife managed the day to day things there. When she became pregnant with our son it was becoming clear that I had to return to UK as there was not enough spare cash available to support us with a new baby properly. I left to come to UK when our youngest daughter had recently turned two years old and my wife was six months pregnant.
Our son was born and I was away working. He was diagnosed with late neonatal sepsis.
Being 7000 miles away I was worried sick. Our newborn son went into ICU in the nearest hospital from my family (54km) but there wasn’t enough incubators to put him in. Everything went wrong and I was not in control of anything. I had and in fact still have a hundred questions and nobody to ask them to. I don’t know why this happened to my son.
I flew to the Philippines to meet my son in casket and put him in the ground. They do things differently there, the deceased are kept at home for a week in an open coffin with a plastic top so that all the relatives can come around and see them. This tradition sees the house open for a week and many visitors, friends relatives and neighbors around. This is what I found when I arrived there.
Two weeks later I was back at work in UK. I had no time to grieve or to consol my wife and children. My heart was broken into a thousand pieces.
The effect this tragedy had on my children was as you would expect but my wife to her credit was fantastic with them.
I couldn’t stop crying for a long time, like 18 months. It would get me at work, in the car or in the shower. Always when I was alone and my mind would wander.
At least my wife had the kids to keep her busy but I did not. I turned to alcohol to help me sleep and forget. In the end, it made me quite ill and I had to dramatically change my lifestyle to get out of it.
Four years on and we are still separated. I work 80 hours a week to support my family and make sure they have everything they need but I still cannot afford the visa application fees and all the associated costs… Almost twelve thousand pounds to get my family here on a two year visa. As such, we are moving to Malta next year. My own mother has never met her granddaughters.