This former OFW finds love again via Calamansi app

by Nikko Tuazon
Feb 3, 2021
Archeval Galang Penano
Former OFW Archeval Galang Peñano on finding Farrah Tan: "Nag-start lang po yun sa bola-bolahan, chika-chikahan. Hindi ko po alam na made-develop ako sa kanya. And then, nung nagka-kuwentuhan kami, parehas pala kaming niloko and sinaktan."
PHOTO/S: Courtesy of Archeval Galang Penano

Searching for love among strangers in the web is possible in the age of social media, but it's also like looking for a needle in a haystack. One has to count on luck to find the real thing.

One such lucky guy is netizen Archeval Galang Peñano, a 46-year-old former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who had behind him three major heartbreaks, including a broken marriage, before finding love again via the social-media app Calamansi.

Calamansi is the latest tambayan of Filipinos in cyberspace especially created for Pinoys anywhere in the world. It lets them do voice chat, exchange ideas, trade jokes, showcase videos, and generally get connected.

Archeval, who goes by the name Someday_Redd or Redd on the app, told his story to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in an interview on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

Redd was once married and had a son, who is now 28 years old, before he became an OFW. The marriage didn't last long

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He then had a decade-long relationship with an officemate with whom he also had a son, who is now 13 years old.

It ended when Redd found out his partner was cheating on him, "Na-discover ko po with the help of officemates po namin kasi same company po kami. And then ang trabaho ko po is nasa field po ako, sa maintenance po ako ng mga cell site."

It was this breakup that pushed him to work in Saudi Arabia.

He recalled, "Nung hindi ako pinalad dun sa partner ko, pinagpalit kasi ako sa kumpare ko, I decided na lumayo na lang muna para walang gulo.

"That was 2010, and then natuluy-tuloy na po siya."

HARD LUCK working abroad

For over 10 years, Redd has been going back and forth to Saudi Arabia, where he faced various challenges in different jobs.

He said, "Eventually, naloko rin ulit kasi imbis na maintenance ako nung dental clinic, nilagay po ako bilang driver.

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"Waiting daw po ako hanggang sa magbakasyon yung empleyadong papalitan ko hanggang sa natapos na lang yung kontrata ko bilang driver. So umalis na lang po ako.

"Yung next na balik ko, sa car rental naman, car inspector po ako."

Around this time, Redd had gotten into another years-long relationship with the same unhappy ending.

Redd narrated, "Nagkaroon din akong serious for six years. Ganun din po yung ginawa sa akin, long-distance relationship din po iyon.

"Nakipaghiwalay siya sa akin, and then after a few days, nagpakasal na siya. Ganun po yung nangyari.

"Nasa Japan po siya tapos ako nasa Saudi. Every time na uuwi po ako, sinasabayan niya po ng bakasyon.

"Tapos everytime na uuwi siya ng Pilipinas, hinihiram niya po yung anak ko para ilabas. Yun po yung naging set-up namin.

"Tapos nung last uwi ko, nagpaalam siya sa akin na ayaw na raw niya and then after a few days, nabalitaan ko na lang na nagpakasal na siya."

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SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

The most terrifying experience in Redd's life as an OFW happened when he went back to Saudi Arabia in March 2019 to work as a chef for an affluent family.

He recalled, "Nung nagpunta na po ako ng Saudi nung 2019 ulit, dun na po yung passion ko which is pagluluto.

"Frustrated chef po kasi ako and then ayun, pagpunta ko po sa work ko, hindi po nasunod yung lahat nung nasa kontratang pinirmahan namin."

Redd felt the head chef, an Egyptian national and his immediate boss, exploited him.

He continued, "Yung working hours namin, hindi nasunod. Yung every week may day off ako, hindi nasunod. Yung overtime, hindi nasunod, and then, yung passport ko po, kinuha nila, which is hindi naman dapat."

To add to his misery, his second ex-partner in Manila cut off his communication with their son.

Heavily burdened at his work and in his personal life, Redd began having suicidal thoughts.

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He recounted that on January 31, 2020, he was on the verge of ending it all by hanging himself.

"Gusto ko na po tapusin lahat kasi sabay-sabay na yung problema sa kitchen, yung sa family ko. Sabi ko para matapos na ang lahat, isang bagsak na lang.

"Gumawa ako ng sulat para dun sa kasama kong Pilipino para hindi sila madamay, ako lang ang may kagagawan.

"Nag-send na rin ako ng message sa mother ko, sa father ko."

He stopped, suddenly remembering his good times with his own family.

Redd told PEP.ph, "Nakita ko lahat yung happy moments sa buhay ko, tapos ayun, nakita ko yung nanay ko, yung lola ko...

"Ako po kasi, pag may problema ako, ang lagi ko pong takbo is sa lola ko. Yayakapin ako niyan.

"Hahaplusin yung ulo ko tapos sabi niya sa akin, 'Kaya mo yan, kung ano yung tama, ipaglaban mo.'

"Dun po ako nagising... Tapos nagawa kong kalagin yung tali sa leeg ko.

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"Sabi ko hindi puwede ito, kailangan buuin ko yung sarili ko."

ABUSED, DETAINED, rescued

Redd decided to seek help after enduring worse physical and psychological abuses from his boss.

Redd told PEP.ph. "Around July, nag-stop work ako kasi yung head chef ko, tinutukan ako ng knife sa mukha. Pinalampas ko yun.

"And then, second time, pinaso naman ng mainit na kaldero yung braso ko.

"So ayun, nagdecide na po ako mag-stop work. Kinausap ko po yung supervisor namin, and then yung prinsesa.

"Sabi nung prinsesa, hindi raw gagawin yun ng mga Egyptian. Kami raw mga Pilipino ang gagawa nun. So I decided na hindi na ako mag-work.

"Sinabihan ako nung prinsesa na hindi ako makakaalis at wala raw magagawang tulong yung embassy or yung agency sa akin.

"Mabubulok daw po ako dun and I need to pay SAR15,000 bago ako makauwi. So kinulong lang nila ako sa isang room."

Redd was grateful to have met Mitchelen Pescadero Campiot, the good samaritan who helped him return to the country and fix his papers with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) office.

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He said, "Nag-seek ako ng tulong sa mga kaibigan ko hanggang sa nakilala ko si Miss Mitchelen Pescadero Campiot.

"Siya po yung tumulong sa akin para makalabas ng palasyo, hanggang sa dinala po ako nung supervisor namin sa agency. Sinurrender po ako dun.

"And then, naghintay po ako ng four months, saka po ako nakauwi.

"Si Miss Mitchelen po yung tumulong sa akin, all the way po hanggang sa makauwi ako, even nung nasa airport ako, even yung pagfa-follow up sa OWWA."

He also recalled being given the runaround by the Philippine Embassy in Saudi, "Pinagturu-turuan po ako, e... Magibigay sila ng name and number, and then follow-up mo, follow-up mo iyan.

"Ganyan po yung nangyari sa akin hanggang sa naghanap po ako ng taong puwedeng makakatulong sa akin hanggang sa nakilala ko si Ma'am Mitchelen."

writing poetry, FINDING "MISS HAILEY"

While waiting for his return to the Philippines, around September 2020, Redd was staying in one of the agency's lodgings when he discovered the Calamansi app.

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He related, "Wala po akong ginagawa for four months, almost five months. Nasa accommodation lang po ako ng agency.

"Nagba-browse po ako ng Facebook. Facebook and YouTube lang po ako. And lagi ko pong nakikita yung Calamansi na app. Sabi ko, 'Ano bang meron dito?'

"So I decided to download siya. Nung na-download ko siya, sabi ko, 'Sa edad kong 46, bakit welcome na welcome ako sa app na ito?'"

Redd often visited the app's Love Advice and OFW Corner chat groups where he shared his experience, asked for advice, and even showcased his talents.

He said the app made him feel like he was having barkada nights with friends.

Redd continued, "Nakahanap ako ng kaibigan kahit di ko sila nakikita tapos dun.

"Nai-showcase ko rin yung talent ko bilang isang manunulat. Nagsusulat din po ako, nag-i-spoken poetry din po ako.

"Para sa akin, para siyang naging stress-reliever."

Redd added he didn't have any problem opening up and showing his vulnerable side to online strangers.

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He explained, "Mas masarap mag-open up sa hindi mo kilala kasi hindi ka nila mahuhusgahan.

"Unlike sa mga friends mo, high-school friends, elementary friends. Kilala ka na nila, e. Mahuhusgahan ka na nila. Mabibigyan ka pa nila ng maling advice.

"Unlike sa random people na hindi po pa nakikilala or hindi mo pa nakakadaupang-palad, makakakuha ng sagot dun sa matagal mo nang tanong sa buhay mo."

His virtual encounters led to a girl named Farrah Tan, who goes by the name "Miss Hailey" on the app.

Redd revealed they had a slow start, "Nag-start lang po yun sa bola-bolahan, chika-chikahan. Hindi ko po alam na made-develop ako sa kanya.

"And then, nung nagkakuwentuhan kami, parehas pala kaming niloko and sinaktan.

"Ayun, I tried to message her every morning, pero hindi niya ako sinasagot e. Minsan, after a few days bago siya sumagot.

"Siguro na-curious na rin siya sa akin hanggang sa sumagot na rin po siya sa akin sa chat and then naging video call na via Messenger.

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"Hanggang sa naging super close na kami. 'Tapos ayun, pinadalhan ko po siya ng white roses and pagkain.

"Pancit Malabon, kasi taga-Malabon po ako and Pichi-Pichi kasi yun po ang specialty sa amin.

"Akala niya po nung una is bogus ako, pero nung nagpadala ako sa kanya, sabi niya totoo pala ako."

Archeval Galang Penano and Farrah Tan

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FRESH START WITH ONE TRUE MATE

On January 5, 2021, Redd finally made it back to the country and was immediately quarantined at a hotel in Makati City, which is a mandatory to all arriving OFWs.

When his quarantine period ended, he finally met Farrah in person.

Redd recalled, "Kinakabahan po ako nun kasi from Makati siya, 'tapos sa Makati din ako chineck-in ng OWWA.

"And then dun sa swab test, negative naman ako. Sabi niya sa akin give her five to ten minutes, darating na siya.

"Almost 30 minutes ako nag-antay, kinakabahan ako akala ko mai-indian ako.

"Eventually, dumating po siya and the rest is history."

One of the biggest lessons Redd learned after finding Farrah was to never give up on love, however and whereever.

He expounded, "Marami po akong nababasa and napapanood na yung LDR [long-distance relationship] na nabubuo sa makabagong teknolohiya is hindi magla-last or hindi kayo magja-jive.

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"Napatunayan ko na hindi totoo yun kasi sa aming dalawa, yung willingness ng dalawang nilalang na magkita at may kagustuhan na mapunta sa tamang tao.

"Kasi siya, ilang beses na rin siya napunta sa maling tao and same as me.

"Yun pong willingness na mapunta ka sa tamang tao is puwede mo palang mahanap sa technology na ginagawalan natin ngayon, sa Internet."

Archeval Galang Penano and Farrah Tan met through Calamansi App

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Now, Redd is planning his future with Farrah.

He said, "Ngayon, kasama ko na po siya and then inaayos na po namin yung dapat namin ayusin sa aming dalawa, yung mag-settle down po.

"Sabi ko sa kanya, magre-rest lang po ako for one month. 'Tapos kukuha po kami ng van and ipapasok po namin sa Lazada or sa Ninja Van kasi nag-work din po ako sa ganun before.

"Meron din po akong offer dun sa close friend ko, gagawin niya po akong business partner.

"Hindi pa naman po kami nagmi-meeting, hindi ko pa po alam yung plano pero sa maintenance po siya ng aircon and installation."

Aside from his career plans, Redd said he has been trying also to reconnect with his youngest son.

Calamansi, Archeval Galang Penano

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IMPORTANT REMINDERS TO OFWS

For those planning to work abroad, Redd reminded them to read all the fine lines in a contract and to have all the names and numbers they can reach for help in case of emergencies.

"Kung mag-aabroad man tayo, kailangan lang siguraduhin lang yung lalapagan natin sa ibang bansa, masusunod lahat ng pinirmahan sa kontrata and maging handa tayo sa mga pagsubok na darating.

"At maging handa tayo sa mga scenario, kung kanino tayo puwede lumapit at hindi dapat lapitan.

"Kasi Pilipino po ako, kapwa ko Pilipino pinatuturuan ako dun sa OWWA, sa Philippine Embassy. Sila pa po yung mga nasa posisyon para tulungan kami."

Redd also left a message to Filipinos who have friends and family members working abroad.

"Every time na uuwi tayo, nag-abroad ka lang akala nila mayaman ka na, marami ka nang pera. Akala nila pinupulot lang ng mga nag-a-abroad yung pera sa ibang bansa.

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"Nagagawa lang namin takpan yung kalungkutan namin sa pagpopost ng pictures na masaya. Akala nila, porke lagi kami nasa mall, marami kaming pera.

"Yun na lang kasi yung way para malibang kami, maaliw namin yung sarili namin sa ibang bansa.

"Pero sa kabila ng mga ngiti namin na nandoon, nalulungkot kami sa inyo. Nananabik kami sa mga yakap niyo, sa mga kamusta niyo.

"Isa pang punto yun, e, yung mga Pilipino na may kamag-anak na OFW, sila dapat yung mangamusta dun sa nasa ibayong dagat.

"Hindi yung nasa ibayong dagat ang mangangamusta dito sa Pilipinas. Baliktad po kasi ang nangyayari ngayon, e.

"Yun po sana yung mabago sa mga Pilipino, sa mga kamag-anak natin dito sa Pilipinas. Laging sila [OFW] yung nangangamusta imbes na yung nandito sa Pilipinas.

"Yung napakaliit na, 'Kuya, kamusta ka na diyan?' 'Kaibigan, kamusta buhay?'

"Napakalaking bagay po nun sa amin. Napakasarap sa pakiramdam. Isang buong araw kaming masaya."

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Former OFW Archeval Galang Peñano on finding Farrah Tan: "Nag-start lang po yun sa bola-bolahan, chika-chikahan. Hindi ko po alam na made-develop ako sa kanya. And then, nung nagka-kuwentuhan kami, parehas pala kaming niloko and sinaktan."
PHOTO/S: Courtesy of Archeval Galang Penano
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