Storytelling gives life meaning to former OFW

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo May 27,2018 - 10:30 PM

Children, guardians and SK leaders of Barangay Calawisan spent a Saturday afternoon of stories, arts and tours of the library and city museum to cap off the Basadours’ Summer Saturday Storytime project.

Danae Claire “Dannie” Deboma had just graduated from Computer Engineering at the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) in 2004 when an opportunity came for her to work abroad.

At 21, she left the comforts of her hometown of Talisay City Cebu, to be an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in a semi-conductor company in Taichung, an industrial city located 170 kilometers from Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei.

“I had big plans after graduating from college. I wanted to travel and see the world but financial trouble at home brought me back to reality,” she said.

Her father, who used to work for a telecommunications company, suffered from hypertension and diabetes which made things difficult for the family.

With a younger brother still in school at the time, Dannie had little choice but to send out application letters to different companies in Cebu to find work.

Unknown to her, her mother secretly also processed her passport and other documents so that Dannie could find a job overseas.

“My mother had a friend whose child was working with a company in Taiwan. She was told that there were many job opportunities there,” recalled Dannie.

At about the same time, a manpower agency, which was the Taiwanese company’s partner institution, participated in a job fair at the Cebu Provincial Capitol.

Begrudgingly, Dannie applied for a job at the agency and was immediately accepted.

In January 2005, she left for Taiwan.

“I had a feeling of resentment when I left. I felt that I was sent to college so I can pay for my family’s debts,” she said.

Later, Dannie realized that being an OFW was an opportunity for her to see the world away from her family.

“There was a lot of culture shock and adjustment. The first year was a major struggle. I needed to learn the language, to learn pakikisama (camaraderie) and to deal with homesickness because I have never been away from my family that long,” she said.

Her constant prayer was for God to protect her from harm and to lead her to the right direction.

“God was so good because most of my roommates were mothers so I became their baby along with another Filipino who was about 18 years old that time,” she said.

Dannie’s work involved the assembly of raw computer parts from scratch which included cutting, wiring and placing mouldings before marking and shipping them to different vendors.

She worked in the firm for one year before she was moved to another company where she worked for another three years.

“A woman, who was like a mother to me, told me that I have a college degree so I should go home and find a job in Cebu,” recalled Dannie.

That made her reflect about her future.

“I looked at my co-workers and so many of them grow old and they still work abroad away from their family,” she said.

Dannie was finally able to deal with her emotions and let go of her resentment towards her mother.

She felt that it was time to leave Taiwan and go home.

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Coming back to Cebu in January 2009 meant finding a well-paying job to help sustain her father’s medications at the time.

She found a good fit for her interest and skills in a business process outsourcing (BPO) company; and the pay was good.

Dannie’s BPO career has since spanned nine years covering three different companies.

“With so many negativity and critics working in the industry, it can be stressful. But there is more to life other than just work,” she said.

Dannie works Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Describing her life before as that of a “vampire” and a “zombie” as she spent a lot of time traveling and drinking out with co-workers, Dannie said all that has changed when she joined two groups.

In 2017, Dannie joined Toastmasters International; and just last March, she became a volunteer storyteller and literacy champion of the non-government organization, Basadours Inc.

Danae Claire “Dannie” Deboma volunteers with the non-government organization, Basadours Inc., for Summer Saturday Storytime at the Cebu City Public Library.


Last May 26, Dannie joined the group in welcoming 25 children from Barangay Calawisan, Lapu-Lapu City to an afternoon of stories, arts and tours at the Cebu City Public Library and the Cebu City Museum.

It was the culmination of the Basadours’ Summer

Saturday Storytime which ran for two months, from April to May, as part of the library’s Basa Kabataan project.

J Centre Mall, which also advocates for literacy development and storytelling, provided the participants’ food and drinks.

Parents, guardians and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders from Barangay Calawisan who accompanied the children had a separate session on child protection policies and why adults should read to children.

SK Chairperson Kian Amoin said her exposure to the library and the Basadours’ volunteer work have inspired her to push for education projects for the youth.

Amoin, 19, is an education graduate of Cebu Normal University (CNU).

She plans to roll out tutorial sessions and scholarship opportunities for the youth.

“We are also looking forward to the plans of the barangay council to build another building which can house our reading center,” she said.

Rosario Chua, chief of the Cebu City Public Library, welcomed the visitors from the neighboring city of Lapu-Lapu.

“It is always a pleasure to have visitors outside of Cebu City. We hope to inspire them and encourage their leaders to replicate what we do so the youth, children and adults can benefit from a facility like a library,” said Chua.

For Dannie, who has spent the summer months volunteering with the Basadours, choosing to spend her free time with children and fellow volunteers has added meaning to her life.

“I have realized the importance of having a connection with people aside from the usual interaction with my boss and officemates,” she said.

“I believe that these connections extend my life span and decreases my stress level as I go back to my desk on a Monday, feeling inspired
because of these people,” added Dannie.

While she may have had a tough start as a young adult who was forced into a situation to financially support her family, Dannie believes that this was all part of life’s pit stops and detours.

These days, she looks at her calendar full of excitement at what lies ahead in her next public speaking and storytelling session.

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TAGS: Former, gives, life, meaning, OFW, Storytelling

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