Staying with an OFW family in Iloilo City

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Group picture of BeamAndGo and the Cartera family taken immediately after Ben shared his miraculous 34-year OFW story as a seaman.

The heritage rich city of Iloilo is located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Known for its “oohhh sooo yummy” Biscocho Haus Butterscotch and Chinese inspired Molo Soup, the city is also littered with traditional catholic churches dating back from the Spanish colonial era.

While much of its rich tradition has been kept preserved, the BeamAndGo team witnessed firsthand the city’s lightning speed infrastructure makeover with the acclaimed Iloilo International Airport and the Sta. Barbara Highway.

The very moment we hit the road from the airport, we were absolutely dumbfounded when we passed by the bustling 6-lane diversion highway on our way to the residence of one of our very own and Iloilo native, Vanessa Cartera, Director of Sales at BeamAndGo.

Vanessa, who hails from Iloilo and comes from a family of seamen, said it concisely: “Hindi dati ganito ang Iloilo. Times are changing. And I’m proud to be an Ilonggo.”

If you are wondering, BeamAndGo was one of 90 companies that participated at the PESO Office Mega Christmas Job Fair attended by 1,500 Ilonggos.

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BeamAndGo poses with Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. and the PESO Office department. The province of Iloilo has long been known to be the world’s resource for seamen and nurses.

In recent years, the BPO industry has spurred growth in local employment. But this city is where the world gets its pool of seamen and nursing professionals. This is the reason why Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., and his PESO office team invited us to orient jobseekers about what we do for OFWs and encourage them to register here  for an account even before they set off for international placements.

But the best part of this trip is the story of Vanessa’s father Ben Cartera, a retired seaman who has had stints in Abu Dhabi, Sweden, and Norway. In his heyday, Ben told me his motivation was to build his dream house and provide education to his children.

After 34 years, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed half his body. It was painful for his family who depended on him for financial assistance. At that time, his daughter Vanessa was studying in a university in Metro Manila. She literally cut back on unnecessary expenses while the family dedicated most of their time to assist their ailing dad.

With tears in his eyes, Ben recounted the times he had to be away from his family during important celebrations such as Christmas and graduation. Thankfully, he has now recovered after years of rehabilitation and physical therapy to restore his facial and body movement. He credits his loving and supportive family who stood by him in his most difficult state.

While I was savoring the home-cooked Molo soup, I couldn’t help but cringe and imagine the thousands of Filipinos who have similar stories demonstrating the Filipino spirit of grit and determination to bounce back from tough times.

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A hearty dinner with Cartera family at Tatoy’s, the pride of Iloilo.

From groceries and medicine to insurance and payments of bills, BeamAndGo aims to instill in the mindset of OFWs the importance of covering the basics first. We tell our BeamAndGo friends through our LearnAndGo Workshop Series and daily reminders that their hard-earned income should be spent on the things that matter – health, insurance, food, and education.

And what makes it better? Iloilo Supermart is now an official partner of BeamAndGo.com. Ilonggo OFWs can now purchase digital gift certificates that they can use to buy groceries and medicine from the said supermarket!

The Cartera family displayed to us the famous Filipino warmth and hospitality but it is their story that touches us the most. It serves as an inspiration for us at BeamAndGo to champion our cause to empower OFWs like you. We hope it would impact you the same way it made an impact on us.