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OFW marks milestone in literary journey with poetry volume

31 December 2021

 By Vir B. Lumicao 

Copies of Dela Cruz's poetry book on display at the launch

A writer’s dream is to see her work published, be it as filler on a page of a nondescript publication or as an independent hardbound or glossy-covered volume. Its fulfillment crowns her literary journey.

Filipino migrant writer Bernadith Bueno dela Cruz had this dream fulfilled on Dec 26 when she launched her poetry collection, “A call to remember, A journey with the Swiss,” at V-Co in Causeway Bay. The event was attended by about 50 guests, friends and fellow writers.

Dela Cruz’s self-published poetry volume is the second book to be launched by a member the Migrant Writers of Hong Kong, a nine-month-old group of aspiring poets among the legion of foreign domestic helpers in the city.

Ailenemae Ramos blazed the trail by launching her poetry collection, “Beyond the Sunset,” on Jun 20 at the University of Hong Kong, reviving literary writing by the city’s OFWs that fell dormant after a few Filipino magazines that catered to them folded.

To a domestic helper like Dela Cruz with a heart for poor schoolchildren in her country, sharing the proceeds from her book with these kids gives her work a nobler purpose.

The author reads a new poem which she wrote and translated into several languages 

The woman from Iloilo said royalty from her book sales will go to a library for the poor children that she is helping set up in her village to give the kids access to books, learning materials and school supplies that are otherwise beyond their means to purchase.

Dela Cruz said the library project will be located in Brgy. Santiago in her hometown Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

“A library is one of the most needed facilities, a necessity, in our barangay. Resources and tools for education are lacking,” the author said after the event.


She said by using her royalty from the book sales to build and fill up the library, she hopes to help unburden the students and their financially unstable parents who are struggling to cope with the costs entailed by online virtual classes.

“The library will have free internet for students to use, will have free printing of students’ paperwork and printouts,” Dela Cruz said.

What the author is doing is sending to her readers the message of positivity, a Christian value that she upholds and advocates as a child of God.


Dela Cruz says that at a young age, “I grew up answering the call of God, to share my purpose in life with others.”

Thus, it is not surprising to find positivity, love, peace and humanity as a recurring theme in the 115 or so poems that the book contains.

The 42-year-old author, who came to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong in mid-2015, expresses in her poems the angst, dreams, longings and fulfillment that seem to be embedded in every migrant worker’s being, with faith in God as the underlying solution.

In “One day it will change,” the poet reminds the reader of the impermanence of one’s situation, suffering, weakness or helplessness.

Enthralled guests at the book launch
“One day all your cares will be settled

Your tears will dry up

Your fears will become strength

You will become unbeatable, one day!”

One day all your sorrows will become happiness

Don’t give up, continue pursuing your dreams

The test of life will make you strong

You will see your success, one day!”

Having worked for employers of diverse nationalities could have given the author a wide perspective of the cultural and character differences of the people she served.

Before coming to Hong Kong, she worked in Saudi Arabia. Then she served a Chinese family here for four years before switching to a Swiss family in 2019. Thus, the reference to the Swiss in her book.

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To Dela Cruz, they have all been good employers.

Perhaps, she is one of the lucky few, or her perception is polished by positivity. But she admits that at first, during the adjustment period, the employers were watchful, perhaps sizing her up, while she was also studying their personality in order to adjust to them. Subsequently, in a few days, they began to like her, she says.

The helper said the Ogier family that she works for has been very good and very supportive of her writing activity.

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When they found out that she was writing poems and preparing to publish her book, the family gave her all the encouragement and time she needed to put her poems together. Dela Cruz’s 8-year-old ward also contributed her own poem, “Picnic Day,” to the book.

The author's 8-year-old ward reads her own poem off the book where she was a contibutor 

Then the Ogiers advertised the forthcoming book on the Stanley bus terminal billboard and shouldered the cost of shipping copies of the book from the Philippine publisher to Hong Kong.

“Natuwa lang po mga amo ko kasi hindi po nasasayang ang day off ko sa mga walang kwentang bagay at nagulat po sila na tutulong ako para sa kapakanan ng mga estudyante sa Pilipinas,” Dela Cruz explained her employers’ enthusiasm in her book and her library project.

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(My employers were glad that I wasn’t wasting my day off on trivial things and they were surprised that I was going to help uplift the welfare of students in the Philippines.)

This fortune of having kind employers and the joy of working for their families as if they were her own, she attributes to God who she doesn’t fail to glorify in life and in her poems.

When too many of her fellow migrant workers suffer directly or indirectly through illnesses from overly bossy and stingy or, worse, physically abusive employers, Dela Cruz can indeed be considered a child of a Benevolent God who deserves to be the object of her poetry.


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