A dream turned into nightmare, Part 1

IN relation to my previous published article, I would like to relate a story of how I finally acquired a house. It is my wish to inform others of how much an OFW puts out “sweat and tears” just so he can own a modest house, out of his earnings from working abroad. A typical story, one OFW may claim, as I know, for sure, that others share with me similar experiences.

As I live in a countryside, with a land already owned as a birthright, I opted to construct a concrete house. This happened four years after I left home to work overseas. I wanted my house small and simple, just enough for my mother and my two children, with my old Nanny and a caretaker to comfortably live in. When I mentioned this to a local contractor, he managed, soon afterwards, to produce a simple yet unique design of a house. Just as I wanted it, I remember telling the guy then! After agreeing on the total capital outlay, I then witnessed the start of the construction of my dream house!

Oh, how happy I was then, especially when, after two weeks, I saw the building, day by day, turning into a real house form! It was far from finished though and, while silently calculating on how far my budget could go and how near I was to go back to work, I convinced myself that I won’t see my house finished, as promised by the contractor, that is.

You see, one of the conditions I initially gave to the contractor was for me to witness my house finished before I leave for work back to Kuwait again. No problem, he assured me then, as the house is programmed to finish in 45 days, he boasted! I had then 60 days leave and I readily agreed, confident at the same time that the money I had was enough to cover the budget he “intelligently calculated” to fully construct the house.

And now, with only a day left before I finally go back to Kuwait, my house, sans the finishing, was finally standing with blue-painted roofs over its square body. Alas, the contractor, although proven unreliable, was forgiven and given another chance! Another 10 days, he said, are needed to finally finish the house. He handed over to me another long list of materials and after producing everything he required and leaving behind a check to cover his final share (he already took, in advance, most of the money I was to pay him), off I went back to Kuwait.

Was the house finished after 10 days as promised by the contractor? A big NO! I found out a month later that the construction was completely stopped two days after I was gone. The remaining building materials slowly disappeared, as claimed by my mother, and whatever left of the cement bags turned hard as a rock and unusable! A few bags were salvaged and sold by my mother, at less than the original price, of course!

Anger and frustration were the two strongest emotions I felt then. Cursing has never been my way when dealing with people but I do remember uttering bad words to the contractor, first, by my own self, after learning his betrayal, and afterwards, personally, to the contractor himself, when I went for my holiday a year after. It was unwise of me (or should I say stupid?) not to demand, initially, an official written contract. So, no matter how loud and demanding my commands were, there was really nothing I could do to make the contractor finish his job. How I wish then that the man could be eaten alive by a monster!

What happened then to my house? I knew you will ask that question. Well, that’s another story – Part 2 – which I will relate in my next article. To somehow prepare you for the next interesting story, but irritating experience on my part though, I am including herewith a copy of a letter I sent through email last August. The first mail was sent directly through “Isumbong Mo Kay Erap” sub-section of the Office of the President’s web site. Up to this writing, I still didn’t receive any answer. Here’s the full text of that letter:

Dear Mr. President,

Warm greetings from Kuwait!

This is now my second letter asking for help – of the same nature.

I was, and still am, seeking your assistance in helping me get my money back (nearly P60,000.00) from the V.V. Soliven Group of Companies. Said money was in payment (partial) of a house and lot located at Greenheights, Phase IV, Marikina City. After the amount was paid (way back in 1995), no house was built for me, as agreed with the company, after meeting my initial down payment. As a result, I withdrew my application for the purchase of the house and lot.

I am an OFW and I work hard to give the best for my family. And then I was swindled by this company and you should understand that being away from my country, I feel helpless and lost!

Last July 19, 1999, I personally visited the company to demand a refund of the money. I was asked to submit some papers and promised a refund, in parts, as soon as the papers were submitted.

It’s nearly a month now but according to my sister (Mrs. Evelyn C. Santiago, who’s my Attorney-In-Fact), the company is giving her a hard time.

My problem might be small compared to those you receive everyday, but, believe me, for an OFW like me, it is very big! I hope you understand my situation.

Looking forward to your assistance and thanking you in advance, I am

Freda Editha O. Contreras

I also would like to pass on the following question:

How many times does a person get fooled or swindled in a lifetime before he finally gets what he wants?

 

Author: Freda Editha O. Contreras
Published on: November 23, 1999

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