“As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.” John Lennon
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — When Diosdada Balajadia landed in the United States via Los Angeles, California sometime in 1990, she knew flying back again in the “land of milk and honey”–if ever she decided to return to the Philippines–would be next to impossible.
“So I decided to go TNT (tago ng tago),” she admitted while flashing a funny face, her mannerism.
Balajadia, 65, of Purok 1 Sisi, Magsungay, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, used a fake name in a valid passport when she obtained a tourist visa.
Her first application was denied in the US Embassy in Lahug, Cebu City.
“I was so desperate to go to the United States because of a very humiliating incident in our place where my name was dragged,” Balajadia volunteered.
She did not give details.
“It was a love triangle turned awry and I don’t want to recall the past now. It gives me more pain each time I remember it,” Balajadia explained in vernacular.
When she first applied for a tourist visa three months earlier sometime in 1990, she was denied “because I didn’t know how to describe Mickey Mouse,” Balajadia chortled.
“The consul said, ‘what is the purpose of your travel?’ I answered, ‘to see the Disneyland, sir.’ He asked me, ‘what is there in Disneyland that you want to see?’ I answered, ‘Mickey Mouse, sir.’ He asked more: ‘Who is Mickey Mouse?’ I answered, ‘He is a rabbit, sir. A big rabbit with tall ears, two big teeth, and small begotes (beard)’,” disclosed Balajadia.
“It’s Bugs Bunny you are describing,” Balajadia recalled the consul as telling her.
Nursing a heartache, Balajadia returned to Bacolod, her passport stamped with a word “denied.”
Upon the advice of a travel fixer, she changed her name and renewed her passport.
Balajadia tried her luck in the US Embassy in Manila.
She was granted a tourist visa with multiple entry good for 10 years.
Balajadia, a lesbian, stayed alternately in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Sacrameto in California for three years working as nanny and dabbling in housekeeping before flying to El Paso, Texas to work “under the table” in a garment factory.
“That’s where I met Rosanita (Ortaleza), the love of my life,” revealed Balajadia, who was then 43 years old.
Rosanita, 30, was a Mexican illegal immigrant, who entered El Paso through the barricade or popularly known as “over the bakod” (over the fence).
“I loved Rosanita and she loved me, too. That’s what she told me,” Balajadia alleged.
Single, with money to burn, and with no big family to support in the Philippines, Balajadia showered Rosanita with amenities in life, including expensive jewelry and signature handbags.
Through Balajadia’s “kindness”, Rosanita was able to send $500 a week to her family in Ciudad Juarez, a neighboring Mexican border city located a stone throw away from El Paso.
“Rosanita was my world; she was my everything until one day in 1994 she just disappeared without a trace,” she said. “No sign. No letter. No notice whatsoever.”
Rosanita’s mobile phone “could no longer be reached.”
Balajadia surmised either Rosanita was caught by border patrol guards and deported back to Ciudad Juarez or had eloped with a Hispanic man.
Balajadia discovered that their joint savings account at Wells Fargo had been emptied.
“Only $15 was left out of about $8,000 in our joint account,” revealed Balajadia.
She approached a certain Romulo Contreras, a Hispanic-speaking bank executive and learned from him the money had been withdrawn through normal processes via ATM.
Balajadia refused to believe he had been conned after being castigated by friends.
After a futile attempt to search or “rescue” her girlfriend in 1996, Balajadia decided to “forget Rosanita for a while” and made a rendezvous to Jersey City in New Jersey.
When her tourist visa expired in 2000, Balajadia was already a long-time “resident” of New York.
“I have adjusted (with my life here) and I don’t intend to go back to the Philippines anymore,” she intoned.
Balajadia has found a new flame, Alma (not her real name), a Pinay caregiver in Long Island.
They live together in one apartment in Queens.
Balajadia disclosed she also maintains “off and on” relationships with two other Pinoy women — Jamjam and Rhodora (not their real names), both caregivers.
Alma, a public school teacher in Carmona, Cavite, Philippines, is building a P1.8-million house in Brgy. Barrios, Carmona through Alma’s “generosity.”
Balajadia admitted that at this point of her life, “I can’t afford to be alone. All I want is a woman, a life-time partner.”
Warned by “concerned” friends on the possible repeat of her ill-fated romance with the “desaparecido” Rosanita, Balajadia bemoaned, “Give me a woman or give me death.”