ARLINGTON, Virginia — Since “running away” from her Arab boss who brought her in the United States from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2001, Rosita “Rose” Junatas, a domestic helper, has not seen her family in Tarlac, in the Philippines.
“I hope to reunite with them soon,” Rose, 61, wished in an interview with this writer July 9.
She plans to go back to Ramos, Tarlac, where she finished sixth grade in 1969 at Ramos Central Elementary School, as soon as the remaining documents for her green card, being processed through the help of Falls Church-based preacher Mariano C. Evangelista Jr. and his wife Armida, will arrive.
The Evangelista couple “adopted” Rose and allowed her to stay in their church at Christian Evangelization Ministry in the City of Falls Church.
Rose lost her American husband, Michael “Mike” Bradley, 68, to a lung cancer on June 4, 2018.
She lived with the Evangelista couple after Mike’s cremation on June 19.
Rose and Mike didn’t have their own children.
Rose and Mike, a printing press employee, had been living together as husband and wife in McLean, Virginia since 2001; she decided to process the important details in her green card only when Mike was already dying in the hospital.
Rose, then 45, said she met Mike, then 52, on Good Friday in 2001 through a co-worker, Elsie Ribao. She went to live with Mike in an apartment in McLean on Labor Day of the same year.
The romance kicked off through a series of phone calls where they professed their love for each other and willingness to live together, Rose said.
They got married at the back of a house on September 27, 2001 in a civil ceremony.
Rose wasn’t able to obtain the complete details of her green card because of “complications” in Mike’s previous marriage.
Mike’s former wife, Marilou, also a Filipina, divorced him after living together for five years. Before meeting Marilou, Mike had been married to a fellow American with whom he had a 40-year-old son.
Rose was Mike’s third wife.
Rose’s first husband, Leopoldo Gicete, a mining engineer from Samar, Leyte, died of asthma in 1982.
After Leopoldo’s death, Rose worked as domestic helper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 18 years and raised alone their two children–Rosenda and Leopoldo Jr.
Rosenda now resides in Aklan with her own family and a fishery business, while Leopoldo Jr. is now a seaman.
They talked regularly through the Facebook Messenger.
In Virginia, Rose’s former boss, an Arab national, resented her decision to “run away” and live with Mike.
The boss paid for Rose’s air fare from Jeddah to Virginia and was hoping Rose would stay with the Arab boss’ family while in the United States.
It was Mike who helped Rose transfer her personal belongings from the house of her Arab boss to Mike’s apartment.
“Sa galit ng amo ko sa ginawa namin, hindi niya ibinigay ang mga natira ko pang suweldo (my boss was so enraged that he didn’t give me my remaining salary),” Rose recalled.
Since Mike didn’t have enough money, Rose said she did some housekeeping job in the houses of Mike’s friends to help buttress the couple’s income.
Rose said Filipina friends who visited her in their apartment frequently always engaged Mike in a verbal tussle when Mike ribbed them for not washing their dishes and for leaving all the chores to Rose alone.
“I told them to ignore Mike and not to engage him in a quarrel because he was sickly, but they refused to listen,” Rose narrated.
The same set of friends also gossiped behind her back and “belittled me when I was down and feeling hopeless at the time when I needed them most,” Rose added.
“When Mike was in the hospital, nobody cared for us. When Mike died, none of them visited us. One of them even told our friends buti nga (good riddance),” lamented Rose.
When Mike was gone, her friends “totally abandoned me and even cursed me for marrying a poor and sickly American citizen,” she sobbed.
She said she didn’t inherit any property from Mike, who was penniless before his death.
While in the custody of the Evangelista couple, Rose said she does not anymore entertain calls and inquiries from friends “who will only open up a conversation and pretend they care only to get information about my present situation, share it to others, and add insult to my injury.”
“I will just keep quite and maintain my peace here (Christian Evangelical Ministry) and wait for the complete papers in my green card. I know I am in good hands. No more friends. I don’t want to be hurt anymore,” Rose concluded.