By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
February 4, 2013
ORANGE COUNTY, California – From 2003 to 2005, Edwin Abellana was helping bring glory to the Philippines as a coach on the Senior League World Series Team.
After budget cuts prevented the 2005 team from flying out to the U.S. for a tournament, Abellana and nine other members of the team decided to take a chance.
They used their visas to come to the U.S. and then hid out as undocumented immigrants to start new lives.
“Yung 2005 (match), hindi na natuloy dahil kulang sa budget, so hindi nakaalis ang team. Kami, mga officials, we had to grab our visas to come here and stay for good. Hanggang ngayon nandito kami,” said Abellana.
As the team went their separate ways, with some finding ways to legalize their stay, Abellana found work as a caregiver. Until now, he remains undocumented.
“Syempre, takot na takot kami dahil nang umalis kami sa Pilipinas parang nakagawa kami ng mali,” he said.
Earning over a hundred dollars a day, but sending most of it back to his family the Philippines, Abellana finds peace and comfort with other caregivers in Southern California.
When he went to the U.S., Abellana said his goal was to help his family and make sure that all his children finish school.
In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security tracked him down, but he said they decided not to deport him and told him to not commit any crimes.
After being away from the Philippines for the past eight years he yearns to return home, but he knows if he goes back to his hometown in Bacolod, he may not be able to re-enter the U.S.
“Gustong-gusto ko dito syempre, lalo na ang experience ko dito. Gusto ko din ma experience din ng mga anak ko kung ano ang sarap dito at kung anong hirap,” he said.
His hope of finding a way towards a legalized U.S. stay has grown stronger, as lawmakers take up immigration reform which could pave a path for him staying in the US. legally and permanently.