In this week's issue

Ex-manager staying illegally in UAE yearns for home

In hiding for 13 years since his visa expired, former HR manager of a leading Dubai hotel now yearns to go home

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 21:26 February 6, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/ Jay B. Hilotin
  • As lonely as it gets: Recto Esmeralda, 54-year-old Filipino, inside his rooftop room in a Rashidiya villa XPRESS /Jay B. Hilotin

Dubai: Recto Esmeralda, a 54-year-old Filipino, once had a great career going for him. As the human resources manager of a leading Dubai hotel, following previous stints in other five-star properties, he recruited and interviewed hundreds of staff from various countries to fill hotel jobs in several Gulf cities.
His job and generosity earned him countless friends, who heaped praise upon him.

Now an illegal, virtually alone and partly paralysed following a massive stroke, Esmeralda has been stuck in Dubai for 13 years, cowering in fear and also longing for the love of his family.

Friends slowly faded away and visits became few and far between following his bout with aneurysm (abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of an artery).

Esmeralda lives off the charity of Oscar, his 45-year-old nephew, and spends most of the time by himself in a room on a villa rooftop in Rashidiya. Casper, a five-year-old pomeranian, keeps him company on morning walks around the villa compound.

Esmeralda’s troubles started in 1998 when he took a Dh86,000 loan from a UAE bank to help a close friend whose ailing mother was fighting cancer.

“My friend promised he would repay the loan in instalments of Dh2,200 a month,” he told XPRESS, recalling how the friend disappeared without paying a single dirham.

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Esmeralda’s misfortune was made worse when he lost his job later in 1999. Unable to pay three months’ amortisation, Esmeralda was jailed for four months following a case lodged by the bank over payment default.

Upon release, he did odd jobs, still hoping to raise the money to pay the bank and get his passport, which he surrendered to authorities for his temporary freedom. But by 2000 his visa expired and he has since been an illegal.

He later learnt his friend had skipped Dubai and gone to Bahrain where the friend died in a car crash. Petrified by fear of jail, he never talked to his bank again.

On December 23, 2008, tortured by a life of uncertainty that robbed him of sleep for days on end, Esmeralda was rushed to the Iranian Hospital following a ‘ruptured cerebral artery aneurysm’, that left a seven-inch C-shaped scar running from his right forehead to the back of the right ear.

He was discharged on January 7, 2009. His neurosurgeon, Dr Alireza Taghikhani, prescribed that besides managing the hypertension and brain injury after the operation, Esmeralda also needed psychological support and long-term intensive physical therapy and rehabilitation – something Esmeralda has stopped getting in February 2009 after his insurance coverage lapsed.

Unable to go home, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“I had tried to apply for the amnesty (which ended on February 3), but it won’t work, according to Philippine officials I had approached, as I still have an unpaid loan. It’s been 13 years since I last saw my family. This should be enough punishment for me. I want to go home. I want to get proper treatment,” Esmeralda told XPRESS.

Esmeralda’s situation has improved much: he was wheelchair bound for over six months after the surgery, but now is able to walk on his own.

“When you’re my situation, friends will abandon you. People who owe you money will forget you. I don’t keep a list of debts. At the start, I fell into self pity. But I stopped pitying myself. I’m lucky to have survived this ordeal. My only hope is mercy from the people – the bank – I owed money to,” he said.

Comments (24)

Your comments
  1. Added 17:25 February 8, 2013

    Just to clarify the news the friend that Rey helped is not dead and very much alive living in the Philippines. His name is Diosdado "Ding" Lacson. Hope he can read this news. I copied him with this news so he knows what he has done.

    Judy, Bahrain, Bahrain

  2. Added 17:09 February 7, 2013

    I felt sorry about his situation, all i can offer is my prayer. I do believe that our Great and Mighty God will touch his life right now. Lord hear our prayers for our Bro. Recto Esmeralda.

    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 16:53 February 7, 2013

    And where is this leading hotel? Perhaps they could negotiate with the banks, give him back his job and medical assistance?

    mags, dubai, United Kingdom

  4. Added 16:51 February 7, 2013

    Cummon, there have to be many who can help him! He helped someone because that someone needed help! Now some one should help him as he needs help! Volunteer in Dubai should hopefully spot him and get help sorted but the problem is 'the Bank'.

    mags, dubai, United Kingdom

  5. Added 16:46 February 7, 2013

    i would request xpress to jus raise a fund raisal.. and all who commented here can atleats chipp in a few bucks n help him start his new begining.. his story is vry sad.. and atleast we could jus be human and help him now.. they past damage cant be repaired.. atleats the future can be thought of.

    Hansa, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 16:40 February 7, 2013

    My heart is saddened by these people. Such unfortunate circumstances to such good people seems so unfair. May the Almighty God ease his suffering and lets him go back home to his family and for a better treatment. Ameen. Nobody deserves to be so lonely.

    Nadira, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 16:14 February 7, 2013

    As the saying goes 'even a tiny drop of rain can create a big ocean as well; Please provide contact info of Mr. Esmeralda. I have a little fund which I raised from selling for a cause. I may not be able to send it to the right benefactor, but sure enough, in future, as we extend our hand to help him rise again, we are giving him a chance to help more people as he used to do before. Feel how God touches our heart to be a blessing to Mr. Esmeralda. Hope he will be reunited back with his family back home soon.

    may, Batac, Philippines

  8. Added 16:03 February 7, 2013

    Where are the people with kind hearts? How can you make a man live like this ? Just consider yourself in that situation. His fault, he is born in poor country and he was left with no choice. Help the mankind. Remember ! one day you all have to answer to your God.

    Annoymous, CT, United States

  9. Added 15:28 February 7, 2013

    Bank cannot treat a borrower inhumanely such as this gentlemen who borrowed to help someone and that person too died in the accident. he lost his job and now sick as well. I do not think the readers should contribute to redeem him but rather the media should expose the bank by naming it every one should boycott and also not work for such unethical organization. Why not the bank employ him for few years and deduct from his salary.

    A Muslim, Rasheediya, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 15:26 February 7, 2013

    Great guy. He should get a staying permission on humanitarian ground. God bless you ESMERALD See the future not the past.

    Sadru, Milan, Italy

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