NAT Mutya with guardian Zuhra Unas 03-1592839725113
Mutya with guardian Zuhra Unas Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An eight-year old Filipino girl is seeking help to locate her biological mother who abandoned her almost two years ago during the UAE immigration amnesty programme.

The mother is needed for DNA testing to ascertain the identity of the child and for authorities to issue a birth certificate required for the travel documents of the girl.

Mutya, who is under the care of a Filipina expat living in Ajman, was born out of wedlock. Her mother, Emelyn Gumarang, 45, left the UAE on October 18, 2018, during the amnesty period, according to records from the Philippine Consulate in Dubai.

Filipino girl abandoned Supplied

The situation of the child was brought to light after Zuhra Unas, the guardian, sought help from the Consulate and the group called Global Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Helpline.

Zuhra said she has lost her source of income due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Her house rent is three months overdue and she and Mutya are barely surviving from food donations extended by Global OFW Helpline.

Zuhra, who has been living in the UAE since 2007, has decided to go home in Talayan, Maguindanao (in southern Philippines) for good to live with her own family. But she is also determined to bring with her Mutya, who she has been taking care of since birth.

“I treat Mutya like my own child. She was handed over to me three hours after her mother gave birth,” shared Zuhra, adding: “She was born on an auspicious day 11-11-11, at 3am on November 11, 2011. By 6am that day, I have been nurturing Mutya in my arms.”

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Passport copy of the mum Emelyn Gumarang who abandoned the girl Image Credit: Supplied

Articulate, charming and respectful

Zuhra said Mutya has grown into an articulate, charming and respectful child. “She is functionally literate; she can read and write in both English and Filipino, although she was deprived of formal schooling due to lack of legal documents,” Zuhra noted.

Mutya also has not been able to see a doctor or entered any hospital since birth. But she has grown healthy, despite missing all newborn immunisations

“Thankfully, after all these years, Mutya only experienced slight fever, common colds and flu and I just gave her some over-the-counter medicine,” Zuhra said.

Runaway mum

Zuhra said Mutya’s biological mother has her own family in the Philippines prior to giving birth to Mutya.

“She (Emelyn) was also an illegal UAE resident and she applied for amnesty in 2018. But she only got an exit pass for herself. For several weeks I’ve been asking her if she had process the papers of Mutya and she always told me she was sorting it out until one day I received a short WhatsApp message from her saying: ‘Don’t look for me, I’m already here in the Philippines,” Zuhra sadly shared.

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Mutya and guardian with King Belimac Image Credit: Supplied

Mutya, meanwhile, never really missed her family because she was completely raised by Zuhra. However, in a recent Facebook Live interview with King Chopazar Belimac, a social worker and founder of Global OFW Helpline, she made an appeal to Philippine authorities to help locate her mum.

Belimac said the two also need immediate financial assistance to pay for their house rent and some extra money which they can use for their eventual repatriation.

Help from the Consulate

Philippine consul-general Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News the Consulate is working on the case of Mutya.

He also explained how Mutya will get travel documents: “The process begins once the mother has been identified through her DNA sample. The mother in Philippines has to send her DNA to Dubai. UAE health authorities will compare the DNA of the mother and child.”

NAT Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund 1-1592839728016
Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymond Cortes Image Credit: Angel Tesorero, Gulf News

“Once the genetic testing is concluded and maternity DNA is established, the child is then issued a birth notification/certificate by UAE Health authorities. The Consulate will report the birth and the child is provided with a travel document,” Cortes further explained.

Zuhra, for her part, said she is also waiting for the DNA test so she can apply for the legal adoption of Mutya.

Meanwhile, Belimac said staff from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have tried to locate Emelyn but were unsuccessful.

Emelyn was not found in the any of the two addresses registered in her passport - Marcella, St. Caloocan City and Bilis Balongbato, Caloocan City