All parents dream of giving their children a better life than they had. It’s the reason why so many mothers and fathers work second jobs, cash-in on vacation time instead of actually taking a day off, and take out loans to send their kids to schools they can’t afford.
In the hopes that she could make more money as a maid in another country, one Filipino mother gave up her career as a teacher and said goodbye to her husband and young kids in 2003. After she arrived, however, she was nearly forced to make an even bigger sacrifice…
A Mother’s Sacrifice
In late 2003, Marilou Ranario decided she was going to give up her career as a teacher, and say goodbye to everything and everyone she knew in Surigao del Norte, in the Philippines, in order to travel to another country and work as a domestic worker.
It wasn’t an easy choice to leave her husband, Lolito Dalubatan, and their small children, but Marilou wanted a better life for her kids. Even though she had a respectable job as a teacher, she could make more as a maid in another country…
A 2-Year Contract
In 2003, Marilou signed up for a recruitment agency. When they found her a 2-year contract in Kuwait to work as a domestic worker, she accepted the job and left her home on December 10, 2003, in the hopes that she would be able to give her kids a better future.
A Migrant Worker
“I didn’t dream of something grandiose. All I wanted was a comfortable life for my family, for my two kids. That was why I came to Kuwait to work,” said Marilou, who was just 1 of about 8 million other Filipinos working overseas in search of a better wage to support family back home…
A New Employer
While it was hard to be away from her kids and husband, Marilou was happy that she was able to help her family. However, about 6 months later, Marilou’s recruitment agency suddenly transferred her to a new employer, Kuwaiti Najat Mahmoud Faraj Mubarak.
Shortly after being transferred to her new employer, Marilou realized she was in trouble. Mubarak was controlling and abusive. According to Marilou, the 45-year-old woman would physically beat her, refused to pay her, and would not allow her to eat or sleep…
Since Marilou was in a foreign country without any support system, she believed she didn’t have any rights and had nowhere to go for help. As the physical and psychological abuse continued, Marilou was pushed closer and closer to her breaking point.
The Breaking Point
According to Marilou’s family, the abuse and the sleep deprivation made the young mother start ‘hearing things’. While working one evening during a party at her employer’s house, Marilou finally snapped because of something Mubarak allegedly said…
According to Marilou, she heard her employer talking about ‘selling her’ to one of her guests during the party that night. What happened next, however, became the source of speculation and an international controversy that left Marilou fighting for her life.
The Alleged Attack
After hearing Mubarak make those comments, Marilou allegedly snapped and stabbed her employer to death. After the attack on January 11, 2005, Marilou fled to Singapore where she was arrested for Mubarak’s murder and sent back to Kuwait…
Waiting In jail
For the next 9 months, Marilou was imprisoned in a Kuwaiti jail until a Kuwaiti criminal court finally made a decision on her case. In April 2005, Marilou finally received a lawyer to help with her defense, but it was already too late to build a strong enough case.
Sentenced To Death
A few months later, in September 2005, the criminal court sentenced the migrant worker to death by hanging. After the decision was announced, Marilou’s case garnered international attention because there were a few questionable details about the incident…
The Other Theories
According to local news reports, Marilou murdered her employer in retaliation for ‘insults’ to ‘her people’, but people around the world came up with theories that Marilou never actually murdered her employer. Others speculated that if Marilou really did kill Mubarak, it was in self-defense.
The President Intervenes
Eventually, the case earned so much attention from Filipinos around the world that the President of the Philippines personally intervened to help Marilou. “The life of every overseas Filipino is important,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said…
A Personal Appeal
In December 2007, President Arroyo traveled to Kuwait on her way home from an 8-day visit to Spain, Britain, and a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes in France. While in Kuwait, she made a personal appeal for both Marilou’s life and another Filipino woman’s life.
Meeting With The Emir
During the trip to Kuwait, President Arroyo met with the country’s Emir Sheikh al-Ahmad and requested for Marilou’s sentence to be reduced since he was the only person with the power to reduce the sentence of a convicted person under Kuwaiti law…
“Normally, I don’t interfere in the judicial process. But since you are here to personally appeal for her, I will not sign the decree of execution. That is within my power,” Emir Sheikh al-Ahmad said in his decision. “I will reduce the penalty to life and when the other parties sign the forgiveness, I will further reduce the penalty.”
On Marilou’s behalf, the Philippine government paid the victim’s relatives ‘diya’, a financial payment to victims or their families as compensation for murder, physical harm, or property damage. In return, the family gave the government their letter of forgiveness…
The New Sentence
Once the letter of forgiveness was given to the government, Kuwait’s emir was able to further reduce Marilou’s sentence. Instead of serving life in a Kuwait prison, she was sentenced to 10 years in jail. After serving those 10 years, Marilou was finally granted her freedom and was allowed to return to the Philippines in 2015.
“As I return home today, I can’t wait to be with them. I will take care of them. I just want the best for my family. Look at me, how I sacrificed for my family,” Ranario said the day she returned home and saw her family for the first time in over a decade. “I would like to thank the Philippine Embassy for always visiting me in the jail and for providing me with whatever I need. But above all, I want to thank His Highness the Emir of Kuwait for saving me and of course the ever merciful God.”