overseas Filipinos

UAE-based OFW opens Lipa coffee shop to help pay for father’s dialysis

Jojo Dass

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UAE-based OFW opens Lipa coffee shop to help pay for father’s dialysis

FAMILY. Overseas Filipino worker Aillen Llanes pictured with her father, Alexander.

Aillen Llanes

Despite still working in the United Arab Emirates, Aillen Llanes remotely runs her Batangas-based coffee shop with the help of her sister

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Call it filial love. An overseas Filipina worker (OFW) here has opened a coffee shop back in the Philippines to help defray the cost of her father’s dialysis treatment.

Aillen Llanes, 32, says it’s her way of paying back for what her parents have endured raising her and her four siblings through college.

She managed to open a franchise of a brand name coffee shop – Sérendipité – in Lipa, Batangas, south of Manila, in 2022. While she is still in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), she runs the coffee shop remotely with the help of her sister, and flies home once in a while to check on business.

Work is currently in progress for the renovation of a new location in Tanauan City, also in Batangas, for a bigger dining area and parking space, Llanes said.

Both of my parents po ay super naming mahal at iniingatan dahil sadyang napaka-supportive at protective po nila sa amin. Hindi po sila nagkulang sa kahit anong bagay,” Llanes, the youngest of five children, told Rappler.

(We loved and care for both our parents so much. They were very supportive and protective of us. They haven’t been remiss of their obligations.)

Parehas po nila kaming itinaguyod lahat sa pag-aaral para makatapos kami ng college at ma-achieve kung anuman po ang meron kami ngayon,” said Llanes, who had to skip college every now and then to give way to her older siblings’ tuition expenses, apparently because their parents’ earnings were not enough for everyone.

(They both supported us in our studies so that we could finish college and achieve whatever we now have.)

At bilang anak naman po ay gagawin po namin lahat na magkakapatid para suportahan sila sa kahit anumang bagay,” added Llanes, who sold hotdogs and vegetables at her aunt’s business, was sales representative at Shoe Mart in her home town of Lipa in Batangas, and was also a working student at Jollibee.

(And as their children, we will do everything to support them in anything they need.)

Lomi house

When the Llanes siblings were younger, their parents ran an eatery in Roxas, Isabela, north of Manila. specializing in Batangas’ very own variation of lomi – a thick soup mainly composed of thick, fresh egg noodles.

“Loming Batangas,” as it is called, is a popular dish among Filipinos. There are several “lomi house” restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Llanes’ father, Alexander, now 61, did the cooking while his wife, Aurelia, now 63, helped with the other chores. Alexander would also drive a passenger jeep and, during Christmas season, would transport fruits, Llanes said.


The family has since moved back to Lipa City, and these days Alexander, a barangay councilor, has been suffering from a chronic kidney disease that requires him to undergo dialysis treatment thrice a week.

Overall, weekly expenses run at approximately P15,000, including other medication and treatment for diabetes, Llanes said.

The dialysis, itself cost around P4,000 per session, she said, adding that they pay P1,750 for each as the rest of the bill is subsidized throught the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Twice, Llanes said, doctors had to remove fluid from Alexander’s lungs – and this, she added, cost her and her siblings P250,000.

Llanes said they have a good stock of oxygen tanks on stand by in case their father needs breathing support.

Napakamahal magkasakit sa bansa natin –  mula sa maintenance ng gamot, check-ups, at iba pa,” she said. (It is very costly to get sick in our country – from maintenance medicines, check-ups, and all else.)

Dream business

Llanes said it had always been her dream to run a restaurant business just like her father did.

Pero siyempre sa negosyo po, maraming kailangan paghandaan. Kaya nadi-delay po ako sa pag-umpisa,” she said. (In business, you have to prepare and meet many requirements. That was why the opening of my business got delayed.)

As this was developing, her father began to be ill.

“Then things happened. Nag-start na po mag-dialysis ang tatay ko. Ngayon po ay halos isang taon na at three times a week po ‘yun. Marami nang kumplikasyon, pero thank God at patuloy pa rin po siyang pinapagaling,” Llanes said.

(My father started undergoing dialysis. He is now going on his first year, having the treatment three times a week. There are also many complications already, but thank God, he remains well.)

Loving husband

Because of the mounting expenses for her father’s treatment and medication, Llanes said she entered into a business partnership with her sister. Her husband, an Arab national who works as a chemical engineer and to whom she has been married for seven years, also chipped in, not bothering to ask about details.

Malaking bagay po na may napaka-supportive akong asawa. Pinahiram agad ako ng pang-puhunan. Walang ‘Why? What if? When will you return the money?’ Walang ganyang nangyaring tanungan,” Llanes said.

(It was a big help that I have a very supportive husband. He immediately lent me money for capital. No questions asked.)

Llanes said it was clear right from the start when she was setting up the restaurant business that none of the proceeds would go to her or her two young sons for their future.

All my shares po will go directly to my parents, to support my father’s dialysis. Never po sila sa amin humingi ng pera, pero eto po ‘yung nasa puso ko, at ganito po kaming magkakapatid,” she said.

(My parents never asked money from us, but this is what my heart tells me, and this is how we are as their children.)


Llanes’ siblings have likewise been doing their share.

The eldest, who’s in Canada and helped provide for Llanes’ college education, has been providing full support for their father.

The second, and the only male, would regularly drive their father to the hospital at 5:30 am for his dialysis schedule before going to work at 8 am. He would return to the hospital by 11:30 am to bring him home, then get back to work till 7 pm.

Their third sibling is a nurse, who, Llanes said, “sacrificed her profession to help with the business and to provide hands-on care” for their father.

The fourth works at a government agency and routinely brings groceries.


Llanes, a graduate of St. Jude College Manila with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, arrived in Abu Dhabi 10 years ago. She is currently studying digital marketing at a Filipino-run educational institution certified by the UAE government.

Before getting married, Llanes worked as guest service representative at a restaurant, then on to being an executive secretary and sales representative at a construction company.

These days, she’s a homemaker looking after their sons, with plans to have her own business in the UAE. – Rappler.com

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