I am a Poet and a Fiction Writer. I'm currently finding ways to make a living on writing am slowly drowning in the mounds of books and paper
The Overseas Filipino Worker
I’m miles away from home and its dark at the day time. Its 5a.m. and you notice that it’s still early in the morning, you get up anyway. Treading passed your bed and table you head to the window where you meet the, still dark, sky. You find solace in the fact that your hometown might be seeing the same sky you are. Then you remember that they are not seeing the night sky yet. This is the life that most Filipinos dream of, the life of an OFW. The dream of greener pastures is common throughout our culture, and in the process we leave our families, friends and our home. But what compels the common Filipino to escape?
There are many articles and new letters out there speaking of the conflicts that an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) gets from employers and the people of foreign lands. Although I am yet to see one that talks about the conflicts they have within their own family and countrymen. Here I did research on several accounts and from some people I know personally, and dive deeper into the life of an OFW.
Our Cultural Obligation
The world we grew up in was never the most successful of places in comparison to the rest of the world. We all may have heard the success stories of those who sought refuge in a distant land. It is a tale as old as time, to long for greener pastures over the other side of the horizon. The promise might have sounded enticing at the time. The promise of: a new world to explore, new experiences to be made and even of a fuller wallet and also a chance to repay a debt to our parents.
We Filipinos feel naturally indebted to our parents, thus feel the need to repay them in some way, and financial assistance just seems like the most logical answer to our dilemma. However is all this worth it? It has been accustomed to us to see this as an act of nobility and extreme kindness. But in doing this are we not restricting the privileges of the ones doing the work?
the Sweat, the Blood and a Thank you
The world is a very competitive place, and it definitely isn’t bad to join in in that competition. How about the OFW that doesn’t succeed? I’ve seen several people who have worked abroad, however their social status did not very much change after. Upon asking them how they spent their money overseas. They replied saying that most of their salaries went to the pockets of their relatives rather than on their own and they were left with only the costs needed for living. This was another cultural downside to the common Filipino. If one was well-off and has a decent job, the rest of the family will revolve around them and sap him of his own self investment. The Filipino family is very tightly knit together. This definitely has many positive effects; however for someone who wants to live a life of their own and invest on them self for later success they will be finding themselves frowned upon by their roots. I can’t really blame them; it has been culturally instilled into us from the beginning. However there are people out there that still need to invest on themselves for true success. Think of the entrepreneur who wants to make a bigger business, but also needs to invest on a larger capital. Or the nurse that also wants to study a deeper field of medicine to the side, and soon become a head nurse or even a doctor. This cultural tight knitting within families restricts these dreams to fully come to fruition. So should this cultural practice be abolished? It definitely has its merits but one has to practice it without the full abuse of the other.
There are lands of opportunity out there and it’s only a matter of persistence to find your footing in the country you chose to be in. Immigration is a great opportunity to spread our culture and success throughout the globe. Also means of success can definitely be found in hard work, good strategies or even just patience. Your family can be given help, by being provided opportunities themselves in order for them to achieve their dreams and make a living out of that. I am not trying to say that what we were asking of our fellow OFWs was too much, but we do need to consider their stance and their situation as human beings rather than treating them as a limitless bounty of gold. So have your family achieve their dream, while you do your best to reach yours.