Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    Belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  If you look around us, there’s a lot to be thankful for.  Aside from being thankful we should also learn to be content with who we are and what we have in our life.  It’s not bad to aim a goal we want to reach but not to the extend [...]

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Page added on January 25, 2012

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Pinoy Insights

By Romeo Montoya Jr.

Simple joys

“More than 11 million Filipinos have left their families to find better opportunities abroad.”  This is the opening line of the famous video by Coca-Cola Where Will Happiness Strike Next: The OFW Project. A barely five-minute video, but it was able to tackle the plight of a lot of overseas Filipino workers. Though not shown, there is actually another story in the said Coke video – the story of the families left by these OFWs.

Remember the Smokey Mountain? Not that large rubbish dump in Manila, but that group of young singers in the 90s, one of them was Geneva Cruz, formed by famous Filipino composer Ryan Cayabyab. Never did I hear again a Filipino singer or band singing about family, environment and young love in the most compelling way. One of their songs I cannot forget is Mama. While the storyteller in the Coke project is the OFW, in Mama, it is the daughter left in the Philippines by the mother.

—0—

Mama she wrote me a letter
Saying she’s gonna be fine
Please take good care of your sister
I’ll be home in three years time

As parents, we assume the role of the worrier. We never let our children worry about things. As much as possible, we do not even want our young children to ask us, “Are you okay Mommy? Are you okay Daddy?” Because even if we answer, “Yes, I’m okay,” we know how difficult it is to appear convincingly okay in their eyes. How much more when you are away from them? Since you are the one who is not home, it is just normal for your loved ones back home to ask if you are doing okay. To say that “I’ll be home in three years time” is actually a suppression of the feeling of loneliness but with the intention of not making your loved ones back home worry about you.

—0—

Mama it seems like forever
You’ve been gone since I was five
They say you were a good teacher
In the same school where I can’t survive

Mama’s a maid in London
I want to believe that she’s fine
She could be lonely in London
I want to know why she had to go
I need her, I want to be near her
I’ve got to be with her
And see to it that we’re together once more

While at the NAIA Airport departure area, I heard one Filipino guy in a group of probably contract workers in the Middle East talking about his children who were asking if how many months he will be gone. He said he just changed the topic because the truth is that he won’t be back till after three years. Your children say they miss you, but they actually mean they need you – that they might not make it without you by their side. They want to know what is so good about going abroad. But most of all, they want to understand why you have to leave them. For after all, your children also want to find reasons not to feel unhappy even if you miss their birthdays, even if you cannot spend several Christmases with them, even if you cannot attend their school activities, even if you cannot witness their accomplishments.

—0—

My English teacher she told me
She wants to be where you are
Mama she’s leaving her family
To earn all the money she wants

London, Vancouver, or Hong Kong
Governess, housekeeper, or nurse
What is to happen to all of us children?
With mothers who travel so far

Absent parenting among Filipino families is a pressing issue that should be addressed by the Philippine Government. I do not want to be called bagong bayani. It is a hoax. You call OFWs heroes because their dollar remittances represent the biggest percentage of the country’s GDP? The government actually means, “Thank you for making our so-called job less of a pain-in-the-ass.” Because it is such a heroic act to leave your family is even a bigger hoax. It is never heroic to work miles away from your family. While bigger income is the main attraction of working abroad, every parent knows that rearing a child is more than the material wealth that he or she can provide. Being physically there for your children can never be replaced by any amount of money. It is truly a sacrifice if one of the parents work abroad, but it is utterly not a noble idea for both parents to leave their children all for the sake of money that they can earn abroad. Such situations would be too painful for the children.

—0—

The idea that one day the Philippines is going to be a country where its own people would want to stay is something that is far from happening right now. While truly “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, Filipinos admittedly are not happy citizens. The brand of fun that we have in the Philippines is very memorable but it is actually short-lived. There is so much stress living a life in the Philippines mainly because your government does not take care of you and your family. Corruption is very rampant, making it difficult for every Filipino to achieve even the simple joys in life. Once you land in a foreign country like Canada, you cannot help but be amazed by the care and security it provides its people.

Filipinos are masayahin (jolly) by nature that is why if you ask every foreigner who has gone to the Philippines of their experience in the country, it is not the place but the people in it that gave them happy memories. That is why, I remain proud of who I am – that I am a Filipino. I do not see myself trusting the Philippine government again, but my heart always goes out for every Filipino, especially for those who have opted to stay and for those who want to leave but have never been given the opportunity to do so.









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