OFWs and Aliens: A Nation Unto Themselves

It is amusing sometimes, the chain of thoughts that generates a blog. This one started because I was trying to write a different one.

I was going to resolve the “Top 12 Filipino Entertainers” list by ranking those entertainers who I think have carved out a special place of distinction in the Philippines. So this is how the list was shaping up when I hit a wall:
  1. Manny Pacquiao
  2. Kris Aquino
  3. Jessica Sanchez
  4. Lady Gaga
Well, you see my problem right away.
Without question, if you are within earshot of a conglomeration of huge black weatherworn speakers blasting music across the Pacific from your home town, you will hear Lady Gaga prancing her sexual stuff. The lady has beat, and Filipinos love it, along with the raw sexual language and irreverence and power.
Celine Dion would be on the list as well. And the “One Man Band” doing his Waray Waray stuff for the entire Visayas.
Well, the list crosses borders, does it not? It must.
Then I reflected that my readership would probably understand the list, and accept it. But the homelanders would not.
And from that, it struck me that there is a “Group C”. If you read the prior blog, you will know that Group A are the broad masses with shallow engagement in issues and Group B are the educated self-starters, internationally clued in, who read and think analytically and solve problems.
I herein propose that there is a Group C, and I belong to that group. It is a group of people who may or may not be citizens of the Philippines, but have Philippines in their soul. They share their lives with more than one nation. It includes me and Edgar and Cha and European Josephivo and New Yorker Attila and even beningo of Get Real Post and our OFW fans in Washington and all over the place.
The paper we all carry that designates “citizenship” is important. Indeed, we have pride in it, whatever national name is printed on the cover. But there is a different allegiance at work here.
It is like the difference between love of wife and love of family.
We’ll die for either.
We are wed eternally to the nation of our citizenship.  But the Philippines is our family. Yours. Mine. No difference. I married into it I suppose. You who are overseas moved out of the house but still have an anchor there.
So Group C has a different set of standards than even Group B. These are standards built on separation from the platforms that most stand on.
A person who skydives is a different person after his first jump.
We have all jumped.
It seems to me that Group C is closely allied with people of other nations who have also made the leap. I am more closely aligned with a Mexican migrant looking for a day job in front of the Home Depot in Pasadena than I am to Cousin Sandy landlocked in the small town of her birth in Colorado.
Group C is “Global Man” where Man of course includes woman. For Global Man, national allegiance is more an intellectual commitment than an imposed obedience. It is of the heart, either way. But perhaps Global Man has shed a few more tears behind the commitment, both bitter and sweet.
We have all let go of something to gain something richer.

And most of us have learned to appreciate differences, not rebel against them.
Those still attached to home may either admire or be jealous of those who took the leap. Although I suppose envy does contain a measure of admiration.
And I suspect that many of us in the nation of Global Man would find it difficult going back. Well, maybe not difficult. It would be easy for me to return to the United States. 
But I rather think we would be somehow emptier.

14 Responses to “OFWs and Aliens: A Nation Unto Themselves”
  1. Edgar Lores says:

    1. How sweet.2. Does Group C include alienated lasses from Benguet “villages” who have a love-hate relationship with the country?3. As a member of Group C, I wonder why I belong. I have just calculated that I have spent 53.73% years of my life away from home. 3.1 I guess the operative word is “home”. Home is where the heart is. And my heart is located in a coastal town in Ilocos Sur province where I spent just 5.97% years of my life.3.2 And yet although my tastes are eclectic and cosmopolitan, the food I eat, the politics I think, the people I am most concerned about – is Pinoy. But my language is not Pinoy, and neither are my books, my music and my movies. So there is a rootedness but also an estrangement. I am a stranger away from a strange land that I consider to be my home.4. The heart is a strange amalgam of likes and desires. It beats, it yearns, and it makes strange noises. Sometimes it sings, sometimes it cries, sometimes it sniffles. I like it when it goes nananana, nananana! No, not like Lady Gaga.4.1 Out of curiosity, I went to YouTube and spent 5:08 minutes on the Lady’s “Bad Romance” and I was the 513,323,478th visitor. “I want your ugly, I want your disease / I want your everything as long as it’s free…”4.2 Do Filipinos parse the lyrics? This is sick, very sick. No, I don’t want your ugly, I don’t want your disease – even if it is free.4.3 Why not listen instead to something soul-stirring like Chopin’s “Nocturne in D-flat major, Op. 27, No. 2” as rendered graphically by Stephen Malinowski?

  2. 2. Yes, I reflected on that when I pushed "publish". Will Amy R and other local readers feel left out? C by definition means you have to give something up, something big. Like your homeland . . . for a time, or for foreaver. Perhaps Amy R has done that by growing so deep with understanding that she has left her neighbors behind. If so, she qualifies for Group C, for we all are, in a way, outcasts of a voluntary variety, nomadic of feet and brain but not of heart.4. So much modern music is noise and shock lines. I hear the "F" word here on the public radio, blaring away, and wonder what happened to refinement. Maybe it went away with the first swivel of Elvis' hips, I don't know.4.3 Exactly.

  3. Attila says:

    something soul-stirring? Try Filipino pianist Bobby Enriquez playing the blues in Group C style. http://youtu.be/Y1z0_EpinMs

  4. Cha says:

    The groupings may be used as a general description of the key audiences of the various players in social media (as indicated by the kind of opinion presented in the comments section).For example, the mainstream newspapers like Inquirer and Philippine Star seem to get a lot of Group As and some Group Bs.Rappler gets a lot of Group Bs, some Group Cs, and some (?) Group As.Interaksyon gets a lot of younger generation Group As and a few Group BsAmong the bloggers, Raissa Robles gets a lot of Group Bs and Cs, and a few Group As.JoeAm gets a lot of Group Cs and some Group Bs.So if someone's trying to reach a particular type of audience, then they know now where to go. Or they can also just package their communication to suit the different audiences.

  5. That's very interesting, and seems accurate to me. I think I'll send Angry Maude out to infest the A blogs with her overabundant attitude.

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    Thanks, Attila, I can imagine myself listening to this at Sheraton Hotel in the 80's with cold beer in hand, hot tapa on the table, warm girlfriend beside me – in that order – with nothing on my mind but to chill and to listen to the good sounds.

  7. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a good jazz band for? I'm thinking that maybe jazz and people with minds that reach are made for each other. 80's eh? Those were the years I used to hang out at Jazz clubs in LA. My order was different, but, hey . . . it's cool . . .

  8. JosephIvo says:

    I love complexity. My parents had different nationalities, what to choose? My country has different regions hating and loving each other, on the other hand Europe is integrating slowly, what to choose Europe, country or region? Lived in Negros, live in Cavite, what to choose? Lived in 5 more countries longer than 2 years, what to choose? Sometimes I am serial “monogamous” loving one and seeing all the others as outsiders, sometimes I feel as a global citizen, loving all of them at the same time. When you are able to hate, you know that you really love. I get upset about so many things in the Philippines because I like it so much. Same for my region, country, Europe, the US, Africa, ( strangely not for the Middle East…). Having different perspectives make you see so many opportunities, it gives hope, it makes you desperate. Reading this blog, feeling similar frustration, feeling similar optimism is encouraging. But aren’t we outsiders? Or do mingle enough with group B to influence, to support, to suggest alternative routes?

  9. I like Philippines because it is the only country that I learned to hate and love. After experiencing the taste of convenience and rule of law abroad, I BECAME TO HATE PHILIPPINES. I love Philippines because they look at me like God because I am tisoy. My tisoyness abroad do not get a second look. I do not look like the traditional brown-skin-punk'd nose Filipino that Filipinos hate.For 18 hours I was in a plane to Manila. A flick of a switch non-Filipino stewardesses would hover around me what I want: whisky, bubbly, reds, whites, lager, peanuts, etc. PAL has souch a lousy service that I only ride them once. Filipinos are trerated like Filipinos by gurang stewardesses. Of course, PAL stewardesses after years toiling the domestic route gets a plum job as international flight stewardes the reason why no one can find PAL stewardesses worth flirting.Domestic flights is different from international flights. The tisoys and tisays and "businessmen" and politicians fly the domestic routes. They are pompous and arrogant high on wealth hallucinegenms because they are the only ones that can afford to FLY! They have the stewardesses run around for simple things as sugar in cubes, "sir, we only have sugar in packets, pwede na to, sir?"International PAL flights are for poor immigrants and OFWs. Of course, OFWs ae poor lucky enough to ride their first airplane. PAL Stewardesses know this. That is why Filipino card-carrying-U.S.-citizenship and OFWs do not get no respect. Filipino stewardesses do not want to be ordered around for Balita and Bulletin by poor browned mid-east-sun skin. In the Philippines being brown means not office worker, meaning, poor manual labor. Office worker do not see their skin exposed to outside elements a show of universitated and collegeiated.Suddenly, we entered into dark ominous clouds. I know we were in Manila airspace. I know those clouds were not rain clouds but pollutants escaping from Manila. We descended. Airplane hit potholes on the runway. Filpinos clapping. I do not know why Filipinos clap when their airplane land. Was it a clap for the Filipino pilot "good job well done"?. Was it a clap that terror is over? I do not hear Americans clapping when we landed at Tutrks & Caicos.At NAIA I saw Filipinos disregarding stand-behind the yellow line. Geeez! After immigration and customs I lunged at the nearest public pay phone. I picked up the receiver. I dropped several philippine coins. NO DIAL TONE!!! I plunk my last of the coins. NO DIAL TONE!!!I REALIZED I WAS NOT IN AMERICA!!! I AM IN THE PHILIPPINES!!! NIGHTMARE !!! Who is going to pick me up? I panicked. I went out. At the arrival, my family, my cousins, relatives and friends THE WHOLE BARRIO were there to meet me after all !!!! Flash popping. Arms waiving. Gosh, this is embarassing. I AM NOT EVEN A STAR.I so love Philippines. Does Philippines love me back?

  10. I am Group C. I travel. I read. I work. I'm hungry for more. Group C is what changing the Philippines not the local homegrown Group As and Group Bs. It is Group C that is catapulting the Philippines to import more catsup and noodles. OFWs can afford them. Catsup is free abroad except in Europe. In Paris, slathering catsup over food means masking the taste of food and an insult to their chef. Just the same I like catsup. I like noodles, too! I like to eat with chopsticks. In Milan I did a terrible gaffe. I ate my pasta with chopsticks that I swiped from the plane. Philippines is importing more rice from Vietnam and Thailand, too. Because children of OFWs can now afford to eat MORE RICE instead of dumpster-diving at the back of Jollibee for morsels of left-over chickenjoy.OFW changed the Philippines while the Politicians remain the same AND THAT INCLUDES THE PHILIPPINE MEDIA. The Philippine Media do not believe that Vatican Bank Credit Card cannot be used in Europe. NO kidding! It was in the news while Benedict was packing up raring to jump a sinking ship. And the Philippine Media believes that Vatican Scandals are made up by American Media.Now OfWs cannot be fooled. When they landed back in the Philippines, the first thing they do after relatives, friends and family is turn on their laptops and check news from the country where they left. THAT IS HOW OFWs are changiing the Philippine mindset. GO WEST, YOUNG MAN !!!! Not South. Not East . Not Southeast. WEST!

  11. @joesphivo, I put into my mind a vision of a global Philippines with all the racial and nationalistic lines of distinction merging away much as they have in, say, Los Angeles. A lot of nationalities have their little communities within the larger community. Little Tokyo, Korea Town, Chinatown. People can have their cultural comforts, but when they go out in the streets, "people is people". So I operate in my little community in the Philippines and am not an outsider. The rest of the nation needs to adapt to my being here, not me apologize for being here.

  12. A couple of very rich comments, Mariano.Chopsticks in Milan, eh? Stolen chopsticks. I'll laugh for a week.

  13. Amy R says:

    2. You’re too kind. 🙂 But there will always be something distinct about people who have “jumped” as opposed to those who haven’t. Especially standards. Could a person assert to have C standards without having gone “global”? People develop yardsticks in response to experience. I guess that’s why it’s more valid for Cs to look at certain aspects of the Philippines and say “this isn’t enough.” That same statement uttered by Bs might come across as a bit pretentious, while Group As might not have enough experience to recognize that something needs changing in the first place. As for me, I will perhaps take a plane (literally and figuratively) and make that fateful leap (not literally). 4. I grew up on country music. In high school, we were taught how to square dance to the tune of “Achy Breaky Heart.” The country music station still has quite a following here. Tales spun into songs – locals like that.

  14. Ahhh. 2. That is a very keen observation. 4. Alamond left and all step in, star out, ahahahah and never forget the docey doe. But maybe you did the Texas Two Step. What amazing things one finds in the Philippines . . .

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