Pabalikin ang mga Pilipino sa ibang Bansa?

Author’s Note: English Translation follows this article.

antipas-biboy-delotavo-diasporaAng mga Pilipino sa ibang bansa ay parang mga kalapati. Para silang mga espesyal na lahi ng kalapati na Rock Pigeon (Columba Livia Domestica) na may abilidad na magbalik sa pinangalingan kahit na sa masalimuot na kalagayan at malayong distansya.  Ang masang pag-aalisan ng mga Pilipino para sa mga bansang may oportunidad ay hindi nagre-resulta sa galit o sa pagtalikod sa inang bayan. Maraming Pilipino na nasa ibang bansa ang nagnanais na umuwi sa  Pilipinas sa hinaharap.

Si Oscar Campomanes sa, “Filpinos in the United States and their Literature of Exile,” ang lumikha ng  terminong “reverse telos.”  Ito ay nanalukuyan sa kaugalian ng Pilipino na kakaiba sa mga ibang Asyano sa Estados Unidos.  Habang ang mga ibang Asyano ay naglalagom ng kumpleto sa kulturang Amerikano, naobserbahan ni Campomanes na bagamat hindi pinaglalabanan ng mga Pilipino ang bagong kultura, nananatili ang  pag-asam nila sa malapit na relasyon sa mga katutubong Filipino at and kanilang  pagnanais na dalawin  ang tinubuang-bayan.

Si William Safran ay isang sikat na may-akda at guro na sumulat sa artikulong, “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return,” noong 1991. Ang kuryusidad niya sa mga Hudyong kalat-kalat sa daigdig ay humantong sa kanyang pananaliksik sa diaspora, na ngayon ay isa nang  sangay ng karunungang panlipunan.  Sa kanyang artikulo,  pinanukala niya na may anim na karaniwang ugali ng mga dayuhan. Kasama na dito ang uri na ”may mga grupo ng dayo na pinanatili ang mitolohiya at sama-samang memorya ng kanilang tinubuang-bansa; tinuturing nila ang bayang ninuno ay ang kanilang tunay na bayan; tapat ang kanilang nais na umunlad at manatiling maunlad ang inang-bayan; at sila ay may ugnayang  malalim at personal sa kanilang tinubuang-bayan na nagiging bahagi ng kanilang katauhan.”  Ito ay tutuo sa paglalarawan ng maraming Pilipino sa ibang bansa.

Si Jonathan Safran Foer ay nag-akda ng aklat na, “Everything is Illuminated,” noong 2002.  Isinalin ito sa isang pelikula na ang bida ay si Elijah Wood.  Ito ay kwento ng isang binatang Amerikanong Hudyo na sinamahan and kanyang lolo at aso ng lolo sa modernong Ukraine.  Matingkad na inilarawan nito ang labis na pananabik sa inang-bayan na tinalakay ni Campomanes at Safran sa kanilang mga akda tungkol sa diaspora. 

Labing isang milyong Pilipino o sampung porsyento ng populasyon ng Pilipinas ay mamumuhay o nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa. Madalas na ang dahilan ng kanilang pag-alis ay ang kakulangan ng oportunidad at trabaho, kahirapan at iba pang katampalasanan ng lipunan.  Ang maliit na bahagi ay nagdayuhan dahil banyaga ang asawa, penitisyon ng mga kamag-anak na nakakuha ng  banyagang nasyonalidad, at ang mga nag-aral at nakakuha ng magandang trabaho sa ibang bansa.

Ang International Organization for Migration (IOM) ay may maganda at interaktibong mapa na may istatistika ng mga dayuhan sa buong daigdig.  Subukan po ninyo.  Nakakahalina na malaman kung saan nagpunta ang mga Pilipinong nandayuhan at kung ilan ang mga dahuyan na nakatira sa Pilipinas ngayon.

May dalawang uri ng Pilipino sa ibang bansa, ang Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) at ang Overseas Filipino Investors (OFI) ayon sa administration ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  Ang mga OFWs ay iyong mga hinikayat ng mga kumpanyang dayuhan na pumirma ng maikling panahong kontrata.  Hindi sila maaring  manatili sa bansang umimporta  at sila ay pinapaalis kapag lumipas o nagwakas na ang kanilang kontrata.  Ang mga OFIs ay iyong mga permanenteng naninirahan sa ibang bansa o iyong may pahintulot sa gobyernong banyaga na manatili dahil ang kanilang dalubhasang propesyon ay kinakailangan ng bansa.  Kinikilala sila sa kanilang pamumuhunan dahil hindi lang sila nagpapadala ng pera sa kanilang kamag-anak kundi sila rin ay tumutulong na magpaaral sa mga pamangkin,  bumibili ng mga pag-aari at nagtutustos sa mga masisikap na negosyante.  Ang iba pa ay mga “expats” at dating OFWs.

Mayroong mga 40-50 milyong Pilipino na maaring magtrabaho sa Pilipinas taon-taon.  Marami ang nangangailangan ng trabaho ngunit kakaunti ang mga nangangailangan ng empleyado.  Ang sobra ay nagiging OFWs.  Yamang tao ang pinakamalaking puhunan ng Pilipinas ngayon.  Ito ay nagdadala ng mga $21 bilyon sa ating gobyerno na katumbas ng 13.5 porsyento ng GDP (ang kabuuang halaga ng lahat ng produkto at serbisyo na naibunga sa loob ng isang bansa sa isang taon).   Ito ang bumubuo sa mga perang dayuhan na kailangan ng ating gobyerno para pambayad sa mga angkat sa ibang bansa.  Ito rin ay nagpapalago ng ekonomiyang lokal dahil ginagastos ng kanilang pamilya and kanilang padalang pera.  Higit sa lahat, ang Pilipino sa ibang bansa ay ang pinakamalaking suki ng mga nagtitingi ng produktong gawa sa Pilipinas.

Ang hindi magandang bahagi nito ay ang pangingibang bayan ng mga mahuhusay at mga talentadong Pilipino.  Ito ay nagpapabagal sa progreso ng bayan.  Marami akong nakilalang kasambahay at hardinero sa Hongkong na may mga matataas na pinag-aralan. Ito siguro ay pareho rin sa mga Pilipino sa ibang bansa sa daigdig.  Ang pangingibang bansa ay nagpapahina rin sa integridad ng pamilyang Pilipino. Ang mga ina, tatay at mga anak ay naghihiwalay sa matagal na panahon  para umunlad ang buhay nila.  Ang pinsala sa isip ng mga pamilyang hiwahiwalay  ay nakakahabag.

Ang aking karanasan sa mga Pilipino sa ibang bansa ay: gusto nilang umuwi na pero natatakot sila.  Nandito ang mga dahilan na naitala ko sa aking pakikipag-usap sa aking mga kakilalang Pilipino, na kung bakit sila nag-aalangan na bumalik:

  1. May paniwala sila na ang Pilipinas ay hindi matulungin sa mga negosyante.
  1. Natatakot sila na pag may nagalit sa kanila ay mayroong masamang mangyayari sa kanila at sa kanilang kabuhayan.
  1. Kakulangan ng mga imprastraktura na kailangan sa maginhawang kabuhayan.
  1. Ang presyo ng pangkalahatang serbisyo ng gas, koryente at tubig ay napakataas.
  1. Talamak parin ang mga regulasyong sabagal, suhulan at pa-epalan.
  1. Ang politika ng Pilipinas ay hindi kaaya-aya sa tahimik na isipan.
  1. Ang kawalan ng trabaho at iba pang palatandaan ng malubhang ekonomiya ay nakakapanghinang loob.

Nabasa ko sa ibang forum ang sentimyento ng isang Pilipinong nasa ibang bansa na kapareho ng listahan sa itaas at galit na kinumpronta siya ng mga katutubong Pilipino.  Ang isa ay nagtanong kung ang gusto ng Pilipino sa ibang bansa ay gawin na ng katutubong Pilipino ang lahat ng kanilang makakaya upang sumagana ang bayan habang siya ay nahihintay sa kanyang marangyang tahanan.  Ang isa pa ay nagsabing  mag-post ito ng mga letrato ng kanyang bulok at malayaw na buhay sa Facebook at tumahimik na lang. May mga katutuhanan sa kanilang obserbasyon pero hindi ito makatarungan sa mga iba na nagsakripisyo para guminhawa ang kanilang buhay habang tinutulungan nila ang bayan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapadala ng kahong balikbayan, pera at pagtataguyod sa mga produkto ng ating bansa.

arrivalsMga sampung porsyento ng mga taong nakaririwasa ay nasa ibang bansa.  Kailangan silang umuwi sa ating bayan para makatulong sila sa kasaganaan ng ekonomiya sa pamamagitan ng kanilang pamumuhunan sa Pilipinas at pagtulong na  agapan ang pagbabago at ikabubuti ng lipunan sa pagsasanay ng mga positibong leksyon na natutunan nila sa ibang bansa. Lalong gigihinhawa ang bayan kung sila ay nasa Pilipinas kesa pa sa ibang bansa. Ang pagsisikap na mag-udyok sa pag-uwi nila ay hindi lang mabuti sa kanilang kaisipan kundi kapakipakinabang din ito sa tagumpay ng bansa.  Ang pagbabalik ng mga Pilipino sa Pilipinas ay magalak na araw.

Ang napakaganda at makabagbag-damdamin na pintang “Diaspora” (2007) ni Antipas Delotavo na nasa simula nitong aking artikulo ay bukas sa interpretasyon. Walang  tanong na ito ay larawan ng mga biyaherong Pilipino pero nakatalikod sila at may bagahe. Sila ba ay umaalis o dumarating? Dahil ako ay maasahin sa mabuti, nakikita ko ito na nag-uuwian ang mga Pilipino sa inang bayan para manatili magpakailanman.  At maligaya ang kasaysayan ng hinanarap ng Pilipinas.

 

(English Translation)

Bring Home the Philippines’ Diaspora?

Filipinos are like homing pigeons. Homing pigeons are a breed of domesticated birds from the Rock Pigeon species (Columba Livia Domestica) with innate ability to find their way home even in extreme conditions and long distances. The mass exodus of Filipinos to greener pastures usually do not result in hostile alienation and deracination from the motherland. Most overseas Filipinos have the burning desire to eventually return home.

Oscar Campomanes, in “Filipinos in the United States and their Literature of Exile,” coined the term “reverse telos.” It pertains to the nationalistic trait that differentiates Filipinos from other Asian immigrants in the United States. While most Asian migrants sought total assimilation into the American culture, Campomanes observed that Filipinos do not resist acculturation but they maintain the longing for closer identification with homebound Filipinos and the desire to revisit the homeland.

William Safran, a distinguished author and academician, published the article “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return” in 1991. His fascination with Jewish diaspora led him to diaspora studies, which is now legitimate subfield of sociology. Safran’s article proposes six rules to differentiate diaspora within migrant communities. It includes a norm that “some migrant group maintains a myth or collective memory of their homeland; they regard their ancestral homeland as their true home, to which they will eventually return; being committed to the restoration or maintenance of that homeland; and they relate “personally or vicariously” to the homeland to a point where it shapes their identity.” This is a very true characterization of most Filipinos abroad.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote a book titled, “Everything is Illuminated” in 2002. It was made into a movie starring Elijah Wood in 2005. It is the story of a young Jewish man from America who accompanied his grandfather and his dog on a pilgrimage to modern Ukraine. It vividly illustrates the craving for the homeland that Campomanes and Safran discuss in their diaspora writings.

Eleven million Filipinos or more than ten percent of the Philippines’ population are working and/or living in other countries. The exodus is often done out of economic necessity. Lack of employment opportunity, high unemployment rate, poverty and other social inequities breed human migration. In small doses, the relocation may be due to marriage to foreign nationals, petitions of a relative who acquired foreign nationality, and studying and/or obtaining gainful employment abroad.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has a nifty interactive map that has the statistics on global migration. Try it. It is fascinating to find out where all the overseas Filipinos went as well as how many foreigners have migrated to the Philippines.

There are two kinds of overseas Filipinos, the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and the Overseas Filipino Investors (OFI), according to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration’s classification. The OFWs are those who were recruited by foreign companies through short-term labor contracts. They do not become citizens of the hiring companies’ country so they have to leave when their contracts expire or their employment is terminated. The OFIs are often naturalized citizens of their chosen country and/or holders of specialized visas for a professional group that has human resources deficit in the importing country. They are seen as investors because they not only remit sums for their relatives’ consumption but also send relatives to college, buy local properties and bankroll entrepreneurial endeavors. Some are expatriates and present/former OFWs.

There are approximate 40-50 million available human resources in the Philippines at a given year. The supply is high and the demand is low. The supply surplus is usually exported in form of OFWs. Human capital is Philippines’ largest export commodity today. It brings approximately US$21 billion a year in remittance, 13.5 percent of Philippines total GDP. It generates the badly needed liquid foreign currency reserve that the nation needs in order to transact business internationally. It also fuels the nation’s consumer economy because the money sent by overseas Filipinos is spent mostly on buying consumer goods. Furthermore, overseas Filipinos are the biggest buyers of Philippines’ exported consumables.

On the downside, the Filipino diaspora creates a brain drain. The flight of bright, creative and highly skilled human capital slows down the nation’s progress. I met many Filipino domestic helpers and gardeners, while in Hong Kong, who are college degree holders. That scenario could probably be repeated around the globe. The voluntary dispersion also undermines the integrity of the Filipino family unit. Mothers and fathers have to leave their children to caretakers for an extended period to give them a better future. The cost of psychological trauma of separation to all the family members is staggering.

My personal experience with Filipinos overseas is: they have the yearning for the homeland but they are afraid to go home. Here are some of the reasons I gathered from informal interviews of my Filipino acquaintances on why they are hesitant to return:

1. They perceive that Philippines is not business friendly.

2. They are afraid of rubbing someone the wrong way and disappearing or losing their livelihood.

3. The infrastructures needed for quality of life are still lacking.

4. The costs of utilities are horrifying.

5. The bureaucratic red tape, the bribery and rent seeking are still prevalent.

6. The political atmosphere is not conducive to peace of mind.

7. The unemployment rate and other economic signs are discouraging.

When I read similar sentiments voiced on another Filipino forum, the commenter was confronted with lots of hostility. One person asked if the overseas Filipino wants home-bound Filipinos to do all the work while he sits in his air-conditioned home with manicured lawn waiting for right time to come back. Another responded for him to just keep posting photos of his “spoiled rotten” life on Facebook and shut up. Those are valid observations but unfair to a lot of Filipinos abroad who worked hard to better their lot while sending balikbayan boxes, remitting money, and patronizing “Made in the Philippines” products.

Approximately, ten percent of the Philippines’ middle classes are overseas. The nation needs these people to come home and assist in jump-starting the economy by investing in the Philippines and proactively changing the society for the better by practicing positive lessons they learned in foreign countries. The Philippines will be better off with them than without them. Efforts to entice them to return to the homeland will not only be beneficial to their psyche but also for the nation’s success. A reverse or inward migration will be a beautiful sight to behold.

The stunning and amazingly poignant painting titled “Diaspora” (2007) by Antipas Delotavo that I showcased in the beginning of this article is open to interpretation. There is no question that it portrays the Filipino mass exodus but the subjects have their backs turned, carrying luggage. Are they coming or going? As an optimistic person, I see it as a homecoming. Filipinos abroad are coming home as balikbayans and staying for good. The rest is history.

Comments
53 Responses to “Pabalikin ang mga Pilipino sa ibang Bansa?”
  1. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    We are 8. We are not those 8 Marines living in rusted carcass of BRP Sierra Madre thwarting Chinese invasion of Ayusin Shoal. We are 8 in the U.S. I am going back “home”. My two sisters cannot know if they wanted to go what used to be “home”. They are worried about if Philippine Government is worried about if they dial 911 if ever they would come like the U.S. worried about their average 13-minute 911 response time. They are worried ever they make it to the hospital they would accept their insurance. They are worried if they have to fly to Vietnam for surgery like that old boy of rich family that was bumped off the flight because the NAIA staff couldn’t know if they allow the sick boy to go on board with a tattered passport.

    If my sisters complained to authorities they would be accused of overly condescending just because they lived in the U.S. since grade school. The authorities is sending a message to ADAPT STOP COMPLAINING.

    My drug addled brother go back to Philippines because he hates gloom-and-doom winter. He kick back relax and smoke weed. Prostitutes are cheap. Girls became cheap once he starts talking American. Once he was arrested he flashed his Americian citizen card. It did not work. The police asked thousands for his freedom. My wife sprang him. No money involved.

    My other brother simply cannot live a life in the Philippines he told me. He said the place is just inhospitable and inhabitable. My sister-in-laws says they cannot walk around clutching their handbags with two hands walking the streets.

    Their complaint is peace-and-order. Unbearable heat. Medical response. Insurance.

    I am going back to the Philippines because this is where my fantasy becomes reality. I AM SOMEBODY AND WILL BE SOMEBODY. I have that OFW and immigrant mindset. Because I came to the U.S. too late and very late. My wife didn’t want to live there. She just wanted to tell people that she went there and she did not like it but can come and go as she pleases.

    If ever I come back and be part of catalyst of change, I AM A DEAD MAN. My wife hates me for even discussing two-weekend-off for our housemaids. It is one of the bone of contention. She hates me if I clean table after at Jollibee and McDonalds. She’d berate me, “What are you trying to prove? To prove you came from the States?”

    IF I CANNOT CHANGE MY WIFE, I CANNOT CHANGE THE PHILIPPINES. I will go home and get drunk and smoke weed.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Nah. You are going to live your fantasy in PI, Mariano. You are too intelligent to let the system nor anyone beat you. You will use that OFW and immigrant mindset to change PI for the better. I know you will.

      Yes, peace and order will be nice. Someone slashed through my purse to get my wallet a long time ago in Divisoria. I heard Batanes or Baguio are cooler regions. You can live anywhere you want if you have air-conditioned home and money for the electric bill, right? As for the medical response and insurance, I do not have any experience with it but I know a group of FilAms who are lobbying for portable Medicare benefits. Most of them want to be able to go back and retire in PI and use their Medicare in the PI private medical system.

  2. Joseph-Ivo says:

    This is a huge subject, some thoughts.

    There is positive motivated migration, I want to “live there because of the nice weather”, “career opportunities”, “adventure”… , and there is negative motivated migration, I have to leave because “no food, income in my area”, “violence, pogroms, in my country”… . The second type is more likely to have a more idyllic picture of the homeland and a stronger yearning to go back.

    Beside the social cost of the absent ate, parent, aunty, there is the “moral” cost. Ate OFW’s two little brothers don’t want to go to school anymore. What is the sense of studying hard if you have already the nicest cell phone, the most hip sneakers? The totally accepted culture of dependence.

    Filipinos abroad feel at ease because abroad there is no pressure from family and peers, no worry you have to share t-shirts or ulam. Not being surrounded and judged constantly by family and friends. Live within clearer rules, guided mostly by simple (formal and informal) laws, not complex positions, relationships, utang… .

    Who benefits? 11 million middle class potential out of the country, a national disaster and nothing is done, to the contrary, everything possible is done to support them to stay away. Isn’t 30% of Sy’s income is paid by remittances… ? Isn’t buying votes from the poor cheaper and easier than buying votes from the middle class? Isn’t filling churches with superstitious poor people easier than with educated middle class?

    • Your insights about the Philippines and its culture are astonishing.

      The “moral” cost is a real dilemma because most overseas Filipinos want a better life for those they left behind and are often baffled by the resulting lack of motivation and dependence.

      Your straight-shooting tendency is very refreshing. Yes, some business people, religious groups, and politicians there surely benefit from keeping a large number of the middle class out of the country. One can only hope that their love of the country will win over their selfish thoughts and acts.

      • Joseph-Ivo says:

        P.S. The picture is very clear, no bags with pasalubong, so they are leaving…

        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          Very funny, Joseph but I think you’re wrong. Those luggage are full of karne norte, spam and instant coffee. 🙂

          • edgar lores says:

            *******
            Generally when you see the back of people, they are moving away from you, so they are leaving?
            *****

            • Mr. Lores, are you a half empty or half full glass person?

              The painting is open to interpretation. Some say that the individual’s cognition and experiences have a lot to do with how one sees the world and in this case, a painting.

              I would be honest and tell you that I often see with my heart first, then my mind rebels to temper the vision. Still, I maintain that the painting is about homecoming. One advantage of free will is: We can all believe what we want to believe. We can make our perceptions into our own realities.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                My approach was to think; yours to feel. But we must not forget the intention of the artist. In this case, I think it is to confuse us… or to open us to various interpretations. Ambiguity has always been a tool of the artist. Just like the Mona Lisa smile.

                The following is from a critique by Patrick D. Flores in an essay “Everyday, Elsewhere: Allegory in Philippine Art”.

                “Every day a Filipino leaves home. Somewhere a Filipino lives out what is left of home. Every day, too, a Filipino returns, finding a home elsewhere.

                “In Antipas Delotavo’s work Diaspora (2007), we measure the extent of a scene of passage, of people with their belongings heading off somewhere quite difficult to discern. They are facing a horizon that seems to be a dis-place, but their strides are decisive, their load roots them to their ground, and they are resolute in “being there” and disappearing into a depth. Are they coming or going? Are they in a vast terminal in the airport or on the tarmac to catch their flight or have they arrived? In some way an elsewhere is intimated, either a home to which they return or a foreign destination for which they long. ..”

                Conclusions? 1. We are both correct – and we are both wrong. 2. Belief is not reality. 3. Reality is a mysterious unknowable.

                Or to paraphrase JoeAm: [Reality] is a mirror. We see what we want to see.
                *****

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                I love that the artwork invokes different interpretation from different viewer. It is a beautiful Rorschach test, a colorful and moving inkblot.

  3. JM says:

    Half of my relatives work and live in another country. Some of them want to return but a lot of them have already chosen to stay. Some tried to put up businesses here while they work abroad. They let our other relatives, who are jobless, handle it. Naturally, they got screwed by the people they trusted, it is after all the culture prevalent in our society. Also, It’s partly their fault as well for spoiling those bastards but still, they continue to support them. It’s better for the OFWs to stay in another country unless we change our culture which will not happen anytime soon.

    Totally disagree with this btw: “Habang ang mga ibang Asyano ay naglalagom ng kumpleto sa kulturang Amerikano” (i.e. Chinese, Koreans, etc.). Compared to Filipinos, we assimilate more.

    Side note: It’s refreshing to read Tagalog. I speak it daily but reading it comes rarely (i.e. less than 5 times a year) since work and other stuff are in English. Reading Tagalog is harder than reading a script (program/code).

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Ah, the travails of being let down by people you trust. That seems to be a story often recounted by overseas Filipinos. Most just shrug their shoulders and say, “blood is thicker than water” even after the nth time of betrayals.

      There are often two or more school of thoughts about everything. Campomanes hold that school of thought based on his observations of the FilAms in California. There are official Filipinotowns in Cali. I agree that some Filipinos who do not live in known Filipino enclaves in foreign countries do assimilate fully.

      I can relate. Being away from PI for over 3 decades, I find reading and writing in Tagalog more challenging than doing it in English. I appreciate Joe America’s generosity in letting me practice in his blog. Hopefully, I’ll be proficient in Tagalog by the time I get back.

      If you can code and program, you are more likely to rise to the challenge. I believe that coders/programmers are natural linguists.

      Thank you for commenting.

  4. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. Silly me. I missed the Author’s Note at the beginning and bravely waded through the Tagalog version. It was like walking through molasses.
    1.1. This brings up the question: Am I still Filipino?

    2. So we now have a counterpart of JoeAm. Juana Pilipinas. JuanaPil. It does not quite have the ring of the original, perhaps because of the extra syllable, but the cross-cultural exchange, not to mention the cross-gender exchange of viewpoints and ideas, should now be more robust.

    3. There are two books by Thomas Wolfe that may provide answers to the question in the title depending on whether you are an OFW or an OFI:
    3.1. Look Homeward, Angel
    3.2. You Can’t Go Home Again

    4. For OFWs, the first book may be the proper answer. It’s a matter of how much choice they have from the perspective of family ties and economics. Whether their family remains in the country, how much they have invested in the country, and how long they can seek gainful employment abroad. No doubt the country relies heavily on their remittances.

    5. For OFIs, the second book may provide the proper answer. Again, economics, the cost-of-living, plays a great part in the decision, but the quality of life, the standard of living, also comes into play. I have relatives who have gone home because economics is not a factor. To them the standard of living in the Philippines is comparable to what they were accustomed to abroad. To be sure there are the negatives enumerated in the essay, but if you consider such intangible positives as familiarity, family, friends, food, and fun into the equation, then the balance tips towards going home for good. Never underestimate the allure of halo-halo.

    6. For me, as an OFI, the equation does not work primarily because of the economic factor. I do not have enough to be able to live like a lord of a manor as I would want to. But even if I had enough, I would have second thoughts… and third thoughts. If I lived in the country, the superstitiousness and the fiesta would kill me. If I lived in the city, the dirt, the pollution, the traffic would kill me. In either milieu, the mendacity, the mendicancy, and the annoyances of men urinating anywhere and spitting everywhere would kill me. The spectacle of silly citizens selling their votes and even sillier senators delivering privilege speeches would kill me. As I live a large portion of the day in cyberspace, the brownouts – do we still have them? – and the internet crawl would kill me. But, perhaps, I am throwing up all these excuses because I cannot afford to live there. So for me, I really can’t go home again.

    6.1. I was an OFW too and so I do not have to imagine the longing for home. I am totally familiar with it. Being a stranger in a strange land, you seek things that remind you of home in daily conversations, in food, in news and in music. Yolly Samson, rest her soul, used to make me cry. You tiptoe through the day to adapt to your foreign surroundings. And the anticipation of going home, the joy of the plane landing on home soil, the relief in being in one’s element and being able to be one’s self, the excitement of reacquainting oneself with the pleasures of home, and the ecstasy of acquainting oneself with new pleasures that one could not previously afford – these are experiences all OFWs treasure.

    6.2. Isa pa nga!
    *****

    • 1. Language is like a muscle, if you do not use it often it becomes weak. I am glad to be able to practice here so I’ll be proficient if and when I get back.
      1.1 Are you?

      2. Hopefully, the yin and yang combo will bring in more diverse opinions and robust discussions.

      3. Thanks for the references. I’ll check them out.

      6. I do not have fears in coming home. I would love to live in a rural area. I would be happy with a mini veggie farm, orchard, livestocks, books and a laptop. I have an experimental pseudo farm in my tiny suburban lot for now. My husband is worried about my independent and opinionated nature though. He feels I’ll stick like a sore thumb and might rub people the wrong way.

      6.2. Salamat po!

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        3. I was just using the titles of the books, and not the contents, to drive off my points. I read these books ages ago. All I retain from memory is: “a leaf, a stone, an unfound door…”
        3.3. But let me quote the entire passage from the first book:

        “. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.

        Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.

        Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father’s heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

        O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?

        O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”

        3.4. “Naked and alone we come into exile.” Isn’t that delicious? Speak of the diaspora!

        6. On re-reading, this makes me sound like a supercilious douche… like the one that I am. I regret nothing!
        *****

  5. sonny says:

    Boy, what a challenge! (well written, Ms JP)

    My vantage point: 70 yrs; Filipino US immigrant at 26; born into lower middle class; Renaissance-man by inclination; modest economic means

    My insights and suggestions:

    Today, 2014 – There are two Philippines: Philippines rich, Philippines poor; I suggest examine yourself, where do you belong; where do you want to belong; who own your heart; Love, protect and nurture them;

    Long-term assets (sine qua non) – TIME, HEALTH, Intelligence & wits, Education & skillset; I suggest one studies and hones the skill of LEVERAGE, 24/7;

    “Gaudeamus igitur juvenes dum sumus; post jucundam juventutem, post molestam senectutem, nos habebit humus!” (let’s rejoice while we are young; after the joy of youth, after the troubles of old age, the earth will cover us)

    Sonny

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Thank you, sonny.

      Your sage advice is always welcome and held dear. I feel I can belong anywhere at this stage of my life. I think we (Hubby is a keeper) have enough tangible and intangible assets to weather it anywhere life leads us but we’ll probably do better where we can stretch those assets figuratively and literally.

      The military “ordered” us to our home for years, home was where it sent us. Then jobs that require travel around the world and the US took us to our many temporary lodgings. We now have a permanent domicile borne out of convenience but we are dreaming of a small rural cottage with a pond or lake nearby for hubby to fish in and a little acreage for me.

  6. Joe America says:

    I wonder what the trepidations were of OFWs when they departed the Philippines for their new land. I’m betting that they would align pretty much with the seven hesitations about going back to the Philippines. Economic worries, safety worries, acculturation worries. But now they are older and rather set in their ways, no longer explorers or no longer so needs driven.

    Having gone the other way, and lived in the Philippines for nine years now, I have made my peace with separation from my homeland, which I hold in absolutely the greatest affection. It would take an utter catastrophe to drive me back. The attractions to the Philippines are economic and acculturation, mainly, the same things that hold OFWs back. And the lack of safety provides enough “edge” to prevent me from becoming soft and complacent.

    I’m thinking it will become easier for OFWs to return if the Philippines continues to emerge as a leader in Asia, more generously respected around the world, and more “international” in its social ways and lifestyles. In 5 to 10 years, 2016 permitting, the trooping back will become like the photo. They won’t get so many people asking, incredulously, “Why in the world do you want to back to THAT?” (You know, the people who are actually envious that you are going back.)

    • Joe America says:

      ps, love the gravatar image. Fits perfectly . . . literary arrows, right to the point . . .

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        Thank you. Prose and poetry are not on my forte list but it does not hold me from trying at times. 🙂

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Yes. Good news about the Philippines are spreading around the world lately. I hope it persists to alleviate the overseas Filipinos fear.

      2016’s political outcome will have a great bearing on some. A lot of us believe that 6 more years of stable and good economic, political and social decisions will pave the way to world class Philippines.

      To my surprise, the geopolitical instability emanating from China’s stance does not really worry overseas Filipinos.

    • parengtony says:

      Above response brought to mind a short article about momentum written by Bob Garon (Fr. Bob) many years ago.

      Fr. Bob’s explanations and characterizations very closely matched my personal experiences when I was in the midst of a mighty struggle to become an entrepreneur. Thus, to this day, I continue to keep the faith on his insights on and concept of momentum.

      I am seeing momentum dramatically building up in Philippine Society and I am hopeful, 2016 permitting (as you say), such will be sustained through generations to come.

      • andrew lim says:

        A slogan for the 2016 elections on momentum:

        Kapag walang basbas ni Pnoy, babalik tayo sa kumunoy.

        Si Binay ay di galit sa corrupt, kaya ang pag-asenso ay mahirap.

        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          Good ones, andrew.

          It is possible for Bongbong Marcos to surface as a presidential candidate for 2016. I see evidence in cyberspace that some netizens will push for him.

          • Mel NL says:

            Bongbong Marcos? Marcos’ name itself means Martial Law! If it happens, the Philippines will go down the drain again…
            Thank you for sharing your blog to JoeAm! Mabuhay ka!

            • Juana Pilipinas says:

              Thanks for dropping by, Mel.

              We need to counter the push for Bongbong Marcos. Our country cannot afford another Marcos at the helm because the last one sank the good ship Philippines.

              Maraming salamat!

      • Joe America says:

        Ah, that is good news. I sense that momentum, too, and intend to do my wee little part to shove it along (tomorrow’s blog, heh).

      • Yes, parengtony. We all need to keep the faith that this time around, the momentum will not stop until a sustainable economy emerges. An economy that will keep Filipinos in the Philippines.

        • sonny says:

          JP, here’s an item from The Chicago Tribune, Mar 30, 2014:

          “Actor thinks Philippines an untapped spot”

          “Raised in Chicago and now a resident of Los Angeles, Lucas Neff is best known to television viewers as Jimmy Chance, the young dad on the Fox series “Raising Hope” whose series finale is scheduled to air April 4…

          Q: What untapped destination should people know about?

          A: THE PHILIPPINES ARE GORGEOUS. HEART-BREAKING AND POVERTY-STRICKEN IN PLACES. BUT YOU’LL SEE TRUE UNTOUCHED VIRGIN ISLANDS, AND THE PEOPLE ARE LOVELY…”

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            Very true. I love simple, sustainable and self-sufficient living. That is the draw for me to go back and maybe teach a soul or two on how to be self-sufficient wherever they are.

            Hubby says, “We could do that in Pueblo, Colorado or Taos, New Mexico.” I am not totally convinced but road trips had been planned to scout Pueblo and Taos soon.

            Here is an infographics about Filipinos in the US:
            http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/asianamericans-graphics/filipinos/

            There are almost 4 million of us here and according to the research, we are doing very well when compared to other population segments.

            • Joe America says:

              Pueblo is a steel town. I don’t know if the plants still operate but we used to drive through on Interstate 25 and gawk at all the coal cars lined up and the huge chimneys smoking out the climate change. . . The town seemed a little gritty to me. Taos is an interesting place, congested and rather snooty with artists ambling about and boutiques here and there. I always liked Flagstaff Arizona, myself, real mountains and a train through town, near the Grand Canyon and the desert, interesting Indian cliff houses to explore, a ski lift to ride during the summer and eschew during the winter. The most awesome town in the world is a little place called Jerome, a former mining community, perched high on the mountain side and looking all the way to New York. Wouldn’t want to live there however . . . too many rocks . . . 🙂

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                My daughter moved to Denver last year and we’ve visited her. We explored a few mountain trails while we were there. We like Denver and the surrounding cities and towns. We are thinking of Pueblo because the real estate is cheap. There’s high unemployment rate but we have portable jobs. Hopefully, we can just relax and pursue our hobbies if the standard of living is not high. We’ll see if this guy is right about Pueblo: http://www.justinholman.com/2012/02/01/why-pueblo/

                My aunt used to have a cattle ranch on the outskirts of Taos. We love Mexican food and Hatch chiles are plentiful there. Did I tell you that we sometimes travel great distances because of food? 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Ahahahaha, I once traveled from Los Angeles to Italy for food. Joe America was born in Denver, at St. Joseph Hospital, in 194gotten. (My wife’s favorite joke when someone asks our ages.) It is a wonderful city with all the amenities of big city life, clean living, rather cold in winters, short, sunny growing season, lovely mountains and . . . and . . . and lots of food. My sisters live outside of Fort Collins, in northern Colorado, where the whole set of siblings went to school (Colorado State U). Colorado is cool. Conservative and liberal at the same time. Real weather, all four seasons. If your gardening aches get too bad, you can pop down to the weed clinic for a dose or two.

    • sonny says:

      Ah, where to begin… Good stuff, Joe. Your view and my view is like JANUS (as in January): you facing the future, me facing the past; you staying in the Philippines and will always love the US, me staying in the US (for now) and will always love the Philippines. Such an intersection!

      From the Philippines to the US, I had no trepidation (just clueless in a good way); The whole world outside the islands were in the Cold War, Clark & Subic were our windows to world geopolitics that was transpiring. The interest rate ceiling in the US was just removed; the Americans were taking to the streets in town and city; the sex revolution and violence was in the air, in the schools, in churches; Laika the dog and John Glenn were literally out of this world, travelling at 15,000 mph! James Bond was In Like Flint. And more important, Filipino nurses, doctors, engineers, scientists, medical technologists, accountants and teachers were leaving by the plane-loads bound for Cook County General Hosp, Penn State Med Centers, Joplin, Stanford to join the Filipinos in agro fields of San Joaquin Valley, Boeing in Seattle and the US Great Lakes Naval Base, and on and on and on. US Immigration had to take the immigrant quotas of Europe, Asia and Africa and give them to Filipinos because they were the only non-Americans who could fill the huge demand of American society in such a quick timeframe!

      Then America turned off the spigot. In comes Europe and the rest of the world opening their households, their oil fields and refineries and forsaken classrooms and undermanned tankers. We can do the arithmetic…

  7. Where are the ladies? cha, ella, Mary Anne, letlet and those I forgot to mention (please, pardon me if I did not mention your name)? I miss you and I need you all to come back to balance the strong testosterones in the forum.

    • Joe America says:

      I’ll send Angry Maude over, although she seems to be a tad overdosed with testosterone herself most of the time . . .

      • RHiro says:

        No need for Angry Maude, just give policy prescriptions for the real challenge facing the country.

        http://www.manilatimes.net/job-creation-remains-phs-biggest-challenge-adb/86935/

        • Joe America says:

          “Policy prescriptions”, an interesting term. I think that is not so difficult, but gaining attention is difficult, and gaining comprehension even more difficult, and finding someone with the boldness to actually act against established forces (Church, oligarchy, laborer representatives) is even more difficult. Take the matter of agribusiness, which is founded on the cooperative model of commerce, a proven failure. A commercially competitive agribusiness market, with foreign investment at 100%, would produce a robust, commercially profitable agribusiness INDUSTRY with a lot of downstream jobs, better paid than farming labor today. But the Luddite mentality that protects the P150 a day farm laborer means it will never happen. The nation is very socialistic in many respects, and that puts reins on wealth development and innovation.

          I also argue the Philippines should be manufacturing its own war craft (small missile carrying boats) and even train cars. Today billions of pesos are sent to overseas businesses, and that’s where the jobs are. Overseas. But there seems to be a belief that Filipinos are not capable of manufacturing world class machines. I don’t buy it. The boat-building industry ought to be huge.

          Put the core industries together and the support industries, banking and insurance and, yes, government inspectors, add jobs, too.

          • sonny says:

            Joe, could we have mind games directed at this objective of creating jobs? If yes, where do we begin? Maybe economists in our midst could help us here. I am assuming that there are also would-be entrepreneurs here who are also listening. There must be take-aways even by this humble exercise. I really hope so.

            Thus, for example we delineate the physical boundaries of an economic zone that contains land, labor, products, infrastructure, i.e. what the laws of Economics can describe and be used to achieve economic goals. This can be a top-down activity that will initiate and invite entrepreneural activity. (I am running the risk of re-inventing the wheel. So -help!)

            • Juana Pilipinas says:

              Been reading this free book about Full Employment. Good stuff. Check it out: http://www.cepr.net/documents/Getting-Back-to-Full-Employment_20131118.pdf

              • Joe America says:

                Ahhh, that is one of those documents to read before bed-time to aid falling asleep. 🙂 Perhaps some of the principles set forth can be applied to our forthcoming discussion about Philippine industries and job creation.

              • sonny says:

                JP, i stopped after 19 pages. I couldn’t keep up with the Economics terms. I wish I paid more attention during my Economics classes. I now need a translator. I agree, it is good stuff. The topic of full employment should be understood well.

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                sonny,
                i will do a book review to summarize the gist when i am done reading it. i will translate the “economese” into layman’s term so more people could understand what economists babbles about. 🙂

            • Joe America says:

              Our divergent minds, historical and future-looking, have converged. I just started a blog yesterday regarding jobs and industries, and it will be an excellent jumping off point for some mind games. Thanks for the suggestion, as I know how to finish the article now.

        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          Hiro,

          Why don’t you write an article about your unemployment policy prescriptions? I look forward to reading it.

          • R.Hiro says:

            Before suggesting policy prescriptions one must know and understand what one is talking about. Belief systems or philosophies or ideologies about economic policy is critical.

            The Philippines is still mired in a structural and systemic dependence on foreign savings. As a result the government being always resource strapped follows the religion of trickle down economics. Hence the effects are labor migration abroad and slave wages at home.

            Reading the piece done by Baker and Bernstein, two noted Keynesian economists in the U.S., will only tend to confuse.

            Macro-economic policies were first proposed by Keynes as a solution to the Great Depression. The system of measuring economic growth known as GDP was invented then not to measure the general welfare but to guesstimate the aggregate output or expenditure of the different sectors and sub-sectors of a national economy denominated in monetary terms or a national currency.

            The Philippines is not yet structured to have its own macro policies. We also cannot have our own fiscal and monetary policies that stand alone isolated from the global arena like China.

            When the U.S. gained its freedom from its masters in England one of the first things the first Treasury Secretary of the new government did was to establish their own currency.

            Lastly try to research on how unemployment is measured in the Philippines. It has its own quirks and is meant to put the government in a good light. The Labor Market Participation Rate which is the basis of the unemployment rate is fraudulent and misleading. They blatantly lie…….

            • I understand where you are coming from now. Good points on how the Philippine economy works in relation to the unemployment issue.

              Yes. I noticed that Department of Labor has 7.5 percent unemployment rate posted on its website and an independent researcher wrote it was more like 28 percent. I tend to believe the researcher because he does not have any political stake in whatever the rate might be.

              I will try to look into possible full employment scenarios for Philippines with your pointers in mind. Thank you.

  8. Janice says:

    #8. Neighbors, relatives that will “leech” you off your money.

    Kidding aside, I’m not really hung up with this “Filipinos must come home”. Humans have been migrating since time immemorial. Shall we, all migrate back to Africa….where the human population started? As Austronesian peoples, shall we go back to Taiwan or Southern China? Should all ethnic Chinese go back to China? Shall people in Guam and other Pacific Islands return to the “Philippines” where they dispersed from?

    The poor Chinese immigrants to Southeast Asia hardly went back to the mainland even now that the mainland is the second largest economy and that economic growth of China is still relatively high.

    Who knows, when the Philippines gets to its feet, you won’t see “returning” Filipinos but “new Filipinos” (non-Austronesian and Austronesian people)?!

  9. RKL says:

    Any statistics on OFI/Age/Leaving/ Returning by Year?By country or by world region(North America,Europe etc) How about OFW’s / Year/Where? Also what percentage of the remittances are from which region/OFI’s and OFW’s?

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