In defense of OFWs against nationalists

ofws from syria philippine star

Returning from Syria. Security threats? [Photo source: Philippine Star]

Here is a comment that someone at Raissa Robles‘ top blog threw at me the other day during a rather laborious debate over the Laude murder and other matters:

“I don’t consider myself a leader of CPM for we are pure democracy here. No kings, no elected leader, but we are lead (sic) by our common cause to uplift our beloved country. You on the other hand can’t fathom this feeling, you lack the essential ingredients; you can’t be in our league for your patriotism is for america and you don’t have our common bond and soul.”

Say WHAT!!!??

I was surprised on two counts:

  1. I was surprised that someone has the audacity to believe he knows better than I do what is in my heart and mind. And could speak for all Filipinos in that regard.
  2. I was surprised that this person cannot comprehend how love of two nations is possible.

Well, Point 1 we all do now and then as we criticize others without being in their shoes. We give them advice about what to do without having their context or information or background or emotions. So I can let that go. It is an aspect of opinion-formation and often generates healthy discussion.

But Point 2 needs attention.

Mistrust of citizens who depart Philippine soil

This mistrust of motives and allegiance does not just apply to me, an American living in the Philippines. It also applies to OFWs and those who have become citizens of foreign lands.

From time to time in discussion threads, Filipinos criticize OFWs for having “betrayed” the Philippines by going to a different country while the homelanders have to deal with all there is to deal with here.

This idea that it is not possible to love two nations seems fairly common. I would guess it is held mainly among people who have, themselves, never lived outside the Philippines. I would further note that the idea has been enshrined in Philippine laws as a long-held ban against dual citizenship. That ban was revised not too long ago to allow OFWs to return to the Philippines and re-pledge their allegiance to the Philippines.

The US does not really like dual citizenship, either, but is more generous in recognizing circumstances in which it ought to be allowed.

For instance, my son is a certified dual citizen because the US recognizes his American citizenship for having an American parent, and he is also a Philippine citizen for having been born here and lived here all his young life. When he reaches majority, I don’t know what happens. He’ll figure it out, I’m confident.

But the point is, why are nations and nationalists so suspicious of people who love two nations?

Well, for security reasons, I suppose. Mistrust. Those overseas can’t or might not step up to the bar and sacrifice for THIS nation if needed. They might stay in or flee to the other country in the heat of battle. Haha, like a lot of young Americans became Canadians during the Viet Nam War draft days. The nation might lose control of its citizens. Besides, “OFWs have abandoned us homelanders and can’t comprehend all the problems we have to deal with here.”

So – as Mariano can appreciate – returning OFWs who want their Philippine citizenship back have to sign an affidavit testifying as to their allegiance to the Philippines.

Well, on one hand, I think nationalism, or patriotism, is a healthy bond that unifies people as a community. But on the other hand, the idea that it is not possible to love and be loyal and patriotic to more than one nation is a severe testament as to how rigid and even absurd the human mind can get.

Ever since cave men progressed across the land bridges from Africa to Asia, and from there across the frozen arctic seas to America, people have moved from their original homeland to other lands. The motivation might be disease, poverty, hunger, extreme weather, ethnic persecution, political persecution or religious persecution. It might be the attraction of opportunity elsewhere. Free land, gold mines, free expression, jobs.

It is natural for people to move, to explore, to seek. It is a part of the human condition. In that sense, nationhood is irregular, or unnatural. NATIONALISM is the aberration.

One would think that the huge Philippine OFW migration would force the Philippines into rethinking matters like dual citizenship and the impossibility of an affidavit holding someone’s loyalty. Loyalty is deeper than a sheet of paper and a few words.

This form of mandated, affidavit bound nationalism seems to suggest the Philippines AS A NATION is insecure and does not trust its citizens to love the Philippines if they leave. As if the NATION knows it has actually treated its citizens badly and the only way to hold onto their loyalty is to DEMAND it. It is the autocrat at work trying to control the subjects.

The delegation of trust is based on confidence

Well, we can see the same parallel emotions and thinking in the workplace when a boss delegates work to a subordinate.

At some point, if the boss is confident in his own ability, he lets go. The more confident he is in his ability to direct, supervise, coach and monitor people who work for him, the easier it is for him to delegate in order to multiply his own talents. In a high-competence corporation, trust builds, and enthusiasm, and loyalty.

If he is incompetent himself, or untrustworthy, he has a hard time delegating.

The domestic version

Lest you think that mistrust applies only to those going overseas, I’d argue that there is an even more pernicious form of mistrust of citizens that occurs daily IN THE PHILIPPINES in the form of required clearances. Barangay clearances, police clearances, NBI clearances. The burden of proving innocence is placed on the citizen. The presumption is possible guilt, somewhere, at some place, at some time.

Well, in an automated world, government records ought to have a database of known crooks, miscreants and suspected bad guys, and this database ought to be inter-operable between agencies. Make the presumption one of INNOCENCE and require that government prove there is reason to suspect a person’s integrity. You know, make government provide a service rather than demand that citizens submit to the old autocratic runaround.

This would free up a huge amount of resources which could be assigned to conducting thorough and timely investigations of wrong-doing so that we don’t have to wait a year between theft and arraignment. And so that the data-base is accurate.

But by all means, start with TRUST of Filipino citizens.

Lawmaker obligations

So I’d argue that Filipino leaders lack confidence in the Philippines and in Filipinos. Lawmakers lack confidence in their constituents. This seems to fulfill the principle that someone who can’t be trusted generally has a difficulty trusting others. Perhaps because (some/a lot/most/all?) Philippine lawmakers have little patriotic verve . . . mainly being out for themselves instead of the nation . . . they are inclined to treat OFWs and even homebound citizens with suspicion.

“They are like me. Can’t be trusted.”


My advice to Philippine lawmakers is to lighten up. Grow some perspective.

Recognize that it IS possible for a human being to be dedicated and loyal to more than one nation and to the idea of personal integrity. And in case of conflict, a human being IS capable of choosing sides intelligently.

If the Philippines runs its own ship well, it has no need to fear OFW loyalty. And it has no need to impose ridiculous runarounds on citizens making them prove their innocence.

If the Philippines runs a loose ship full of crocodiles and thieves and “me first” politicians, don’t expect too many of the 3.5 million residents in the U.S. to come running back to the Philippines to lay down their lives against a Chinese invasion. Run a tight ship rich with opportunity, they will drift back on their own, and in conflict will sacrifice their all for a nation that gives them and their kids so much.

The idea that the Philippines can mandate loyalty through affidavits is unadulterated baloney.

The first step to bringing OFWs home is to run the homeland well. They’ll come back.

The second step is to recognize that a Filipino citizen is a citizen for life no matter where on the globe he or she travels or lives. And that Filipino citizen should be welcomed back at any time for any reason, with warmth  . . . with appreciation . . .

and with trust.

Not affidavits.

Regarding those clearances? The first step to building widespread integrity domestically is to presume it exists in the first place.

The second step is to do a better job of tracking down those without it.


141 Responses to “In defense of OFWs against nationalists”
  1. josephivo says:

    The Philippines seems to me in a phase where people are starting to accept their double nationality, the island- region – language – cultural group they belong to, being the first defining “nationality” on one side and the formal Philippine nationality on the other side. OFW’s just add a third layer of their host country. For many the step from regional to national is still scary.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Well said, Joseph.

      Acceptance is needed in order to elevate the Philippines from the third to the first world. We need to accept that there are better ways and approaches that we can learn from other cultures. This does not mean that we “ape” foreign products and continue on with the consumer mentality. We need an innovator and maker mindset. We need to do what Japan did. Accept foreign ideas and make new and improved versions of them to jumpstart innovation and creativity in Filipinos. Once that is started, watch the Philippines flourish and prosper…

    • Joe America says:

      “For many the step from regional to national is still scary.” We could I suppose argue over “many”. Sometimes it seems that “nearly all” would be better, and “national” hereabouts really means “Manila” where Manila is also one of the regions that has not quite gotten up the nerve to step to national.

  2. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I am not a nationalist. I am not patriotic. I am worldly, a citizen of the world. I go, work and live where a government can give me decent living wage and dignity of work. Where there is a legislated anti-discrimination (discrimination is inherent in every beings from cockroaches to two-legged rats and snitches). Where justice is dispensed fairly.

    OFWs contributed 6% to Philippines GDP. OFW remittance increase of 6.1% corresponds to increase to Philippine GDP (SOURCE: CENTRAL BANK) making OFWs National Heroes that supports OFW Philippine economy.

    So, folks! When Benigno trumpets that GDP increased by 6% it is not because of local economic activity … It is because of me …


    • Gel says:

      Remittances from OFW’s really pushes Philippine economy up. The $ reserve of the government as well as the active spending of families of OFW’s makes a healthy economy. There are millions of OFW’s because the Philippine government ENCOURAGES them because of the aforementioned. The government has a lot of programs under TESDA to qualify Filipinos to work globally. Although most of the courses under TESDA fall under “unskilled” category in most countries, they can still earn enough when employed abroad. Domestic helpers also undergo a week long seminar before they can be deployed. These programs by the government is its part in helping Filipinos (OFW’s).

      What will happen if the government restricts Filipinos from working abroad? What if the government requires college education for domestic helpers, construction workers and the like – plus at least 5 years experience before they can qualify to be fielded abroad? What if the government require at least 5 years work in remote barangays for health workers (nurses, doctors, etc.) before they can qualify abroad? By the time these professionals can qualify, the job they are seeking for would’ve been filled in by other nationalities. Other professionals under “skilled” workers will also suffer if the government will require restrictions. The only restriction from skilled workers are those imposed by the employer.

      To sum it up: the government helps OFW’s and OFW’s help the government. It is a win-win situation.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        TESDA is doing a good job. 5-year required experience is too much. 6 to 12 months would be OK. I was also schooled in National Manpower. It helped me a lot.

      • Joe America says:

        You know, I agree with that last line, Gel. The support system for OFW’s has become very sound. It seems to me to be one of the better operating machines in a nation that does not have enough of them.

        • Gel says:

          Joe, I believe that the Philippines will not run out of able workforce. The Filipino gene is designed to be a worker and not a manager. It is already engrained in Filipino culture to work for somebody. A Fil-Chinese study to understand the business he’s going to put up while a Filipino study to work for the Fil-Chinese. Take a look at the government – Pnoy, I think has the best legacy as president after 1986 and he has a Chinese gene able to manage the country better (Cory was still in the transition stage during her term). I can expound on my assessment further, but this is not the proper topic to do it.

          • cha says:

            “Joe, I believe that the Philippines will not run out of able workforce.”

            This is the the only statement in this comment I can agree with.

          • Joe America says:

            I think there is a difference between skill and ability. Filipinos have the ability to do any thing, but not many yet have skill in management with productivity as the goal.

            • cha says:

              And what does that have to do with having Filipino genes then?

              • Gel says:

                Cha, actually, there’s pun injected in the way I presented my case above. Hehe. Not exactly the genes, but rather how Filipino children are raised. I think it’s a cultural issue. Filipino parents tell their children to study hard, earn a degree, have regular job and be financially secured. Have you ever come across a parent teaching their kids to study hard so they can start their own business, be successful with it and in the process able to create employment to other Filipinos?

              • Joe America says:

                @Cha, nothing, I suspect, but I’ve not read up on it. Malnutrition stunts brain development. Rote education inspires feeding back, not creating. There’s a lack of an employment culture that incents growth (autocratic corporate practices). No practice or examples are available (poor training). No mentors. No coaches. No instruction on best practices. It all adds up. Good genes would wither in the face of those obstacles.

              • sonny says:

                Ok, Gel. Now I see the pun: gene as the chemical compound deoxyribonucleic acid and gene as a Filipino national trait. That is cutting it pretty close to an insult, I think. That is why Cha called exception to the rest of Gel’s post. Clarifying only, fwiw.

              • cha says:

                Gel, ok. Thanks for clarifying. Maybe a smiley cpuld have made that clearer from the start. 🙂

                And to answer your question: “Have you ever come across a parent teaching their kids to study hard so they can start their own business, be successful with it and in the process able to create employment to other Filipinos?”

                Actually, yes. I also happen to have friends who have started their own businesses, even if their parents never encouraged them in that direction. Must have been something in their genes ei? 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Interesting article. These are well-educated people, most of whom are sliding into business on social media or technology platforms. It is good to see these initiatives and I hope they are successful. Several are too esoteric for my practical mind to grasp. And I don’t know how one makes money by giving away things like Bag943. Nevertheless, I’m sending the article to my daughter who is considering launching herself into entrepreneurship in the US. So we’ll have at least one American with Filipinos showing the way . . . maybe providing a bit of inspiration . . .

              • Gel says:

                Cha, how I place a smiley?

                Anyway, I have read the article before and re-read it again with your link. Thanks.

                I actually read entrepreneurial articles because I myself is a small-time entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is actually getting ground with the help of the dot com. But what is missing in articles and books is “Failure” and how the entrepreneur rose again from the ground. I believe this is the most important learning lesson from a start-up entrepreneur. Some articles and books only tackle this subject vaguely. I actually learned everything I know now from trial and error. One thing more… I learned that starting a business is easy (especially if you have resources), but the most difficult part is sustaining the business. I hope to see Filipino entrepreneurial businesses thrive and employ more people and not close the doors in 5 years.

                In my small businesses, I tried hiring people close to the offices especially those who have a lot of children and poor so that they can save from transportation. But what shocked me is that they are too wasteful in terms of food (food is provided), electricity, cleaning materials among other things. They also come to work with hangover. I used to be lenient because I wanted to help, but their mentality towards a “job” is pathetic. I always teach them and talk to them by heart, but to them, Ginebra has the final say. Sorry, this has become a rant.

              • Gel says:

                Joe, yes indeed. Educated people who were exposed to business environment and who have good business network can do it. Others have to start from scratch and build networks along the way. I think “fear” of failure is the impediment to entrepreneurial spirit. “Why would I want trade a secure job for risk in doing business?” That’s the dilemma. Common folks would rather keep a job, that’s for sure.

              • sonny says:

                @ Gel

                I use colon-dash-closeparens for smiley and colon-dash-openparens for frowney

              • cha says:

                “But what is missing in articles and books is “Failure” and how the entrepreneur rose again from the ground. I believe this is the most important learning lesson from a start-up entrepreneur. Some articles and books only tackle this subject vaguely. I actually learned everything I know now from trial and error. ”

                Gel, why don’t you write about your experiences? I would think that Joeam would publish that. (And I would love to read it.) It might also inspire more people to take the same road.

                I have friends here in Sydney who run businesses there in Manila and they too have some interesting stories about some of their workers. One has started bible study groups in the workplace as a way of changing some of the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors she has observed. She has somehow become more spiritual ever since she started this business venture. 🙂

              • Gel says:

                I would gladly like to write about my experiences. I’m from a small city in the province, so my experiences and views may not be the same as those in Metro Manila and big cities. I’ll try to email Joe when I can and see if he agrees to post an article here.

              • Joe America says:

                Very good, Gel. Ship it over when you’ve got it ready. Thanks.

        • sonny says:

          Joe, I wish I could be truly sanguine about the OFW situation. I say this because of the hoops and hardships that OFWs have to go through to get out of the PH, to get into proper jobs, to stay in the jobs and to get ahead, not to mention the deceit and fraud that middlemen visit on eager preys, the social costs of families being put asunder, etc. Other countries have much to learn from the way America treats legal migrants: a legal process that includes and culminates in family reunification, a national attitude that treats its migrants as eventually becoming resources of the country itself.

          • Joe America says:

            Indeed, OFW’s endure a lot, but I rather have a theory that it is such emotional toil that builds deep character. America is a nation of in-bound migrants, so it is the natural way, I suppose, to welcome new people. My great grand father (the JoeAm photo) arrived from Germany at the age of two. His father fell into the flooded Mississippi River a couple of years after that whilst loading boats in St. Louis. He drowned, only in his mid-twenties. So the OFW life, the migrant life, is very real.

          • sonny says:

            Joe, not a few lose their lives and tons lose much of their self-respect. 😦

    • Joe America says:

      Your adamant and separatist pride in being OFW reminds me that, as the homelanders ought not diminish the motives and loyalty of OFWs, neither should OFWs diminish the motives and loyalty of homelanders.

      • I would appreciate not posting my comment below, I just did because I want you to know. I don’t want to get a word from anyone with a grave level of superiority & farce nationalism. I have limited access to internet and chose to communicate this way.

        • Joe America says:

          I deleted the comment, but I have to thank you for raising an important point that I had not thought about before. Most of the regular readers here know of Mariano’s taunting side and escapades at other sites. But here, he contributes important ideas in his unique style, and he does not attack others. If he misbehaves elsewhere, that should not mandate that I restrict him here, I think. The point this led me to was, what if he were a known ax murderer sitting in the prison library pounding out comments on blog threads. Should I strike his remarks here? I always say the issue is what counts, not the person. I hide behind a fake name to separate my person entirely from the issue. I think I’d allow a murderer to comment here.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            I like Mariano and in his defense, I’d say he makes a lot more sense than a lot of Inquirer commenters. I lock horns with him every now and then, but he never ceases to amaze me with grains of truth wrapped in his extremist views. He is Agent Provocateur and his style may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he surely had gifted me with broader perspectives about issues pertaining to the Philippines.

  3. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “I was surprised that someone has the audacity to believe he knows better than I do what is in my heart and mind. And could speak for all Filipinos in that regard.” – JOE

    Filipinos knows more about Americans than we, Americans, knows about ourselves.

    I just love to tease and titillate Filipinos by using the Filipino word as “third person” and myself as an “American”. They just go nuclear over this.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I’ve noticed the nuclear in Inquirer threads. It is fun trying to discover who is you. I agree Filipinos do have better insights into Americans than do we Americans, because we are blinded by our confidence, which Filipinos read as arrogance . . . Confidence to the unsure is for sure arrogant.

      • sonny says:

        And this quote will complete the nuclear loop:

        “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” – Groucho Marx

  4. Read the comments in the article below, they represent the state of the nation. Most are happy, optimistic and positive problem solvers and only a handful are angry, complaining and negative. Filipinos need to be aware of this phenomenon. There are more GOOT Filipinos (Hi, Mariano!) than the other variety. There is strength in number and I hope Filipinos will bank on that to continue pushing for social, economic and political reforms.

    The present President listens and means well. He is aware of the OFWs’ plight. He is doing what he can to so OFWs could stay home. He respects Filipinos here and abroad. Please reciprocate.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      OFWs brings goot tidings to Philippines. Foreign currency is number one; number two is social, cultural, architectural and culinary tastes; and, number three, how justice is done in the 1st world.

      I am a product of OFWing. I will try to convince the left-behind never-gone-abroad Filipinos how people abroad are doing it and why they are successful. Also, our cuisine needs major improvement.

      I am a constructive complainer. I complain a lot. But if anyone bothers to delve deeply into my complaints they can find nuggets of gold. Like gold, it takes a ton of dirt to produce an ounce of gold.

      1. I live and work in a very diverse cities in the U.S. When I stumble on my grammar Real Americans do not laugh at me. They do not correct me in front of others. I have read eMails from English-challenged minorities in our office that would make Filipinos feel superior. The most important thing is they get the message across;
      2. Very seldom Americans go to Filipino restaurants despite their being 2nd in number to Chinese. Hispanic, Indian, Thai, Chinese can be found everywhere from Malibu, California to Marthas Vinyard never Philippine cuisine. Our cuisine needs major, major improvement.
      3. Justice system. We do it the Flipside. That is why Filipinos are derogatorily called FLIP because we always do the opposite.
      4. Architecture. Americans are architecturally practical. OFW comes home, build Mediterranean-style houses. Imagine small windows in a very hot humid tropical country.
      5. Does anyone know here that Filipinos cut down trees for security reasons? Yeah! They are afraid thieves hide behind those trees. So, they cut it down so thieves would have no place to hide to pounce on sleeping OFW families.

      I have learned a lot from OFWing. OFWs have changed the landscape. Most of the planned communities are built and targetted for OFWs.

      Despite our contributions, we are looked down upon by Filipinos as “The Only Work for Them is OFW”. Meaning, we are nothing. We are worthless. We are unemployable in local job scene.

      • Joe America says:

        Ahahahahaha, “like gold it takes a ton of dirt to produce an ounce of gold.” Love that line. Maybe I’ll borrow it . . .

      • Gel says:

        It’s refreshing to know that I can agree with some of Mariano’s viewpoint sometimes. Hehe.

        Here’s my take on the points Mariano listed out:

        1. It’s wishful thinking to say that Filipinos in general can speak or write properly in English. When a white guy speaks to a Filipino (e.g. asks direction), other Filipinos nearby eavesdrop to the conversation and wait until they hear grammatical errors from the Filipino being asked and the eavesdroppers will discretely laugh at their “kabayan”.

        2. Filipino dishes are actually tastier than say… Korean (bias hehe). I guess it’s with the presentation of Filipino dishes that makes them look unappetizing. But how can you make a good presentation out of “dinengdeng” or “laing” or balut? I think Filipinos don’t have to improve the cuisine per se because it will be less “Filipino” by then, but rather, hype them. Lechon and Adobo are catching up western attention already.

        3. Every country’s legal system is flawed one way or the other. It is never perfect and never will be. It is just a matter of proper implementation. Justice has always been in favor of the privileged. In the States, there are also cases wherein the innocent gets convicted. However a privileged person, when convicted of murder, only gets at least 25 years. The Philippine justice system pales in comparison with other countries in terms of speed, technicalities, error from witnesses, among others. Police investigation here is pathetic. By the time the cops arrive, a crime scene has already been long contaminated and forensics are useless. DNA testing is very expensive and will wipe out the PNP coffers in no time, so investigators use eye-witnesses (which is not conclusive) instead.

        4. OFW’s houses has sprung like mushrooms in our city in the past decade. This is a good indication of the quality of life their families enjoy back home. They like to build their houses vertically – the taller, the richer (it’s status symbol after all). As you have said, almost all of the houses are only designed aesthetically without practicality. Most of their houses have attic bedrooms with small sliding windows and G.I. roofing (this is practically an oven) and an underground basement that becomes a pool comes rainy season. But despite that, I’m happy that our neighborhood has improved socially.

        5. I have no problem with cutting of trees for security and safety reasons as long as the lumber will not end up as firewood. The reason why I don’t object with the cutting of trees in private properties is because the roots of the trees will eventually end up destroying concrete pavements and sewer system of the house causing hefty amounts of repair.

        You are right about housing developments targeted to OFW’s. However, I would disagree with your last statement that OFW’s are looked down upon by Filipinos – in fact it’s the opposite. Although, some people tend to be envious of their OFW neighbor especially if they became successful.

        Mariano, you said that you are a constructive complainer and you complain a lot. I consider constructive criticism is vital in our ecosystem, however, the way or method you criticize doesn’t work with majority of Filipinos. You have to take into consideration the “culture” of Filipinos. Filipinos do not take criticisms very well (either constructive or otherwise). I believe you were once a Filipino, so you should know by now how to address them. Never shove up your belief as the gospel truth into a Filipino’s ass. The way to touch a Filipinos “sense” is to humble yourself and respect their current belief. Be diplomatic. Slowly… eventually… in time… you will get your message across them without resorting to animosity. Now, whether Filipinos accept your opinion or not, it’s no longer your problem.


        • sonny says:

          “… But how can you make a good presentation out of “dinengdeng” or “laing” or balut?”

          Oh, but we do. In Chicago there teeny-weeny resto in a strip mall that offers well presented Filipino mainstays. The Friday, Saturday crowds are always fully-booked and not by Filipinos either. The latter have to wait their turn. 🙂

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Juana, this link is hot off the press

      Focus on number 3 and number 4. This is where Arroyos, Binays, Drilons, Benigno and Tius gets into perceived trouble and how they are being tried thru mind&information-control.

      • I call the culturally induced political charades involving the corrupt and self-serving government officials in PI and their minions, “poetic justice.” Yes, there is a streak of meanness in me. I sure do not mind bad apples rotting or being thrown away.

    • Joe America says:

      “Aquino said he was told, ‘Sir, hasten the opportunities back home so that we can go back home.’ ‘Instead of trying to convince them (OFWs) to come back home,’ Aquino said, ‘they are actually trying to egg me out to speed up all of the changes that will enable them to do so.’ ”

      A government that works and is honest building more jobs in a peaceful and modernizing world . . . would do the trick.

      Thanks for the link.

  5. Attila says:

    I think they are referring to OWFs from the USA. I just can’t see them worry about Filipinos working in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Arab and European countries. The US is the only one that messes with the head of the Filipino and turning them in to a tirador.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      The Filipino-Americans became tirador because they have seen and expereinced how Philippines should be run.

      On the side, which I did not hear any furor from Filipinos, are Poor Jeepney Drivers are forced to give legislated discounts to students, discounts to senior citizens and free rides to minors when these drivers cannot even get discounts from gas stations.

    • Joe America says:

      Could be. Because the idealized gap is so huge between what America can offer and what the Philippines can offer. Big opportunities, for life in the U.S.. Other nations don’t do that so very well, and, indeed, many are “awkward” places to live.

  6. cha says:

    First a clarification, OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers, are essentially that. Filipino citizens who work in other countries, as opposed to migrants like myself and my family who can either take up citizenship in their adoptive countries thus giving up their Philippine citizenship, or depending on applicable laws in their host country can also opt for dual citizenship.

    OFWs are considered heroes (‘bayani ng bayan’) for their enormous contributions not only to uplifting their respective families’ quality of life but also for propping up the country’s economy for the most part. They come back, are coming back, upon termination of their employment elsewhere to continue their contributions to and live the rest of their lives in the mother country.

    On the other hand, migrants like myself, are to certain types, seen as having abandoned the fatherland and have therefore lost the right to have a say in how things go in the homeland. I don’t know how many people think this way, but I do come across commentary reflecting this attitude in various Philippine based social media platforms every now and then. None of my own family, friends or colleagues have ever said as much to my face, however.

    If you really think about it though, those who see migrants as no longer ‘real Filipinos’, in some sense are actually right. We did leave the country, didn’t we? And for most of us, leaving did actually lead not only to improvements in our living situations but also changes in the way we think, speak, and act. And, at least to those who are not able to keep their Filipino citizenship for one reason or another, we do have no legal right at all, no say in how the country’s state of affairs are being run anymore. That shouldn’t be so hard to comprehend from a purely rational perspective.

    But the heart has a mind of its own. It knows no boundaries, no limits to what or who it is able to hold close and keep in the depths of its compassionate and affectionate clasp. The heart, our hearts are thankfully unconfined by notions of citizenship or geographic considerations. The heart, can and often does remain a Filipino one (or an American one, in Joeam’s case) with room to spare for whatever other identities it has come to embrace. And thank goodness for that. Our world can only a better place if we are able to multiply our capacity to care and desire to do good for one another. Divisions only serve to deplete our sources of good will. Probably not the best way to go.

    “Go forth and multiply”. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the passage really means. Should mean. Filipino, American, Australian, Canadian, who the hell cares. I’ll take a decent fellow human being with a heart anytime.

    • Joe America says:

      Important distinction, and indeed, “the heart has a mind of its own”. There is a vast difference between an appreciation of diversity, all aspects bringing richness to the whole, and a need to carve lines of division, one side better than the other. Division seems to be the way of the world and its drivers are insecurity, envy (applied insecurity) and ignorance. Some ignorance is innocent, the ignorance of those barred from education. Some is not.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      I am also a migrant but I take the cognitive existential route when asked if I am a real Filipino: I know, therefore I am. This knowledge is based on my continued contribution to some homebound Filipinos’ welfare in form of college tuitions, PhilHealth premiums, pharmaceutical bills, disaster relief funds, and occasional grocery bills. Philippines and Filipinos will always have a place in my heart and I have no qualms about channeling Gabriela Silang to fight for Filipinos’ human rights. Likewise, I am indebted to the United States for having the life I dreamed about and the wherewithal to be able to contribute to a few Filipinos’ quality of life. I will always cry and feel every words when I hear Lee Greenwood’s “God bless the U.S.A. I will be honored to be GI Juana if circumstance calling for it arises. I love my American husband and children. America is my home now and I am a very proud American.

    • edgar lores says:

      “The heart, our hearts are thankfully unconfined by notions of citizenship or geographic considerations.”

      To me, this is the key rule. Whether we are Filipinos are not, we are entitled to comment on — that is, praise or criticize — the Philippines and its people.

      This is underscored by Article 19 of the UDHR: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

      The Philippines is not only a signatory to the UDHR but also a representative to the Commission on Human Rights that drafted the declaration after WWII.

      So we, whoever or whatever we are – nationals, non-nationals, expats, exiles, deportees, except perhaps ETs — we do have a legal right.


      The other comment I would make is on the issue of civility in social media, and that is: mea culpa.

      Bless me Father, for I have sinned.

      On this site and on Raissa’s, I am a scholar — maybe — but a gentleman — certainly. Perhaps not all the time but most of the time.

      But on social media, I have been a beast. Yes, a beastly beast.

      Try as hard as I could not to do so, I have succumbed to the temptation of incivility, once, or twice — oh, ok, make that thrice.

      At the moment of writing, the thrill and gratification of a witty ad hominem is enormously satisfying. Enormously.

      But the burden of guilt afterwards is enormously crushing. Enormously.

      Lately, I have been able to reign in the temptation and have been unfailingly polite. Unfailingly.

      And you know what? Politeness pays off. Yes. When you treat people politely, they will respond in kind.

      The question is: when people treat you impolitely, what do you do? My first response is to point out the ad hominem(s) and to continue to argue the point(s) rationally. If the other party insists with his personal attacks, I might thank him right there and then for the “discussion”, and totally ignore his inputs in later encounters.

      I have noticed lately that commenters tend to avoid making direct critical responses to my outré comments. (Unlike the case of Mariano, I might add, in any of his many incarnations. Tee-hee.) Whether I am being ignored because of (a) fear, (b) adulation, (c) incomprehension, (d) boredom at repetition or (e) none of the above, I am unable to ascertain. But, like Don Quixote, I continue to tilt at windmills.

      • Joe America says:

        Ahahaha, you are Don Quixote and Mariano is Sancho Panza with a burr in his britches. I remind you, only one was truly lucid. Truly lucid.

        • Joe America says:

          The overwhelmingly above-board dialogue of this blog forum is testament to the idea that if respect is granted, it is also received. The differences of our personalities and personal experiences become additions to the sum, rather than reasons to divide.

      • cha says:

        Oh Edgar, I just had a rather terse and lengthy discussion with my daughter this morning about this sense of entitlement that some people seem to be walking around with these days. Suffice to say, i am not a big fan of the concept, probably one of my biggest pet peeves ever.

        So I wouldn’t say I, being a Filipino by heart, am entitled to comment at all on the Philippine situation, no matter what the UDHR may have to say about it, but rather that I do have some things to say every now and then, that may or may not be useful and I can only hope that I can say them well enough for people to want to listen and take them into consideration. That is the absolute beauty of social media, you throw it out there and you could get some sort of validation that it was at the very least able to catch someone’s attention, as indicated by a short or even well thought out reply. Some days, one gets an uncalled for and unexpected attack, and like you say, the temptation to cut down one’s opponent, especially the obnoxious kind, is sometimes too great. But who really can bask in a pyrrhic victory anyway?

        I have learned many great lessons myself from your own example in having polite conversations here and the other social media platforms you happen to grace with your presence. And no, I am neither fearful, uncomprehending, or bored by your commentary. Neither is it the adulation (of which there is much) that keeps me from responding whether critically or otherwise, to your comments. It’s just that you often put me in a reflective mood with the brilliance and beauty of your presentation. And all I want is to sit in silence and admire the elegance of your musings. So there. You can blame that beautiful mind of yours for my being dumbstruck. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          Gadzooks, he’ll be strutting about on air for a month or two now . . . I mean, I share your opinions and appreciation, but if he runs amok then few can keep up with him. . . . we’ll all be struck dumb. 🙂

            • edgar lores says:


              I’m blushing.


              I’m laughing.

              • Cornball says:

                Adding to The Edgar Lores Testimonial…
                Who can keep up with his eloquence, his eye for details and his inimitable penchant for analysis? He demands more out of you, you have to be on your toes typing a reply or else he will pounce on you like a tiger in the dark and feel like a helpless prey in his jaw and claws… and beware when a discussion turned to borderline esoteric or an Incarnation of semantic entanglement. He can be a show off at times but why can’t he be?

                So, a toast to Edgar Lores, may he post a million more to enrich our vocabulary and to enlighten our minds!

    • 2BFair says:

      Cha is correct in saying that a Filipino living overseas can opt to retain his/her Philippine citizenship, even if they gain citizenship in the country they are living in now. In the case of the U.S., America doesn’t care if you have citizenship elsewhere, they only care if you have citizenship in the U.S. or not, and as long as you pay your taxes. While the Philippines allows dual citizenship. I think Ph lawmakers, in their brilliance, allowed this over a decade ago, in order to court the votes of Filipinos living abroad. So, no special permits or anything, just keep both passports current. And Joe, your son doesn’t have to decide one or the other when he legally becomes an adult. He can keep both, if he so desires.

  7. Juana Pilipinas says:

    Just want to share this with balikbayans and homebound Filipinos who have not read it yet.

  8. sonny says:

    Joe, I feel a definite self-satisfaction regarding this topic. OFW is such a non-issue for me. For me at the time of my migration, there was no push-out factor from the Philippines and enough pull-in factor from America. In other words, no duress, all-choice. I remember clearly, I wished then ALL Filipinos were in my shoes. I still do. No regrets.

    I also remember, for the first time I had a look into the future of the Philippines, one word: DIASPORA. At that time, I could see the oversupply of college-trained Filipinos forming like a wave. The year was 1967. The rest, I would say, is history. Sidenote: I came to the US on board SS President Wilson, a 19-day exit, from Pier 7, Manila Bay down Sorsogon, out of San Bernardino Strait and so on across the Pacific via Guam, Wake, Honolulu then finally San Francisco Bay. 🙂

    Boy, do I remember.

    • Joe America says:

      🙂 Thanks for the poignant recollections.

    • edgar lores says:


      SS President Wilson? That’s strange for two reasons. First, the year 1967 was already in the jet age, and to travel by steam ship would have been passe. And second, that’s the very ship we sailed on two decades earlier on our way back to the Philippines from Hawaii in 1954. That was a 20-day voyage, I recall, the additional day perhaps due to the crossing of the International Date Line.

      Using the concept of Eskimo Brothers, we may be Quantum Brothers. (Definition of Eskimo Brothers from the Urban Dictionary: “n. A male who has had sex with, and ejaculated inside of the same woman as a good friend. (not necessarily simultaneously).” The woman in this case is the good ship SS President Wilson. But ejaculation, I am certain (as I was prepubescent then), is not the proper bodily function.

      In quantum entanglement, a pair of particles behave in a correlated manner after they have interacted, say, by occupying the same space. The correlation happens even after the particles are at some distance to each other (meaning nonlocal causation), and the correlations appear to happen faster than the speed of light (meaning something is faster than the speed of light). The correlation could be the instantaneous exhibition of opposite states.

      • sonny says:

        Edgar, this is really weird. happy weird. 🙂 Never did I think of this coincidence. My mom took the eastward voyage in 1954 and west in late 1955 if memory serves! I took the same trip east for the sole reason I was not in a hurry. We are allowed to be quantum brothers as long as our spins are opposite in a single orbital or non-opposite with available orbitals. 🙂

  9. Sal says:

    Each of us can absolutely love more than one grouping of people… more than two even. What limits how many would be our individual capacity to love ourselves plus others. Love is a verb… not simply a feeling. Real love requires action and therefore involves time and effort. Those who are consumed with love of self do not have much capacity left to love others. Thus the wisdom of the saying “…love thy neighbor as yourself.”

    For me, the biggest contribution of OFW’s is that they alleviate the problem of unemployment in the Philippines. Their accepting employment abroad allows other unemployed people in the Philippines a better chance of finding work… making it a little less of a rat race. I know that sounds like “consuelo de bobo” but it is reality. Migration has always been part of the human DNA… humans have always looked for a better quality of life anywhere in the world they can find it. It has seldom had anything to do with the love or lack of love for their tribe of birth. On the contrary, it has been undoubtedly difficult for migrants throughout history to have pulled up stakes and migrated because they have had to leave behind their comfort zone, safety net, family and friends. Let’s not forget that the national boundaries are man’s political invention to control human migration… not a natural boundary.

    Yes it is natural to continue to love those we have left behind and at the same time love our new friends and communities. I would venture to go a step further and say it is just as natural to love others we have not met or lived with as in the case of our helping people in countries devastated by natural disasters and wars through donations and volunteerism. Actions, not mere words or intentions or signed affidavits, prove our love for our fellow humans in this world.

    I migrated to the US over 35 years ago and have gone back to Manila for visits almost every year to participate in celebrations and reconnect with family and friends. I have never stopped loving the country of my birth and my thoughts have always included the Filipino people. And when I return to the US after being gone a few weeks, I cannot help but choke when the immigration officer hands me back my passport, looks at me smiling and says, “Welcome back home sir.”

    • Joe America says:

      Migrants are the more courageous among us, I think. For the willingness to part with the known in favor of a lot of new experiences.

      I actually like US immigration officers. My experience has been 100% good. Well, I suppose they are helped by a wealth of data that says we are not on any of the troublemaker lists. 🙂 Manila immigration people do their job functionally. Hong Kong immigration people are twits.

      Personal opinion.

      Thanks for the rich perspective, Sal

    • sonny says:

      Everytime I cross the Pacific and end up at Immigration booths on either end questions invariably pop up in my mind: What happens to embark/disembark cards at NAIA? Are computers involved or do the official-looking agents have a revolving wastebasket underneath the desks? (telltale sign: there is so little space to answer the questions in the form) What happens to the money collected as airport/travel fees/taxes as one enters NAIA?
      At LAX or ORD: Do they sell my personal information to who knows who? Which federal database got dibs on the Immigration databases? Who are currently hacking the Immigration databases? 😦

    • ……”And when I return to the US after being gone a few weeks, I cannot help but choke when the immigration officer hands me back my passport, looks at me smiling and says, “Welcome back home sir.”… I want to say to all of you, these is one of the most beautiful and most touching conversation I have ever read….you guys are amazing, there are moments when I feel like choking in tears (I lived and worked overseas from time to time – Paris, Italy, Spain, US, Australia)…..and every time I come back, it is a both a sweet and painful homecoming. Sweet because am back. Painful because I will deal with the same problems – traffic, unemployment, corruption in the government…..the very same reasons, why I leave from time to time…..I regularly (no, religiously) follows Raissa Robles and Joe Am’s blogs not only because of their articles….it is more because of the people who comments….I learn more about my culture, the pulse of the people, the sentiments of those who still wanted to see this nation rise up into the great country it was supposed to be……I guess what am trying to say is, being a Filipino is not about which country you are leaving or working at the present time, it is that hope and aspirations that one day (oh God, I hope that day would come) I can really come home to the Philippines…..and feel safe, once more.

  10. Pinoyputi says:

    Hi Joe, Pleasure to read the article. First of all I like to commend you on the mature handling of the comments. Commenting to blogs taught me that quite a few people take reactions far too personal. You did it in the proper way, by arguments.
    I always felt that the Pinoy migrant or OFW was version Pinoy 2.0 for the reason that they did go abroad and went to the World School of Living. And when I came to the Philippines I was surprised to see how different the locals were.
    I recognize all you, and Shakira Sison, wrote in the articles but want to add another flavor to the story and that is jealousy. Not only did I sensed this among family members of my wife, people around this place but also among Barangay officials. They refuse to help us on certain aspects because we are aliens even though residing here for 6 tot 8 months a year. We stay here as Balikbayan. So we started the procedures for applying dual citizenship even though me wife never ceased to be a Filipina in her heart.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, jealousy is a fact here. The most extreme it got with me was a drunken neighbor firing a gun into the ground and taunting me to come after him. I didn’t even know the guy. Then there were the bad stories about my wife, and other little attacks . . . We have learned to ignore them, and my wife has her friends in the community, which is rather like a backfire against jealousy. We now all live in a rather strange harmony . . .

      • Pinoyputi says:

        Got curious about the person you mentioned so I looked it up. Even though I agree with him intrinsically, as you may remember, I don’t like his style of arguing. Like one of the commenter wrote to him, ” you’re bastos. Before this was a decent place, now it became a fish market because of you” . And reading most of his reactions I sense where it comes from. Apparently you may only criticize when being a natural born of this country. I suppose it is a form of the flavor I added.

        • Joe America says:

          A case of two methods. “Nationalist” Manuelbuencamino has been enduringly patient with my bias and worked over a number of years, in this space, to enlighten me and bring my intellectual alignment to be more accepting of Fiipino ways. He gave me a chance. The person of whom you speak slammed the door in a very derogatory way. It’s like I felt, “whoa, so this is what racism is all about.” It’s about not even being given a chance.

          I agree with his views on a lot of things, too, and was therefore floored at the personal hostility. I thought his mind was bigger than that.

  11. David Murphy says:

    The fact that OFW’s returning from the US are thought to be different is a tacit recognition that Americans are different from Filipinos. Many of the Filipino traits are admirable and would be beneficial in the US, such as the close family ties, extending out to “cousins” which includes spouses of blood-related cousins and their children. And it is true, I believe, that many Filipinos feel an obligation to help any and all of those relatives when they can. Often because of economic conditions they can not but many help as they can. And of course, there are always exceptions. Americans tend to be more limited in their close ties with relatives and also less likely to help with financial emergencies.
    I perceive that there is a difference in the standards of ethics between the two groups. In the US the majority of people adhere to a standard that involves honesty, integrity, responsibility to keep one’s promises and agreements, etc. In the Philippines, it seems to me that many people adhere to the same standards but a smaller proportion than in the US. I would guess that under similar conditions about 80% of people in the US would decline an opportunity to cheat, even if they are confident that they would not get caught, but that Filipinos at home who meet this standard probably number 50% at most. This is only my general impression and is worth no more than one man’s impression. I should mention that the most striking examples of genuine generosity among Filipinos has been in the poorest of the poor, those who have the least to share. Too often, when I am the object of generosity from those better off, I sense a look of calculation in their eyes, gauging what kind of return on their investment they might gain.
    I think that this might be a result of what you have termed amoral interdependence, in that most Americans are honest because most everyone around them is honest and there is moral outrage experienced against those who are not. In addition, bad faith is more likely to be discovered and censure, in the form of social avoidance, loss of job or lack of promotion and such is likely to result. Integrity has value in the US. I think this is less prevalent in the Philippines. It is my belief and my hope that as leaders act with integrity more Filipinos will adopt a higher standard of conduct.
    I believe that this is the main reason for the onerous documentary requirements in the Philippines. In the US, to renew my car registration I receive a letter from the Department of Transportation of my state. I complete the form, write a check and put them in a pre-addressed envelope, I stamp it, put it in my mailbox, the postman picks it up and in a couple of weeks I receive my new registration card and the stickers. Total time required about 10 minutes, mostly spent looking for a pen that works. (The emissions test is separate and can be a bit more time consuming, especially for those of us who wait until the last minute.) In the Philippines it’s an all-day process and requires an emissions test, which includes a photo of the technician who performs the test and an etching of the motor ID number, followed by submission of the documents and a long wait for processing. But these processes are necessary to attempt to reduce cases of false registration, especially of stolen cars. The onerous documentation required for this and numerous other situation is a result of a prevailing reality, not a random, pointless requirement. It is the cost of a paucity of integrity. Of course, at some time in the future, as computerization becomes more pervasive, other factors may also reduce the need for these same requirements. But still I hope for a return to integrity as a standard of conduct, no matter the circumstances.

    • Joe America says:

      Very nice assessment of how the cultural traits end up in processes that are on the edge of sense. LTO is a perfect example. Once a year, an LTO clerk works under the hot tropical sun tho get my car body’s ID from some hidden crevice behind the hot engine. I lounge under a shade tree whilst he is so occupied for about a half-hour. He has to use carbon paper and tape. It is the same driver who brings in in every year (me), the same car. But they trust no one.

      Integrity is a lot more efficient, I think. We should go for it.

    • edgar lores says:


      Very insightful. You hold up a mirror that Filipinos would do well to look upon.

      As it has been pointed out many times, a difference between the Filipino and the American as a culture is that the former is collectivistic and the latter is individualistic. The norm of individual integrity is set aside in favor of collective interdependency.

      This explains something but excuses nothing.

      (The term amoral interdependency is not semantically accurate. Amoral means lacking in any moral standard but the ethical norm of interdependency of the Filipino is the collective, whether that be family, clan, tribe, religious sect, fraternity or basketball team. The correct term might be “collective interdependency”, which would be tautological, (or the erstwhile padrino system).

      You cite honesty, integrity, responsibility and bad faith. I just might add respect to the list. All of those terms can be rolled into the one: integrity. As I have said elsewhere, integrity is the perfect union of perception and behavior. One should act towards the good and avoid the bad according to one’s cognizance of what is good and bad. A person with integrity is honest, responsible and respectful, and does not act in Sartrean bad faith.

      Anent to another discussion in this thread, bad faith is not in the Filipino genes. It is cultural. And it can be seen in the examples of (a) the auto technician who takes his time hoping for that bribe of P50; (b) in the onerous procedures of red tape; and (c) in the highest ecclesiastical, political and judicial offices in the land.

      (I am aghast the Jinggoy may be freed on bail on a technicality because of legal “red tape”:

      I share your belief and hope that leaders will show the way. There are models of integrity around but they do not exactly abound. Not yet. And when a model of bad faith continues to be a viable contender for the highest office, the hope dims. We must keep the hope alive.

  12. manuel buencamino says:


    George Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism” makes a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. He wrote:

    “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

    In short, patriot is a good word, nationalist not.

    And so Joe I would call you a patriot.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, thank you, MB. So I am patriotic to America because I think it is the best in the world and have no interest in forcing it on others, but I am just here in the Philippines fiddle farting around, with no special dedication whatsoever?

      Words are so limiting sometimes. 🙂

      “. . . that one believes to be the best in the world” for what? For me as an individual? How many patriotic Filipinos are there, I wonder. There are certainly a lot of critics for it being the best place in the world.

      I’m dedicated to two nations because they both mean a lot to me. Period.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        “I’m dedicated to two nations because they both mean a lot to me. Period.”

        Precisely, Joe. That’s why I called you a patriot. You have no more compulsion to Americanize Filipinos and to Filipinize Americans. You are happy in your place and partticular way of life, will do everything to defend what is good about it and fight what is not good about it to improve it, but you are not out to advance your hometown and your home country at the expense of others.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah, very good. Thanks for the observation, which is most pleasing and a testament to your own persistence at chipping at statues that may occasionally become misshapen.

    • sonny says:

      I concur on pat. & nat & duly noted. I was a little unclear before this.

      M-W dict says as much: patriotism is love of country; nationalism is patriotism plus my country is better than any other.

      I think Joe is not only one person but a secretariat. 🙂

    • josephivo says:

      Patriots are the romantic Germans creating a new nation. “We Germans split in 50 states should belong to one nation, with one language, one culture”. Nationalists are the racist Germans creating Nazism. ”We superior Arians, we need more space”. But whatever, the nation (cultural defined) or the country (geographical defined) both are dangerous concepts most often exploited not by the people but by a small class of beneficiaries. (Who benefited from WW1, WW2, all other nationalistic wars… the people?)

      “People (proletarians) of all nations/countries unite.” ( with the choir of the Beethoven’s 9e symphony in the background)

  13. josephivo says:

    1. More than 11 million OFW’s, plus the emigrants, plus the mixed couples (= Filipina + a walking ATM machine living abroad or in the Philippines) plus at least 11 million dreaming of getting out, on a 100 million population that includes babies, children and the old too, mind boggling. With a great respect for all those who made the sacrifice to get out to keep their families and the nation alive, with all disrespect for rent-seekers and politicians who created this situation.

    2. Love of two nations. What if your father and mother have different nationalities? My father and mother had different nationalities and I was proud of both. Knowing and experiencing two cultures made me more aware of the values and weaknesses of both. Later I loved living deep in black Africa, I loved living in the US, I didn’t like my 6 years in the Middle East, I liked living and working for years in 3 different European countries, but I love most the last 10 years in the Philippines, its nature, its people (most of them), paradise must be just around the corner.

    3. What if you lived your whole life in a country different from the one mentioned in your passport? Or 40 years or 20 or 10 in a country? What if you have a lot of empathy and did a lot of research? Can only a Roman understand and write about Roman history? A Japanese about Japanese food?

    4. Culture as defining a nation state and love of a country are inventions of German romanticists trying to unify their nation in the 1800’s. A Belgian culture and love of country does not exist, a Congolese or Yugoslavian neither, and a Philippine? Or a Bangsamoro? Ilocano? Visayan? Bicol? Batanes? Sulu? Is it my culture from Bohol or from the Philippines? My love for Bohol or for the Philippines?

    5. “Culture, and love of their country” is just a sauce or a tinny outer skin, underneath we are human mammals sharing most of the genes, sharing most of the instincts, sharing a lot of behavior. A Philippine helper understands an American helper better than a Philippine taipan; a Philippine taipan is closer to an American captain of industry better than to his helper.

    6. Perceptions are facts too. How foreigners perceive us is valuable too, a rich source for debate.

    PS, I hate when the Dutch speak in their superior ways as if they understand the Belgians.

    • Pinoyputi says:

      We do!

      • bauwow says:

        Wow! The discussions in this blog just makes you think, and consider other perspectives that are not in consonance with one’s belief. Respect is given profusely and free thinking is encouraged.

        For me, as the world is getting smaller, it does not matter if you are Filipino, an American or any other nationality for that matter, what is important is that one is a human being first, a decent human being that respects the views of others even if it does not agree with one’ s view.

        Uncle Joe, I will stand on a table to shout “O Captain My Captain” for you.

        p.s. Congrats to the purple and gold for winning back to back games. A rare feat for them!

        • Joe America says:

          Take your shoes off first. 🙂 (Thanks) Go Lakers! I wonder if they knew how much their fan base would grow if they got a Filipino player. Staples would overflow every night.

        • sonny says:

          @ bauwow

          Just like I said Joe is also a secretariat. I will also call him mr CPU. He is the gatekeeper of the I/O devices and speeds, takes care of the lookups on memory addresses, prioritizes the execution of instructions, etc. Did I miss something? Ah yes, he also uses the FLOPS (floating point operations) to do the math. 🙂

          @ Joe

          As you can surmise, my Lakers team was the Jerry West, Gail Goodrich vintage. Fresh from the Philippines, I was an awestruck fan of basketball & the Lakers. I couldn’t believe basketball was played this way and even wondered why they were called LA Lakers. And irony of ironies the Minneapolis of George Mikan was my first American hometown! 🙂 🙂

          • Joe America says:

            Ah, yes, Forum, short pants, Happy Hariston doing the rebounding labor whilst West and Goodrich showed that white guys can at least dribble, pass and shoot. Wilt Chamberlain. What a character, on and off the court. There is a magical energy at a game, eh? Like this is the big boys, serious business, and the drama of the battle rises to the audience as the players flow, as a team, up and down the court, under the bright lights. It is not five guys against five, it is the whole of the team moving in unison. Like a dance, but with power. Spectacular. I still shoot hoops in the driveway, where I started as a boy. Only then I had to shovel show off the driveway to play. Here I just have to repair the backboard after typhoons.

        • sonny says:

          PS – The Baltimore Bullets were my #2 team.

    • Joe America says:

      Man, you should be bloggin this stuff. Such great perspectives from a true global man. Point #4 made me laugh. It confirms what I wrote that Nationalists are an aberration. I think nobody understands Belgians, which is why Hercule Poirot always struggled so . . .

      • josephivo says:

        Why would you want to understand us in a world where packaging is more important than content? (Mariano help to correct my English…)

        Why would you like to understand me when often I do not understand myself? (Late effects of too much Belgian beer? – but we love wine, number one champagne drinkers in the world and this year the best whiskey was Belgian -)

        • Joe America says:

          You forgot the waffles. Mariano will be along soon, I’m sure . . .

          • josephivo says:

            “Belgian waffles” is an American invention I guess, nothing similar exists in Belgium. We have the most popular Brussels waffles or totally different the Liege waffles, some other cities have their less famous varieties, but the Belgian waffles as sold here I only saw in the States. (Waffles can also be a generic term, covering all types, and then I agree. Different occasions require different waffles, but always sweet, on their own, others with a generous coating, some always warm, others always cold)

        • Pinoyputi says:

          No offense intended. But is was an assist and i couldn’t help but score. We came from the same roots, the netherlands. Only divided for political reasons, to keep control over the French after the Napoleon wars. True, us Dutch, tend to have an overdosis of confidence which is by some Belgians regarded as arrogant. But we do love the Belgian neigbours, their waffels and of course their beer.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. On item 1: Walking ATM machine?! Ahaha! That’s the best description of a Westerner with a mail-order Filipina bride.

      1.1. It strikes me: in cases like this, does True Love exists? I would say yes, the possibility is high if the mutual dependency allows for space and individual growth.

      1.1. To avoid stereotyping, I know of at least one case in Australia where an Aussie husband was not exactly a walking ATM and the Filipina wife — who was murdered but not by the husband — worked at McDonalds. In this case, I think the sheer chance (a) to escape from the cauldron of 100 million people and (b) to improve the gene pool are the major incentives.

      2. On items 3 and 6: The perspective of an outsider looking in brings enormous clarity to the idiosyncrasies of a closed group. This perspective – or unwarranted intrusion as the case may be 😉 — should afford insiders a great opportunity for self-assessment. Case in point: Joseph and his coat of many cultures and this blog.

      3. On item 4: I think that for an individual, cultures exist in layers. The bottom layer would be that of the clan and tribe, say, Ilocano. Above that would be the religious culture, say, Methodist. One step up would be the statal culture, Filipino. And at the top, would be world culture as of a particular time, the Zeitgeist. Interspersed between the layers would be multiple sublayers of cultures that the individual is exposed to, such as to name a few:

      o Entertainment culture – Hollywood, Bollywood, movies and TV shows
      o Technological culture – computers, laptops, mobile phones and the accompanying software
      o Work culture – the professional culture the individual works in
      o Scientific culture – Big Bang Theory, quantum mechanics. The term for this is episteme.

      4. On item 5: Before the nation-state there was the city-state. The trend seems to be towards regional constructs (EU, ASEAN, etc.). Time will tell.

      4.1. The love – this term is too broad – for a particular construct that is primarily geographical and is related to the concepts of “ownership” and “commons”, which is the “land or resources belonging to or affecting the whole of a community.”

      4.2. This love may be a tenuous thing. Nevertheless the love is real.

      4.3. The distinction between patriotism and nationalism that Manuel has offered is well made. There are further nuances to be made?

      4.3.1. Are the Reds nationalists? It may be said that their desire for power is not for the nation but for their ideology.

      4.3.2. Are corrupt politicians nationalists? I believe we may agree that they are neither patriots nor nationalists.

      4.3.3. Were the Magnificent 12 patriots? They may have been defensive culturally, but what about militarily?

      4.3.4. Is Edward Snowden a patriot? He is devoted to America and what he thought was the particular way of life that it offered. Did he betray the country or just the security apparatus? Is the security apparatus devoted to the country but not to the particular way of life envisioned by the Founding Fathers?

      5. On item 6: “Perception are facts” translates to my dictum “Truth is subjective.”

      Thanks, Joseph.

      • Joe America says:

        1. Mfg in USA. 1.1 It can, or it cannot, like any “ordinary” relationship. 2. Yep. 4.3.1 Monday’s blog. 4.3.2 They are scoundrels. Cretins. 4.3.3 Interesting question. Blog it, eh? 4.3.4 Ideology confronts the pragmatic. Snowden places a lot of lives at risk for an ideal. With Republicans in control of Congress, we shall remain an open information State and planet. No problem for the innocent, generally. The founding fathers had no idea about this particular kind of future . . .

        Thanks Edgar and Joseph

      • josephivo says:

        Your 1- I met the full range, from pure gold diggers to mutual deep eternal love (as in all other marital arrangements everywhere), but I yet have to meet a case where the Filipina was the provider.

        Your 3- I don’t think that it is in layers it’s more chaotic. Not an onion, but halo-halo. What group-feeling is expressed depends on the situation, when Paquiao wins I feel Filipino too and a fellow sportsman, when Napoles is on the front page I feel as a highly ethical European with an urge to condemn all evil in the Philippines.

        Your 4- A difficult one. More individualism, the core family, the world reduced to consumption, marketeers need spheres they can control… Group feeling are getting less important for survival… Substitutes are abstract concepts as “nation”, identification with “products” as marketable celebrities or products. Consumption defines human life, whatever possible has to be given an economic value, non-marketable aspects of live loose importance. Higher efficiencies in creating value due to more interdependencies are valuable, especially for lazy people like me, but interdependencies to restrict freedom are not. And nations mainly create borders. By the way, borders are essential for rent seekers too.

        Your 5- For me truth as a universal category does not exist. Truth is model dependent. All people have different reasons to select/build their model of reality and thus truth. Perception as opposite to fact depends on the selected model too.

        PS: Note that I followed your numbers as homage to the inventor of numbering as a communication enhancer. When no ranking is involved I used to think in bullet points, but that suppresses structure and hinders communication. Is it also thanks to this numbering that you can store, retrieve and thus expand your immeasurable wisdom?

        • edgar lores says:

          1. 🙂 3. 😦 🙂 4. 😐 5. 😦 P.S. 🙂

        • 1. I have. Look around you in Bohol. A lot of Filipinas I know are the breadwinners in their families. There is a socialization factor involved. Young girls in the Philippines are often socialized to be responsible and boys, not so much. I personally know some Filipinas here in the United States who have disabled husbands and they chose to stay in their marriage not only as caregivers but also as providers.

          5. This should explain #1. One’s model of truth and reality resides in their sphere of interest/influence. It is obvious that my sphere differs from yours.

          • josephivo says:

            1. Yap, I have seen many lazy Filipino husbands, I also met very loving Filipinas caring for their disabled Kano partner but living mainly from his pension or insurance. All my respect for the Filipina providers for their Kano husbands, but they probably are the exceptions and I didn’t have the luck to meet them yet.

            And thanks for adjusting my over- simplified macho statement.

            5. Yes, because of it everybody’s model is individual, but I still believe that there might be ample overlap in your model of reality and mine. Proof? We both value the same blog.

            • Juana Pilipinas says:

              1. “I also met very loving Filipinas caring for their disabled Kano partner but living mainly from his pension or insurance.”

              Could it be a matter of economics? A Filipina in the Philippines does not see a reason to have an outside employment because the disabled partner’s person/insurance is more than enough to give them a good life so she can focus her energy in caregiving and managing the household? While the Filipina in the United States have to provide to because her husband’s disability payment barely cover the mortgage, car payment and insurance, utilities, groceries and miscellaneous expenses? I do not think Filipinas working outside the household are exceptional. For some, it is a choice. For some, it is a necessity.

              5. You are right. We do.

              • josephivo says:

                “for some it is a necessity”, yap. sometimes to support their core family, more often to support their extended family in the Philippines. In the last situation I admire the sacrifice of the donors, but I can not understand the ease of mind of the receivers.

            • edgar lores says:

              Ahaha, I fell into your trap too. Lucky that we have Juana and Cha to check our machismo. Goes to show how easy it is for us to fall into prejudice due to generalizations. Thank you, ladies.

              Re 5. I would still equate the observation that “perception is fact” to “truth is subjective.”

              5.1. One might infer from the latter observation that the opposite of subjective truth, and that is objective truth, can be established — meaning truth as a universal category exists. Not so. Another inference might simply be that objective truth is unknowable.

              5.2. I will not deny that I still try to arrive at truth as a universal category in that I have tried to synthesize models. A Theory of Everything (TOE) is an attractive proposition.

              5.2. Granting that truth is model-dependent, there is always an observer — always — who chooses a particular model (or set of models). A model cannot exist on its own; It is an object of consciousness. And consciousness is an attribute of the subjective observer.

              5.2.1. And while the entities and interactions within a model may be coherent, they are not necessarily so in every instance.

              5.2.2. Then again, models are based on subjective assumptions, observations, measurements and conclusions.

              5.3. An interesting discussion would be if truth was taken to represent values and not facts. Are the self-evident truths of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” absolute?

              • josephivo says:

                5.1. :-)
                5.2. A Theory of Everything (TOE) or a theory based on model(s?) with the least, easiest to understand – and sell – set of axioms. Such as: no internal contradictions, (=? no need for miracles), predictive and elegant.
                5.2. (bis) :-)
                5.2.1. see axioms
                5.2.2. 🙂 
                5.3. Many adopt models without a set of axioms. They accept what “authority” told them to be the model. Later they justify their model – calling it truth – with “universal” values, a circle reasoning.
                5.3.1 “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”: long live the innovations brought by the freemason founding fathers, justifications based on reason, not on dogmas.

    • sonny says:

      @ Josephivo & @ Pinoyputi

      Filipinos are polyglots and the Philippines is an entrepot. The Dutch should relate to the latter, Belgians the former. Both should relate strongly to the Philippines and Filipinos really.

      “Belgium exported either priests or soldiers” — my uncle

      Filipinos got the priest part. CICM religious and ICM, FMM nuns and Belgian founded and funded Catholic schools: St Louis U in Baguio, St Theresa’s schools in Cebu, Baguio, Ilocos, Paco Cath School.

      “The Dutch got and lost Indonesia” — sonny

      For my money, I like the Dutch too. Historically, they traded more than they colonized. To this Ilocanos can relate. It seems like Ilocanos practiced diaspora before the other regions did. Dutch is the reason I fill my car with Shell gas as long as they have the right price per gallon. 🙂

    • sonny says:

      PS. My favorite theology prof was a Dutch Jesuit. I still remember his name, Fr. Verhaar, SJ

  14. Pinoyputi says:

    Actually, until around 1880 there were no Pilipino’s. There was Pampangenia, Tagalog, Ilongo, or someone from any province. The Spanish used it to fight one another.

    • cha says:

      Those called Filipinos during our Spanish colonial period were actually the Philippine-born offsprings of the the Spanish living in the Philippines. The rest of us from Malay stock would have been called Indios. Further down the totem pole were the dark-skinned Negritos.

    • sonny says:

      True. There is a country called Philippines, courtesy of Spain and America.

  15. dick o'rosary says:

    For once I totally agree with you Mr. Joe “so-called” America especially with your statement:

    “It is natural for people to move, to explore, to seek. It is a part of the human condition. In that sense, nationhood is irregular, or unnatural. NATIONALISM is the aberration.”

    Human history has always been shaped by great migrations and explorations. Evidence of great human movements are can be seen in the languages that we speak: This is why languages descending from a common Indo-European stock are spoken not only in their original heartlands of the Caucasus but are heard from Greenland to India. Explorations in modern times by the English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Belgians and Germans have spread their language to the New World and the depths of Africa and Asia.

    The Austronesians (Malays and Polynesians), of which Filipinos derive much of their genetic stock were also natural-born seafarers–migration is in the Filipino’s blood. Next to the Indo-European languages, the second most widely spoken language Family is Austronesian–which can be heard from Madagascar to Hawaii.

    Stories of travel are replete in the Filipino’s national epics. The epic of Maragtas tells of the ten Bornean Datus who sought to escape persecution from the [Evil] Bornean Overlord sailed the seas to look for a new home, eventually landing in Panay and onwards to Luzon and Visayas. Some linguists cite the fact that there are some people in Sabah who call themselves “Bisaya” as evidence of this migration (though the languages are so different that a large scale migration out of Sabah into the Visayas can actually be ruled out).

    More recent internal migrations show Filipinos are always looking for new homes and displacing other tribes in the process. This is what happened in Mindanao, hence partly the cause of cultural strife there. Linguistic evidence also shows migrations from Leyte to Panay, with most Warays there settling in the Iloilo coast displacing the original Kinaray-a speaking Western Visayans and who’s language evolved from Waray to what is now known as Hiligaynon/Ilonggo. These people can hardly be considered unpatriotic.

    Sometimes, migration is an official government policy. Read the case of Villavicencio vs Lukban. Its an ancient case lost to history of prostitutes being deported to Davao. The recent rash of OFWs began as an official policy in the Marcos era as is the “colonization” of Mindanao. So it is just completely hypocritical to call someone unpatriotic for “skeedadling” outta here.

    • sonny says:

      Funny you should mention the migratory propensity of humans, I imagine the nomadic Indians of No. America, the Ilocanos in Luzon, Mindanao, Hawaii & California, the many migrations of Africans across the continent.

      And on a more “scholarly note,” my high school classmates and I are now discussing the origins of the Malay settlements of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao. We have on the table the migration models of Bellwood, Solheim et al. We are doing this for purely selfish reason – to stave off Alzheimer’s syndrome from our aging brains. I am proposing that we first try to understand their models as deeply as we can (the models use the arcane vocabulary of their disciplines – Ethno-Linguistics, Archeology and Anthropology) and ruminate on them using laymen’s terms. Wish us luck

      • dick o'rosary says:

        Good luck on your endeavor. I hope you write something about it, I would love to read about it.

      • sonny says:

        @ Dick & Cha

        I might have spoken too soon, i.e. bit more than I can realistically chew. Although the question of the origins of Malay languages piqued my interest way back during the Philippine centennial (1998) and propelled by the Field Museum of Natural History studies and biodiversity initiatives, I discovered many parallel studies have been going on half a world away formulated by Peter Bellwood of Australia National University at Canberra.

        In 1998, I latched on to the question of the origin of the Malay race. Comparing the civilizations of the 100 Malay kingdoms, the empires Majapahit and Sri-Vijaya and also the Chinese dynasties, WHEN and HOW did these begin, ascend, fluorish, propagate and then decline up to the coming of the European travelers?

        And so I found the pervasive presence and prevalence of the Malay race and since I presumed to belong to this race, my own search for Malay identity brought me to the historical mists of the Malay archipelago and the question of origins.

        I conclude, albeit temporarily, there is already a big busload of scholars and non-scholars pursuing with varying supplies of information the same questions I have. I suspect that both of you have bought the same bus tickets. I googled “OUT OF TAIWAN” and got back the links. This is where I’m presently wading through to get a decent set of cogent information on this question of origins. Would love to hear from you.

        @ Joe

        I know I’m going off topic and I’ll stop when you say so. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          @sonny, I appreciate the consideration. There is no such thing as “off topic” in this blog, so long as it is an honest intellectual endeavor, and not aimed at diminishing someone. Your discussion is most interesting. “Roots”, Asian sourced . . . Please do carry on . . .

        • josephivo says:

          Sonny, fascinating history. I got a lot out of “Path of Origins” editor Purissima Benitez-Johannot.

          • sonny says:

            @ josephivo

            (I am assuming there is a lot of Belgian in you 🙂 ) If true, I do admit I have a personal bias to the Belgians of my childhood (Baguio & the Ilocos).

            I shall look to my local library stops on “Path of Origins.” Thanks.

        • sonny says:

          @ Joe

          Thank you!

          @ Dick

          Thank you, too. I will follow your lead on that topic. This is such fun. You can’t imagine the leaps of associations I’m thinkinf of. 🙂 I’m at the Yunnan plateau.

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, Dick. I figured if I wrote enough articles, I’d eventually get to one you could agree with. 🙂 Nice picture of people on the move that you paint.

  16. macspeed says:

    @Joe Am

    Those who commented by citizenship or by the color of the skin are Racist, they can go to hell. You are far better than those who migrated to US of A and pay taxes to uncle Sam yet are trying to meddle in Philippine society, have they not thrown away their citizenship, well to me that’s is agreeable if base on the personal requirement such as cheap food and good living style.

    A long time ago, people migrated to and fro because there is too much food, people are tribal and racist during the old age. That is history and uncivilized. Todays life, most of the immigrants are 95% have finished high school at least. But the Racist are those people with an attitude of an animal, barbaric man, cave man and however you call them.

    Dual citizenship are being practice by those who wanted to regain rights of being a Filipino. which is a good option. These immigrants who did a dual citizenship are having the civilized framed of thinking….

    • Joe America says:

      I hope you got to read Juana’s excerpts from a video featuring Elizabeth Lesser. She is the ultimate humanist, calling on adversaries to lay down their weapons. That is hard to do in an arena of great mistrust. I’m reminded of an exercise we did in junior high school, really dealing with math. If you take 22 people in a room, chances are good that two of them will have the same day of birth. It yanks the mind, but that’s the way the probabilities work out. I tend to think that if we take any group of people, maybe that same 22, we will find at least two racists, or two totalitarians, or two crooks, and if they are migrants, two people who are jerks. But most, I think, are good people.

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