Sunday, October 31, 2010

A One Less Generation

"I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich"
~quoted from a M*A*S*H episode.


Such sweet and mushy, unfortunately, Lester Burnham is dead too late thus to believe that it should have been worth saving his dysfunctional family. To this very day, family still is the basic social institution, the more founded and solid it is, the better the society where it belongs. But what really makes a family? Honestly, I believe it is not flesh and blood that makes us fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, but the heart that endures and sacrifice no matter what distance comes between us. It is the unmoved willingness to share that profound, deeply felt importance of being cared for and caring for the rest of its members.


"While at some point one must go and all other things may change, we start and end with the family."

Meet me. I am no father of a family. I am a son who assumes beyond a father's role in keeping my family more than surviving. I am an OFW, one of the twelve millions who considered the call of the good life as the deep seated cause of my exodus. In as much as others would hate it to work abroad and leave their family behind, I have embraced this endeavor two years ago with an open mind and a brave heart. Being a single and able guy, it wasn’t much of a drama quitting my job in the Philippines and instead getting a tourist visa to Dubai to look for work. When my parents took me to the airport, I wasn’t at all consumed by any feelings of separation anxiety knowing my parents had enough going through. I have tried to show them I was leaving because better earning opportunities abroad would mean better life for all of us and they bought it in tears.

For eleven months in a year, my family is sonless in me. My absence, though, hoping aside from hearts growing fonder, is making our house grows grander, my other siblings' education secure and all their essential needs fulfilled. No more empty fridge, no more uncelebrated birthdays, no more powerless nights, no more threat of property foreclosure. When my family comes to diner, I know one vacant seat in the dining table doesn’t make them less of a family. One less face in the family picture taken during my father's last birthday is making them realized that every bit and pieces of comfort and financial relief represent sweat and blood of hard toil of a son and brother. Good thing to know at least, my family knows how to value the sacrifices I am making and never letting my hard work comes to vain.

Sacrifices – that’s what basically defined an OFW's beginning and probably, its end. The void he's leaving in the family and the emptiness he's carrying in his heart are scarpels that stab through the soul. When I came to Dubai for the very first time in 2007, much less of a firm OFW conviction, it only took me four months to realize that I couldn’t afford to live outside of my acustomed habits. I came back to the Philippines with an empty pocket but with a gleeful heart. A couple of months later, I realized that I've acted a little selfish when I decided to quit my job in Dubai only because I was far away from the things that would make me happy. I have failed to calculate the impact of my haste and hurry, the wasted application cost, the lost opportunity when I quit my job with San Miguel and the salary I would have earned in Dubai which could very well sustain of all of my family's growing needs. I made up for my mistakes by pursuing Dubai again, this time with an objective, determination and a heart willing to sacrifice at all cost.

And my long journey to resilience begun. After finding a decent job that would be make me a millionaire in few years, the econominc crisis struck and my dreams fell into pieces like sands scattered all over. For eight months, I was desperately jobless. I could have just went back home and worked again in the Philippines but I chose Dubai, to linger, to hope, with pain, with determination, without my family's knowledge. My mother's heart was broken. My family have cried beyond my disappearance and their own helplessness. There was no remittance for a long period, no calls for the longest time, no news about what had happened to a son and brother. June 2009, I phoned my mother after five months that I've gone hiding. Still jobless, apologetic, I told her "I have nothing right now". She cried joyfully and said " You have us, your family". Her words has revived my spirit and on the same month, I finally got a job.

For the past two years that I've been working far from my family's eyes, I'd say I have felt to be loved more by my family than when they see me as often. Maybe they're blessed enough to internalize that I am doing these sacrifices more for them than for myself. The last time I went for vacation, I almost didn't recognize our house with all its bling bling and my other siblings stories that they got good grades at school, like an assurance that everything I am working hard for is being spent on something fruitful. The impact would’ve been different when I have a family of my own. Lucky me that so far that I don’t have to bear that more excruciating ordeal of having kids grow away from my sight and guidance, relying on padala for sustenance and remembering my face only through that electronic photo album. I do seldom call, text, chat or communicate with my family on a regular basis, nonetheless, it doesn’t change anything with regards to my family's orientation with me and vice versa. My absence is absolved not only by my monthly padala, or my Christmas balikbayan box, but with my sincerest commitment to stay with them as long as I need to and that’s what keep us together – love and faith.

My family is sonless in me while I am gone but there's a sun that shines every day. I am with it. Unfortunately for the rest of the OFWs,it isn't always the case. A family can miss a son but it spells a difference when it is the parent who's absent in the dining table, fastfoods substituting home cooked diner or having another person take care of the kids. A UNICEF commissioned study estimates that one out of four Filipino kids have at least one parent working abroad. While the unprecedented exodus of the Filipinos and their remittances are what keeping the local economy from collapsing, there is now a growing sentiment that trading global dollars for generation of families raised on cellphone minutes and facebook/skype/twitter is a hefty price of progress.


"No amount of money can buy a "true light of the home."

The notion that being able to feed your family means leaving the Philippines is a message not every one will just simply buy. But if only most people, particularly the children of OFWs can have the slightest idea of the difficult situations their parents face, they would have loved their parents more than condemned them for their parental shortcomings. Educating the children whose parent works abroad can be the first step in letting them understand that scrubbing toilets is never fun. Not everyone is faced with the heartbreaking choice to leave their family, but OFWs did so that better life, better education, beautiful house, life insurance and just about everything for fun and pleasure for their families can be covered.
Without a doubt, OFW families live a more decent life than the average Filipino families whose members stay in the same umbrella. The new generation of sonless, motherless or fatherless Filipino families, maybe be the target of some moral and social scrutiny, but who are we to judge what we think is best for someone else. But this is not to say that having an OFW in the family justifies absence as an excuse in raising a disrupted family with deliquent children.
Each has a responsiblity in this never ending quest for bright future, it's not just the parents, the children, but importantly the government that profits most from the sacrifices of the OFWs. If only international calls can be made more affordable, at least children can call their parents and talk longer and discuss matters that goes beyond that Western Union Remittance Number. How about schooling, or love, or ambitions or a day in school. If only government can produce enough competetive local jobs, then parents or sons don't have to work abroad to trade their children's development for dollars.

Ending this cycle of emigration isn't likely to happen very soon. Not until local opportunities are made available, the saga of diaspora of sons, daughters, mothers and fathers will continue and so are the tales of parentless families, broken marriages, children crossing the wrong path and so on and so forth. But as they say, the family that prays together stays together. No matter what distance separates the families, as long as there is faith and love, nothing should come in between and the family will remain strongly founded as they face a new tomorrow.

27 comments:

  1. I admire your eloquence and passion you have displayed through your blog. I find grace and strength in this post which resonate the present theme of PEBA 2010 on Strengthening the OFW Families and I personally invite you to share this post and join PEBA 2010 as your official entry as Nominee to inspire our fellow OFWs and their families across the world.

    God bless you and your family.

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  2. PEBA 2010 entry mo ba ito, Chico? Napakagaling mo magsulat. Sana hindi mo na isasara itong Deconstructing Dubai.


    (Hindi ko mabuksan ang blog mo hanggang kahapon, ngayon lang... kaya di ko pa naidagdag sa blog list ko. Ngayon gagawin ko na. Ang comment mo, na-approve ko na.)

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  3. @The Pope

    Thanks Pope! Actually po im still thinking if i should join PEBA this year. This post seems to have some resemblance with this years PEBA theme, glad there's still some time to think before end of nomination. siguro may baguhin lang ako konti at pwede na.

    salama po ulit sa suporta.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @RJ

    nope, di pa ko napagdesisyunan.
    pero baka pwde nga. hmmm. konting polishing pa siguro at pwede na hehehe.

    salamat sa muling pag add.

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  5. one of the best entries I have read! keep on inspiring us and the people of the world

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  6. grabeh! sumali ka nga! tsk.tsk..hindi ka talaga nakikinig sa akin...buti na lang. :-)

    dahil napakaganda nitong entry mo- its content, presentation, message at ang kabuuan nito!

    naku naku, mukhang magkakaroon ako ng kaibigan na PEBA top blogger soon...yey! (hahaha, excited na ako!)

    Goodluck sa'yo! God bless you and your family.

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  7. When Pope told me you have an entry, and this is just now, I ask Chico who? Oh, long lost blogger friend, how are you? Thank you for your support to PEBA. Thank you for joining us again. Goodluck!

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  8. thanks, kiko at yellow bells. goodluck sa tin.

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  9. @animus

    oo naman sumali ako, sayang ang opportunity to share and inspire.

    more than anything, di ba kelangan natin maka reach out to more, kaya nga tayo nagbloblogs eh para in our own little ways eh makatulong tayo sa iba. kahit na sa panulat lang,

    at thanks sa positive comment, alam ko naman isa ka sa mga modern critics ko ngaun, glad you like it.

    at sana rin, kahit kalahati ng hula mo eh magkatotoo.

    hehehe

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Mr. Thoughtskoto

    hello po mr kenjie. yeah its been a long time. pero im back to share my stories.

    salamat din po for opening this kind of opportunity to reach out and be heard. kudos to you and all the people behind PEBA.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Mr. Thoughtskoto

    hello po mr kenjie. yeah its been a long time. pero im back to share my stories.

    salamat din po for opening this kind of opportunity to reach out and be heard. kudos to you and all the people behind PEBA.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very well written. There's great power in this post as it very well demonstrates PEBA's 2010 theme.

    Good luck to you and wishing you all the best!

    ReplyDelete
  13. hi...instant fan here of your blog...you made me cry lol...good luck to you so far one of my favorite entry of PEBA

    ReplyDelete
  14. @mightydacz

    thanks mightydacz for the comment. good luck to me and to all the peba nominees

    ReplyDelete
  15. Congrats for being the best blog entry :)

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  16. Congratulations Oslek for winning two awards! Go UAE

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  17. galing mo pala sumulat! keep on inspiring. nice work! (good work tito sam- joy) Congrats!

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  18. CONGRATULATIONS! for winning the 2010 PEBA.

    I really don’t know how I got there but I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you that voted – it wasn’t so much about the title or the trophy, but the amazing community here that took the time to vote for me.

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  19. well said!
    Congrats.. i have a son too in dubai, though you have different reasons in going away for another country, the bottom line is always the same... we surely missing those love ones who are far away from us, but it doesn't make us a lesser FAMILY.
    Merry Christmas and take care always. God bless!

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  20. Congratulations for winning in PEBA. After reading your blog entry, I agree with the judges that you deserve this award. Keep on shining as an OFW.

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  21. congrats bro! truly an award winning masterpiece..very rarely you can read something like this these days - an article with a heart, exuding emotions between every lines. Fan mo na ako simula ngayon :)

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  22. Musandam Dibba is one of the best thing in dubai where you can have fun with dinner..

    ReplyDelete
  23. Superb Article thanks for share and one thing more if you have confused about visa services, immigration services and any kind of visa then go through this link visas wizard immigration service’s its so informative for you.

    ReplyDelete