Saturday, February 25, 2012

Give Love a Bad Name

How do you measure love? By the grandest of gift you can give? Or the length of inseparability that equates to forever? Would you be willing to catch a grenade for someone else or willing to donate your kidney to save a person’s life? There are countless ways to manifest love just as many as the stars in the universe and as many as the people hopefully wishing to find it. For OFW, the measurement of love need not to be pretentious and over the top, far nearer than what you read in paperback novels or see in any of Shakespeare’s big screen adaptations. It’s straight and simple, in the name of love; we leave our families’ back home, travel halfway across the globe and enslave ourselves with work so that come monthly, we can send money to support their ever growing financial needs.

Oh well,it's not really that simple. Before someone could claim loud he’s a new hero, a multitude of drama takes place back home, issues with finances, relationships that maybe broken, luck and risks of misfortune, ego and a lot more affect our choices to leave or not. To give up all these in exchange of an opportunity to earn better and improve our lives, may fall short of a heroism tag in its real sense, but nonetheless love. An OFW’s life is built around love. Everything we do, all the beautiful things we’re planning, all the dreams we aspire to fulfil are fuelled by love. That’s why it is so frustrating and embarrassing when some fellowmen commit misdemeanours, unscrupulous acts and offensive behaviours against other nationalities because it leaves a bad impression and unwanted wrong signal on other OFWs who only have good things to offer.

Take this case. I have Filipino officemates in my previous company. After many secured few units of iPhone thru a company facilitated offer with a local telephone company and to be paid in instalment, some of them went for vacation and never came back, leaving their unsettled financial obligation as bad debts to the telephone company. Now, the telephone company is not enthusiastic in giving a new promotion to my previous company as a whole because of the bad record that our fellow Filipinos have crafted.

This of course, is nothing comparable in scale to those Kabayan who have absconded and left Dubai after securing million pesos worth of bank loans and credit card purchases. They have availed themselves of easy money, almost as a form of stealing, in expense of our name. Now, many banks in the UAE have tightened their loan policies especially to Filipinos thinking that the same thing might happen again.

Money doesn’t always have to be involved to malign our name; bad behaviours cause a greater casualty. Last week, a Dutch officemate of mine narrated in the office how he and his friends were taken by a foreign taxi driver to a Filipino bar after they asked him where is the best place to relax and enjoy. Judging from the driver’s knowledge about the place, the bar seems to be a famous venue for Filipinas offering sexual services. Inside the bar, he recounted, were lots of people and Filipinas welcoming them to “whore lands”. Though he related to us how good the Filipino stage performers were, it’s the extra services provided by some Filipinas that actually surprised him more, surprised in a sense that he isn’t expecting Kabayans to stoop down that level. For our part, it is easy to defend that those things are inevitable and probably inherent of all races but deep inside, it is a little embarrassing.

Filipino household helpers are one of our top imports. Though besieged by countless abuses and maltreatment, they shine more on the merits of their love for the families they take care of. But the Pinay maid of one of the British managers in the office somehow fell short of those legendary expectations. He fired his Filipina maid few months back due to issues of dishonesty. He didn’t elaborate on the reason and to replace her was his immediate logical option. Unfortunately, he told me during our meeting two weeks ago that his newly recruited maid is no different. He caught her many times talking over the phone for extended hours. When they are away, she uses their computer to communicate with her family back home. The manager actually wouldn’t mind her doing all those things, at the very least he want is, for her to ask permission and take care of the house and the children first among other things. His retelling was something that caught me tight lipped and instead of uttering something in defence of our beloved household helpers, I just told him jokingly that he’s one of the unlucky.

Filipino is a brand that has already positioned itself as one of the best in the world. We may have some unconsciousness pronouncing the letter “f” and “p” and “v” and “b” in the same manner, but we make up by the love and care we show and the dedication and commitment we share in our work and the people around us. Yeah, nobody’s perfect but I guess that’s something each OFW should try to aspire, not necessarily as an individual being but as a worker, as a professional. We should remember that here outside the Philippines, we represent not just our birth names, but more importantly, the “Filipino” name, our dreams and our love.


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