I am happy that my old article on working in Europe is the most commented post in this month’s issue of the Pinoy Expats e-zine. It just goes to show how our heroic Overseas Filipino Workers are ambivalent about the issue of whether to stay or not to stay in the Philippines.
Before Haloscan loses some of my readers’ comments, allow me to reprint some of the most thought-provoking ones here:
Tatz: Like you did, I left the country not for my own selfish reasons, but to benefit my parents and more. If it is God’s will, I will settle in my country for good – and yes, I will share the benefits I gained.
Vangie: i’m one of those few who have found a new home. although i still love the philippines dearly and would grab at any chance to visit it, i now consider san jose, ca. my home and believe i would stay here my whole life. i have found my love and many new friends here, and most of my family’s here. i think it helps that this area is so warm (weather-wise and people-wise) and there are many filipinos. i am grateful to the opportunities given me that i wouldn’t get in manila.
Noli Buhay: I feel at home here in Sweden.You should have stayed that long. More problems and solutions would have been along the way. And a more fruitfull story from you.But I have to accept, I also wish to be home soon!
Girlie Topacio: I also share the same sentiments. I am here in Germany only for a job assignment but living and working here is really tough. It made me re-think of my plans to really work abroad. And it made me realize that we should also learn to appreciate what we have. I just hope that our country will prosper someday so Filipinos will no longer think of leaving the country for greener pastures.
Jojie: i share vangie’s view. having already spent over 25 years of my life in the u.s., i don’t see myself going back to the phils. for me, home is not a place. it’s where the heart is and in my case, in sunny la-la-land of southern california.
Sidney: I think it is nice that every country is different. That there is cold and hot weather, snow and heat, cities and countryside, black and white, good and bad, rich and poor, grey and colorful, seas and deserts, blond and black, thin and fat, etc.Don’t give me a world without differences.The more people I meet the more I enrich my (inner)life.There is beauty everywhere… you need to learn to see it.That being said, I understand your feelings. I know many Filipinas(os) in Belgium and I recognize the feeling you describe.I am happily married to a Filipina. We stayed for 10 years in Belgium. Now it is my turn to stay 10 years in the Philippines. After that we may start a new 10 year cycle in Belgium or maybe go somewhere else…Carpe Diem (wherever you are…) Life is too short.
What can I say? It is hard when every friend you know is thinking of migrating to the First World and you’re made to feel weird because you’re content with where you are, in a chaotic dump that is the Third World.
I can’t help but admire the guts of our countless kababayans who left everything they had in the Philippines to start life anew as immigrants in the Land of Milk and Honey. Without such courage, the great civilizations of the world wouldn’t have started.
On the other hand, I grieve for thousands of our countrymen who have to leave their families behind in order to search for greener pastures as OFWs. It’s a pity that our economy cannot give them the extra ten thousand or so increase in their salaries and in so doing, they have to go home to the sorry sight of broken homes and dysfunctional children. I grieve for them because I cannot imagine leaving my three young kids for that field of pasture, no matter how green. Luckily for me, we can still live decently on my workingman’s wages. I guess this only shows that the Philippines is going down but not totally hopeless.
Life is a series of choices and my choice now will not be the same tomorrow. However, it will perhaps take a life-changing event to make me pack my bags for a better life abroad. Here are some reasons why am staying in Manila for now:
* My network of contacts is here, my work connections, everything. With my style of driving, I cannot possibly evade a traffic ticket in California whereas in Manila, I get away with it, not just once but every time. How vicious no?
* Admit it but the way of life is still laid-back in Manila. Cities and villages in some of the First World countries I’ve seen are just about dead at 8 p.m. That’s because they’re already nicely-settled in their well-appointed houses around that time. Our Manila is not even half as boring. It thrives with life 24/7.
* You can have luxurious indulgences here for a pittance. Manicure at $1, full-body massage at $5, foot spa at $3, etc. Not to mention imported goods from such countries as Thailand and China which makes shopping till you drop such a breeze.
* The availability of househelp. Their quality has deteriorated to an all-time low and are getting to be too ambitious for their own good. But for a working mom like me, they’re remain a necessity nonetheless.
* The icky feeling that this is home sweet home, warts and all. It’s something I can’t explain. No matter how you try to tell me about your new five-bedroom house with an entertainment den, your new 50-inch flatscreen TV, your Florida vacation, great shopping at Nordstrom’s etc., I am still rooted in the country of my birth for some stupid reason.
To go back to the question of: “what is your concept of a better life?,” I believe there is no right or wrong answer. After all, your idea of happiness may not be my idea of happiness and that’s just about all.