Thursday, December 6, 2007

Season for Thanksgiving

Below is my article for

Since after the elections, I’ve had to spend a lot of time in our clinic in Oklahoma. Totally unforeseen was the medical leave that one of our physicians had to take. It hasn’t been bad at all, as a matter of fact I appreciate more than ever the many advantages that can be found in another country. Since the majority of the readers of this publication are Filipinos living abroad and in the spirit of the Christmas season, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect upon the many blessings we all need to be grateful for.

We wouldn’t be living as foreigners in various lands if we could attain the same benefits in our own country. That was certainly a no-brainer of a statement. Why choose loneliness, prejudice, alienation and most importantly time away from family when you can live well in your own country? The reason 10 million of us are scattered somewhere in this planet is because the sacrifice of living our lives away from our country far outweighs the essential need to provide for our own immediate families.

We choose to live in countries with security, cleanliness, educational and job opportunities. We prefer to live in societies where corruption is not as endemic as what we have in our own country, where we don’t need to waste so much time engaged in petty, unproductive politics. We don’t miss the monstrous traffic that converts a 2 mile trip into an hours journey.

Not many realize that the ever-shrinking middle class in the Philippines is heavily taxed because the poor can’t pay and the very rich always find ways to minimize their share. Whenever we work abroad, we pay our rightful taxes diligently not just because it is the law but because we see the taxes we pay go into projects and investments that serve the common good.

Filipinos who return for Christmas are generally the newly-arrived or the recently-retired. Either you haven’t caught on or you’ve accepted the reality that whenever you go back, relatives and friends seem to crawl out of the woodwork, eager for a small piece of the bounty. But who can blame those whom we have left behind? With all the good news about the thriving economy and the unbridled construction boom, all you need to really do is look around and you will understand for sure that trickle-down economics does not apply in the Philippines.

According to the government, there are 3.67 million malnourished Filipino children. There is one physician for every 26,000 Filipinos. Schoolrooms are utilized in 3 shifts. Potable water continues to be a hand-delivered commodity to the majority of the people. Even the US Ambassador needs to bring her own stash of toilet paper for her out of town travels.

It’s quite easy to forget the living conditions in our country when you’re far away from it. The moment we forget about the hardships our countrymen left behind confront daily is the moment we lose our connection to our country.

And this connection must never be severed. We must always be conscious that we will never be able to totally purge from our souls the deeply imprinted genetic codes that make us Filipinos. Try hard to deny your origins and you end up becoming dysfunctional.

This is no plea for massive repatriation. Just keep in mind that for as long as you don’t stop thinking about the millions left behind and you don’t stop thinking about how even the tiny bit that we give back goes a very long way, you never left the Philippines.


Anonymous said...

Just like you
, I am also a physician that left our country more than 10 yers ago.

I still have fond memories of how it used to be. I never stop dreaming of one day returning to the Philippines and staying there for good.

I always thought that when I come back, things will just be the same way when I left.

After many years of living in the US, I came back to visit my family.

My father whom I have never seen in years, is just a shadow of the strong man that I knew. My brother and my sister have children who calls me Tito and acts as if they knew me. Deep in my heart, I wanted to hug them and carry them in my arms but I never seem to get over the fact that I don't know them. My siblings faces are starting to show wrinkles from years of hard work.

I was robbed of my youth. Why do I have to leave my country and work for people of another race? Why can't I decide to go back and try to salvage whatever is remaining of my memories of how it used to be?

I cry in my sleep. I cry for my childhood. I cry for the family and the memories of the happy and lonely times that will never ever come back.

Uwi na tayo said...

We try to go home every year. One of the things that make it hard to live in a foreign land is that your surroundings, including the people, the sites, the sounds, were not there when you were growing up. Your life is not full. Makes you understand how the domestic helpers, even in Manila, feel.

Anonymous said...

Kawawa naman tayong mga pilipino.

Malayo sa pamilya at mga kaibigan.
Tayo lang yata ang bansa sa buong mundo na ganito karami ang ine- export na manggagawa.

Ngayon puro yelo and palibot namin. Nababali ang mga puno dahil sa sobrang kapal ng yelo. Sa Pilipinas, kapag medyo malamig, kumakain kami ng tuyo, pritong galunggong at gulay na Monggo. Dito hindi kami makapagluto ng tuyo o isda dahil magrereklamo ang mga kapit apartment ( dahil mabaho daw).

Kelan kaya magbabago ang mga lider ng ating gobyerno? Kelan kaya magbabago ang pananaw ng mga karaniwang empleyado para mailagay natin sa pwesto ang mga responsableng lider?

Pagod na ako sa pagtatrabaho. Sobrang lungkot at lamig pa dito sa Amerika.