Sunday, November 9, 2008

About Change and the OFW

Might I have been over-reacting? America had changed overnight I felt. In Dallas, the morning after the elections, change was palpable. The unthinkable had happened. So amid historic financial meltdowns and careening violence in many parts of the earth, general uncertainty everywhere, the election of Obama heralded hope for change. Advent arrived early.

At LAX, there was not a single vacant seat aboard the newly refitted PAL 747, filled with Filipinos who waited for the outcome of the elections before returning home. The overhead bins were groaning, unequivocal evidence that our native resourcefulness was coping with the newly imposed handicap of 20 lbs less baggage allowance. This aircraft held the hopes of our nation. 10 million of us had long ago made the decision to take matters into our own hands. Change was going to begin within ourselves, we would look after those we had left behind later, whenever we could.

The news that greeted us after we crossed the Pacific was how desperate our leaders had tried contacting the President-elect, hoping for an opportunity to capture a sliver of the new hero’s glory. There was none forthcoming. Whatever disembarked from that plane constituted a portion of the foreign direct investment that was keeping our economy viable. Soon enough, our version of the White House, Malacanang, rolled out a list of possible presidential aspirants, their own pathetic version of change. This is the quandary every OFW confronts. From a distance, we see the same changeless system stunting our country, with internecine conflict raging for what relatively can be considered scraps. It’s every dynasty to itself with net production hovering close to zero. What can we do? What must we do?

Can we expect these people, top of the heap products of the changeless system to provide us with the change that we need? Who among these compromised names will have enough credibility to inspire us to work harder, become more productive, less wasteful and more patriotic?

The recently concluded elections demonstrates that in the end, what matters is not who’s got the most comprehensive health plan or the least painful financial rehabilitation proposal or who has the most realistic strategy to solve foreign conflicts. What matters is who will be able to unite the people into participating in an enterprise that will benefit the common good. Ideas, solutions, strategies and proposals are easy. The challenge is how to get people to work together to achieve these ends.

Diaspora is a Greek word that describes a “scattering of seeds”. Most of us are simply economic refugees. We are everywhere but if we share a dream of a stronger, cleaner, more productive and united Philippines, we will all have to get together for this.


azron said...

I always enjoy reading your perspective -

We will see what changes come...


Anonymous said...

Such eloquence...Martin.

We need to mature as a nation soon before the people who controls our government devours everything for their own consumption.

You do have promises to keep.
And miles to go before you sleep...

Niel Camhalla said...

Politicians have been selling their own brand of change every campaign period. Most often than not, by change they just mean changing the person in power.

The sad thing is people buy it.