Courage is a word associated with many overseas Filipino workers who shun the familiar in order to conquer fate in another land. I’ve met such remarkable men and women in my travels abroad. They spoke about discrimination, culture shock, and unlimited financial requirements from back home, but never with a voice weak with fear. They have conquered fear a long time ago.
I see them as heroes because they have become the financial backbone of the family. In my own family, my eldest brother, Luis, lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland for the World Trade Organization. Despite the distance, he has always been quick to dispense advice and even financial help when someone in our family has fallen into a pothole of bad luck.The global character of a typical Filipino family comes alive through text messages, Tweets, and Facebook status updates. Technology has made it easier for us to bridge geographical divides, and YouTube has made the export of Filipino songs, talents, and visual stories possible. The World Wide Web has become the best tool among migrant workers against homesickness, isolation, and ignorance.
I remember distinctively how surprised my father was when we travelled to Tibet together only to be welcomed by a Filipino employed at a hotel. Tibet, known as the “Rooftop of the World”, is not a destination easy to reach. Yet, there he was, this tall Filipino accountant, eager to shake hands with Senator Blas F. Ople and the rest of the delegation.
In every nook and corner of the world, a Filipino worker can be found, providing for his or her family, and striving to be an invaluable resource at work. I marvel at the creativity of our citizens abroad. They find as much work as they can, some taking in double shifts, others cutting hair, washing clothes, and even dabbling in professional photography for additional income.
These workers deserve the best kind of service that our government can offer them. They do because they are national assets, taking care of their families so that these families can have upward mobility. These productive, hardworking workers far outnumber the minority welfare cases that we watch about on primetime television news. (Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter via www.twitter.com/susanople)