Everyday, many Filipinos are migrating to other countries for several reasons. On top of it is to look for greener pastures since their beloved country could no longer accomodate the increasing number of skilled workers as numbers of graduates increase each year leaving the number of jobs available too much behind. Some choose to migrate and live in other countries for most of their relatives were already there. There may still be other reasons, but these two stand out. I would like to focus more on the former. Philippines is known for its reliable workforce and instead of exporting products, its globally competitive workers are the once leaving its native land. This is a saddening reality only masked with the salaries being sent to their families left in their homes. They are now called the modern heroes, for had it not been for the dollars or other foreign currencies they are sending to their loved ones at home, the Philippine economy could not assure its stability. I have nothing against going abroad for I even always dreamed of stepping into a foreign and experience for myself how its like to be in other country. I salute those OFW's (Overseas Filipino Workers) who endure all the works, sometimes the abusive treatments of their employers and the hardest part of being apart from your families--homesickness. Patricia Evangelista gave a commendable speech that bested 58 other contestants from other countries, in the 2004 International Public Speaking competition conducted by the English Speaking Union (ESU) in London on May 14, including 37 English-speaking countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The board of judges' decision was unanimous, according to contest chairman Brian Hanharan of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Here's a copy of the speech that everytime I think about patriotism, the first thing that comes into my mind.
BLONDE AND BLUE EYES
When I was little, I wanted what many Filipino children all over the country wanted. I wanted to be blond, blue-eyed, and white.
I thought -- if I just wished hard enough and was good enough, I'd wake up on Christmas morning with snow outside my window and freckles across my nose!
More than four centuries under western domination does that to you. I have sixteen cousins. In a couple of years, there will just be five of us justify in the Philippines, the rest will have gone abroad in search of "greener pastures." It's not just an anomaly; it's a trend; the Filipino diaspora. Today, about eight million Filipinos are scattered around the world.
There are those who disapprove of Filipinos who choose to leave. I used to. Maybe this is a natural reaction of someone who was justify behind, smiling for family pictures that get emptier with each succeeding year. Desertion, I called it. My country is a land that has perpetually fought for the freedom to be itself. Our heroes offered their lives in the struggle against the Spanish, the Japanese, the Americans. To pack up and deny that identity is tantamount to spitting on that sacrifice.
Or is it? I don't think so, not anymore. True, there is no denying this phenomenon, aided by the fact that what was once the other side of the world is now a twelve-hour plane ride away. But this is a borderless world, where no individual can claim to be purely from where he is now. My mother is of Chinese descent, my father is a quarter Spanish, and I call myself a pure Filipino-a hybrid of sorts resulting from a combination of cultures.
Each square mile anywhere in the world is made up of people of different ethnicities, with national identities and individual personalities. Because of this, each square mile is already a microcosm of the world. In as much as this blessed spot that is England is the world, so is my neighborhood back home.
Seen this way, the Filipino Diaspora, or any sort of dispersal of populations, is not as ominous as so many claim. It must be understood. I come from a Third World country, one that is still trying mightily to get back on its feet after many years of dictatorship. But we shall make it, given more time. Especially now, when we have thousands of eager young minds who graduate from college every year. They have skills. They need jobs. We cannot absorb them all.
A borderless world presents a bigger opportunity, yet one that is not so much abandonment but an extension of identity. Even as we take, we give back. We are the 40,000 skilled nurses who support the UK's National Health Service. We are the quarter-of-a-million seafarers manning most of the world's commercial ships. We are your software engineers in Ireland, your construction workers in the Middle East, your doctors and caregivers in North America, and, your musical artists in London's West End.
Nationalism isn't bound by time or place. People from other nations migrate to create new nations, yet still remain essentially who they are. British society is itself an example of a multi-cultural nation, a melting pot of races, religions, arts and cultures. We are, indeed, in a borderless world!
Leaving sometimes isn't a matter of choice. It's coming back that is. The Hobbits of the shire traveled all over Middle-Earth, but they chose to come home, richer in every sense of the word. We call people like these balikbayans or the 'returnees' -- those who followed their dream, yet choose to return and share their mature talents and good fortune.
In a few years, I may take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way. But I will come home. A borderless world doesn't preclude the idea of a home. I'm a Filipino, and I'll always be one. It isn't about just geography; it isn't about boundaries. It's about giving back to the country that shaped me.
And that's going to be more important to me than seeing snow outside my windows on a bright Christmas morning.
Mabuhay and Thank you. Wherever we go, we'd always be Filipinos and our hearts would never forget the place that nurtured and motivated us to become we now are, where we are now.