“What we ask of the developed countries is to let the Third World find a third way.”-Ferdinand Marcos
WHEN I was growing up I remember vividly how my father championed his faith in the Filipino. To him, the Philippines in all its splendor, failures and triumphs, was the promised land. As Canaan was to Moses so was Manila to my father.
However I grew up in a generation when a visa out of the country was seen more as the way to prosperity, good fortune and a better life. How times have changed, and even though we know how beautiful our poor country is, we know all too well that to those whose opportunities lie in foreign shores, we are not all meant to remain in the land of our fathers.
Every year thousands of Filipinos leave the country and it is not a secret that we owe our country’s financial stability to the heroic sacrifices of those who toil in foreign shores sending what they can to assure the family back home a sustainable future.
The Filipino Diaspora is a phenomenon in itself, granted by default mainly through our quick wit when it comes to foreign languages, our willingness to undertake hard and menial labor, and ultimately our capability to fully integrate into multiple cultures and trade, through flexible adaptability.
“Pakikisama” has gone global for the Filipino, it permeates every aspect of his life. Social, economic and predominantly professional, we engage our counterparts regardless of culture and invite them to see the Filipino in us. The truth is our social struggles have given birth to a great amount of knowledge and access to information born out of different cultures and societies that we have come in contact with.
This is not to say that we have not paid a great price to be where we are. These days there is no Filipino family without a family member based abroad, working or living there, and we can feel the fragments left by the promise of a better future, and then there are those who have succeeded in finding a new home in foreign lands, striving to discover their past in order to understand their future.
Our identity as a people and the integral foundation of our culture lie in the cusp of definition, through the experiences and the stories told of the lives that the Filipinos lead outside of our country we must learn. We must learn to appreciate and become better for it, for if we refuse to learn from the lessons of our past we are bound to find failure in our future.
What will bind us through thick and thin would be our awareness of the necessity and centricity of the family in forming our values. Time and again we will hear of abuses, discriminatory acts as well as injustices done to our fellowmen as they strive to find a better future for themselves and their loved ones in foreign countries.
And inspite of it all the Filipino spirit remains resilient both out of sheer necessity and our natural instinct to hope. We have faith, and having faith in this modern society is saying a lot. We have a long road ahead of us, as we will have to eventually face the realities of globalization, reconciling multicultural beliefs with our cultural norms, and ultimately the management and sustenance of the transfer of information and technology that will be made available once our intercontinental pilgrims have come back to their home shores.
As a country we are not up to that challenge yet, the brain drain, the insatiable need for foreign remittances and the stagnant non-development of our country specifically in the public sector has proven Rizal’s social cancer as a truth that should the young Filipinos fail to remedy will cause our beloved country to succumb and become a distant memory of a land where our forefathers lived and died.
Our freedoms are relative now, the freedom of the migrant is deeply ingrained in the freedom of the local Filipino. Should the one that heroically stays in our country find a better way to live, the migrant will be free to associate himself with his heritage. Should he not, the migrant will continue to toil and the native will depend on the fruits of his hard labor, limiting both their chances of finding a good sustainable life on their native shores independent of intercoastal resources.
I am 34 years old now and I am writing this in the cold German spring, where English is optional and hard work is the norm. I dream of the tropical paradise where I was born, and it is a sad reality but all the edifices and great architecture do not compare to the warm smiles and genuine spirit of my homeland. My father was right–in the wilderness of modern capitalism, the Philippines inspite of its cruel corruption and disheartening lack of progress is the promised land where people are raised knowing that inspite of poverty, love and sacrifice for the greater good is a noble way of living.
The Filipino has become a citizen of the world. No country is free of a Filipino living among them no matter how scarce they make themselves to be, they may speak the language, eat the local cuisine and even try to look like their foreign counterparts, but in the end the Mangyan race will still remain in the blood of those who are Mangyan. And by honor and dignity, we all as a global community will have to continue to strive in the hope of one day being welcomed home to our “Maharlika” shores.