|All my bags are packed?|
Lots have been said and written and discussed about Pinoys going abroad. As OFWs and as immigrants, and many other categories. Why do I specifically mention OFWs and immigrants? I have become conscious when to use each word when one time I went to visit one province in the Philippines. It was my first time there and I met one of the VIPs of that province. She said that they have a lot of people from there who have gone abroad, and some of them have come back to invest in some businesses like hotels, restaurants and the like. So I replied that it is good that the OFWs think of investing their hard-earned money. And she corrected me. She adamantly said, “No! They are not OFWs. They are immigrants!” She said it in a way that you would think an OFW was inferior to an immigrant. I did not know how to respond to it so I just let it be, and stored the information for use later. Such as now.
So whether a Pinoy goes abroad as an OFW or as an immigrant, the fact remains that he/she has gone abroad, has left the country, for better or for worse. Well I hope that it will be for the better, for both the one who left and the ones left behind. But we also know that there are worse things that do happen, if not to the one going abroad, then to the ones left behind in the Philippines. Eventually some OFWs decide to migrate and stay permanently in another country, and bring their families to stay with them. But there are countries that do not allow this, so the OFW remains in that country as a mere working person, with a renewable work permit, and remains there until retirement, unless he/she migrates to another country or goes back to the Philippines for good.
We all know about the better stuff. Like a higher salary, better standard of living, better transport system, better environment, higher quality goods, better lifestyle. It gets much better if one can bring his/her own family and there are schools for their children, and the spouse could also work. But what about the worse things that happen to us when we are abroad, or to our loved ones left behind?
There are just so many we can think of, but only a few that can be written here. Being away from family, missing the growing up years of the children, missing the growing old years of our parents, not being there when loved ones need us most, missing memorable moments such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, and many other milestones in their lives. Worst yet is for children to be a bit aloof to parents who are abroad. Or for a loved one especially a parent to pass away without you by his/her side. It just hurts not to be there. Just because we are far away and could not leave the workplace immediately, or could not leave at all due to other circumstances.
The foreign workplace itself can also be hell for some OFWs.
Some worse things happening in the homefront could include a son or a daughter who grows up spoiled and expects to have everything, growing up without responsibility, squandering everything thinking that dad or mom will be sending money soon anyway, the remaining spouse giving in to temptation in the absence of his/her spouse, being cheated by others esp. those who know there is a regular allotment of dollars, being blamed when things at home are not going so well. These could be signs that there is a need to spend time with the family for a while to talk things out.
And yet many are still going abroad. The hopes and dreams of a better life, for the whole family, drive everybody to keep going, despite the worse things that could be experienced while abroad.
So what do we do then to avoid all these pitfalls? One of the most helpful things is to always keep communicating with each other. It is much better now with all the high technology available, so better invest in a good program or equipment which can help in making family members feel you are just close to them, just a click or phone call away. Frequent communication with real time video and voice is the best. But for those less tech savvy esp with older parents, regularly calling them brings happiness and a feeling of worth to them, knowing that their daughter or son, despite miles and miles away, still remembers and loves them, much more than just sending money and material things. And never mind that sometimes they complain about each other or about a sibling or something, they are just making “lambing”.
Sending greetings cards and letters is also good to keep the relationship warm among loved ones. Remembering birthdays and anniversaries is important to us Pinoys.
For families with growing children, the house should be filled with photos of the loved one who is abroad. The children should be constantly reminded of him/her so that when he/she comes home, the kids would not feel strange and be aloof towards the returning parent. The children would just feel they know him/her personally. This really works!
It is good that there are employers who provide paid vacations for their expat employees. But what about those who are not fortunate enough to have this kind of employer? Then you really have to seriously save for that much awaited vacation. Even if it is just for a couple of weeks, it is still worth it. Be updated of some promotional offers to reduce the cost of traveling. Or maybe if it is possible, let your loved ones come over to visit you abroad. That will be a treat but it would cost a lot of money. So you just have to consider and balance your options and costs.
Spiritually, praying for each other and together really helps in making things better. Praying gives one an inner peace, knowing that God has heard your prayers and this gives you the peace and assurance that He is in control. At the end of the day, there are things that are just beyond us, and we can only entrust them to Him who knows all things and can do all things.
These are just a few of the things to help in making things better, instead of worse, when one goes abroad, and leaves family behind. Whatever happens, it is important to remember the happy memories that have been created together, and to keep building up on them, so family ties will remain strong. At the same time not losing sight of the hopes and dreams that drove one to go to another country, so he/she can help in making life better today and in the future, for the family and the whole community.
|Walking hand in hand - growing together!|
"Strengthening the OFW Families: Stronger Homes for a Stronger Nation."