family of ofws

another one in the family has left.

my cousin, who has been with us since high school and is practically the third child in the family, left for turkey yesterday to board a cargo ship. he'll be working there for the next 12 months, or so his contract says.

nothing surprising really because as a seaman, what else is he supposed to do than board a ship? (foreign nga lang...duh, is superferry an option?) it's just that, come to think of it, almost everyone in the family now is leaving the country to work overseas.

one uncle of mine, who is a doctor, left for bahamas weeks ago to work on a cruise ship. i have cousins working as nurses in ireland and in the u.s. another uncle, who had been in saudi for more than 15 years, moved to qatar last year. that's where my parents, my "kuya" (an older cousin) and another uncle and his family are. from the looks of it, some more of my cousins are interested in trying their luck abroad. need i mention that my brother is a nursing student set to graduate next year?

ah, that leaves only a few of us who'll be doomed to stay here. with the profession that i chose, i don't expect to be employed anywhere else. working for al jazeera used to be an option, but now that bush reportedly wanted it bombed, it's out of the picture (i still want my body intact when i die, not pulverized...on second thought, cremation is more economical these days--how morbid these thoughts, God forbid!).

it's not that i want to work abroad. although i haven't stepped outside the country, i'd still say there's no place like home. i can study in other countries maybe and go on a tour, but not spend a lifetime in a distant place, with people you don't know and who won't probably care if you existed or not. given a choice, i'd still want to live here.

but that of course presupposes that leaving is a choice. it may seem like one but most of the time, people are compelled to pack their bags and leave. if you want the best for your family and send your child to law school, you won't care about homesickness, fluctuating temperatures, and long hours of work as long as the price is right. as my cousin says, for every ass she has to wipe as a nurse: dollar! (don't you dare call them selfish and unpatriotic.)

i recognize the concerns about brain drain--the better qualified people leaving and working abroad to the benefit of other countries. but i don't think that the reason why the philippines is lagging behind has anything to do with ofws or whatever term we call them. on the contrary, their dollar remittances have been helping the economy a lot.

i simply think that where the government could not provide people with opportunities for earning a living or for professional growth, it has no right to cry foul when the talented ones in search of a better life have deserted this archipelago.

to be sure, not one administration can resolve the problem that's been there for ages. but the least that government officials could do is to not become part of the problem. when, however, you have presidents who lie, cheat and steal, and tolerate those who do, then you don't stand a chance of ever changing things in this country.

trust is earned. you lose it, it can never become whole again.

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