Sunday, June 1, 2014

Greener Pastures Abroad: To Leave or to Stay in the Philippines?


We hear about the Philippines promoting the country as a retirement capital. We also heard about meteorologists of the government's Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) leaving the country in favor of high-paying jobs abroad. In the Bureau of Fire Protection, some firefighters leave in favor of public safety jobs (as firefighters too) in Qatar and other Middle East countries. What about you? What about me? Shall I stay or shall I leave the country for good?

I was once asked with a very powerful question" "if you will be given the chance to live abroad for life, will you be able to make it?" I paused for a moment before my reply. I answered: maybe....provided my family is with me - people so important in my life should be with me. Then I continued with...howevers. "However, I will always go back home and nobody can prevent me from doing that." My home is the Philippines.

Going back to the question, "if you will be given the chance to live abroad for life, will you be able to make it?", it is really a difficult one to answer. Yes, I may live in other countries but what about the pain of renouncing my citizenship in favor of another citizenship? My cousin left her Filipino citizenship in favor of citizenship in a North American country. She told me she was crying when she did it and then she had to cry a lot.

My cousin was a long-time breadwinner for her family here in the Philippines. She worked abroad for a very long time and had her dollars sent back home. She had lived in several countries as young as in her early 20's before finally choosing Canada. She shed her tears in bidding goodbye to her original country in favor of a new state to be her home. If she he had shed lots of tears, how much more for me? How much more for a uniformed officer like me who vowed my loyalty to the Filipino people? I took oath not just once but several times in my career. My oath says to protect and serve the Filipino people even if at the cause of my life. I vowed allegiance to the Philippine Constitution. 

Whenever I have to go out of the country to represent the Philippines, there is always that very strong sense of pride in me. That makes me remember that I should be at my best always just like making my mama proud. Every Monday during our flag raising ceremonies, I always have that unexplained feeling whenever Lupang Hinirang is being played. There are times when I noticed my teary eyes after lowering my hands from a salute rendered during the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. I suppressed tears when not so long after singing Lupang Hinirang, a part of a following audio visual presentation gave a tribute in honor of our fallen government firefighters who lost their lives saving children in the middle of typhoon Haiyan (Philippine name is Yolanda). Indeed, there is honor in serving this country at the cause of our lives.

It is the pride that keeps me going - of serving our people, of serving the public in my own little way as an officer. I feel that pride that of the the millions of Filipinos looking for jobs, I had landed in the government. Not everyone deserves to be here and not everyone is destined to be here. For me, I have the honor to serve my country with dignity and pride. I should do my job amid the noise of government issues. I always feel the urge of helping the Filipino people - though in my little humble way. 

There is a growing "unimaginable opulence that can be found side by side with poverty." We always thought of a better life. Who else does not want it anyway? We sometimes think of greener pastures outside the country. Literally, there could indeed be greener pastures outside than here in our country nowadays when our forests are denuded, where mining is allowed, where land use conversion is unavoidable, when peat lands are opened. However, why  seek for lands greener than ours? To reach financial freedom. To have our ends met. To get away from poverty. Many other reasons. What about the many Filipinos who are poor and live below the poverty line? What about the shrinking middle class? What about us? 

For the beginning and end of riches is charity; let us not forget to serve and help others in our own little (or big ways), whichever we can, whether we choose to leave the country or stay here in the Philippines for good in our lifetime.


Special thanks for some quotes: 
Rev. Fr. Philip Bernabe for his talk on The Holy Use of Money
Merriam-Webster dictionary

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