That morning the message said she was in school attending a forum discussing the topic regarding children of Overseas Filipino Workers. The Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Calamba, Laguna conducted a forum with unusual topic (to me) “Anak ng Nangibang Bansa, Aruga at Ikaagapay”. It was attended by children of OFWs studying in Letran. She told me during the forum she got emotional that she sent me series of text messages in my Smart Roaming, thanking me for all things I am doing our the family. Although my family is well-aware of some of the tricky things I am doing, not everything in my police service of course, she was able to realize more about the hardship of an OFW is exerting just to give them a better life.
Well I just re-grabbed this line but actually the lines “giving them a better life” and “Bagong Bayani” are all over-rated things to me and started becoming really boring.
“Sasapakin ko na tatawag sa akin na Bagong Bayani, sige (lol!) .”
The forum gave another definitions to these words as, I believe, it knocked out the idea from those children who always see their parents abroad as mere provider of stylish gadgets. This time, my daughter said, everyone was enlightened and was given a chance to appreciate more the very meaning why most parents need to work abroad and be alone for years. There was one of the attendees who even admitted doing things just to catch his parents’ attention and force them to go home and be with his siblings. But this is not actually a simple over the table request, we parents understood the present and future things more than out children, and I guess an option of going home will not gonna happen soon. We have extraordinary dreams and goal for our children and that is the very reason why we are here.
After the forum maybe everyone will understand now why this kid was acting so stupid all the times that he almost gain ownership of the School Counselor’s Office. While on the other hand, he will somehow understand that his attitude is baseless and should stop immediately as it adds another heavy burden on his parents abroad.
Now I am thinking that aside from Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar or PDOS, a mandatory requirement for OFWs leaving the country, forum like this one held in Letran should be introduced in all schools nationwide yearly. It is high time for the OFWs’ children to have second look on the plight of their parents abroad. Needless to say that most of these children see their parents working abroad as providers of extraordinary needs, and missing the point of appreciating the very reason why they need to leave. This eye-opening forum should start and be held as a regular part of yearly curricula, not to mention that Human Rights Seminar which should also be included as part and parcel of education system. After all there is a great chance that most of the school children we have today are from OFW families.
I see this as far more significant than forcing an ex-OFW to attend PDOS, which is now becoming more of just a "compliance" than being "objective". And everyone knows when something that supposed to be objective by purpose has turned to becoming more of a compliance in nature; it will be a big source of corruption through exploitation of the memorandum or rule covering it. If you are an OFW and have been in and out of the country for several times, is it not that you may have attended PDOS more than ten times, having the same topic over and over again? Does it make sense? You have already become far better than the speaker discussing the topic in PDOS.
That’s why we need to have second look in preparing the life like what we have right now. Being an overseas worker should be a preparation of our life's and family’s both worlds. The world they will have being the ones left behind, on one hand and the world we will have in our new-found land here abroad, on the other hand. This is not only about the culture we are about to face, but it is about the new culture our children will be facing. Well, that includes the culture of having more money of course… and you can’t imagine what a culture shock they will get huh! Kidding aside, but this is true.
More often than not, misunderstood kids in school are product of incomplete family, lack of parents’ attention, lack of appreciations and close parental guidance. This type of seminar or forum, whatever we call it, will help somehow these children to think about things and start getting the deeper positive sense out of being away from their OFW parents, not just being a financial provider, but provider of true and unselfish love. Not everyone is as lucky as these guys, other parents never lifted a finger in order to provide but rather exploit their children to get over on their parental responsibilities.
We need to have this kind of forum. I can call it “Pre and Post Departure OFW Family Orientation Seminar”. Maybe we can include barangays to launch the same thing, to inform everyone that when one works abroad it is not a gate way to luxurious life but a great deal emotional and mental sacrifices that everyone in the family must be involved in maintaining the equilibrium to achieve the main goal of going and working abroad. Every cent earned must be looked upon not just as a grain of rice alone but a painful piece of moment of one working across the sea and vast land. It is not all about celebration of a new life, since our life is still uncertain even when one goes abroad to work for the family. It is about taking advantage of uncertain prosperity that no one knows how long or how short it will be.
Life abroad is indeed uncertain. The fellows back home must take and learn the lesson of the ants’ colony, to work while there is still sunshine, to save while they still can. There are hundreds of bad things thinkable and possible to us to happen while working abroad. Death, lay-off, becoming victims of illegal recruitment, termination, accidents, and many more that could bring storms to the “colony”. Think about that and let our kids learn it. Earn what your OFW parents have painstakingly got and sent you overseas.
Maybe through this type of objective gathering, we can prevent infidelity, financial crisis due to over expenditures, way-ward style of studying by OFWs’ children, and the non-compliance to what the couple has planned before one of them decided to work abroad. These are the common failures we OFWs are experiencing, realizing that after a long years of stay and hardship w abroad our lives back home never moved an inch forward, and at the end of the day our favorite song will be ”Napakasakit Kuya Eddie”. Our children, our beneficiaries are always part of it. Let them realize and play their in building a better future for themselves.
To my children, thanks for the text messages I appreciate the fact you have really appreciated the real sense of my being here.