I was reading an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer by the well-respected Conrado De Quiros. His column, 'There's the Rub', appeals to me because he writes of the hopes, anger, frustrations, and joys of being a Filipino. Most of the time, he raises his voice against the abuses of government and rails on the authorities who have been remiss or negligent of their duties. Oftentimes, too, he writes to coax some fight from the seemingly indifferent majority of Filipinos. I think of him as a voice in the wilderness. But I know that I'm not the only one who can hear him clearly.
Yet again, this piece articulated the currently pervading mindset of most Filipinos living in the country. The overwhelming majority wants to leave; those that have left feel regret and guilt; The families feeling the stress of separation and the silent individuals who suffer the pangs of isolation and displacement.
Why is it that most of us think that living in a foreign country is preferable to staying in the Philippines? I called my parents two days ago and told them that I plan on going home and staying for at least a year. They thought my decision strange. Most of what was left unsaid was distilled in the one question they thought should stop me going home: Everyone is lining up at POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) trying to get out of the country, you're already in Taiwan so why come back?
I wasn't happy being a second-class citizen. I'm tired of being a foreigner. I miss my friends and the simple joy of speaking the language of my birth, something that I used to take for granted. I didn't want to be limited to menial jobs nor do I feel at home here. I realized that living abroad is not for everyone, it is definitely not for me.
Situations and circumstances vary and I know there are many who think that living abroad is better. Still I feel that in exchange of material comfort, we are losing something much more precious as a people.