Interaction with my Community in Pampanga
When already financially better off in the mid 80s, I started helping my hometown, particularly my high school, the Betis National High School in Guagua, Pampanga, I contributed financially to improve some school facilities (e.g. basketball court, rooms.). I also arranged for the shipment of books from the US through the Books for the Barrios Program.
Later, I gave scholarships to high school students and college students, the last batch of whom will be graduating this year. These college scholars, from poor but deserving families and who have to pass qualifying exam, only had to study and did not have to worry over their tuition fees, books, uniforms and school materials and were given P3000 monthly allowance for their transportation and miscellaneous expenses. My daughter, Michelle, managed it for me. In return, they had to maintain 1.75 grade average. I also had scholars whom I did not even get the chance to meet in person like the scholar from Bulacan, endorsed by Center for Migrant Advocacy, who graduated cum laude.
I also donated to social programs like the Bahay Kalinga and the Bantay Bata. I once paid for Bahay Kalinga’s TFC subscription and provided tools and materials (e.g. computers, sewing machines, pots and pans, etc.) for its livelihood training program. The Bantay Bata used my donation for its anti-child abuse program. I also provided medicines for the embassy’s medical missions. I supported individual medical cases like cancer patients and contributed tickets for stranded OFWs needing repatriation.
I come from a poor family. This is my way of paying back society—my way of showing my appreciation for what I have accomplished.
Is it Worth Working Abroad?
Was working abroad worth it? I do not know. At my personal level, I know what I got out of it and what I achieved. I know I tried hard and proved I could do it. I worked hard in my profession and I think I was a financial success, But my marriage and my children suffered. But life is not all that perfect.
Hence, to me, working abroad doesn’t seem really worth it. If you were to ask me, I think it is still best to work here, close to one’s family. This is the best situation because money is not everything, especially for women. It is tough enough for a family when the father is not there. It is even tougher when it is the mother who is not around to hold the family together.
In terms of our country, ideally, we should find jobs here. There should be no need to go abroad. At the same time, people should be free to make choices, to travel and to find jobs when there are none here. But the social costs are just too great. The greatest advantage of working abroad then seems to be the financial gains.
OFWs should maximize their stay abroad. They should not waste their time and resources because they can do something, in fact a lot, with their time abroad that can contribute to their early return to the Philippines. They should continue learning and improving themselves so that they do not have to work abroad forever. They should maximize their stay abroad because they are paying such a high price for it. They should preserve and not squander their earnings (e.g. on consumers goods like electronics, cell phones, and signature goods). They should save invest their earnings well so that when they return home they would not have to start from zero. Savings no matter how small will eventually amount to something over time if done consistently and invested wisely.
Based on my experience, I would enjoin the OFWs now to exert everything possible to preserve their families at all costs. Knowing then what I know now, I would have done things differently to preserve my own. Despite the distance, The OFWs should try to be as close to their children as possible so that they will not become delinquent children. It appears to me that the risk is high and the probability is great that the children may not grow up like those with both parents around them most of the time. In which case, is the social cost worth it? Most OFWs would say they had no choice. - The END -