The Two Sides of the Buck

When you are living and working abroad, for most Filipinos, you are affluent. A common mindset which do not consider the underlying factors to validate such assertion. In spite of countless documentaries regarding migrants’ plight and glory, news, social media posts and the likes, it is an unalterable viewpoint of our compatriots that overseas migrants are financially wealthy.

“To live and work abroad”, in itself, is merely an opportunity. A journey of every single migrant that entails diverse stories of sacrifices and successes, failures and learning, joys and pains, struggles and triumphs among other things. Generally, it is the same old story of skirmishes and hard works alike in the battlefield of the so called “life”. Nevertheless, only few understand this plight of overseas migrants.

With high hopes of having a better life, compared to what they had in the Philippines, they are now in a journey to stand on and to be spiritually strong to face challenges, to live out of comfort zone and to work painstakingly every day to ensure both ends meet.

Leaving one’s comfort zone and living out from it is a great challenge to accept. The comforts of having a house helper to do household chores and having ample time for the family and friends after work and so forth, need abrupt adjustments. Living out from comfort zone embraces doing home errands and duties independently, and having two or more jobs in different time shifts sacrificing family time are ordinary daily routine. Engagement to multi jobs keeps them busy to escape from and overcome homesickness. Work here and there, to earn for the family’s daily provisions, to pay taxes, mortgages, utility bills, insurances, credit cards and other financial liabilities. At this juncture, significant amount of cash is allotted for remittance homeward to their families and relatives.

On the other hand, countless opportunities await for those who dare, for those who are adeptly equipped, for those who knew how to leverage themselves, for those who are aware and responsive to the realities, and for those who have willingness to learn new things. Migrants must accept and skillfully adapt to the challenges of their new social and physical environment. One’s character, optimistic attitude, hard work, and their practice of humility to name a few are catalysts for this life-changing move towards successful international migration.

Control of the situations and factual decisions are in the migrants’ hands. Too much expectations, by their love ones left behind, would lead to letdowns and opposing circumstances. To be straightforward to them is essential. Keeping track of one’s goal needs awareness of one’s capability and a vivid grounding of personal limitations and boundaries.  Even though, they would not believe instantaneously, at least you have been honest to yourself. Disregard their retorts and keep your self-esteem intact. In doing so, emotional pressure and psychological stress will be lessened and at the same time elating your spirit.

One of the spoken expectations from the family is to help them alleviate from paucity. Such basic expectation is obligatory in nature, seems like to be the migrant’s sole responsibility. The epitome of success like huge house, a new car, modern appliances and newest gadgets, serve as status symbols in the community. In this scenario, packages of imported goods, allowances, festive gatherings, donations among other things define your strong relationship, telling that you have not changed to them.

Sending siblings or relatives to college, profligate family fetes, traditional celebrations like Christmas, fiesta, wedding, and the like, financial support is highly anticipated. Those expectations pressure migrants to maintain their good image and connections to them, at the expense of putting the burdens upon their shoulders.

The flow of assistance, big or small, from relatives abroad must be valued. This support must augment basic necessities, not to satisfy wants. Too, financial help must be spent prudently and efficiently to serve its purpose which is to live a decent life. In the contrary, dependency becomes the outcome of incoming support from abroad. Reliance of family members and close relatives instigate nonproductive and lavish lifestyle.

Overwhelmingly, family expectations turn out to be demands not just hope. Their family members, siblings, relatives, friends and former workmates have different expectations, too. Yet, to them, the phrase: “living or working abroad” implies material abundance. No account could make them believe that life abroad is not easy, that everything is earned through hardship and lots of patience and sacrifices. Neither objection nor rationality would position them to become judgmental. You had changed a lot and you become selfish and arrogant because of your reformed perspectives and outlook in life.

In this life course, never be dragged in the race towards climbing the social ladder nor follow what social trends dictate and what people expect, you will never win. Establish a standard of your own to follow because you alone would be standing in the battleground. No one else would be on your side during that quest, they would just willingly join to rejoice your victory.

Profound understanding of this social phenomenon would basically base on lived-experiences, an unfolding process, giving way to its lucidity. Given the chance to live overseas, I withstand and am witnessing on my very own eyes, the realities of living away from one’s homeland and becoming a stranger.

Our loved ones, relatives, friends and fellow countrymen see these things from afar, depicting life in a faraway land as a haven of free-flowing milk and honey. I do respect their views. As you do, I am seeing this prevalence in the similar angle before I migrate. However, I am now one of the actors of the Filipino diaspora who lives in such reality, not in the realm of thoughts.

2,164 thoughts on “The Two Sides of the Buck

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