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Tuesday, March 24, 2009



"by Jim Paredes, of, No. 1 Blog of the Year for 2008 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards, and No. 1 in the Asia and Pacific Region. This post is reposted with Mr. Jim Paredes permission."

Last week’s article was an expression of concern about the coming 2010 elections and the sweeping changes we need in our country. Although I was not surprised at the tremendous reader reactions via letters, e-mail, calls from people everywhere, I must say that the response has been quite inspiring. There is a constituency for change out there and it is pretty sizeable.

A lot of the reactions came from overseas, from disgruntled Filipinos who have given up completely on the Philippines and left the country in disgust, and from those who, while they live abroad, continue to pine for their homeland and want to do their share in taking it out of the rut it is in.

To both groups, this column is for you.

There are around 12 million overseas Filipino workers spread out all over the world. Their blood, sweat and tears are what keep this country financially afloat. The money they send home keeps many kids in school, feeds families and generates a lot of the economic activity that keeps the entire Philippines humming. In many ways, it is only fitting that OFWs should be encouraged to play a role and have a say in creating a vision of what the Philippines can be.

Aside from their economic contribution, OFWs have made many personal sacrifices to hold up the sky for their loved ones. They have missed out on birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, Christmases and other milestones in the lives of those they cherish. Ironically, they know quite well that it is precisely their absence that makes the observance of such major events possible.

But more important than all that is the untapped capability of OFWs to bring about meaningful change in the country. OFWs have had the opportunity to live and work in many functional societies around the world, and have thrived in them. To my mind, their experiences abroad can be very valuable in helping create a functional vision of our country’s future.

Our OFWs can be the storytellers, narrators and witnesses of how the lives of ordinary Filipinos can move ahead if the system only allows them to. Their very lives are testimonies to this. Where for years, their dream of becoming something had not been possible in their homeland because of the social inequity and lack of opportunities, now they are proud, productive and prosperous people.

One of the joys of traveling is in meeting our kababayans who, though they still exhibit traits of their humble beginnings (noticeable only to a fellow Pinoy), now carry themselves with dignity that says they are equal to everyone else in the new country they live in. It tells me that we, as a people, have what it takes to get ahead and achieve excellence when the cards are dealt fairly.

Contrast this to life here at home where the average guy must dream smaller, live with more indignities and less breaks because “mahirap ang panahon at ganyan talaga ang buhay.” There is in the culture here at home an inertia that kills dreams. The sense of what is possible here is so limited and cramped that many are tempted to relocate and pursue their future abroad.

Imagine, then, a scenario where Filipinos abroad speak in support of change, telling their families back home about real places where societies function much better than what we have here. Imagine them writing to their kababayans back home and telling them there is no reason — except for our collective apathy — why we cannot have the same in the Philippines.

Imagine these OFWs throwing their influence behind a progressive candidate who has the right ideas on how to modernize the country and make government not only more functional, but also more prosperous. Imagine 12 million voices for change influencing their families and friends in the Philippines on what to ask for in a candidate and who to vote for! This could electrify the electoral process. Now, that would be something to contend with.

If this OFW block were to get organized and speak as one, they could be as influential as the Catholic Church, and much more progressive.

Much has been said about OFWs being “heroes” of our society because of the personal sacrifices they continue to endure for their families. I do not contest that. But I would like to add another dimension to the heroism that we have bestowed on them.

In writer Joseph Campbell’s view, every life is a hero’s journey and goes through stages as it unfolds. In his view, the hero’s journey starts when a hero leaves a familiar place (psychological or literal, or both) and is thrown into the unknown. In short, life and circumstances have conspired to throw him out of Eden and he/she is off to the adventure of a lifetime. This is the common thread found in big and small hero stories, whether fiction or non-fiction. Look at Rizal, Ninoy, Shakyamuni, Jesus, Frodo, Ulysses. This, of course, will take the hero to places where he will be deeply challenged in all aspects. In “herospeak,” he goes “through the fire.”

Now there are two things that can happen. He either burns out completely and the journey ends, or he survives. If he survives, the next stage is for the hero to return to his hometown and testify about the lessons and truths he/she has learned.

From this angle, our OFWs may have a new role waiting for them. After going through the fire in their previously unfamiliar locations which have become home, and with their newly-earned status of personal success and financial capability, it is time for them to play the bigger role of not just turning the lives of their families from poverty to prosperity, but to be the voices of wisdom, modernity and progress and the examples of personal change that many of them have become.

It’s time to not just inspire our kababayans, since they are already doing that. It’s now time for OFWs to influence us to do the right thing, to dream and act to “make the word flesh” and bring about the necessary changes the Philippines needs.

This may yet be the OFWs’ biggest contribution to our country.

( Before the start of the 2009 nomination we will be featuring blogs of the Top 3 Pinoy Expats/OFW Winners from the 2008 winners and will be reposted in my 3 Blogsite)

My apology to Doc RJ and Kikay who commented for my auto post from my Gmail about sublimobi. It sent to all my inbox contacts including my auto post to blogger via email.


♥ K.i.i.k.a.Y ♥ said...

nakkkz napaka hightech nito ah..hehe

silip din ako...


FENKOO thoughtskotto for info :D

Ken said...

Sorry Doc RJ, mukhang nagautomatic post kasi napadalhan yata ang inbox contact ko including blogger auto post. hehehe, ang post ko dapat today about kay Jim Paredes na blog post parte sa mga OFW's.

Sorry po, pwede ba magcomment ulit, or dun na lang mismo sa site ni Kuya Jim?hehe

Unknown said...

Very encouraging ang article na ito lalo na sa mga katulad natin OFW. The fact is that proud tayo pag sinasabi ng mga ibang lahi na "are you Filipino" with a smile in their face sabay tapik sa balikat mo then say " I Like Filipino".
If we can do it outside the phil. I believe they can do it in the Phil.

mightydacz said...


The Pope said...

From the labor block, he stands out and shaped history, a devout Catholic, a car mechanic and a labor leader, he shocked the world, particularly Kremlin and the Eastern block, he led hte people out of Communism and became a historic President of Poland and his name is Leck Wallesa.

Lech Wallesa inspires me so much that I pray to God to send His Spirit to unite the 12M OFW around the world and that may a new leader rise from the ranks of OFW to free our country from the bondage of poverty and corruption.

Real change is only possible if we allow ourselves to be part of that change - mabuhay ang OFW.

Ken said...

Maraming beses na po akong nagisip, at muntik ng mawalan ng pagasa about sa situation ng Philippines. Maraming beses na akong nagdoubt if somehow I can make a difference.

But there are people out there, esp the OFW's that inspires me. In fact , three of my blogs, the Pinoy Expats OFW Blog Awards, the KABLOGS, and this personal-Thoughtskoto family blog are all about expats and OFW's and the inspirations and difference they do in keeping afloat the economy and the Philippines as a whole.

Will there still be hope? I know there is. That hope lies within the OFW's, 12 million of us, in the world.

NJ Abad said...

Very good post Kenj... Parang matulo ang laway ehe luha pla dahil sa post mo parte sa mga bagong bayani... this should make us all aware that we are a strong block this coming 2010 elections. Let our votes be counted... Register for the OAV in order for us to be eligible to vote!

Missy said...

Very well said and thanks for sharing this. Sana nga magkaisa uli ang mga Pinoy this coming 2010.


Ken said...

Engr. NJ, thank you po. I must have missed your call last night pero salamat po sa pagayos ng booking.

Missy, hmmmn, ito po ba ang pinagpipitagang Miss Sardonyx? Nice name. hehehe

Thanks po sa pagdrop by at pagcomment. Sana nga maayos na ang politika sa bansa natin.

Anonymous said...

nice post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys learn that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.