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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Would you leave your family to take a job in another country?

Recently I watched a movie called “Caregiver”, made by media giant ABS-CBN and Star Cinema, starring Sharon Cuneta and John Estrada. The story focuses on a woman whose husband has left the Philippines to take a job in another country because the pay is considerably more in this other country than what it would be in the Philippines. They decide as a couple that she would leave their young son with relatives in the Philippines so that she could follow her husband to the foreign land. She resigns from her job as an English teacher and sells their home just before leaving. The plan is that within 2 to 4 years they might possibly save enough money to send for their son. Upon her arrival in this new country, she is hired as a caregiver in an assisted living facility. Here, she suffers some culture shock in her new job in that she is required to change the soiled diapers of elderly residents and also by the idea of this type of care, in and of itself, because it is not customary for Filipino families to “deposit” their seniors in this type of facility. She perseveres however and even experiences some minor triumphs even being promoted after a fashion due to her fine work ethic and excellent command of the English language. As the story progresses, we learn that the husband, who is a trained nurse in the Philippines, is but an orderly earning a fraction of what she believed him to be earning. Because of this he plunges into an emotional downward spiral becoming resentful of his life and even somewhat jealous of his wife’s modicum of perceived success in her new “career”. By the end of the film, her husband has decided that he has had enough and wants them to return to the Philippines where they will start life over from nothing. She had already given everything up to make this move in the first place and was inspired by her personal potential in this new land as well as feeling that her husband had already emotionally abandoned her. She decided that she would do something for herself and refused to go back with the husband to the Philippines. The last scenes of the film were of her still in the new country, only now her son was with her and the husband nowhere in sight. There were some sub-plots worthy of mention but this Post is not about the movie but what it is trying to show us.
There are men and women actively seeking employment in other countries because they cannot find meaningful employment in their own country. Another issue is that while they may have employment, the same position in another country might pay double or triple what they are able to make in the Philippines. This issue is especially marked among professionals, like doctors, nurses, and teachers who are lured out of the Philippines by salaries and opportunities that cannot be found in their homeland. This creates another problem known as “Brain Drain” because many of the finest in any given field leave the country and are not working for the benefit of their countrymen but for a whole other people and culture. Some of these OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Worker) work towards assimilation in their adopted lands and others are employed via contracts that last a couple years to as much as a few years.
The personal issues are abundant. Many of the people being recruited are not well educated and fall into the hands of human traffickers and sold into slavery or prostitution. Immense fees and loan payments of loans taken out to pay for the “fees” of both legal and illegal recruiters make it nearly impossible for some of these people to pay off the cost of getting the “job” much less being able to send money to loved ones. Others are abused by what would otherwise be legitimate employers, sometimes being accused of crimes and jailed because of false allegations. Often times, Overseas Filipino Workers, become stranded in far off lands because of war, natural disaster, or due to these unscrupulous employers and recruiters themselves. It is then up to the families to scramble to put together the means necessary to rescue their loved one thus adding to their burden. On occasion well meaning government officials pool resources to offer rescue to these families in need. An example of this type of assistance happened recently when the Senate President of the Philippines, Manny Villar, pooled certain resources and was able to facilitate the return of several such stranded Philippine Nationals.
Not all stories are nightmares. There are many that find meaningful employment in these far off lands. While abroad, these workers have built reputations as being talented and hard working. Often these OFW’s live frugal lives so that they can send relatively large amounts of money back to their families. It is not uncommon to hear stories of nice houses being built, businesses being started, and educations of children being paid for by OFW remittances. For some of these people, the opportunity to make this kind of money and the lifestyles that they have become accustomed to almost necessitate leaving repeatedly on new contracts. Minimum wage in the Philippines is currently pegged at approximately 380 pesos a day, or roughly $9.05. Meaning that for an eight hour day, you would be getting paid approximately $1.13 an hour. What would you do making this amount of money? Would you be motivated to find an overseas job thus requiring that you leave your loved ones behind even only for a couple of years?
The movie itself presented a real life scenario of people making difficult decisions. We all want the best for our families. Whether for our parents, siblings, spouses, or children we are all willing to make sacrifices for their benefit. Where do you draw the line? Is money the only consideration when deciding to be apart from your loved ones? Is leaving them for extended periods of time the only possible solution? Is the human cost worth the financial gain? (If there is a financial gain to be had) These are questions that can only be answered by you as the one living the life in question. The decision though must be weighed very carefully making sure that you do your due diligence to ensure that it is an educated decision, a decision that can affect not only your destiny but that of your loved ones and even that of your nation.

12 comments:

Sogeshirtsguy said...

hmm that is a tough one. You got to make money to support your family but you also have to support your family and abandoning them doesn't seem to be the right way. If you can I say you got to stick with your kids and try to find the best possible job in the region you are from.

FANCY said...

Hello

I read your post and have to think a lot...when I was little my mother had to leave me across my country to my grandmother because she could not support me and work. She left me there for one year before she take me home again. I have no suffer from that time of my life maybe I was to small to remember. Living my family would kill me. But, I know that many don't have any choice and because of the circumstance they have to so there children not have to starve. and by doing that they can give their children a better life. I only wish it no one should have to do that.

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Anonymous said...

hi there!do u know whats the word that she said about her job?i cant quite make it..STINKLESS JOB??STINKEST JOB??im out of ideas..

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

I just don't know. I think it would have to depend on the circumstances. I always want the best for my family and children so I would have to weigh all that. I hope that I never have to make a choice like that and feel for those that do. Reakky interesting post as usual!

FANCY said...

David

Thank you for your warm words you really comfort me.Thank you.

Bridget said...

This is a hard question to answer, when I was younger my mother also had to leave me for a short time and though I know it was hard on her and on me at the time it was what had to be done. In the long run I know it was for the best but like Heidi said it really depends on the circumstances. Great post.

tashabud said...

Hello,I'm one of the Filipinos who left motherland. Thankfully, I didn't have to leave a husband or a child behind. It was still hard to leave my mother, siblings, and extended family members, but not as hard as leaving a husband or children behind, I'm sure. However, my niece who's working with me now gave up her University teaching job and had to leave her daughter and husband for almost a year before they were able to join her here. It was very hard for all of them, but now that they're together again, they're able to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices. I agree with you about the brainiacs leaving the Philippines. But what can one do if the opportunity to improve one's life financially can only be achieved abroad? If the Philippines is so concern about the massive exudos of the brainiac and the talented professionals, then the government should do everything it can do to retain them. The government needs to create meaningful jobs with competitive pay to be had there. BTW, your post is awesome. I'll be one of your regulars from now on. I'll be praying for your friend as well. You're a good person for doing this for a friend.

Stefanie said...

Having left my family behind for my husband's job, I can't say I would be able to do it again. It's just me and him here, and it's VERY hard, and we want to get back to where we're from. I don't think it would be possible for me to leave behind my child, even if it was with someone I trusted completely. Luckily, though, I am not in a situation where I will ever have to experience that.

ramblinggypsy.com said...

It is definitely not easy for everyone...moving to a different country. When I moved almost 10 years ago, it was because of a career opportunity. Money was just a minimal factor. In these times, it seems that money is the number one factor that encourages people to leave their homeland so they can support their loved ones. Unfortunately, not everyone ends up with a happy ending. As you said, the decision must definitely be weighed carefully...find out what and who is affected around you. Have a nice day!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Such a difficult question for those with small children...when I was younger my family was on the receiving end, until the time I left home I had three cousins living in my home at different times, for long periods of time, because their parents separated, moved etc.,

This was natural to me to have them in our home,having said that I do think it was difficult for each cousin in their own way...they were old enough to understand what was happening.

My children are adults now but I think I would still find it difficult to leave the country to live else where with them still here...

Iain said...

Hi
My wife worked for six years in Hong Kong as a DH and knew many women who had left their children behind and before she married me and we had our two daughters made a promise to herself that she would never do that. Luckily for us she was able to do keep that promise and today we all live hapily together in the UK. My heart goes out to all the women who have to endure this hardship because at the end of the day it is just not natural for a woman to be parted from her kids, even more so if it is for economic reasons.
Maraming salamat.