Sweating the distant legal tender

THE hospitals are run by second best medical practitioners, the school teachers can’t speak proper English and the performing arts cast inferior studies, it’s all about “making do” with whatever work force is available to keep the business going. We are losing the best.

So what else is new? Our country has been battling with losing the “good ones” for decades now. Can you blame these Pinoys want to toil the greener patches? I would have jumped in the wagon given the chance, or, if I dared myself to.

To the lot who flew from their nests and built their own in the foreign land, their concern was unanimous, “What has the Philippines have for me?”

It would be unfair to compare a third world nation to a first world. Yes, the bucks are green, and greener, you get to rake in with the same effort you exert here. But we are familiar with the trade offs. Even with the aid of modern technology, whatever spare time there is left to enjoy the comforts of rest and leisure will be spent in the company of the washer, dryer, polisher, and the dreaded iron, not to mention developing your skills as a chef, busboy and washer. Everything will be hands-on, you work 24/7 and you suddenly gain an appreciation for yaya, Inday and Dodong, your household help back home. You are now them, rolled in one.

If you’re used to living alone, you’ll be fine. If you uprooted yourself from your family, then you have to deal with the empty nest to come home to, and with no social life in sight, you develop a relationship with your television (LED because you want the best). You have to fight off the loneliness, or consider this moment as the workshop for your future plan in show business. It can help in honing your talent for the dramatic sequence of your Maalaala Mo Kaya story in the small and big screens.

Some have even stepped down from the glory of their possible illustrious careers as surgeons, lawyers or CEOs and chose an alternative career as caregivers, nurses or whatever “hot” jobs are needed abroad to get a chance to enter the Land of Plenty, earn more moolah than staying on local soil, and decide to stay for good- legally or illegally. Did it work out? Some were lucky, some were not.

But is it all about the money? Is working abroad, away from home & loved ones, rarely getting the chance to come home to visit, and the chance to earn more really all worth it?

Nenette Barrios-Bundalian, budding entrepreneur. USA.
“If it means that my kids don't have to make the same painful decision in the future, then it's worth it.” 

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Malu Salvador-Garcia, nurse. USA.
“If just for myself, no, it’s not worth it. But it’s different if you have kids. It gives me the peace of mind that they will be well in the future even if we’re not around anymore. There is much more opportunity for them growing up in a diverse culture. Of course, in moments of weakness that is at least once a month, I still ask my husband Philip if we can go home for good.” 
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 Raul Labajo, nurse. UK.
“How I miss my family and friends in the Philippines is not worth any amount of money and so is my experience of a life away from them.”
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Jennifer Gallenero-Allen. Catering company customer representative. USA.
“It's not just about the money. Living on my own and being able to grow up in another culture, leaving your comfort zone and being able to say that you're able to survive on your own, it's the great reward of living in another country. Kapoy lang kay wala si Bebing para mag laba and limpyo ng balay.”  
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Francis Braganza, nurse. UK. 
“I think it's all worth it if you have the support of your family, if you're still single and if you have Skype and Viber!” 
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Joel Villegas, nurse. USA. 
“It’s worth it not because of the money but more for the new things you learn from work or on a personal level, new people you meet, new families you have and new friends you develop.
Also, I may not have my family with me but somehow in a weird way, it made me love and appreciate my family more.”  
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Enotz Gumapac, medical biller, USA. 
“Yes, I would say that it is worth it especially for those unfortunate ones in their own countries. You would rather see your family smiling than hearing the worries of how and where to get their everyday needs. Like what my good friend always say, “when poverty knocks on the door love flies out of the window.” Being away from your family is temporary, later on you can sponsor them so you will be together again. And GOD is really important in our lives to keep away temptations that will hurt and break the family. But I really suggest retiring in Pinas. Iba talaga ang pinas,”  
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Langga Desales Ramos, cardiac nurse. USA. 
“NO comment (back to changing the diaper of a 300-pound, HIV, gray-haired, confused, combative & very rude open-heart patient for the nth time... on a SATURDAY night! $igh.),” 

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Anthony Asistido, physician. USA. 
“If it means assuring a better life for my family, then I will embrace the distress that comes with working away from home.” 

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Karyn Flores, marketing officer. Singapore. 
“Yes. It is all worth it because in the end you become a better person after going through all the challenges to survive in a foreign land. Hence, you appreciate and love your family and friends even more. Hard-earned money is just a plus,” 
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Different strokes for different folks. The bottom line is if leaving home will make you and everyone else happy with the chance to having a better life, then it will all be worth it. My hats off to all the hard-working Pinoys. You don’t only alleviate your family’s lives but the country’s as well. You guys are truly the Bagong Bayani!

Any opinionated comments, violent reactions or use (-ful/-less) suggestions? Voice it out below.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 01, 2011.