With me in the photo is Ate Mary & she has been an Overseas Filipino Worker(OFW) probably almost 20 years or more. She does look younger than her age which was 55 last 2006. I met her during our 3.5 years of stay in Malaysia. She got 3 grown-up children who grew up without her. Her husband had been unfaithful to her & thus her kids had been cared for by her siblings. The last time i spoke with her she told me that she had a problem with her youngest daughter who got pregnant & thus had stop schooling. Hence,Ate Mary got desperate because her efforts abroad seemed worthless.
The other photo with me is Ate Judith,in her 40's. I met her in Sabah & she had been working to & fro Brunei & Labuan. Like Ate Mary, she's also separated from her unfaithful husband. They got 2 kids who are being taken cared for by Ate Judith's mother back home in Zamboanga.
How many of our countrymen are going overseas to work & find the so-called greener pastures? How many families had been broken because of the thousand miles that can't be coped up or can't be strengthened with even the latest technology? Is the money worth than the time we hadn't spent with our kids whom we hadn't witnessed some of their milestones in younger life? On the other hand, what shall we spent if we stay in our country being overworked & underpaid?
Yes,family bond may be threathened but the growing pressure to provide for a family is the main reason why there are OFWs. Skyrocketing prices---from tuition fees & groceries to housing & utilities---have put too much strain on breadwinners.
It had beeen pointed out in a paper read at the Filipino Migrant Conference in Athens,Greece last 1997 that among the children of migrant wokers,incidents of drug abuse,deliquency,early pregnancies or marriages, & child abuse are increasing. Children also manifest strong materialistic values & they become overly dependent on money & gifts from overseas.All these point to a weaker thread in the fiber holding the OFW together.
This is a great challenge of every OFW family: making the family intact despite the distance. COMMITMENT is very,very important. Nowadays,one way of strengthening the family bond is through the use of technology---webcams,e-mails & cellphones.Making use of these modern gadgets may somehow alleviate the boredom & the desperation of being afar.
Working abroad is really a matter of choice. It really depends on each family how will they work out to build a strong home.After-all family is a basic institution that determines the strength of a nation.At the end of the day,it is the family that we look forward in coming home.