Friday, March 30, 2007

Some Somber Uninvited Thoughts

During moments of quiet introspection, I unerringly am guided to plan for another expectant trip back to the old homeland, strongly prodded by some kind of homing device pointing my wander-struck ken toward that familiar destination.

While every trip provides revealing and refreshingly new insights about the ever-changing old homeland, especially with regard to how sadly different it is from a first-world country like the US, many other things remain static and unchanged over time making the requisite adaptation to local conditions easy and trouble free.

However, certain uncontrollable issues like the weather and the environment continue to be irksome challenges that grudgingly have to be seriously dealt with each time, unfortunately needing for one to expend the self-same vigor and dedication in sufficiently jousting with these fortuitous vagaries.

On the more unpleasant negative side, however, I am personally experiencing an unsettling sense that has stubbornly bothered me and which rears its ugly head every time I begin to seriously interact with the local people and unobtrusively observing how they go about doing their workaday mundane business.

It is not a pretty picture and does not bespeak kindly of a serious part of the pervasive attitudes of the local citizenry. This attitude is revealed more in personal interaction rather than in media.

No doubt the typical Filipino looks up to the US kindly in more ways than typically imagined. The US is not only regarded as a possible source of economic salvation for many, but its social and political institutions are typically adulated with respect and deference, regardless of how the vocal local minority may prognosticate otherwise.

Many serious discussions about politics, society, education, and even entertainment, are more likely premised on how things are done or regarded in the US, and then how the local milieu has adapted and/or deviated from such “standards”. Filipinos would like to see their kids being educated in American schools, their employment with American companies where the dollar’s exponentially higher purchasing capabilities badly overhaul those of the dismally meager local peso.

In a manner of speaking, in a country that is now terribly debauched with pernicious economic hardships, many dream of finding themselves in the US, should the first available opportunity unexpectedly shows up allowing them passage.

But what many, in my personal estimation, possessing such attitudes and dreams may fail to comprehend and take into account is that there are consequent duties and responsibilities associated in turning these hopeful plans into realities. That, for example, going to America and living there to earn a living requires more than just being able to physically transport oneself to the place and start earning and availing of its perceived bounties. Important considerations requiring essential changes in attitudes and behavior, like being earnest about learning and obeying laws and acceding to the demands of culture of the host country, whether with regard to petty traffic rules, immigration requirements, or social demeanor expectations; where in the old homeland unfortunately many of these are renowned for their being mindlessly disregarded rather than their being adhered to by its ordinary citizenry. While no country can boast of having all their citizenry strictly comply with its laws, the US does distinguish itself from a country like the Philippines for its earnest commitment and regard in the application of the rule of law, regardless of station, race, status, etc.

Another critical issue that appears prevalent is the typical Filipino’s limited grasp of the bigger picture, learning to think beyond the tight circle of one’s family’s dreams and interests, and extending that to the health and well-being of an entire country.

The typical Filipino with dreams of immigration, especially to the US, finds it easy to imagine himself or herself immersed in hard and at times back-breaking work when he/she finds that doing so promotes the narrow interests and welfare of the family. But rarely does that solicitude, for example, extend beyond, into thoughts like how one’s actions, multiplied by many, may adversely affect the general welfare and interests of the host country.

To illustrate, a prospective Filipino visitor may not hesitate to hide his real intentions about going to the US, most especially with regard those that may be in contravention with the restrictions imposed by a visitor’s visa; like that the stay is only for a very limited period, and that employment is not allowed while under the auspices of such a visa. But once on board, many will not be burdened much in soliciting and accepting employment or even overstay if doing so works for the family’s welfare. Thus this justification trumps other equally critical considerations and makes the violator feel personally justified. After all the family’s welfare is being ameliorated, they would advance.

May we be able to find the answer to all these in how the typical Filipino views the oft-resorted one-world concept? That the entire globe is one big borderless place where everybody is free to fluidly move about and pursue his and his family’s welfare? After all, many citizens of other countries feel justified espousing such causes – one government and one world for all.

Unfortunately, these hopes are expressed by those who ordinarily come from beleaguered countries which cannot provide adequately, whether in job opportunities or good living standards, for many of their own citizens. Their hapless citizens are then compelled to seek their fortunes outside the confines of their own homelands.

While many may be fiercely nationalistic and ethnically patriotic about a homeland that has essentially failed them, they express no qualms laboring under a foreign country with a foreign government. Neither are there honest desires to integrate and assimilate in societies where, in a some real sense, they are said to be parasitically exploiting for their personal ends. Since they are not really invested in working toward insuring the economic and/or political health of the host country.

Like drowning men flailing and desperately clutching to each shred of life-giving buoyant straw, one must learn that sooner than later an entire country can only carry so much inert weight before it too begins to be weighed down to the level of the distressed countries from whence these new residents came from.

And then nobody will be any better.

Let the light be on each one of us.

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