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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PEBA 2010 Season | Focus on Strengthening OFW Families!


The OFW Phenomenon

It is very typical for parents of a Filipino family to give better future to their loved ones especially their children. As opportunities for employment are not that much in our country, many leave their homes and loved ones for greener pastures overseas.

Working abroad is perceived by most Filipinos, as one best alternative of fulfilling and achieving those dreams. The prospect of having someone from the family working abroad (be it a father, a mother or the child) brings thoughts and visions of a family having a house fully equipped with home theatre entertainment showcase, HD Flat TV, new refrigerator, big washing machine, aircondition units in every room, having a brand new car, children having the latest cellphones, laptops, PSP, signature clothes, bags, and shoes, etc. mostly gizmos, doohickeys and thingamabobs.

“If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you can bet the water bill is higher”
The price for working abroad is very costly!

Going abroad and becoming an OFW doesn’t always turn the family’s dreams into realities... It does not always give the full proceeds and yields for the OFW. There are those who are very lucky to have good fortune and there are those who are less fortunate. Some are lucky to have kind and generous employers while some have cruel and abusive ‘masters’. Some get high salaries, some are overworked yet underpaid...others even don’t get paid. Some get good bonuses and incentives, some are not paid their salaries on time. Some have lavish villas, luxurious flats and apartelles, some live in impoverished tents and bunkers. Some have flashy cars, some have to hitch ride in trailers. Some go home twice or thrice a year, some have to wait for 2 years or more… sometimes foregoing his vacation and converting his ticket cost into cash to have something to send home. Some are lucky to have very good health insurance coverage, others struggle in fighting health problems and illnesses alone in a foreign land. Some are privileged to have their families with them, some are not even recognized by their own children.

Behind the scene of the financial benefits of the OFWs are tales and woes and sad stories of the OFWs and the families left behind. Numerous OFWs, in dire circumstances suffer loneliness and homesickness and they become vulnerable to temptations. And to cope with it, they engage in illicit and forbidden affairs with, either fellow OFWs, or with other expatriates and the adopted country nationals. On the other hand, the spouses who are left at the home front succumb to the weaknesses of the flesh and give in to unfaithfulness and philandering. The crumbling of the OFW’s marriage as an inviolable institution does not only affect the relationship of the spouses but has relentlessly caused the erosion of the basic unit of the society – the OFW Home. It has caused the break-up of hundreds of thousands marriages and families. Children grow up undisciplined and unguided, living literally like orphans. Many OFW children are not guided properly. The long period of separation of the OFWs and their families also creates gaps in the relationship of the parents and children. The closeness of the family with each other is oftentimes lost.

The intangibles are irreversible for the OFW family. Missing the milestones in the family’s social calendar may not seem that important but these are ways to improve relationships at home and prevent break up of families. Oh, how many of the OFWs missed their baby’s first step, birthdays, anniversaries, school activities, graduation, recognition programs, PTCA meetings, weekends, homecomings, etc? At least, for those who are lucky and can afford to be online are in a better position than others but this cannot compensate of being together as a family.

OFW Family in Crisis – The dream for the family’s bright future is turned into a nightmare

The Offices of the POEA and OWWA and other Advocacy Groups for OFWs’ concerns are alarmed with the growing number of cases of abandonment of families and broken marriages. An OWWA survey conducted 3 years ago revealed that 3 out of 10 OFWs have broken families. Assuming an OFW family with 2 children, that would translate to 6M Filipino youth whose growing up years could be influenced negatively by the pain and sorrow of a broken family. This will in ways affect the future of our country.

The crisis that the OFW family is in continues to disintegrate daily and there is no sign of its turning down. The migration pattern of Filipino diaspora is in a way proportional with the rise of broken families.

It is so ironic that the OFW who works abroad to give a better future for his/her family ends up with broken marriages.

PEBA’s 2010 Theme: An Out of the Ordinary Call

PEBA has witnessed the real life suffering and loneliness of the OFWs and their families and believes that strengthening the OFW families, strengthens the homes and the nation! Thus, this season’s theme of “Strengthening the OFW Families: Stronger Homes for a Stronger Nation” does not just momentarily fit the issue of the hour but is a timeless subject that cannot be bound by shackles so long as there are OFWs out there.

Scores of blogs and articles have been written about the subject in the past but it seems that the government authorities remain clueless of solutions and action plans to abate the increasing number of broken families.

We cannot wait and just rely on our government to come to rescue of the OFWs families in crisis. As Pinoy Expats and OFW bloggers, we have the moral obligation to help and encourage one another in our own little ways. What we blog and write about may encourage a fellow OFW or a fellow blogger to save his marriage from falling apart… it may help one to keep the family intact.

What can we do as bloggers? The PEBA 2010 Season opens with not just the OFWs and Pinoy expatriates writing about the OFW families but will be joining forces with local bloggers who, in one way or the other, have been influenced by OFWs in their lifetime. The support of the local bloggers who are sympathetic to the OFWs cause will have that exponential effect of reaching and educating up to the grassroots level.

PEBA calls on the bloggers to write and post about topics on strengthening the OFW families, and their being miles away from each other. Topics may include family communication, family gatherings, parent-child coaching and counseling, assistance and support in children’s homework and projects, conference meetings with family members, online contact with families, pointers on cheap communication, etc. PEBA calls on the bloggers to write about what they are doing to strengthen their families despite the distance and their absence from home. PEBA calls on the bloggers to share insights, ideas, pointers and how to express love for their spouses and children.

PEBA will not just be an organization that will give annual awards for exemplary blogs but it will proactively act on issues that will make difference in people's lives, especially the young children, and the OFW's and their families.

PEBA’s Call to our New Government Leaders and Private Sectors

OFWs are happy on the government’s appreciation of the billions of dollars that are remitted into the Philippine economy. Such acknowledgment must be placed in more concrete terms by giving more benefits and perks for the OFWs. Furthermore, PEBA calls on the new leaders to take a reality check on the OFWs and their families. PEBA calls on the government to take care and support the OFWs and their families by putting leaders – secretaries, labor attaches, consuls, and embassy officials who understand and are sympathetic to the plight of the migrant workers. Appoint new leaders who are mindful of the struggles and harsh realities in the life of OFWs and their families - leaders who have vision for the OFWs and their families.

To the private sectors that have benefitted from the sweat and blood of the OFWs remittances, PEBA calls on you to create and promote advocacy programs and projects and to fund social activities and values education workshops that will help strengthen the OFWs families.

The OFW is certainly a “hero” but behind the medals, gallantry and valor is a human, frail with flesh and blood and in want of a family life.

The sacrifices and hardships of the OFWs will always be there in order to fulfill their families’ dreams for a bright future. Those suffering should be worth it!

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©2010 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards

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