By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
I have a friend leaving for Italy on Friday, January 13. She is a mother of two adorable kids. We have been friends for almost a decade. Not only will I miss a good friend but two children will be left behind by their mother to find a job abroad.
Many people think that in order to provide a better future for their family, one has to sacrifice and go abroad. Some people say that there is no bright future for their families here in our country. They muster the courage to leave the country and go abroad, clueless of what’s waiting for them.
My friend, Grace, is an addition to the number of families separated from their loved ones because of economic hardships. Grace said in a text message that she has been crying non-stop while packing her baggage. She said that she has been hiding from her children so that they will not be sad too.
It’s saddening, even heart breaking to accept that they have to leave, be very far away from their loved ones.
I have witnessed this in my own family, my two aunts worked in Saudi Arabia; my uncle was a former seaman. Another aunt on my father’s side is also an overseas Filipino worker now working in Abu Dhabi.
Their lives may have improved after they left the country. My two cousins were able to celebrate their birthday at a popular fastfood chain. They are enrolled in a good school. They can buy whatever they want because they have the money. But they got all of these at the expense of missing their loved ones. And the absence of one parent has a definite effect on the guidance of their children.
My cousins have their own personal problems because they grew up without their mother. Another cousin of mine whose mother is in Abu Dhabi is suffering from a psychological problem. I also saw how my grandmother knelt and prayed while crying because my two aunts were in Saudi during the Gulf War in 1990.
Really, this forced migration sucks. The government should be held accountable for creating a situation where children grow up without a mother or a father. And not only that, the government should be held accountable to children who lost a mother or a father because they came home dead. Because the government has been earning through OFW’s remittances, it is pushing parents to go abroad. Instead of improving industrial and agricultural sectors in the country that will create local, the Philippine government has been aggressively pushing a labor export policy. And the government calls them “bagong bayani.” However, for this year, the government allots a meager P3.14 billion ($73 million) for services for overseas Filipino workers or one percent of the whole 2012 budget.
Too bad, my friend’s husband is also working outside of the country since he is a seaman. Poor little kids, Mom and Dad will not be present during their graduations, birthdays and holidays. Poor parents too, they will be working as slaves in another country in order to support their family only because the government cannot provide decent jobs for them.