and Compatriots’ Voices
Based on the
data periodically provided by our web counters, the greater bulk of
visits to Bulatlat are from countries or areas with high
concentrations of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and overseas
Filipinos (OFs): the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea, and the
Middle East. OFWs and OFs thus form an important segment of our
As I was about to sleep on the office
sofa one night last December, because I was to do early-morning coverage
the next day and it was better for me to sleep over since where I live
is more than an hour away from where the happening would be, I was
alerted by the phone ringing. From the other end of the line I was
greeted by a motherly voice asking for news about what was happening in
Bicol, the region in the southernmost part of Luzon island.
Bicol had been hit just a few days
before by supertyphoon “Reming,” which has become legendary in the
damage that it wrought.
It turned out to be a long-distance
call all the way from Australia. The lady was dead worried about her
relatives in Bicol, and she couldn’t contact them to find out how they
were, and she had called Bulatlat because she had searched the
Net for Philippine media websites and ours was the only media outfit she
could find, she said, with a published telephone number for immediate
She said she had read news about the
calamity but had failed to come across detailed accounts.
I, of course, had to give her the bad
news: how “Reming” had claimed hundreds of lives in Bicol, literally
leaving people dead on the roads, and how it had buried two villages in
Albay – and how even we couldn’t contact our colleagues in Bicol because
the storm had destroyed all energy and communications facilities in the
She sounded distressed after hearing
all that I had to tell her, but nevertheless thanked me
profusely and said it was only
through Bulatlat that she managed to come across more detailed
information about what had happened in Bicol.
This incident comes to my mind as I
recall that in Bulatlat’s six years on the Net now, we have
frequently received similar feedback from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),
as well as overseas Filipinos (OFs).
Based on the data periodically
provided by our web counters, the greater bulk of visits to Bulatlat
are from countries or areas with high concentrations of OFWs or OFs:
the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea, and the Middle East. OFWs and
OFs thus form an important segment of our identified readership. They
are also among the more active in sending comments on the site.
A good number of these comments are
similar to that from the Australia-based lady who called one December
am trying to learn more about the realities of the Philippines,” said
Bradley Cardozo, a son of immigrant parents in the U.S., in a letter to
Bulatlat on Oct. 6, 2004. “They offer Southeast Asian studies
courses here at Cornell, and hopefully I can study abroad in the
Philippines next year. But anyways, I wanted to inform you that I have
been reading your site, and I think you offer the best commentary and
analysis of what is going on in the Philippines. Thank you for keeping
A little less than a month
earlier, Bulatlat had received similar feedback from an OFW in
you to all the Bulatlat staff,” said one who gave his name as
Andrew Ex in an e-mail on Sept. 14 that same year. “(For) almost 13
years I (have not been updated on) the real situation in our country.
Thank you to my sister, (who informed) me about your website. Updated
na ako ngayon kahit na malayo ako sa ating bansa (I am now updated
on what is happening though I’m far from our country.”
Two years before that Bulatlat
had received feedback of the same sort from Nikko Buenaseda, a Filipino
student in Los Angeles, California. “I always look to Bulatlat.com for
the real ‘stories’ behind the issues facing our nation,” he said.
Some, like one who gave her name as
Garma, write to tell how they feel about the hardships of life for
Filipinos in a foreign land.
“Does anybody out there know what
caregiver/health care provider means over here in the U.S.?” she said.
“In our language it means tsimay or atsay. I’ll not say
katulong (because) it is more decent compared to the others. The
work involves a lot of time (24/7) as a matter of fact and depending on
your prospective employers’ needs and wants. And some also require you
to clean their house, and some will also restrict you from using their
stuffs - like phones, TV, or even opening the fridge.”
Still, others write to Bulatlat
asking for assistance on the possibility of locating relatives or
friends they had not seen for years, or even decades.
We realize that many of our
compatriots overseas consider Bulatlat to be of importance to
them, as a source of information about what is happening in the
Philippines. Likewise, we appreciate the avidness with which many OFWs
and OFs peruse our pages.
As we enter our seventh year, we
would like to return the favor to our compatriots overseas by also
spreading the word to Filipinos in the homeland about what is happening
to their relatives or friends abroad.
will soon come up with a regular section
for OFWs and OFs. The section will feature their stories, in their own
What are the travails of trying to
fit into a culture totally alien to you? How much more difficult – or
easier – is work there compared to the homeland? These and other OFWs’
and OFs’ concerns will form the meat of Bulatlat’s upcoming
section for them. Bulatlat
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2007 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.