Migratory Shame

Fitting, I guess, that I finally re-uploaded the travel logs (still incomplete) last Saturday, March 13th: second year anniversary of The Jump. That means I’ve lived in the USA as an American for two years.

I get twinges of guilt about it sometimes, reading news from back home. The PDI is quite contentious in labeling as sellouts those young graduates who leave the Philippines’ troubled shores for higher salaries in foreign currency. Having contributed to the brain drain, I probably fall under that category myself. While I did depart with the stated purpose of earning my Master’s degree, it would be dishonest to say that my decision was not also affected by the same despair which drives the exodus.

Mark has thoughts on the “sellout” label, mounts a defense of overseas workers, and issues a challenge to those in power: give Filipinos a reason to stay.

Mike has an excellent admonition for those who characterize the flight from the country as a fight for survival: seeking greener pastures is not the same as fleeing for safety. The Philippines may be in bad shape, but certainly it is not a second Somalia. Yes, poverty, street crime, and dirty politics are present, and life in Manila is hard and rough, but it’s still much better than “merely survivable.” In 1998 I left home, rented a little room in Parañaque and lived in relative squalor for three years, and even that life of subsistence was nothing compared to the lives led by the seaweed farmers of Katakian Island, the farmers of Ilocos Norte, or bangkeros from Batangas or Palawan. (All of whom I have lived among for a short time, and even then sheltered from their harsh routine by the elitist veneer of Filipino social stratification.)

Rowie is growing a list of initiatives. Scroll down a bit also for further reflections on this “Avian Migration” issue.

From Ganns, an open letter to FPJ. Though I doubt FPJ would be able to even understand it if he received it, Ganns is staying on.

As for me, shameful as it is to admit to my friends back in the Philippines, my plans are set to stay here for the long-term. I’ve grown roots here in the Eastern seaboard, both in this city and in the girl that I love. What I wonder is, does this now exclude me from criticism of Filipino affairs, owing to the image of the deserter sellout sniping at his roots from afar?


  1. Mikoid says:

    Sellout ka talaga, brownpau!!! Huwag ka nang umuwi! Seriously, that daily South Expressway commute could be characterized as “survival”. Your honor remains intact!

  2. rowster says:

    Filipino? And all this time I thought you were Vulcan! Heheh, just kidding, Ordo! :P

    Seriously, I think that whether one is in the Philippines or abroad we all have opportunities to help our country in our own small ways, whether by helping our countrymen abroad, by showing foreigners that no, Filipinos don’t have tails and don’t live in trees, or by being a voice of objective and critical reason about the chaos that is our country (as you so often do in your blog).

    And I dunno, but I’m beginning to think that maybe that’s exactly what we all can do right now, as the weight of despair on our shoulders grows heavier: maybe what we ought to do is to try to spread a little hope, try to show one another that there are ways that every single one of us (wherever we are) can help.

    Heck, our ancestors survived 350 years of colonization, our grandparents fought in a world war, and our parents made it through a 20-year-long dictatorship. Now that we’re the caretakers of the Philippines, maybe we ought to pass around a few shovels and do our share as well. :) (Wherever we are.)