COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Next time another foreigner declares that the Philippines is “a nation of servants” let us not immediately raise hell to the speaker but to our government that is driving our people from this land to serve foreign masters. The statement is partly true as it tells part of the picture. And we have to explain to our few Asian neighbors who hire Filipino domestic helpers that these “servants” are what they can only afford to pay and thus see of citizens from this country.
For the more skilled workers and professionals are heading for America, Europe, Australia, Middle East, and even Africa. Our country has sent teachers, engineers, missionary priests, and development workers to Africa. While the bulk of our more skilled workers and professionals are working in the First World countries and the booming centers in a few Arab states. They are the cream of the crop, better paid, and spread across varied occupational fields of work.
Brain drain indeed is a disadvantage with the out-migration of our more skilled workers and professionals to other lands. The best of our human resource that could help this country move forward are bailing out or jumping ship. But if our ship is truly sinking then it is more advisable for those who can swim to safer shores to better swim for their safety. Those who have secured themselves abroad have the greater capacity to help – look how the billions of remittances keep this country afloat.
The good side I see with the out-migration of our more skilled workers and professionals is that the rest of the population can be better attended to, and apparently, they are the people who need government the most. Otherwise, with the “best of the crops” still here, they would be occupying most of the position in the workplace, in government or in the private sector and relegating more people to the margin – unemployed or underemployed.
For we have to account that even if millions of Filipinos have already left the country the Philippines is still an overpopulated lot, with over a third of the population living below poverty line. We are still in the process of mobilizing and organizing the populace in order to help them improve their human condition and build a more just social structure. And there is only so much that the government can attend to, or even our non-government organizations or civil society can extend their hands out.
We must note that somehow, our overseas workers are more or less equipped with basic skills and necessary papers, unlike those other nationals in earlier eras that left their countries with only the shirts on their backs in search of a better life. A lot of Filipinos who work abroad as domestic helpers, nannies and caregivers, construction and factory workers are college graduates or at least have spent ten years of schooling and can speak conversational English. They have good survival instincts, adapting fairly well to different surroundings.
Of those who opted to migrate, many are doing higher level jobs and are being honed in their fields of work, acquiring better training and experience in the more advanced states and living as gainful citizens protected by law. Those who work as nurses and other health professionals, teachers and scholars, artists, scientists, among others are not only making ends meet but pursuing careers which they could not have probably pursued here due to lack of opportunities and government support.
So I see it as a more strategic placement that some of our people are located securely in other countries, even scattered around the globe and find footing. And not for all of us to sink in this beautiful yet ravaged land. Or simply die here of floods, landslides, sunken vessels, insurgency and extra-judicial killings, dengue, or even hunger. Our race is assured of continuity if all Filipinos are not situated and annihilated in only one place, most especially with this climate change and global warming.
Once the Filipinos will be spread around the globe, they will humanize the world. For even though how Filipinos try to ape other nationals’ outward appearance and manners they don’t readily adopt to their attitudes and characters. We are inherently a compassionate lot and considerate towards others so our latent humanity will brush off on other people. And this sense of humanity will be indelibly marked on the children of various nationals that are being cared for by our nannies and domestic helpers – this set of servants – who will turn out to be the real rulers of the world.