Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Living Abroad & Family at Home:One Way Street?

Christmas, New Year and Valentines just finished so I know that most of our Filipino-Americans has sent a lot of gifts through balikbayan boxes, sent money by remittance and even spent quiet a bit of money on long distance calling.

This is our culture.  Our family in the Philippines think that we are living abroad and it doesn't matter where, America, Japan, Hong Kong or Middle East, they think that we have more.  That is the common perception back home. Except for those who has been abroad and went back, they surely know what it is like to live abroad.

Sadly, most families at home also think that we got it easy here. I mean, I hear it.  An uncle asking money from a relative here in America to pay for his kid's tuition in the Philippines.  A retired grandparents here in America that is getting pension from Social Security paying for their grandkids'  schooling, house maids and apartment rental in Manila. This one is crazy, her grandmother who lives with her in America sneaks there soap bars and other grocery supplies to send in a box back to the Philippines. That is just how we are. Whatever we have, we have to share to our family and love ones back in the Philippines.

It can be good or it can be bad, this is how we value our family. Our culture. We look back.

The question is, how about us?

When it is our birthday or when it is christmas or valentines, does anyone from the Philippines care to pick up a card from National Bookstore and mail to us?  Or does someone care to send us a text to greet us or say "I pray you have good health and I wish you love."  Or send an email or snail mail! Surely, that is not much to ask.

Living abroad doesn't change much inside, we are still the same people and that is why we send those boxes still  and of course we also appreciate the effort, the thoughtfulness....right?

I know that there is now FACEBOOK and often our family and friends just conveniently greet us in our "walls".  I know they put some thought to it of course... but I think it would still be nice if someone took the time to send us a text. Mail a card from Philippines, even home made cards personally, I don't mind actually I love those!  Or even take the time to send an ecard. What do you think?

I just feel that Filipino's living abroad lately has it on a "one way street".  We are expected to give and give and that we don't need anything.

At one point in my 13 years of living abroad (7 in Japan and 6 now here in America) I wondered if I stopped calling the Philippines, would someone actually write me a letter. If something happened to me, how long would it take for them to find out if no one here cared to let them know? 
So if you are in the Philippines and has a relative or friend living abroad, send them a card, email them, text them they will really appreciate it! ---MaG

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  1. That is indeed food for thought. I myself help a lot of relatives here in the Philippines, and I feel bad whenever Christmas comes around and I'm expected to give everyone a gift. After I give each one his or her gift, I leave the place with nothing but empty pockets and empty bags where I carried the gifts in. No one bothers to hand me a handmade Christmas card or a simple gift that would simply mean I was thought of (even for a few minutes)! People think that just because you're better off, you won't appreciate a simple gift anymore. Maybe that's how they their mind works...because if you give them a shirt, for instance, that doesn't have a designer label on it, they feel bad.

    Perhaps next Christmas I'll decide to forego gift-giving and instead treat orphans and the needy. I wonder how they would feel.

  2. My philosophy is different, I am planning to help provided they will assist me in selling my products. I will pay them commission and give them bonuses every year and help them open their store in the near future with a 50% downpayment as a franchise owner. This way, you have control and at the same time help them to have a better life.

  3. Hi Filam, you are very right about your observation! It really seems a one-way street (we are Dutch male and Cebu-Carcarian spouse living in Netherlands). It seems even too much hazzle for homefront to just send a simple text message...
    Did you confront your homefront with these thoughts (one-way affair) and if so, how did they react? And if so, did it change for the better?