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The Filipino Diaspora


There is much to say of how a native population is dispersed from its homeland. History leaves us a trail of many throngs forced by various forces: The Jews, the Chinese, even the people of Angkor. In recent history though, nothing is more unique than the plight of the Filipinos, who have done so by choice than by other external factors.

There is mystique in the Filipino Diaspora as unique as there are to any moving population. The discourse though, which follow immediately after every leaving soul has taken flight is that which make it most intriguing. There is many a great talk in blog circles about Filipino's moving out of the country following successive surveys that show an increasing percentage of Filipino's wanting to leave the country for good. The discussion centers most on a personal choice, on Pinoy Pride, as well as rants on other's opinions about staying, or those that have opted to turn their backs on the Filipino flag. It is in this dynamic discussions that the Filipino Diaspora is unique. Most other peoples will not care about other people, after all it is their families business, but not the Filipinos. To us, it is everybody's concern.

The Migrant Pinoy pervades the culture so much that anecdotes (even jokes) abound. Here's a typical story which may help explain the Diaspora:

The melodrama of the diaspora commences with the first flight. There in the airport, the Filipino stands and looks at his family, or next of kin, teary-eyed. In the background the roaring jet engines of two hundred other souls whizz by. There is a moment there of looking back, and trying to grasp a bucketload of tearful memory. At other times, he is excited by the thought of so many jubilant faces, or at certain moments hiding the nervousness of child. He maybe moving out for a job offer, perhaps a sizable post from a multinational offering four times his current salary, a menial domestic job, or medical option, a musician's job, a seafarer's bargain or just a tourist visa on hand ready to hunt a job and hide thereafter until he is legalized. He may even have a faked contract from relatives and friends expecting him to stay, or to start a new life for good, traveller's check ready, and the green passport all good and ready. With the latter, he may opt not to have any body to watch him leave, although in his last steps he shall have a flashback

In all cases however, he remembers a despedida, or lack of it. It is that final humbling feast celebrating his last hours with his friends and blood kin. He would smile and try to look around his passenger seat, and start tinkering with the buttons. When the horizon fades to a mist, his mind wanders into a strange new world of possibility.

From there, he will carve his new life with the sharp edges of his toiling hand, which by ancestry was tied to the soil and therefore robust and resilient. For the next years of labour, and perhaps dual jobs, withhis family in his mind at all times. Prayer will be his source of strength. Years after, when he decides to come back, he could not help but clap his hands in chorus with many others at the sight of a familiar horizon. The diaspora here is not a singular movement, captured in time, but an odyssey, split in stages.

Filipinos are a people of the world, and is thus highly adaptable. Molded in the hot sun and cold windy rain, coupled with mixed bloodlines and culture from the Spanish, Chinese, Malay, Americans, and the Japanese, his is thus all the good qualities of all these cultures.

Most have mistaken our keen appreciation of other cultures as denial of our own. Possibly others in their drowing accomplishments have been disillussioned by sweet success. Most Filipinos however, have the an innate sense for the palatable, the magnificent, and everything good and tasteful. Ours is a country who admires winners, and one where it matters more how one got where, than where one is at in his career.

Being such a proud race, that once had it's Golden Age, (We are a trading nation in the early centuries) we appreciate others that succeed, and we build on the depression of wishing we can make our land as good as any other. One can say that we dwell too much on the melancholy, and , we dream on almost everything that can be romanticized. It is with this that we are misunderstood.

We are a race of romantics, who has crafted many ways to say, I love you. Consider our different levels of love:

Pagmamahal,Mahal Kita, i.e. Mahal(in) = to give value, however the word kita is an odd word pronoun non-existent in Western tongue. It is a word substitute for "you and me" with a special emphasis on a bond between both the speaker and the subject. The word kita is not used in our language in situations when there is no emphasis for the relationship between the speaker and the subject. (e.g. Mag-aaway kita, i.e. we shall fight.) It thus signifies a love that gives value.

Pag-ibig, Iniibig Kita, i.e. ibig(in) = to want, not to be equated with lustful intent, but instead to a love that desires. It would seem quite selfish again, but the word kita in here plays a a humbling tone, that focuses on the speakers intent to be desired as well. This is a form of love, which has perpetual and mutual desire.

Pagsinta, Sinisinta Kita, i.e. sinta(hin) =
possibly the same as putting one in a pedestal, next to the gods. It is a term of endearment, sinta ko (my dear) that is attached only with affection.

There are many others such as iniirog kita, etc ... most with Sanskrit, Arabic, and Malay influences. The labels for the abstract is quite common, and if you are a linguist, you will quite notice a long collection of Filipino/Tagalog nouns and adjectives for various feelings, and sentiments. All pointing to the fact that ours is a race that carries much of its roots in emotion, and what one feels.

Word is honor in our race, and it is a bond. This is why verbs start the natural flow of sentences, because the Filipino people is an action-oriented people. We get things done, and our language operates on the level of action. it is thus the worst feeling when there is inaction, or mediocrity. And that is how we feel about our country; that is how Flipinos should be understood, as a race that will reserve a word and keep quiet in as much as he can, knowing the intensity of words that he can use.

We speak only when we mean to. There is no shame in the fact that we are all over the world doing just about everything. Moving out of the Philippines should not be misconstrued as leaving the country behind, as most Westerners will note. I hate people when they equate the same. In the same way I would despise Filipinos who would have moved out and turned their backs on this country for good. Those ones are perhaps the reason why others think ill of our diaspora.

The Chinese in Manila way back in Parian (Intramuros, Old Manila) have some of them cleaning mestizo and Filipino ears for a living. Filipinos are in that stage of population movement now... and it would be disheartening if we who have taken far better jobs than cleaning ears not make much of ourselves in other countries. Right now, our migrants and immigrants are into their second or third generation. By the time we establish our roots and enter into the fourth generation, the Filipinos would have won back their lost pride, and we would be vindicated. When that time comes, the diaspora of Filipinos will have highlighted an intrinsic meaning: that of coming back home, euphoria, excitement, possitivity, the list goes on: an amalgamation of sentiments that will manifest itself in a clap, a smile, and a mission to oneself to better the lives of others still in the earlier phase of the journey.

By that time, we have written our history, as one full circle, and we will all be everywhere, but still back home.

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posted by Jdavies @ 6/25/2004,


At 6/25/2004 03:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree. Go pinoy!


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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