If Jose Rizal were still alive at the present time, he would probably have considered working overseas as well. Will that dethrone him from being the national hero?
What he said is true enough, and I’m doing my own translation: “those who do not love their mother tongue (or native language) is worse and more foul than a (for lack of better word) smelly fish.”
But he did not mention anything about actually having to stay in that place where the mother tongue heralds (the Philippines in my case) to show the love for the native language.
OFWs, while overseas, love talking about each other’s life stories and latest gossips in their own tongue, because it carries more impact, encourages more reaction, and appeals to a “homey” feeling. This is what I’ve observed with most – take note of the word most – Filipinos I encounter when traveling. Now, it doesn’t matter if it’s Tagalog or any other dialect, so long as we categorize it as one of our provincial languages. Of course there are some instances wherein these guys would opt to speak in another language either a.) to make them seem “classy” or b.) because they’ve grown up in another country.
And there are some, even while in the Philippines, would talk to each other in English and even rear their kids by implementing an English Only Policy at home. These are the kids you would typically hear “Yaya, I want to make weewee na.” These English-speakers-while-in-the-Philippines are commonly perceived to be the rich folks, although some are just plain trying hard.
Of course, I’m discounting those who work in call centers wherein part of the work etiquette involves speaking English at all times. Actually, some people also accuse call center agents of not being patriotic. Ever heard of the famous adage’s call center version: “ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay sa call center naglipana” or “those who do not love their mother tongue are all working in a call center.” My two points on this: First point: that’s their job. Speaking English on a conversational basis makes them carry out their job more efficiently, and avoids any untoward incidents such as letting “ay puke mo” slip all while on a call. It is also a courtesy and transparency for the foreign bosses so they know what’s happening around them. Ever been in surrounded in a conversation wherein you don’t understand anything anyone is saying? Out of place. That’s the feeling. And, oh, add paranoia too. Second point: The call center industry is one of the key income-generators for the country and a source of livelihood for a lot of people. You can’t hate a decent profession when it feeds several mouths, just because of your biased view of what patriotism is. Anyway, enough of call centers. Back to OFWs.
My point is, location doesn’t matter to prove whether you love your roots or not. I was only inspired to write about this during a recent job interview for a company in Australia. One of the questions asked was, why did you choose to leave the Philippines? To which a follow-up was jokingly inserted, do you hate the Philippines?
Five years ago, my decision to work overseas is not motivated by my “hate” for the country. It is purely a personal decision. I’m not working overseas as a Filipino, as an empowered woman who makes bold choices, as a Catholic, as a university graduate or any other categories the institution can think of. I am working overseas and decide to still work overseas for me, most especially, for family. I don’t go overseas because I am a Filipino and I am about to change how the world views that. Anyone who says that is saying crap. Nobody goes anywhere for a national purpose, unless of course you are a national athlete or a delegate or a politician. OFWs do not work overseas to make their country proud. They work overseas to make themselves and their family proud. The country being proud of the OFWs is just an after-effect, if these OFWs good, of course. People will get a good impression of you, and then the good impression of the roots follows.
Notice the difference:
I hate the traffic in the Philippines.
I hate the pollution in the Philippines.
I hate the corruption in the Philippines.
But it will never be I hate the Philippines, because all those things I’ve mentioned can be hated in other countries as well.
So, I don’t hate the Philippines. I will never hate the Philippines. My leaving it is not tantamount to too strong an emotion such as hate. My leaving the Philippines is all about opportunities and exploring the world. And I think a lot of OFWs feel the same way.