The Overseas Filipino Phenomenon and the Filipino Youth

This piece was originally published in on July 31, 2008.

Ask a young Filipino if he knows someone with a mom or dad abroad and he will tell you a handful of his friends who do. Or his parents might be the ones abroad.Around 11 million Filipinos are working abroad. This represents around 11%, of the total population of the Philippines.

That’s a lot of people!We are doing such a great job of exporting our people in exchange of the $14 BILLION yearly remittances into the Philippines.

These Filipinos usually go abroad to seek greener pastures so they can support their parents, siblings, or their loved ones financially. They endure homesickness, maltreatment by employers (especially in the Middle East), mind-numbing and exhausting work. But still, they go abroad in droves.

I’m not about to dispute the reasons of these Filipinos abroad. I have become an OFW in the past 4 years. A quick look at the countryside and in the cities will be enough to make us understand their decisions.

The Filipino youth are greatly affected by this Filipino diaspora. Let’s explore these issues.

1. Filipino youth are growing up without the guidance of their mothers, fathers or both.

If both parents go abroad, they are left with their doting grandpa or grandma. And in terms of providing discipline and guidance to kids, lolo’s and lola’s are more lenient because they just love their grandkids and couldn’t afford to see them cry.

When their parents come back, they are happy and glad. But as soon as they leave again, they become sad again. Is it any wonder why they don’t know their parents? Is it any wonder why parents don’t know their kids that deeply?

2. Filipino youth have access to bigger money but may lack the values and the character to handle such level of affluence.

Kids have bigger amount of allowance, thanks to the remittances from OFW parents. They can buy the latest gadgets they want. Go to places they want to go. So we often see kids with more than one mobile phones, who possesses iPods, PS2, Wii, Xbox and lots and lots of goodies and gadgets.

If they are older, they may have access to party venues and spend their money for partying and doing whatever they want to do. Even if they have bigger money, they lack the skills to manage such huge amounts. What happens? They might squander the money before long.

This is not only true for Filipino youth. This also happens to the spouses of the overseas Filipino worker. What happens is that they start to depend only on their OFW spouse. They don’t work. They don’t even try. They just live off the salary of their spouse abroad. They live very comfortable lives while the OFW is sacrificing sweat and blood abroad.

3. The institution of the family is being challenged by the OFW phenomenon.

Since the parents are not around , a youth from the Philippines might feel abandoned. Although going abroad is done with the noblest of intentions. But even with noble intentions a lot of things could still go wrong.

The parents of a young girl in my hometown went abroad. Her father went to South Korea and her mother went to Hong Kong. After several years, each of them had separate lovers in the countries where they work. It’s a sad story.

What’s sadder still is that it is not an isolated case. There are more stories like that. In Japan, in Taiwan, in South Korea. How many families have been ruined because of promiscuous sex in a foreign country. With the longings and the homesickness, such events happen. The institution of the family is indeed being challenged.

These are some of the thoughts I have concerning the OFW phenomenon. Yeah, OFW’s help the Philippine economy.

But is this really the way to go for our economy?I am thinking more of the young people who are growing up without one or both of their parents. What does the future look like?

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