Just three weeks after we started working in a government agency, my college classmate keep on harping on the issue of his desire to work abroad and earning a monthly salary that is astronomically higher than what we are currently earning. He wanted to leave so that he could send his mom home from her fourteen years being a domestic helper in Hong Kong. Making his mom come home will fulfill his dream in making his family whole again.
Apparently, my classmate is not the only one who wants to leave the Philippines. The agency where I work for is suffering from the mass exodus of its employees. New employees, old employees, and even senior officials left the country to work in Singapore or in Dubai. Those who were left behind are seeking for overseas job opportunities or just finishing their contracts so they too could reap sixty thousand pesos and above monthly salaries. In my workplace alone, three data analysts are planning to leave. If they do leave, the agency will be sorely handicapped since the position of data analyst is very critical.
The atmosphere in the agency where I work for is filled with talks of future resignations. In spite of these, I opted to stay.
“Engineers Serve the Country”
These are the words that were painted on the walls of our classrooms in the College of Engineering. It is a nationalistic slogan that calls on all the engineers, specifically the UP engineers to stay in the country and offer our talents and whatever we learned for improving our country. These are the words that are easily shrugged off these days, and I am one of those Filipino engineers who are lukewarm in such idea.
I could say that in my college years, I was an idealistic nationalist (bordering to ultra-nationalism, but that’s another story). That was then, before I came face to face with the real world. Now, I am disillusioned. I'm just another tired Filipino who merely exist on a day-to-day basis. The ills and corruption of this country successfully squeezed out the last juice of idealism inside of me.
I still agree that we, as Filipino engineers, should serve our country. If we will not offer our engineering skills for the Filipino people, then who will?
Thousands of Filipinos go out of the country, in a hope that they will have better jobs and in the end, they will give better lives to their families. Sadly, many Filipinos hoped in vain. Many of them were tricked by their contractors, abused, maltreated, killed, and executed. Hundreds of them became undocumented workers hiding from authorities.
With these serious dangers, many Filipinos still want to go out and try their luck and they are not to blame. In the Philippines, many people are jobless, or underpaid. The government is so corrupt that it fails in addressing the basic problems of the society. Sometimes, the government is seen as serving the elite and the business lords instead of serving the public.
I am also in the midst of these push and pull factors concerning my employment. It is true that I will earn higher abroad, but it is also true that I might be maltreated once I decided to go out. I am scared to experience such things. I am the type of person who avoids pain, in whatever form. So, I also decided to stay because of the fear of uncertainty. For now, I prefer my monthly pay slip and my secure life in the Philippines.
Family is the Key
Like my classmate who uses his family as the main reason why he is deciding to go abroad, I also use my family as the deciding factor why I am staying. In the past, I dreamt of having my own mansion, large tract of land, and money in the bank that will be enough to sustain me in my old age. But all those dreams were changed. Now, all I want is to keep my family intact. I learned that money does not give happiness but could give emptiness.
Yes, I am staying. I want to be as close to my family as possible. However, when things get desperate, I might leave this country, but that is another blog post.