Sunday’s New York Times Magazine examined the Overseas Filipino Worker phenomenon by chronicling the Comodases, a Filipino family now spanning two generations of members leaving the Philippines to work abroad, hoping to reach “the ultimate” United States.
I read this article with a heavy heart because in it, I see both the best and most frustrating aspects of my people: their balls-to-the-wall-for-family spirit, and the “they speak English and take orders” good little colonized brother/sister stereotype fostered by overseas employers.
I’ve never thought of the docile brown servant stereotype as accurate. Sometimes it only takes a certain detachment to take orders. However, it takes true nerve to suck it up and leave your children for sometimes years at a time in order to live in a foreign land where you are often defenseless against human rights violations, religious persecution and false imprisonment. All this in the hope that your children won’t have to do as you did; and that you won’t languish in regret or alienation when they don’t even recognize you.
Suffering from a post-modern case of ennui or angst about career choices or being a model minority? Reading the article may prove an effective remedy. It makes “the mommy war” seem like a privilege (my opinion: IT IS).
After I finished reading the NYT piece, politics and economic theories aside, a thought lingered that I suspect might be similar to what the Comodases think of all those OFW’s, including themselves: “They did the best they could.”
What would you do?