Like so many other first generation Filipino’s in America, my parents immigrated to the United States in hopes of a better life. They studied hard in school, motivated by their poor economic upbringing to support their family back home, and create a new prosperous life in the United States. I am eternally grateful for the choices they’ve made and the opportunities they’ve provided for me. So when I came across this article first in the San Francisco Chronicle then on USA Today, it struck a profound chord that rings true in not just my life but also for every other Filipino who lives in the U.S.: The choice to stay and support a country, or move and support your family is a constant decision being made by thousands of Filipino’s graduating from college every year. Recent economic reports state that 70% of the nation’s economy is supported by overseas workers. Elmer Jacinto is one of them.
Once upon a time, Elmer Jacinto was his nation’s most promising young doctor. But doctors in the Philippines are not well paid, and so he boarded a plane to America.
To make more money. To become … a nurse.
Elmer Jacinto’s case isn’t new by any means, but it sparks debate in the Philippines and most developing Second and Third world nations. If you were to put me in either camp, opportunity versus nationalism, I would definitely take opportunity. In the case of my parents, they afforded me the opportunity to choose what I want to eat, where I want to go to school, and give me the choices, they worked so hard to achieve when they were younger. And to this day they give back to their homeland, in ways they would have been unable to do, if they remained in the Philippines.
Recently they went to their hometown, San Nicolas in the Philippines, for a medical mission, to provide, health care services and gifts to their hometown. I created a video of the recent event. Rather than proving the point on either side of the debate, this is an example of both opportunity and nationalism, community and pride, compassion and love. It is an example of what hard working people with hearts even bigger giving back to the country they left. Opportunity abroad eventually leading to opportunity in the country they left.