This piece could have been lexically rearranged like, 'Diaspora and Deliverance'. But I had thought of emphasizing deliverance before diaspora.
I want to imagine the old story of the people of Israel forced by circumstances to flee home to nowhere and everywhere except to their heartland, their homeland.
You need to be a party to Diaspora to understand this. Otherwise, all things considered, scenes and characters included, you end as an un-engaged, un-involved spectator.
Before I left for this now-long years of exile, I have had this feeling of sorrow for mothers and fathers and everyone else going abroad.
One question was The Question for me: Why have we come to this, this 'exportation' of the best of our human resources to other peoples and other lands?
The opening up of our human labor to job construction work, in massive droves, in the 70's, and then to the service industry (read: domestic help) a little bit later, served as a floodgate to this unabated 'Filipino labor condition.'
I admit, this labor exportation makes the economy afloat.
I admit, the money remittance, ceteris paribus, is the reason for the state declaration of all foreign workers as the country's 'modern-day heroes'.
I admit, the dollars we earn make a headway in improving, gradually, the quality of life of our families and by extension, our country as seen through the highrises in Libis, the Mall of Asia in Pasay and other phallic symbols of unregulated access to capital by industrialists and well-connected businesspersons.
I admit, we have better shopping malls, perhaps better than the ones we have around here in Southern California.
But what to do with these malls when we do not have the purchasing power to even try a Sbarro pizza prepared the Italian way to imagine that life in Rome and Turin and Reggio Calabria is just the same as life in the malls, this shopping till we drop and then eating to our hearts' content?
This is one fat lie, one big illusion, I know.
I have gone through it.
Your dollars, in the country and elsewhere, if you are an overseas Filipino worker, dwindles so fast you cannot believe it when what you earned for months and months on end is now all gone after only a few days.
We are back to square one: Babalik ako sa abroad para maghanap uli ng dolyar.
And the cycle begins again, and there is no deliverance.
But here, here in these foreign and strange places where we are all scattered like wild seeds, like laborers for rent, like second-class/third-class citizens of the world, we feel the urge to blame everything and everyone just to vent our anger for working so damn hard like 'our carabaos/our cows to the world' in order to survive, just to survive each day.
We are raging mad on anything: globalism, capitalism, terrorism, the warmongerism, the military-industrial complex, communism that has failed, socialism that is about to fail, feudalism that is coming back and reincarnating, churchism that is as good as Eddie V, Brother Mike, the fundamentalists announcing the end of the world and their ilk, the president, the senators, the congressmen and congresswomen (is there any self-respecting goverment man left?), and prices of commodities that give you the shock, The Shock when you go to the palengke of our dreams of good food and bountiful meals.
Let us say it: the Filipino is starving and someone, please, someone, deliver him from this evil that has befallen on him.
So are we to expect more of the Diaspora of workers, of brawns, of brains?
More Filipino teachers and nurses and therapists are coming here as immigrants.
The teachers, oh, they will teach Americans how to be good in their science, math, and language. They will teach the special children with life skills. They will teach them how to live life to the full.
The nurses and therapists, they will act to heal the sick, their actions in dollars and more dollars to be sent home as remittance to save kin and country.
This is our sad, sad lot as a people.
The Diaspora goes on, and there is no deliverance, well, not yet, until kingdom come.
Or, I could be wrong. Social and national salvation could be just around the corner?
A. S. Agcaoili
June 5, 2006