Pinoys don’t live by bread alone…

By Klaus Döring

“Have you eaten yet?” is a common greeting in Filipino homes, often taking the place of “How are you?”

Many Filipinos will tell you it’s the first question that’s asked when a loved one walks in the door, because, culturally, food is much more than just something to eat. I learnt that from the first moment when I stepped on Philippine soil. That was in 1976.

The phrase “Man shall not live by bread alone” is today a common expression meaning that people need more than material things to truly live. However, it is also sometimes used in almost the opposite sense to justify material luxuries beyond simple things like bread.

Much could be told or written by staying abroad. A lifetime is not enough to discover all the beautiful places all around the world. I stayed in more than 80 countries worldwide till now. I met a lot of Filipino Oversea Workers. Mostly, they have been so occupied and so tired with work that on half-day-off, they don’t go out anymore. They preferred to rest instead. There is no more time to remain in touch with their loved ones. They failed to appear at dates or appointments even if schedules were agreed upon.

Being abroad is sometimes like being in a garden of roses. Everybody’s free to pick up flowers but surely, everybody will find it that easy because the roses are on top of the thorns.

Much has already been written and talked about homesickness of mind and heart. Homesickness usually attacks when Pinoys receive unpleasant notices from home, as many say, “O ano, may sulat ka. Alam ko ang laman niya. PROBLEMA AT MAGPADALA KA NG PERA.”

Nervousness leads to homesickness. Homesickness comes when a tooth aches with the thought that a monthly salary is not enough to have one fixed … and what about the other usual bodily aches? Homesickness comes when one is so hungry he or she couldn’t simply chew something because the ‘AMO” is around.

Homesickness comes, when one hears one of the boys in the Philippines doesn’t want to go to school. As one father in my neighborhood said this morning, “Anahin ba natin ang pera kung ayaw din lang mag-eskuwela ang bata?”

Pinoys don’t live by bread alone! Or should I say by rice? Anyway, I salute to all Filipino Overseas Workers. I learned a lot about their feelings and emotions.


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