Understanding the Filipino diaspora

By Herbert Vego

ON Father’s Day, my son in New York City sent me a few hundred dollars.  Not bad at this time when we Filipinos are hard-hit by inflation.  A dollar is now worth 54 pesos.

I remember that as a child in the 1950s, I had always looked forward to a share of the goods in the monthly package shipped from New York City by my late Lolo Pete. He and two other brothers of my maternal grandmother had emigrated and worked there and were in the habit of shipping us a monthly package of chocolate, milk, canned goods, toys, candies and clothes.

Unlike some of my cousins, however, I never wished to replicate my grand dads’ foreign adventure. I just thought of earning good grades in school; and the future would take care of itself.

I was already a college sophomore in Manila when Lolo Pete and his wife took one of their rare vacations. He wanted to do something lasting for us kids but there was nothing I asked for. It was only my cousin Merla, a Medical Technology student at Centro Escolar University, who asked him to help her land a job in the United States after graduation.

Since then, Merla has become one of the ten million Filipinos who have gone abroad for “greener pastures.”  In fact, she has already retired from her job and is now enjoying the fruits of her labor with her husband, children and grandchildren in New Jersey. They have no plans of coming home to the Philippines for good.

Many other cousins, nephews and nieces of mine spread out to other parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore.

They are mostly nurses who had worked in the Philippines for starvation wages. To this day, new nurses are forced to “volunteer” without pay before they could be admitted for hospital employment.

Looking back, I realize why I intentionally chose to stay behind: As a journalist I had hoped to play a role in nation building. It was a nation for which our heroes had fought and died in various struggles against the Spanish, the Japanese and the Americans. To escape to a foreign soil, I thought, would be tantamount to desertion.

I don’t think so anymore at this time when “democracy” in the Philippines has been mangled beyond recognition. But that’s another story.

The world has become so small – 15 hours by plane to the other side – that anybody can claim to be a citizen of the world. Anybody can talk and write to anybody anywhere in real time through the Internet and be a “netizen.” The world has become borderless, where no individual can claim to be purely from where he is now.

On each square meter in the world stand people of different ethnicities and identities, making each square meter a microcosm of the world.

Thus, the Filipino diaspora or dispersal of Philippine populations has become an understandable destiny of a people trying to make both ends meet through skills that fit and fill the labor market abroad.

It’s by sending home half or part of their income to the family that our borderless citizens enable their kids to study in the best local schools. And that’s good for this country’s survival.



“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

The Bible throbs with a score of Bible verses stressing the importance of light in both its literal and figurative applications.

It’s the “light” that has maximized the value of the St. Anna Catholic Church in Molo, Iloilo City as a night-time destination of both local and foreign tourists.

When Senator Franklin Drilon and Mayor Jerry Treñas asked MORE Power President Roel Z. Csstro to brighten up the renovated edifice in time for its turnover from the National Historical Commission to the local government of Iloilo City, he did not hesitate installing the numerous floodlights that have made it glitter like gold at night.

Castro vowed to illuminate the other heritage sites in the city.

MORE Power has been taking steps to live up to its modernization plans.  Among its latest acquisitions is a brand-new 30-MVA mobile substation imported from Turkey. It will replace the old substation in Molo district.

With the approval of the law expanding MORE Power’s coverage from the city to 15 towns and a component city of Iloilo province, let us expect even better services at the lowest price possible in accordance with the economies of scale, which refers to the cost advantage experienced by a firm when it increases its level of output. The advantage arises due to the inverse relationship between per-unit fixed cost and the quantity produced. The greater the quantity of output produced, the lower the per-unit fixed cost.

More on the good news from MORE later.