All over the world it is known how corrupt our president and her administration is. The killing of journalists , political and student leaders critical to her regime, the “hello, garci tape”, the cancelled broadband deal with China are all stinking trash so pungent and obnoxious that no typhoon that devastated the archipelago until now has ever made it to neutralize this stench. Our president is small in stature yet her doings are monstrous in the true sense of the word. She has a large appetite and, together with her equally voracious husband, surely has the capacity to devour the entire Philippine provisions within a few feeding sessions. This is the image of the national government from the outside, the number one export article of the Philippines: Greediness. And these are the socio-political associations that come to mind among expatriates and non-Filipinos alike the moment they hear the word Philippines: poor, sick-man (or woman?) of Asia, corrupt, greedy and primitive politicians, underdeveloped. If the person is of different nationality, he might add to it the beautiful landscape, the beautiful people, nice hotels , etc. just to inject in you an antidote to your reddening face. But as you know, these beautiful landscapes are not our own making. You will sense the difference though through his or her facial expression when you talk about Taiwan, Vietnam – or Japan for that matter. The eyes inflate out of fascination and respect. This time you may not feel embarrassment but depression, your eyes dropping to the floor as you wonder again- why are we like this? A Filipino carries with him the whole Philippines unwittingly the moment he embarks on a journey in search of a place that would nurture his dreams, that would justly compensate his skills and get respected. With him are the memories of entire life , the recent farewell hugs and kisses from his dear ones at the airport. But with him travels also the entire burden of a country’s scams and failures that would increasingly confront his expatriate’s Dasein sooner or later. And he is not alone, but they are by the thousands who leave the country for this common purpose. And thousands, if not, millions, are being indignated, embarrassed or depressed the moment a scandal caused by a vicious few in the Philippines dominates the news media again. For then all these known cliches are endorsed once again. No matter how the expatriate considers his relationship with his old country, his reflex to “cover up” his country against malevolent ( yet true) remarks from others is omnipresent. Adan Silangan hit the truth when he wrote that it’s the expatriates who suffer the most from these scandals. To be outside is to be vulnerable, like being at the front line. Interestingly, the government keeps sending many to the front and proclaim them as Ambassadors of Goodwill and – to make the irony perfect- reward them with the scams they export.Truly, this is unfair towards this group of people who help keep the economy run by sending millions, if not billions of pesos every year. This is a public display of egregious ingratitude on the part of the government.
Now with the Internet connections becoming more accessible everywhere, new more political burdens are added to the life of an expatriate- for now he is receiving not only the national but also the newest developments from his local town or barangay! In the case of Bulan, it is interesting to observe how the national government is mirrored in our present administration, perhaps just differing in scale- a big fish vs. small fish ? Be that as it may. But they have one thing in common, namely their voracious appetite and their export business. In Manila you have the First Gentle Mike, in Fabrica the First Gentle Geming, with their respective little wives but with appetites far bigger than themselves. So Bulan is now also an exporting town, but not fish,- for fish are suspiciously disappearing in Bulan-, but the trash of corruption and moral decay. Not all expatriates suffer this time, but the taga Bulans expatriates everywhere who are still connected with their town and who someday will be coming back home.
So, is leaving home and being an expatriate a sign of defeat? Categorically, I think not. On the contrary, it is heroism, for now you stand at the front line, and far from that comfort of being home and yet carries that home with you in your daily life and the burdens you are getting from home and the often times offending remarks you’re getting from people in your chosen home. Did you get it right?