BY ANNE QUINTOS
You know what most of us say: "Another day, another dollar".
Money to save and send back home keeps us motivated, so to speak. Our government relishes billion dollar remittances from us every year. But there's more to being away from home than money-making. Here are inflation-proof ways to contribute as Filipinos wherever we may be:
1. Best foot forward
I formed a favorable impression of Taiwan, not through their government officials or police officers, but because of their taxi drivers. It may just be my experience, but most taxi drivers I came across with here are kind, honest, and prompt. Whenever I get the chance to speak with them (sometimes through charades), most are willing to teach me a few Mandarin words to help me get by. I also rememeber a time when a taxi driver made a wrong turn, and he gave me back half of the money I paid him because he said it's his fault.
In this modern age when everyone can easily draw conclusions about a country with just a few clicks of a mouse, it's not enough to just speak well of the Philippines or recommend good beaches. Most often, we get overly sensitive when we hear negative comments from other people about our country because we believe it's not fair. If a foreign coworker thinks that our airports are full of red tape, instead of being defensive, strive hard to be the most efficient employee in your company. That way, they don't have a chance to generalize because you can easily prove them wrong.
2) Set your 2012 financial goals
Come on, pick up a pen and paper and write down your financial targets this year. And buying a new cellphone shouldn't be the only item in the list. Answer simple questions like: How much do you intend to save this year? How will you do it? What are your potential investments this year? When do you plan to return home? Jot it down and work it.
3) Respect the law wherever you are
A friend of mine once told me that Filipinos are good citizens of another country. I didn't believe it but true enough, most of us, even myself, line up to wait for a bus. It may be because we have a lot to risk in a foreign land.
But when nothing is at risk and nobody's watching, most seem to go on an addiction relapse (see proof here). Train yourself to obey the simplest of laws no matter what. If we can do it abroad, then it's not impossible to have some law and order back home.
4) Take in the good things you learn from a foreign culture
The escalators in Taiwan have two parts. The right side is for people who want to wait standing from point A to B. The other side is for people who are in a hurry. During my early months here, I was often shoved aside because I was standing in the middle of a step.
When I came back in Manila for a vacation, I caught myself standing on the right side of the mall escalator. It's not a big thing, but it's one of my personal achievements. Of course, there's still the major ones like being on time...and that's one of the things I still have to work on for 2012.
5) Do not let go or forget your own roots
I have an aunt who impose Filipino language-only rule in their Canadian home so that my cousins won't forget their native tongue. That one is just too amazing for me.
6) Learn something new everyday
I've been asking a friend to join Photoshop classes for OFWs because he may find it interesting. He, however, told me he won't be using it in his job at a factory. Now that his contract already ended, he emailed me and admitted that he should've had because he didn't know what to include in his resume now that he's looking for a job in Manila.
It's also not just about what to add in your resume. Learn something new to discover new things about yourself. Who knows, it may be a big contribution to our nation someday.
7) Support our local industries and businesses
Country correspondent Merlisa Biscocho said it right: Don't buy exclusively stateside. Instead of sending your children a new Xbox, why not sponsor them a few trips to watch local theater or movies.
8) Deepen your relationships with family
Times are easier now. We don't have to wait for courier to hear news from our families. We now have email, Facebook, Skype, and even Chikka. So how difficult is this resolution then? Because it's so easy, the value we put in it also decreases. When we were young, my mom would record us singing over a cassette recorder to send to my dad in Saudi. Now that we have the Internet, communication shouldn't stop with Facebook wall posts like "Ma, thanks sa iPhone. ♥♥♥"
9) Teach people how to fish
The proverb “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” is probably easy to understand but difficult to do. There are a lot of OFWs who support not only their immediate families, but also their families' families. Our seamstress, for example, is working abroad to fend for her grandchildren. Is it wrong? We're not in the position to say so, but sometimes tough love can help a person, even a generation, go a long way.
10) Share what you know with fellow Filipinos abroad
Michael So (or Kuya Mhikey), an overseas Filipino in Taiwan, spearheaded training programs to help migrant workers learn how technology can reconnect them to their families back home. The advocacy of IT Ministry of the Hope Workers Center continues to grow for more than seven years now.
Regina Arquiza, a good friend of mine, hosts a radio program in Korea that addresses different concerns and issues of Filipino migrants. Recently, she won the 1st Migration Advocacy and Media Awards for Radio Journalism by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).
Mhike and Regina are among the dwindling few who left the country but didn't let go. And so we say to you, share your talents, make the most out of your overseas experience, be the best person you can be, and don't let go of the true essence of becoming a Filipino.
Got more ideas to share? Join our community on Facebook and tell us your new year's resolution for 2012!