The OFW and the three bears


Be prepared as the BE(A)R months are in. OFWs consider this time of the year to be the most difficult season to get through. It's cold and dreary, made worse with Christmas approaching and you're not sure if you could spend it with the family.

You feel listless and sad, as if in a forest where the tangled branches of trees are out to trap you. When you see something that reminds you of home, you'll try to enter it. It's tempting to taste a warmly cooked meal, find solace in a comfy chair, or to stretch out and rest in a bed that invites your tired body.

Still, as Goldilocks also found out, you'll complain that nothing fits you best. Or when it does finally "feel just right", you'll learn that it isn't yours in the end. Like other OFWs, you have one foot in and the other out in trying to survive sadness in another country that will never be home. That's the story as we know it. It ends with Goldilocks running away from the home of the three bears.

Too bad, the OFW story doesn't end with just running away. For us, we need to be strong to face our fears. There is another thing to understand: the bears we need to confront aren't part of our external world. The most dangerous bears may be the ones dwelling within us.

The lonely bear

A grizzly is drawn to just hibernate during the winter season. That's how we wish it to happen when we're lonely. Bury ourselves in a cave of depression and sleep through the waiting.

The lonely bear is the first one to welcome the OFW. If you don't run away from it soon enough, it will introduce you to more of its friends. Why? Because misery loves company.

The hoard bear

To prepare for hibernation, bears eat as much food they can. While we don't have the capacity to stock nourishment in our bodies for months without food, we hoard on things for ourselves and families (and even our extended families) to fill such an empty space inside us.

The emptiness may be a bottomless pit, but our bank accounts and opportunities can easily run out. When you give in to the hoard bear, that's when you'll get to meet the third bear.

The lost bear

Feeling lost is like how the bear market is, a term mostly used to refer to when the economy is weak and the future is bleak. It's a common reality for OFWs who lost track of their purpose while abroad. So they also spiral down or run in circles.

When you meet or start to feel like the lost bear, hang on. Things may, in fact, get better. It'll get better just long as you wake up to confront your bears and find your way out of the forest.

Which bear have you encountered, and how did you slay it?

#NoToPork: OFWs Protest with Zero Remittance Day


When a whistle-blower broke the news that socialite Janet Napoles was re-channeling certain lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus NGOs, many overseas Filipino workers were particularly indignant. While OFWs separate from their loved ones to earn money abroad because of the lack of local jobs, the thought of politicians using government funds to fund their family's lavish lifestyles add insult to injury.

OFWs have every right to express dismay and anger about the misuse of a reported 10 billion pesos of "pork barrel". These workers mostly hold menial jobs abroad (as domestic helpers or factory workers) but managed to bring home almost U.S.$24 billion last 2012. The last thing they need are politicians leeching off their hard work.

Migrante International, an activist organization that safeguards the welfare of Filipino migrant workers, calls on OFWs to protest the pork barrel fund scam by not remitting on September 19.

Meanwhile, the Aquino government downplays the protest and appeals to OFWs to reconsider their stand on the issue.

A series of protests by OFW groups - from Qatar, Hong Kong, to Canada - have been held. On Twitter, OFWs weigh in on the issue some more.

As a fellow OFW, what do you think about the issue?