Posted on 2005

THE FILIPINO FAMILY Ang Matatag na Pamilya Para sa Matatag na Republika 107th Anniversary Celebration of Philippine Independence Filipino Community in Los Angeles, California
Sheraton Universal Hotel

Our social cultural norm expects any Filipino to walk extra miles and to carry any burden for the sake of the family. Behind the heroism of Rizal was his supportive parents and siblings. The patriotism of Bonifacio was an extension of his love for his orphaned brothers and sisters.

No matter how far we have traveled from our simple beginning, it is still the happy memory of a loving family that serves as a navigational beacon in the journey through life. My own family is the source of my strength as I deal with the complexities of business and politics.

In a world that changes too fast and where the pursuit of purely personal interests becomes preferential option for many, the traditional Filipino family values of respect for elders, caring for one another, pagmamalasakit, pagbibigayan, kababaang loob, sipag at tiyaga must be preserved and promoted. Without this tradition, we are, as intimated by the leading character in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, as shaky as anybody not standing firmly on a flat ground.

Some may experience a clash of values between our native culture and the socio-cultural environment of your adopted country. But there is no inherent contradiction between what is good in the American outlook and our native perspective. Such enriching American values as love of freedom and truth, passion for excellence, a sense of innovation and a strong optimism, among others are perfect congruent with our own.

Just as we have much to learn from America, we also have our own family values to share with her. As a nation of immigrants, America is woven from many cultural strands. Filipino culture can be a worthy addition to what America is and to what it can still be.

Much as we cherish the role of the family as the channel of our beliefs and hopes, we cannot ignore the fact that too many families in the Philippines today are subjected to tremendous strain because of the pressure of poverty. Countless Filipino fathers and mothers are now working in many countries around the world in order to provide a better future for their children left behind. Many more are seeking employment in the Middle East, Europe, in Africa, in Micronesia and Melanesia, in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and North America.

Right now the Philippines probably has the distinction of providing the largest contingent of overseas workers who are globally spread out. This contemporary social phenomenon may be called the Filipino diaspora.

From an economic standpoint, the Filipino diaspora has been beneficial to the Philippines. The combined remittances of overseas Filipino workers are a great help to the Philippine economy. Indeed it is not a mere figure of speech to call our kababayan who are working in many parts of the world as our modern heroes.

There is a tradeoff, however. On the negative side of the question is the very high social cost. It is bad enough that fathers and mothers have to be so far away from their loved ones. Their feeling of loneliness is even intensified by their sense of alienation in foreign environments. What is more disturbing is the psychological impact in Filipino children who do not enjoy the physical presence of fathers or mothers as role models. Somehow family suffers.

The ideal scenario is for Filipino workers overseas to rejoin their families. But this possibility is more a function of economics than it is the result of any social intervention. For as long as poverty continues to be a major problem in the Philippines, Filipino diaspora will remain.

Perhaps we should find encouragement in the examples of two Asian countries which have their own diaspora. China and India with their huge populations were saddled with far worse economic problems. Chinese and Indian workers had to find a new and better life beyond their shores.

Chinese and Indian leaders over the years have been single-minded in pursuit of their respective visions for their societies. Now, China and India are widely acknowledged as major players in the global economy.

With new windows of opportunity opened in China and India, many Chinese and Indian scientists and professionals trained in American and European universities have opted to go back to the lands of their birth.

Like in China and India, we have what it takes to create an achievement-oriented society. We are a very resilient people. Ang kailangan lang ay sapat na sipag at tiyaga.

Kaya naman lubos ang aking pag-asa at pananalig na may magandang bukas na hinaharap ang Pilipinas. Sa tulong ng Panginoong Diyos, magiging matatag ang mag-anak na Pilipino na siya namang magbibigay lakas upang maging matatag din ang ating republika.

A strong Filipino family is only the beginning. It must not allow itself to remain an isolated island. For if our families were to be trapped within the narrow walls of personal interests, then we are no more and no less than a mere archipelago or a cluster of islands. A nation is born only when its parts begin to realize that they have a shared past and a common future.

If the generation of Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, del Pilar, and Aguinaldo did not rise above purely family concerns and ethnic divisions, there would have been no proclamation of Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

Ang pagdiriwang natin ng Araw ng Kalayaan ng ating pinakaiisang bansa ay salamin na nagpapakita ng kagitingan at katapangan ng Pilipino. Ito ay nagsasaad na ang ating republika ay binubuhay ng diwa ng pagkakaisa.

Ngunit hindi pa tapos ang pagbubuo ng isang bansa, ang pagpapalakas ng republika. Kailangang mangibabaw ang kapakanan ng bayan nang higit pa sa pansariling kabutihan lamang. We need the spirit of bayanihan to move the Philippines irreversibly forward.

Magsama-sama tayo sa pag-unlad ng Pilipinas. Ito ang magagawa natin upang bigyang halaga ang pagdiriwang ng ating Araw ng Kalayaan.

Mahal nating lahat ang Pilipinas. Ipadama natin sa Inang Bayan ang ating pagmamahal. Higit niya tayong kailangan ngayon.

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