OFW-overseas-filipino-workerMy father was an OFW–Overseas Filipino Worker. In 1972, he left behind a wife and six children, ages ranging from 3 to 17, to accept a high-paying engineering position in Malaysia. He remained an OFW until his death 22 years later.

Our family enjoyed the material and financial blessings that come with having an OFW parent. We had “stuff” that many households didn’t have in the early 70’s–color TV, stereo system, a packed cupboard, nice clothes, etc. My siblings and I were able to study in private schools. We didn’t worry about where to get our next meal. Life was good.

Everything changed, however, when my father run off with his secretary to the US. He eventually divorced my unemployed mother, leaving her to provide for four remaining children who were in high school and college. Our family’s case is not unique. Today, there are more than 10 million Filipino OFWs and migrants in around 200 countries. Without a doubt, many of them share our family’s sad experience.

The social cost of this OFW phenomenon far outweighs the economic benefits. Broken homes, philandering spouses and dysfunctional families–these are the curse that may inflict any household with one or two parents working overseas. OFWs have been tagged as the nation’s modern-day heroes because of the huge sacrifice they endure in order to provide for their families. Ha! If you had a cheating OFW father, would you consider him a hero?

I am reflecting on this issue because this week, our church is hosting the Global Diaspora Forum. About 300 scholars, church leaders, and mission practitioners all over the world will be gathering to discuss current issues affecting the diaspora and ministries to the diaspora. The term “diaspora” refers to the 1 billion people who have left their home context and/or country. These are “people on the move”–scattered throughout the earth due to armed conflict/war, economic forces, career advancement, educational opportunities, and natural disasters.

I have to admit that I remain angry at all the forces that compelled my father, and millions of other Filipinos, to become OFWs. Now that my younger son is among the Filipino diaspora, I’m worried. Therefore, at this forum, I am looking forward to hear how the Church is reducing, if not eliminating, the social costs paid by the diaspora, OFWs included. Do we find any redemptive factors in this phenomenon?¬† Where are the diaspora in God’s mission? In faith, I express this hope:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)

Photo Credit: OWWA

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4 thoughts on “I was a child of an OFW, and I hated it!

  1. hello po.. this is violy dablo from abs-cbn… we are gathering info regarding relationships of children with their ofw parent/s to be tackled in one of our shows. would it be ok for me to have a quick talk with you po…

  2. As I looked up on the internet about the children of ofw’s most of them shocked me. Like how can a normal person instinctively find leaving is good. It’s like saying smog is good. Then justified by various reasons. Economic wise it’s great. Family wise it’s terrible. No matter how they sugar coat the word physical interactions are needed for a healthy mental health. To me I really do hate being left behind. I don’t see how being an ofw being worth it for a couple of fancy things when you have people left behind. for Dreams, they justified. As a Filipino child I was taught early on I should be a nurse and go abroad to help people. Now as I age my dreams are unreached and never will, my dream have pass it’s time and no wealth can return it.But still i dream about it. It was a time I was with my father riding a bike roaming the neighborhood. Where my mom waits upon our arrival to eat. It was a dream that was snatched from me a by work at overseas after that all I feel is bitterness and aloneness until the whole family feels too indifferent to communicate and numbness to certain subjects and joke it off. It struck me how can wealth replace the warmth of a person and memories we could have had. I don’t want a hero to provide for me in a long distance and not knowing anything about them or what they do, I just want my dad back home and be with him through thick and thin.

    This sir is my opinion and emotions that have been bottled up, and now I pour it out.

  3. Hi I would like to share this story you have in a website I am running. I work as an advocacy staff for an NGO that assists distressed OFWs and their children based here in Mindanao. I will only post it once I get your “yes”. Thank you.

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