Filipinos in Germany and Ireland
June 12, Independence Day had me watching a cable news program featuring random interviews of pedestrians and their thoughts about love of country.
“If you were to choose which country to live, would you still live in the Philippines or in another country?”
The question is provocative but makes little sense if asked of people who have not traveled outside the Philippines, let alone lived or worked in a foreign country.
For example, Filipino tourists will have something to say about Hong Kong’s Intelligent Traffic System because it’s one of the best in the world. Domestic helpers illegally working in France continue to rave about the country’s medical care and educational system.
Pinoys working in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have only good things to say about pension schemes, support for maternity and paternity leaves, as well as benefits for the unemployed and disabled persons.
These countries have developed benchmarks in services that contribute to the well-being of its citizens, such that if our people were given the opportunity to enjoy them all, they will surely pack up and bid lupang hinirang goodbye.
In any case, the supposed TV respondents who were walking around the national park tried to ward off the news reporters but after a few tries, they successfully cornered at least three people who said they prefer to live in the Philippines because it’s the country of their birth.
Had the poser been asked of Filipinos working in Germany, the news reporters would have been floored because although thousands of Filipinos have made this European country their home for many years and prospered materially along the way, a report in the Manila Bulletin (June 14) indicated they would rather go home to Pinas than live in the first world country.
Last week, Vice President Jejomar Binay visited Filipinos in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. These cities are magnets for Filipinos and some 25,000 of them are in the medical sector and marine-based industries. Because Germany does not allow dual citizenship, some Filipinos with German spouses opted to change their native DNA, in a manner of speaking.
Many Pinoys in Germany have adjusted well to the foreign environment through hard work and self-discipline suggesting that their potentials have been well tapped by their adopted country. They have gone up the professional ladder, live comfortable lives and regularly send dollar remittances to their families back home.
Many speak fluent German, which is one way to join German mainstream society but to the surprise of Vice President Binay, many Filipinos have no plans of staying there for good, prompting the Veep to wax poetic.
“Many of you have held on to your Filipino citizenship, despite the attractions of being Germans in Germany. You can take the child out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the child,” Binay told of the Filipino communities.
He praised them for having become “more disciplined, more methodical, more scientific, more organized, and more punctual.”
“Above all, you have kept your basic Filipino values — values that make us stand apart from other peoples and cultures,” Binay remarked.
The Vice President could have delivered the same speech in Cavan County, Ireland and not miss a beat because Filipinos in that part of the world have also raised the Philippine profile through hard work, cooperation with the community they live in and most of all, remaining cheerful and united despite the challenges of living in a foreign culture.
I learned this from my online chat last week with former broadcast colleague Denis Santillan who works for a posh hotel. He lives together with his wife and three children in Cavan County close to the border of Northern Ireland for the past 11 years.
A native of Bantayan, we used to work together for station dyLA. This passion for broadcast enabled Denis to set up a web-based broadcast facility called Emerald Radio, where original Filipino songs are played during the day. The internet station has also a website, www.emeraldpinoyradio.com wh ere news relevant to the Overseas Filipino worker community in Ireland are posted.
To mark the 115th Independence Day celebration, the Filipino community in Cavan County presented a musical and dance gala, entitled “Filipino Heritage Night” at the Ballinagh Community Center in Ballinagh County in Cavan.
Starting today, the “Filipino Heritage Exhibition,” a showcase of Filipino arts, crafts and paintings will open at the Johnston’s Central Library also in Cavan Town. This twin event marking Philippine Independence Day is co-funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund and the Cavan Peace Partnership.
Although the EU Regional Development Policy is aimed “to remove economic, social and territorial disparities across the EU, restructure declining industrial areas and diversify rural areas which have declining agriculture,” it is interesting to note that the said program, also known as Cohesion Policy has been extended to enhance migrant worker societies.
Looking at their pictures posted in the social networking site, the FilCom in Cavan County certainly pulled all stops to make the cultural night grand and memorable.
Kudos to Pinoys in Ireland like Bisayang dako Denis Santillan!
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