- Family and Parenting
Filipino Family Traits and Values: Love for Parents
Filipino Traits of Having Deep Concern for their Parents
Filipinos are known for their inherent trait of loving their parents and immediate family. They work abroad either as OFWs or migrant workers so they can help the family that they left behind. They endure homesickness and being away for a long time just so they can send money to their loved ones.
I remember just the other day when I woke up early and heard...
The phone rang at around 5:00 am in themorning. It was my brother who called up from Dubai. He wanted to talk to our 85 year old mom on what brought about her dizzy spells, that made her faint again. He inquired if she was eating right and taking her medications. The old woman said, that there was nothing to it, and that she slipped on her hastiness to go to the bathroom.
He called up again the following day, and inquired if she still drinks her milk. The old woman replied in the affirmative; but still, the son assured her that he will order one kg of adult milk and vitamins at the nearby Mercury Drugstore right away. Less than an hour later, he sent me an email that the order was in process and I can get the items from the drugstore the next day.
Number of Overseas Filipino Workers, 1975 to 2011
The Family’s Decision to go to Foreign Shores
Filipinos are known for their close family ties and their uncanny love for their parents. It is not unusual to see members of the family go to foreign shores either as OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers) or as migrant workers. The earnings in the Inang Bayan (Philippines) are too minute for comfort, that it is not uncommon for members of the family try their luck in foreign shores. What everyone feels, is that, if they solely depend on earnings from the Inang Bayan, it would mean starvation and extreme difficulty for the entire family.
Most communities have families, where one or several members earn from abroad. My family was not spared in the exodus of Filipinos to foreign shores.Two of my siblings are in Dubai and Canada with their respective spouses. A sister works as an Accountant in a pharmaceutical company, and a brother works as Pipefitter in an engineering firm. They have by now, adopted the citizenship of their home countries.
As far as 20 years ago, my siblings have trepidations that the only way for the family to survive, is for them to go abroad. My brother didn’t like it as much as our sister: but can’t do anything about it, since his wife was based in Dubai. On the other hand, our youngest sister welcomed her new surroundings and the vibrant scene of Toronto, where she was based. She finally found the love of her life in Canada after five years of stay in the country.
The Filipino as Migrant Worker
Migrant Workers and OFWs
Most traditional families have migrant workers like my siblings, or OFWs within the clan. Migrant workers are usually the skilled workers or professionals who bring about the brain drain in the country. Due to the low pay and little opportunities at the home front, most highly skilled Filipinos opt to work in foreign shores. Middle to top corporate managers in the financial bastion of Makati City and Ayala-Alabang could earn from P40, 000 to P100, 000 (US$1,000 to $2,300) per month. That is a tidy sum if you are in the country and can afford you a few basic luxuries.
On the other hand, a middle-level worker in Dubai can earn from 5 to 10 times that amount. The disparity in earnings and the higher standard of living in foreign countries could make any local jump on-board and migrate as fast as they can. The opportunities are too many to be ignored. The call of the mighty dinar can lure many Filipinos to take everything that they got and fly out of the country when there is an opportunity to do so. Millions of Filipinos are now abroad and are sending their precious dinars and dollars to help their families that were left behind.
Plight of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
Poll on Parental Caregiving
Is it necessary to personally take care of one's parent?
The Philippine Economy and the OFW Remittances
The inherent close family ties of Filipinos have made sending of remittances to the Inang Bayan, as part of the Filipino culture. It may be a financial burden for a lot of OFWs, but money remittances are taken in great stride to help out their families at home. Hence, family homes are built, businesses are set up, and the schooling of the kids are taken cared of by the remittances that are sent regularly.
Due to the propensity of Filipinos in helping their folks, the remittances of OFWs and migrant workers have become the bastion of the Philippine government in propping up the economy. According to the British bank, Standard Chartered, overseas remittances is expected to increase by 8 to 8.5 percent beginning 2014 due to improved global prospects. The increase in remittances was in support of the 6.7 percent expected growth rate in the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2014 to help buoy up the local market.
Remittances are said to boost domestic spending with projections that the Philippine peso would climb higher against the US dollar by year end at an exchange rate of P43 against the US dollar. Increases in remittances would help the pesos climb up further to P38.75 by 2016, as projected. Remittances have remained one of the main components of GDP growth that constitute to around 8.6 percent in 2012 and is seen to increase further in the years ahead.
The Filipino Family
A Look into the Filipino Psyche
It is intrinsic in Asian families like the Philippines to love their parents. It is uncommon to see parents who are old, being placed in nursing homes. The children take it upon themselves to care for their parents up to their last breath. This filial affection by sons and daughters to their parents is something that is innate in the Filipino psyche. Regardless of the type of parent that one has, every offspring is obligated to care for them in their twilight years.
Since it is easier to get nursing aides or caregivers in the country than anywhere else, it is not unusual to see two to three caregivers taking care of an ailing parent. The expense can be daunting, so the children chip in to cover the cost. When there are siblings who are out of the country, it is usually expected that they would shoulder the brunt of expenses. Whoever has the means shoulders the cost of caregiving with nary a complaint.
As regards my family...
My late dad, was known for his extreme loyalty and love for his mother. The latter was not your usual caring and nurturing parent, but a termagant who efficiently ran the household of 12 children and a number of relatives on board. My dad was the 6th child, and like any other family during World War II, experienced insurmountable difficulties of being in a household of 12 children. When our grandmother became widowed, her sons and daughters took care of her financial and emotional needs by constantly being near her.
A Tribute to Mothers and OFWs
Why do Filipinos go abroad?
- For better opportunities to earn;
- To follow other members of the family abroad;
- To experience a higher standard of living;
- To escape economic stagnation in the country;
- To escape political persecution;
- For economic freedom;
- To financially help the family that is left at home;
- To escape from poverty and want.
The Matriarchal Rule in Filipino Families
The grand matriarch exercised a great authority in her 70’s and 80’s with her grown children, including my late dad. I still remember, my father who was president of his company, and in the middle of a conference, had to answer an important call --- his mother's. He had no compunction to stop whatever it was that he was doing, just to hear on what his mother had to say. It was amusing to hear the old woman complain, that there was nothing left in her refrigerator, except one tiny fish.
My dad laughed out loud, and said to everybody, that he had to cut short the conference, so he can attend to an important errand, his mother’s needs. So in a huff, he called me --- the Accounting Manager of the firm---for us to go to the nearby Seaside Market to buy the freshest fish, crabs, shrimps, and vegetables. When all was finished, we trooped down to my grandmother’s house at the other side of the city, to give her all the things that she wanted.
The old woman was teary in seeing all the goods. She thanked her son profusely for doing the marketing for her. No work was too low or too mundane for a son to do for his mother. My late dad and I were in office clothes, and dressed to the nines, but went straight away to the wet market just to make the old woman happy. This was the kind of love that a child who has the means, will do for his aging parent. My dad was a good example of having this type of parental love.
Filipino Traits of Love for Parents
The Bottom Line
The love for our parents is one Filipino trait that we can all be proud of. This kind of love is unquestioning and beyond reproach. You will not understand this particular trait until you see it first-hand. In our family, which is a typical Filipino household, it is the male of the species who are the nurturer. It began with my late dad, and I am seeing it now with my own brother. This is one Filipino trait and values that we are proud of: and that is, the unquestioning love for our parents.
The Typical Filipino Male
I used to say to my daughter, that the males of a typical Asian family seem to have more filial attachments towards their mothers that their daughters. I saw it with my late dad, and I am seeing it now with my only brother, Dante. Probably, because he has the means, being in Dubai, he can make decisions fast pertaining to the care of our elderly mother. He decided fast to have her arms placed in a cast when she slipped and fell last year. Both he and the sister, sends the monthly needs of our mom. He fills up the other requirements like medicine and other material needs on top of the monthly allowance.
He called up thrice in one week, and the old woman was more than happy that he remembered to call her up. Nothing really important was talked about, only a son’s query on how the old woman was doing and if she had been eating well. This thoughtfulness was enough to make an aging parent happy. Another call from her daughter completes her day. I guess, all siblings love their parent; and in our case, our only living parent now, is our mother. But it is the males in our family who is closer to their mom than the female members.