“Love is not to be purchased and affection has no price.”

-St. Jerome

WHENEVER my friends and I talk about getting employed and how our lives would turn out after graduating college, I always end up disagreeing with them. Unlike them and some 10 million Filipinos living and working abroad, I would want to practice my profession and spend the rest of my life here in the Philippines.

Every year, nearly a million Filipinos leave the country to seek greener pastures abroad. Some would go on to become permanent residents of their preferred “promise lands.” Before, it was just a trend for those unable to finish college or satisfy job requirements here. But now, our professional doctors, nurses, educators, engineers, and even athletes are joining the bandwagon.

We should admire top-rank Philippine tennis player Cecil Mamiit, who was raised in the US but decided to turn against the tide and come back here. Having won countless international titles and four grandslams in his career (Australian Open in 2004, 2002 and 2000, French Open in 2003 and 1999, US Open in 2000, 1997, and 1996 and the Wimbledon in 2002, 2001, and 1999), he opted to play for the Philippine team, for instance in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Manila last 2005 on which he won a gold and a silver medal. This year, he again played for the RP team in the Davis Cup, where RP defeated Pakistan (4-1) for a second-round seed.

With Mamiit’s exceptional love for the game and the country, I wonder if there is any Filipino left who would be willing to follow his feat of choosing his homeland over more lucrative offers in foreign lands.

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Undeniably, there have been successful Filipinos who decided to work and eventually live far away from their “real home”. They have become professors of reputable universities, a White House chef, members of the U.S. army or navy and successful fashion designers. But reality bites. Life, even abroad, is not first rainbows and butterflies.

Overseas Filipino workers, as they work for higher salaries, sometimes pay an equally high price for their safety. Employees get deprived of day-off and salaries, and worse, abused to death by their employers. Terrorist attack worldwide may catch our OFWs in crossfire, and before they know it, they all want to go home even before they acquire their much awaited ‘high’ salaries.

What about the family of these OFW’s left behind? They could be well-provided, but the affection and the love coming from their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and partners whom they miss can never be displaced. Many OFW families end up broken.

It is also disheartening to know that the professionals would rather go abroad to earn more money than train the next generation of Filipinos to become as good as them. As a result, the country have to make do with mediocre workers.

I do recognize hard-working OFWs. I respect them much because they are willing to sacrifice being with the people they dearly love just to be good providers. But working abroad is not the only way to provide to one’s family.

Practicing our profession here in the country may not mean instant money, but it will surely equip us to acquire skills in our own way. By doing such, we can make ourselves and the country better while being with our loved ones. After all, success is not achieved overnight.

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If ever I would be successful as Mamiit, I would not go anywhere because I love everything there is here that is not guaranteed abroad—the love of my family and friends, and writing for my fellowmen.

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