During the reference period of April to September 2017, there were 2.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers noted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (Source). This is the combined number of those how have worked abroad and of the ones who are currently working outside of the Philippines.
Take this number and imagine the families that come with it, the sons and daughters of some of these overseas Filipino Workers/parents. Say their mom or dad left for work in another country while they were still little, these children then would have carried on a unique familial culture growing up. Remember the movie ‘Anak’ starring the star for all seasons Vilma Santos and a young Claudine Barretto? That legendary movie is an example that shows the results of a parent’s decision to become an overseas Filipino worker. Issues will rise here and there, the pent up angst may rip apart the picture-perfect tight knit family.
But as someone speaking from her own experience, I’d like to think that life as an OFW’s daughter is really less dramatic than that.
Here are a few reals that sets it apart from the reel version.
6 Realities of Growing Up with OFW parents
You get used to them not being around everyday.
To get tired of their presence from spending too much time with them is a foreign concept. You don’t see them everytime you come home from school or work because of the circumstance and not because it is their fault nor it is their choice. Sadly, we are not able to watch them grow old as much as they want to see every nitty-bitty detail of our growth because well.. they’re in another country and timezone.
We are thankful for technology.
Actually, we do see them everyday; but we just don’t get to touch them, hug them, or kiss them. Instead, we express the desire to be affectionate with them by sending stickers and emojis. Being able to contact them through websites and applications like Viber, Facebook, and Skype makes us feel a huge relief because we know where they are, how they’re doing, and most of all, that they are safe (we also get scolded via Skype or Messenger when news gets to them).
We get to go out whenever we want.
At any age, at any time, to any place, and on any day. Who’s there to stop us, right? It feels like we have a lifetime of free passes to all the night outs with friends and with our significant other. As fun as this privilege sounds, though the imaginary nagging voices of our parents and our conscience actually do still keep us responsible and in our limits. As a result, some of us still ask for our parents’ permission regardless of the situation just to let them know where we’ll be.
Goodbyes do not get easier.
Of course, the overwhelming joy and happiness is always there whenever they come home. It’s always there throughout their stay and the days are always brighter and sunnier; but somehow, time also flies by faster when you’re having too much fun. Before we know it, we have to say goodbye to them again. It’s a cycle: a sad and painful one that just makes us want to throw a tantrum. But alas, they must leave for work and we understand (since we’re seven years old or something). Even though we’ve gone through it a number of times, every goodbye actually becomes a little bit harder to say.
No one can ever replace them.
Even if we’re blessed to find home in other places like school, orgs, within our friends, or in our workplaces, we will still end up thinking about our parents. We know this much is true because always end up looking for them at the end of the day. It will always be a wishful thinking for our own families to be complete on certain events like graduations, celebrating an achievement, our birthdays, and Christmas. #wishuwerehere
We’re most thankful to them.
Our parents probably think that we have no clue how much they have done for us because we are showered in the fruits of their labor back here in the Philippines. But as we grow up, we do notice a lot more things. We realize how much quality time with the family they have already sacrificed so that they can work hard instead and bring the bacon back home from another country so that our everyday needs and wants can be satisfied. Honestly, we can only imagine the things they have gone through for us; and for all that and what we have now, we are endlessly grateful to mommy and daddy for putting us first before themselves.
Note: These are based off of the author’s first-hand experiences, which may not apply to all children with OFW parents.