Overseas Filipino Workers
No group of people, perhaps, could assimilate with other cultures better than the Filipinos do. No other group, perhaps, has spread across the globe as massively as the Filipinos have. There are Filipinos in every country, and chances are, there are Filipinos traveling in every known sea.
Ferdinand Magellan, the Spanish explorer who discovered the Philippines in 1521, is known as the first man to have circumnavigated the globe. Ironically, he never did so because he died in the Philippines on the way. What Magellan failed to do, the Filipinos have achieved.
Today, almost all merchant ships crossing the oceans are manned by Filipinos. Anywhere on Earth, Filipinos have made their presence felt. They are active workers, helping rebuild cities and modernize economies.
They are in the Middle East and Africa, working as engineers and construction workers; in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as technicians, factory workers and entertainers; in Europe as hotel and restaurant employees; in Hong Kong and Singapore as managers, office personnel and household maids; in Australia and South America as professionals; and in the U.S. and Canada as doctors, lawyers and computer programmers.
There are about seven million Filipinos (although an exact number cannot be determined) living, working and studying in other countries. In the U.S. and Canada alone, there are around three million residents of Filipino origin. And the number is still growing.
Filipinos have acquired great distinction abroad. For example, in New York, the world's richest city, Filipinos were once tagged as the wealthiest of all ethnic groups. A 1990 census reported that the Filipino Americans have a median income of $45,000, the highest among all races including the whites.
Filipinos can be aptly called the Global Pinoy. Long before a Filipino married the first ever Miss Universe, Filipinos have already shown the characteristics of a global citizen. It was the national hero Jose Rizal who first showed these characteristics when he traveled across Asia and Europe and visited America. He learned different cultures and spoke Spanish, English, German, French, Japanese, Chinese and other languages.
Filipinos, today, may not be able to speak all these tongues but they have a good facility of the English language which is widely used. In fact, many of them are hired as teachers and translators in Japan and the Middle East. The Philippines is the world's third largest English-speaking nation, after the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
But apart from the technical skills and knowledge of the English language, there is something more that makes Filipinos at home with the world. It is their humility and gentleness that integrate them into foreign cultures. It is their faith in God that gives them assurance of safety and peace even when in the farthest lands. It is their sense of humor that helps them through cultural boundaries. It is their enthusiasm and hope of a better future that give them strength.
One can easily spot Filipinos in a crowd. Usually, they are the ones who wear the biggest smile. In a regional survey, the Filipinos were tagged as the happiest people in Asia. Ironically, the wealthy Japanese appeared at the bottom of the list.
Aside from enjoying life, Filipinos are those who love to talk about God. They are pious Christians who, at the time atheism draws massive followers, still believe in miracles. Many Filipinos brought their faith abroad and preached the Gospel, even to the extent that some of them were beheaded in Saudi Arabia.
What's interesting about the Filipinos is the way they show humility and still keep the sense of nationalism. Nobody, perhaps, is as humble as the Filipinos. They serve as nannies in Hong Kong, caregivers in Canada, gardeners in Europe, laborers in the Middle East and entertainers in Japan. Despite such positions, they manage to smile and feel proud of their country.
Filipinos are always proud of their country. In any section of the world, Filipinos are heard talking about their beautiful country where beaches are spectacular and people are heartwarming. They claim that given the choice and opportunity, they would always come back to their native land.
And what a paradise is their native land. It is teeming with life and sunshine, perhaps as lively as its people. The level of biodiversity in the Philippines is considered the world's highest. This remains despite the numerous calamities hitting the Philippines each year. The country experiences the most number of typhoons in the world, estimated between 20 and 30 every year.
But no typhoon, not even the strongest one, could dump the enthusiasm of the Filipinos. They always look up at the sky, and when the panorama is dark, raise hope that the sun will shine bright the next morning.