One in every ten Filipinos is a migrant. Majority leave primarily to work. Remittances reached a whopping US$16.4 billion in 2008, 4th highest in the world and unchallenged in most of Asia.
This proud patriotism comes at a high cost. Children, indeed, are wrested away from crippling poverty yet they struggle to rebuild a life without a defining, loving anchor, one or both parents. The migrant worker, torn from all things familiar, suffers untold desolation in a foreign land. His once vibrant life quickly degrades into a dry, empty existence.
Can it get any worse? Yes.
Too conveniently forgotten is that, disturbingly, one in every five Filipino migrant workers is irregular, that is, TNT ("Tago Ng Tago" in the vernacular), literally translated as "always hiding." Public places are shunned, personal histories never narrated. He is physically there, but essentially non-existent. His family is dead to him, and he, to them, unless he turns himself in and is deported back home. Forcibly numbing out the pain of all these, he confronts yet his greatest cross: he is unwanted, denying his intense need to belong, to be recognized, to be acknowledged. Yet the Filipino heart and spirit is resilient in adversity, persisting against all odds - all in the name of eking out a living to feed the hungry mouths that depend on him.
He is a displaced breadwinner, surviving unwanted - at all costs.