Through a Different Looking Glass

by Fernando Perfas

| Photo courtesy of aciverain.com

I earned my first centavo at the age of nine, and from then on I have always worked until today. I love work and getting paid for it. I also love freedom and the opportunity to actualize myself. My work ethic and work orientation were shaped by my early entry to the world of work as well as my extensive travel experience as my career developed and matured. I’m in the helping profession with specialization in the addiction field. I have achieved some of my dreams and I am still working on myself. It is important to put this out upfront to create a context for understanding my writings and my perspective.

I will be somewhat pretentious here by seeming to speak for others in similar diasporic journey as myself. I hope it affords you glimpses of what goes on in our psyche as we get integrated into our new environment. As we pursue our diasporic life in another land, we can only look back to the time when life was different in our homeland.

“Uprooting ourselves from familiar ground and starting anew, sometimes with little support from the family we left behind, it could be a lonely journey. Giving up the comforts of familiar environment, old connections with friends, and an entire social support system, we find ourselves on our own.”

Uprooting ourselves from familiar ground and starting anew, sometimes with little support from the family we left behind, it could be a lonely journey. Giving up the comforts of familiar environment, old connections with friends, and an entire social support system, we find ourselves on our own. We have to adapt to new ways of doing things as we aspire to achieve the “American Dream” or whatever dream in the new land we find ourselves.

For many of us, the quest is merely finding another country that will allow us opportunities to realize our dream of living a higher quality of life for our family. These opportunities include greater personal and economic freedom and the ability to realize our potentials and actualize ourselves. Armed with unremitting ambition and a good work ethic, we climb the socio-economic ladder in various fields of work.

“All that effort often pays off and we find ourselves highly accomplished not only economically but professionally. However, there are those who lag behind, which does not mean lack of opportunities for them. It may mean doubling their resolve, especially in tough economic times like now.”

All that effort often pays off and we find ourselves highly accomplished not only economically but professionally. However, there are those who lag behind, which does not mean lack of opportunities for them. It may mean doubling their resolve, especially in tough economic times like now. Even with the economic downturn, many find themselves a tad better off than our compatriots back home, where the disparity between the rich and the poor is vast and economic opportunities remain dismal.

Because of experiences we accumulate as we integrate into the adopted homeland, we begin to look at events back home through a different lens. Our perspective begins to shift and our priorities differ from someone who never left our homeland. Looking from a distant, there is a certain amount of detachment in our point of view, which I hope provides a useful framework for looking at developments and happenings back home.

As a nation, we seem to measure achievement and progress in terms of material infrastructure, i.e., big shopping malls, more elevated trains, etc. but not from the ideological front such as clean government, better education, social equality, environmental protection, etc. These are important, at least for me.

“The access to quality health care and other modern conveniences become increasingly important as we advance in age. The other issues are ideological and personal, such as children, who have taken deep roots in our adopted homeland, and the way of life in a land that affords higher levels of personal freedom and opportunities for self-determination.”

Though some of us are eager to come home for a more comfortable retirement, others are reluctant for various reasons. A strong draw for a homecoming is the vastly greater quality of social life our country offers and a growing circle of social support in old age that are not easy to find in most highly developed countries. The highly desirable social quality of our culture, our relaxed and easy-going manner is something we miss. We try to duplicate all these by forming social clubs and other forms of bonding among overseas compatriots. It is not the same, because we cannot recreate the true context of what it is like to live in the Philippines, with all its noise, chaos, music, smell, and spontaneity.

The reluctance to come home comes from fear of losing that sense of predictability in a highly organized and stable society that we have gotten so used to. The access to quality health care and other modern conveniences become increasingly important as we advance in age. The other issues are ideological and personal, such as children, who have taken deep roots in our adopted homeland, and the way of life in a land that affords higher levels of personal freedom and opportunities for self-determination.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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