In the fifties, it was said that the Philippines was the 2nd strongest economy in Asia. In fact, the first airline in Asia is in the Philippines, the first stock exchange in Asia is in the Philippines, the first steel church in the world, San Sebastian Church, is in the Philippines, the first professional basketball league in Asia is in the Philippines, and the list continues…
In the seventies, the Overseas Filipino Worker phenomenon started. It also started the permanent migration of the Filipinos to the US, Australia, and Canada.
To date, it is said that there are more than 12M total Filipinos living abroad. If 80 percent of the Philippines is Catholic, one can assume there are about 9.6M Filipino Catholics abroad. Although we are the third biggest Catholic country in the world, after Brazil and Mexico, Filipinos are said to be the most globalized Catholic. Indeed, the Filipinos have fulfilled the commandment of Christ, “Go to all the ends of the earth and spread the Good News.”
While OFWs are indeed a blessing most especially economically, there are many challenges that the average OFW will face:
- Loneliness. It is so hard to live in a foreign land and foreign culture with different food and language. In their loneliness, how many enter vices or extramarital affairs?
- Money. How many stories have we heard that some members of the family do not study nor work anymore and just rely on the remittance? The money received is not put into good use. May their efforts not be taken for granted.
- Abuse. From recruiter to employer to officemate or to fellow Filipinos, an OFW is very vulnerable, especially those that are less educated.
We continue to pray for our OFWs. May God and the Church be their refuge. In countries where Christianity is not allowed, the internet is the source of strength. Whatever the case may be, we know that the Lord will never abandon His people especially those who call on him day and night.