My way

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By Mags Z. Maglana

The Point Being

Friday, January 17, 2014


ROSE Fostanes did Frank Sinatra’s My Way her way and won the top prize of the first season of The X-Factor Israel. But going by the reactions of her relatives, it might also be a case of yet another round of great expectations foisted on the 47-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

Osang Fostanes has been providing caregiver services for six years to an elderly Israeli woman when she got cajoled by friends to join the Israeli franchise of the international talent show.

Osang’s relatives back in the Philippines were interviewed soon after her success and their views were quite revealing. One man raved about the international fame that he anticipated would soon be enjoyed by Osang. A woman who was identified as Osang’s sister enthused that her own children would now be sent to college and be able to choose their courses, courtesy of Osang.

Fame and fortune, such are what we expect from our OFWs, never mind if they have to sing and dance, -- or in the case of Osang, sing AND provide personal care support to others.

But these expectations on the part of Osang’s relatives could get dampened. According to Israeli law, Osang is not allowed to sing professionally because of the restrictions of the special visa issued to her. Under the terms of her current stay, she is forbidden from earning money in any capacity other than being a caregiver while in Israel, not even in her free time.

Osang’s relatives are not unique in having great expectations on OFWs. If Bishop Gilbert Garcera of the Diocese of Daet were to have his way, he would assign a three-fold role to OFWs: a) assist elderly people abroad; b) send back remittances to keep the Philippine economy afloat; c) and also disseminate the Christian faith.

Taking a swipe at the Reproductive Health Law, Bishop Garcera said viewed the country’s population growth as “God’s plan for Filipinos to be caregivers to ageing nations whose populations had become stagnant”, opining that we have a “duty to take care of them.” He was further quoted as saying that Filipinas would make “good wives” particularly for men in countries whose populations are not growing adequately. He also recounted a story about a Muslim couple that ended up learning the Ama Namin (The Lord’s Prayer) from hearing it from their Filipino babysitter, “without knowing that it was a Christian prayer.”

Following the above prescription, OFWs would be the kasambahay at paanakan ng mundo, and also mga misyonaryo of the tuso kind, no offense meant to missionaries everywhere of good nature.

I do not think the nearly two million-strong OFWs, half of whom are rehires, would take kindly to these new, if unofficial, expectations inflicted upon them.

It is bad enough that we have made a national economic strategy out of the efforts of individuals and families to cope with, and overcome the incapacity of the Philippine government to create the conditions for domestic employment. I could be wrong but how many other countries are there that bet their growth and sustainability on the separation of families?

Back to Osang Fostanes, she also did another thing her way that might not endear her to the likes of Bishop Garcera who is mindful of those RH Law advocates who “were against human nature and against what God wants”. Osang you see has been in a same-sex relationship since the age of 16. Osang’s long-term girlfriend flew to Israel and was among the audience who cheered her on to victory.

So how much more expectations can our OFWs take?

In the ending of the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the main protagonist Pip, after a long separation and with much life struggle, takes the hand of his love Estella and declares that he sees "no shadow of another parting from her."

I am willing to bet that if they had it their way, there are many OFWs out there who do want to see another shadow of parting from their loved ones.

Email feedback to magszmaglana@gmail.com.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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