Saturday, June 12, 2010

the Dream of a better LIFE

After two years of mourning, Mom packed her bags and moved to New York.  A couple of months later, I found myself, with 3 younger siblings, in a plane en route to a New Life.  The age range, 7-14 years old. 

That day marked the beginning of a new chapter.

I flew back to Manila to finish  high school.  Though summer breaks were spent in New York, the rest of the year was all about teenage life in Manila.  I have grown so accustomed to this jet setter lifestyle that I eventually gave up the opportunity to take a collegiate degree in New York, and more so the opportunity of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Looking back, I still stand firm with the decision I made years ago. Living my story in a foreign land was never part of the plot.  All I know, up to this day, is I AM HOME.

Yet, a different story is heard from the many Filipinos who dream of a better life. It remains a fact that the Pharmacy has provided employment opportunities to frustrated job-seekers in the Philippines.  A fulfillment my husband and I share with a beaming sense of pride and honor.  In this blog, I only speak of what we have personally encountered in the Pharmacy's one year of existence.  Though a tiny part of a  massive spectrum, this, I believe, is a reflection of a disheartening dark reality that has long loomed in the land I call home.

Early this year, one of our staff, with nursing background, volunteered to do work for a hospital located at the south. A 12-hour duty  was required of her, with extended hours on peak days.  This volunteer work eventually caused conflict in our store schedule, and thus culminated with a resignation. More than words, actions spoke decisiveness to walk this new path.  A courageous act  towards what I believe is exploitation. The volunteer act lives to its name.  VOLUNTEER, work for 12 hours, at least 4 days a week, with no pay, not even a minimal allowance to pay for meals, transportation and uniform.  All these accepted with a firm mind and a whole heart to gain experience.  For it is in this experience that the chance (with zero assurance) to work and live the dream in a foreign land lies.

Nursing in the Philippines is indeed an in-demand course primarily blinded by the hypothesis of a lucrative career overseas. Here's the grim reality -- nursing graduates pay a high price to gain experience. But, not all have the means to pay. With dreams down the grave, they take on different fields. Yet, even those with a bag-load of experience are most often faced with frustration.  Many years ago, nursing opportunities overseas was lucrative.  Today, it is a gamble.

In an interview, I make sure to ask these two questions towards the end.  A barometer I use to gauge the applicant's passion for his chosen career.
  1. Why did you take up nursing?  The answer, It is my parents wish that I take nursing.  Nursing equates to employment opportunities overseas and it will help support my parents and my siblings.
  2. If not nursing, what course would you have taken instead?  The top 3 answers, Architecture, Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Business Management.
Passion does not breath life in this case.  But the dream for a better life does.

On June 21, our Store Supervisor flies to Baker's Field, California. A promising career awaits her at a Nursing Home.  She leaves behind her parents, a younger brother and a tearful boyfriend.  I  asked a few days ago the question she faced during her first interview.  WHY?  All she said, For greener pastures.

I am frustrated ....

...  how the Pharmacy has evolved into  a stopover for nurses who await for overseas opportunities
... of the lack of employment opportunities for nurses in this country
... of how reputable hospitals and establishments lure nurses to work for free
... of how nursing students live the dream of their parents, sacrificing their own dreams

Yet, I understand the dream of a better life.

Today, the Filipinos celebrate Independence Day, looking  forward to  a better future with the coming of a new president. Many have aired their sentiments and suggestions. A sense of  "Dear God" letter,  hoping that someday  prayers will be answered.

I look back to the decision I made years ago at this very moment.  I still stand firm. 

But I pray and dream of a richer land that every Filipino will someday be proud of and call HOME.

*Thanks Pat for this link.

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