No One is Responsible For You Except Yourself
Having lived outside the Philippines for two years, I got to realize a lot of things from my own and other's experiences. Most have been tough and challenging, such that even friends and family members can not do something but watch and observe as the events unfold. However, on top of all these things, I could definitely pinpoint that for us, whose threat of being sent to the Philippines is present due to strict European immigration laws, the greatest learning perhaps lies on taking responsibility.
Taking responsibility may sound like a cliché, but I will expound what does that really mean in the light of our unique experiences being OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) in Europe. This is the focus of this blogpost.
Taking responsibility means making difficult decisions alone.
This step is primarily the most difficult given that my Filipino culture dictates to do the opposite of trying to hear and follow advices given by others, especially my family. In this case, no matter how well I explain the situation to my family, they could not fully grasp the depth and complexity of immigration rules and work policies. Though the consequences directly affects my family, such that I feel obligated to tell and ask for advices from my immediate family, I realized that they could not give me the ultimate advice that would be entirely beneficial for me. They remind me of what values should I consider but the decision on what step I should take next lies entirely on my shoulder.
On the other hand, my fellow Filipino friends could do little as well in my situation. Some may tag them as apathetic on the situation of others, but they could not in reality help my situation to be better. Your network of friends could only provide emotional support, but one must not expect that a better aid is about to be initiated. They have problems themselves and that the Filipino value of being concerned for others is simply irrelevant in a situation only the concerned individual could solve.
Taking responsibility means being focused on the goal, without doing any shortcuts and fast tracks.
In Norway, where both language skills and experience helps; a difficult challenge awaits one. Yes, learning the language is the key to have a stable job. But, it does not necessarily follow that a person who passed all language exams could land a regular job in this land. In fact, even the locals are having a difficult time achieving that, worse perhaps to those who were not born and raised in the country. This makes prioritization difficult as resources become scarce. Would learning the language as important as earning to survive, or securing a valid visa? Unfortunately based on what I experienced, those three does not necessarily go hand in hand. One must choose one or two at an instance, making it very confusing and mentally exhausting.
Having three major goals at the same time (language, income and visa) is not easy. It takes time and investments. Most of the situations, the resources become scarce, such that hopelessness results, thereby encouraging some to just simply give up and go home in the Philippines permanently. Some become desperate and seek shortcuts and fast tracks, but these are too risky to take, thereby that has resulted for them to be abused and exploited. Thus, the rule of thumb, unless a Filipino takes away some Filipino habits and traits, he or she could overcome the challenges. This is to say that one needs to be independent patiently going through the process, no shortcuts and no cheats. It is just plainly risk-taking and hardwork.
Taking responsibility means assuming all consequences of actions, no matter what that requires.
As described, one could say everyone of us struggling to survive and overcome the immigration challenges are taking or had taken a chance or risk. It was not easy. Some failed, while some succeeded with grit and perseverance. However, whatever the series of actions one has taken, success lies on assuming responsibility on the potential consequences. For there is always a compromise, no one can have everything at once. Sometimes everything we want never come into reality inspite of the effort we have already exerted; and sometimes we get everything we want but some of those were realized too late that things have already happened unexpectedly.
Furthermore, one must learn that good actions and intentions does not automatically results to good outcome. Many times, I simply curled myself on my bed, expecting things will be better. Many times, my faith has been crushed and renewed. It was a roller coaster but an unsafe and unstable one for the risk of falling is always present when one loses focus, courage and determination. At the end of this, yes we become stronger but with the risk of being emotionally numb. The reality is that the world is not a paradise, it is nature wherein some predators are searching for they next prey. One must therefore adapt to all these challenges and uncertainties, unless one wants to fail and falter.
Lastly, I am proud of all those Filipinos here in this land, who have managed to speak decent Norwegian, earn a living and have a valid and long-term visa. It was surely a product of luck, blessing, hardwork, courage and strong will. I can not be certain in my own case for I am just working on it continuously. Although I admit the last few months, I myself went through tough times, but now the sea seems calmer. I hope it would stay the same. It will my inner self says. I just smile.