OVERSEAS CONTRACT WORKERS: NEW HEROES  The Philippine government call us the country's new heroes. I am one of them, the so-called OCW-Overseas Contract Workers, and there are more than millions of us scattered worldwide. We remitted billions of U.S. dollars to the Philipines' ailing economy. What we got in return? Dead bodies in a sealed coffins? As of this writing its about 2 arrived dead daily at Ninoy International Airport. Money is the compelling reason why most of us work overseas. It boils down and scalds my balding head, into earning money for general survival of the family left behind at home; and saving a lot more to secure one's financial future. Working abroad may not worth the strain, anguish and sacrifice of the family separation. It's some kind of gamble one to take. You may be lucky sometimes and emerge richer yourself and the family still intact after the stint. To some, their purpose is different. It's the adventurers and the tourists, the lotharios and the whores, the criminals and escapees from the law that contaminate the name OCW with an obnoxious meaning. And not to degrade the domestics, who because of their menial work, lend the Filipinas name a derisive meaning.

Overseas job is not a longtime job. One must go home soon. You stay away from home too long and you are courting danger to yourself and your love ones. It's the unusual and abnormal pressures at workplace e.g. rascal gangs in Papua New Guinea, and the rascal employers elsewhere, that endangers you. And my family left behind? They are exposed to the danger at home front without you to defend them. They must learn, however, to be strong -willed particularly the missus to complement your resolve to eventually survive the temporary separation.
Mortals of lesser caliber may succumb from loneliness or crumble from the deterious effects of bad working environment. Some may seek the embrace of a woman, or try the comfort of alcohol and or drugs, or past the time gambling or wandering. Many OCW returned home penniless, infected with A.I.D.S., go crazy and not a few came home in a sealed box.

Why go abroad when there are jobs at home? Yes there are jobs, but, they do not pay well. And the jobs that pay well are very few. And already occupied by those proficient in the "Kumpadre system". Besides, I find work that suited to my standards. If you are law-abiding citizen of a "hopeless country" whose "government run like hell"by thieving politicos and their rotten cohorts, many "loco" like me are better off taking the risks and work overseas. We say there is progress in the Philippines when OCW's will start returning in droves to man the jobs at home. When? The Year 2000??? Working in a foreign land is a reckless and crazy endeavor that pays sometimes. Can the Philippine government provide us more protection and benefits? Assalamu Alaikum!

Mahmud D.V.M.
Lae, PNG


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