Please don’t leave the Philippines

/ 04:04 AM July 28, 2020

Dear Friend,

I know it’s a tough time to be a Filipino these days. Every time some sad news breaks out, it’s been a running joke which country to move to — the United States, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia? And as they say, jokes are half-meant. And whenever you joke about it, I know you’re likely considering it.


Now, unlike most of us ordinary Filipinos, I understand you may have the options, the financial capacity, and the connections to leave the motherland and start life anew in another country where there is no fear, no chaos, and no division.

Yes, that is your right. Yes, you earned that and worked hard for that. Yes, you’re only thinking of your future, and maybe of your children’s future. But I hope you know how painful it is to read of your plan, even if only meant as a joke. (Even more painful are the comments encouraging you to do so.) It pains me not because I don’t have those options. What pains me is the thought of millions of other Filipinos who not only do not have those options, but do not even have time to think of options because they are busy looking for ways to feed their families. According to a Social Weather Stations poll conducted last May, 83 percent of Filipinos admitted their life got worse in the past year — “the worst trend in survey history,” according to SWS. Meanwhile, 10 percent of our “kababayan” said their lives remained unchanged. Gauging from social media rants and check-up chats, I know we’re both part of the first demographic. The past few months have been very hard. Even the past year. And the year before that. And I know you’ve been losing hope living here, that’s why you have been weighing your options more seriously now than ever before.


I know that you’re afraid. I am, too. Per another SWS poll in early July, 85 percent of Filipinos are also afraid — afraid of catching the virus and transmitting it to others. But it’s more than just the virus that you’re afraid of, right? There’s a lot to be afraid of, and you’re not alone. A lot of Filipinos are in fear and in despair, too.

But I’m just not sure if fear is enough reason to escape the Philippines. We should not let fear control us. We should turn this fear into our ally. Speak for those who cannot, while we can. Stand up for those who are oppressed. And that would also entail staying in the country, watching firsthand how all this would unfold. And hopefully, someday, everything would eventually turn out for the better. That is, if people would keep on fighting. Especially those who can. Especially those who are privileged enough to do their part. As the cliché goes, with great power comes great responsibility. And though people like you and me may not be considered that powerful, we still have some power — power over our decisions. We should use that power well. We should use that freedom while we still have it.

Yes, I do not have those options, unlike you. But believe me, if I had the option to migrate, I think I still would choose to stay, work, live, and die in this country. I don’t know why my love for this country is that much. It may not be the same for you, but I just want you to know, now is not the time to lose hope. Now is not the time to escape. You may be thinking it may not be your personal responsibility or direct duty to serve the nation, defend the nation, protect the nation, so why should you stay? Especially now that there are fewer reasons to keep on rooting for the Philippines and for its future: Why should you stay?

Have you considered, if not for the country, then perhaps for your loved ones, families, and friends? Are they not enough reason to? How about the beauty and natural bounty of our country? How about our sumptuous cuisine? It’s hard to defend this position, but I’m humbly asking you. Please stay. Please continue the fight with us. We will be needing your skills, talents, and vigor. We will be needing your help. The Philippine economy needs you. The Philippines needs you. Please think of your fellow countrymen, too. Please think of the generations to come. Please think of our heroes who died for our freedom. Please think of the future heroes who will need to sacrifice their lives for us.

If all those like you will be leaving us, who will be left to stay?


A concerned friend and a concerned citizen


* * *

Eds, 29, was named in honor of the first People Power revolution.

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