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I’m a 17-year old student and a daughter of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). It is undeniable how financial benefits magnify almost everything. But it is also obvious how emotional costs prevail over these financial benefits. I am but one among the millions of children who are left behind by OFW parents. This is the current scenario many Filipino homes are facing right now. It is estimated that there are eight million Overseas Filipino Workers today. At first, it may seem to be trivial that some parents have to go abroad and seek for greener pastures. But then the ravages of this phenomenon have gone far risking the lives of many Filipino children. By this phenomenon, a parent fails to meet the rights of a child. The formation of a healthy and positive concept of a child is never fulfilled because a father or a mother is not present to take the role of doing so.

“A father, a mother and a child constitute a family. The father and the mother provide all the love, support and assurance for a better future for the children.” This is how a little child views the concept of a family. By this belief and the OFW phenomenon, a child becomes confused of the reality that he or she is living with. With one parent abroad or both, the children may want time, fondness and the love of a father and a mother. But he or she never gets the satisfaction because of a parent who is miles away from him or her.

At present, women migrant workers are more dominant than men. This huge number of women overseas workers implies that more and more children are growing up without a mother. It is of significant interest to social experts because this trending phenomenon has collisions and big impacts to Filipino families nowadays. The burden is greater if the mother has gone far away with children left behind because it is the mother who takes the bigger role in the growth of a child. There is a deeper longing that pervades when the “Ilaw ng Tahanan” is far afield from the rest of the family. The reversal of role of a father becoming the mother at the same time is never easy. Thus, it affects the household and most especially, the children. And because the father is not equipped enough to take the role of the mother, there becomes an emotional longing for the children that continues for the presence of the mother.

Even more ravages can be seen when these children become more mature. It is evident to the real world how miserable a life of a teenager becomes because of the absence of a mother. He or she engages to several negative habits that could have been avoided if only a mother is present. This drift is clearly seen by Rory B. Quinto’s film entitled “Anak”. The movie entails about a mother who took the risk in sacrificing time for her family in order to financially support them only to find out that when she comes back to Manila, her eldest daughter has become rebellious because all she thought she has been abandoned by her mother, her son surrounded by problems in school and her youngest has no recollections of her own mother. The plight shown by the film is not new to the current situations that Filipino families are facing nowadays.

What should be done to lessen the plight experienced by families who are left behind? Experts suggest that there should be programs that will help rebuild the model of a family despite the absence of a mother or a father. Back in high school, my school instituted a program which served children of OFWs and was called the Gem of Migrants’ Program. It was an apostolate that attempts to help children who are left behind to be able to feel the attention, love and support in spite of the absence of parents who are working abroad. Outside the nuclear family, it is also good to know that the presence of extended families take part in the absence of parents. Although the benefits do not represent all of the discrepancies, their existence is essential to the upbringing of left behind children. This is why relationships between them should always be maintained. The building up of all other external influences is also of significant value. To say for an instance, the social concerns provided by the school or the community to which a child belongs.

Though different measures can be done, the presence of a mother and a father still matters the most for the concerns of the children. The importance of having a stable life before starting a family life can also be given consideration through this situation. After all, the children’s upbringing and overall growth is greatly at stake here.

-Ma. Theresa Resurreccion Grande

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