A Better Me to A Better Country

Back in 2009, I was awarded as one of the 10 Outstanding Expat Pinoy Children. The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), as part of its efforts to recognize the contribution of OFWs or Expat Pinoys, holds an annual search nationwide for 10 children with OFW parents who excel academically and hold leadership positions in school or in the community. Among the requirements to the said search is an essay citing the ways that one can be an instrument of nation-building. Below is the essay I submitted:

Confucius once said, “To put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.” I think the most remarkable contribution I can give to our nation as a child of an Overseas Filipino Worker is to improve myself and become an asset to the country.  I can do this by becoming a conscientious student, a considerate sibling, a respectful daughter, an upright citizen, and a God-fearing Christian.

Every individual comes from a family who molds him with values and principles. The nature of papa’s work had taught me to be responsible, reliable and independent. At a very young age I was able to understand situations through placing myself in my parents’ shoes. Back when I was still a kid, I will always cry whenever I see papa packing his things for another trip abroad after a month of vacation. I and my siblings hate to see him leave because our family is happier when he’s around. During those times, papa will put me in his lap and wipe my tears then assure me that he’ll be back really soon that I won’t even notice he was away. He’ll promise to buy the Barbie doll I really want and to bring lots of chocolates when he comes back just to stop me from crying. As soon as papa’s plane leaves, mama will tell us not to cry again in front of our father because it pains him so much to see us that way. I believe, at the age of five I already know how to control my feelings. From then on, I refrained from crying when papa leaves to work because I don’t want him to worry about us while he’s away. I want him to have only happy moments with us which he can think of and make him smile when he’s feeling nostalgic in their ship. This is the reason why I avoid arguing and quarreling with my siblings. I want our father to know that his children are responsible enough to take care of one another. I also respect and obey my parents and my older siblings; this is one way of maintaining peace in our home and strengthening the love we have for one another. Whenever I’m faced with a confusing situation, I will always implore the advice of my parents because they have better judgment considering they have more experiences.

Papa used to tell us that education is the only real treasure he can bequeath to us. He constantly encouraged us to do well in school and make use of the opportunity since there are other people who badly want to study but their parents can’t support them. I had always strived hard in my studies. I set premier goals instead of just aiming to pass. In high school, I endeavored to be the first in rank every quarter so that if I fail to do so at least I still belong to the top five. Through the guidance of my mother, I had appreciated the sacrifices our father makes for our family. He goes to different foreign places with strangers whose culture he’s not used to and he endures the loneliness of being away from us. I’m doing everything I could to return the favor by studying diligently at school so that he’ll have something to be proud of and brag about to his colleagues. I avoid doing mischievous acts instead I behave properly and try to be a model to my fellow students. My classmates dubbed me as a perfect child but I am definitely not. There was a time that I was discouraged with my education because papa cannot always attend my recognition days. I felt like all my efforts are taken for granted but I realized afterwards that if his absence during recognition days saddens me, I know it is more painful in his part not to be the person who puts the medal on my neck. This realization caused me to be more determined and motivated to strive harder each year so that there will be a chance for papa to be on my side when I accept an award.

Being a good Christian perhaps is the hardest of all tasks. It includes faith but goes far beyond it. It requires genuine actions and compassion for one’s fellow being. I am a sinner just like everybody else but I try to lessen my sins through serving others. Papa’s salary gives our family comforts and privileges that not everyone enjoys. We were blessed with material things but we were disciplined not to be greedy. On the contrary we were trained to be generous and charitable especially to those who are less fortunate. As a product of catholic institutions, I learned how to share what I have without expecting anything in return. Being able to help is better than being the one begging for it. We were always told to be glad when we are able to help other people because that only means we have too much. Although we have money, I never waste anything. Every grain of rice in my plate is consumed and every centavo of my money is used properly. Aside from these, I also attend the holy mass regularly. I believe it is necessary for a person to have a constant communication with God. Because no matter how intelligent and powerful a person is if his actions are not guided by the teachings of the Lord, he is still ignorant. I participate in church activities as well for I consider it as an avenue where I can be closer to my Creator and to my neighbors. Church activities aim to enrich our spirituality as individuals so that we will be guided on our journey to success. Right now, I am a lector in our parish. In my own little ways I’m honored to be of service to the Church. Bob Dylan said in one of his songs, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” I would rather choose to serve the Lord and my way of serving Him is lending a hand to my fellow beings and becoming a blessing to others that they too will feel how God works in them.

Belonging to a community is not as easy as it sounds because it is coupled with a responsibility to foster and cultivate that community. Actually, we all have a choice whether we will partake in the activities in the community or we’ll just be passive and wait for other people who will do the job. I chose to do the former. I want to be one of those people who will enrich my community. Someone told me before that if I want something done I must do it myself. I envisioned a community where peace and order reigns and for that community to exist I must initiate and influence others to act. Being an SK Chairwoman is an advantage since it helps me develop my fellow youths’ capabilities and mine as well in the process so that we will be equipped for the harder struggles we have to overcome in the future. Our generation is the one who will lead and direct the country in the near future. It is but proper to start preparing us now so that loose ends can still be fixed. Most importantly I want to be an instrument of justice. I’m tired of the usual discrimination between rich and poor. Everyone can be equal if each of us tries hard to be the best person he can be. For me, there are poor people because they allow themselves to be such. We control our lives; we can be rich once we strive to be one.

I guess Papa had influenced my personality and principle in life a lot. I see him as a role model that I want to be similar to someday. He is helping the country with his dollar remittances and I also want to support my country in any way I can. He provides for his family without neglecting his responsibility as a father. He helps his relatives whenever he can. Papa, in his own way had already played his part in building our nation. He didn’t run for the presidency nor did he lead a crowd to a protest against the government. All he did was to be a good person and everything else followed; we, his children, adore him as our father, mama loves him as her husband, his relatives consider him kindhearted, his colleagues think he’s industrious and the country honors him as a hero.

We expect to transform the nation however we fall flat because we make the biggest mistake – we fail to transform ourselves.  There is a saying that tells us that we can’t give what we don’t have, so for me to be an instrument in nation building I must first shape myself to be a competent and productive citizen. By simply playing my part faithfully in my day-to-day life I had already contributed in building this nation. Everything should always begin with oneself because no individual can ever change anything if he failed to alter himself.

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