I grew up in a neighborhood having playmates whose parents work abroad. Even in the province where my mother came from, I have seen neighbors whose family members, either parents or children, are identified as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).
One thing I have noticed among my so-called OFW neighbors is their economic elevation. They have bigger and taller houses, more appliances, chocolates and all those imported goodies. Did I get envious? Yes I was guilty of being blinded with those material wealth. I grew up in a simple home. Most of the things we have at home are locally produced furniture pieces and a few of the basic appliances. While my upscale neighbors have a full blast Sony component, we were settled with small cassette player. They have gigantic TVs, we still have the classic Sharp “knob” TV. My playmates have a Nintendo GameBoy, I own a pathetic China Brick Game.
The pathetic, loser and envious person in me further prevails whenever I see them receiving a huge box of happiness. Whenever a DHL delivery van arrives, I know that my playmates are again in heaven. Each kid has a toy to brag and their kitchen shelves are suddenly filled up with those colorful cans. Sometimes, I can even smell the aroma of those imported luncheon meat and corned beef.
I once wished that either of my parents are OFWs too. I was hoping to experience receiving those imported and expensive goodies too. As a kid, I was centered on the idea of wealth in material things. On those days, it never came in my mind that I was actually in a better off position. I can live without having the need to sacrifice the presence of my parents.
When I started working, I thought I finally got over the idea of being envious with friends and neighbors, who have OFWs in their families. As it turns out, the enviousness mutated to self-pity and frustrations.
I started to develop these hard feelings whenever I see the extent of economic advancement they have contributed to their families. While they contribute that much, I could only offer this much to my family. I felt so futile and pathetic.
Before, I was an envious and selfish loser. I envy my OFW empowered neighbors because they have more than what I have. Now that I am a grown up, the same feelings still prevailed. However, the reason for my self-imposed bitterness emanates from the fact that I can’t provide more than what they can provide.