By Nicholo Jallores
You are a curious beauty – a flower that bloomed in a tropical country, uprooted and repotted in an arid desert land. That you remain moist with hope and swollen with affection is a testament to your integrity and character. You stay abloom: a succulent fruit in an environment where women tend to be desiccated like dates, or robbed of all sweetness like pickles.
You are a woman like no other, so the world doesn’t quite know what to make of you.
Are you Maria Clara or Gabriela Silang? Are you the virgin or the whore? Are you the maid or the madam? You have been taught to be prim and proper, but you are surrounded by decadence and opulence. You were raised to appreciate life’s simplicity, but you operate in an arena of ruthless ambition. You are forced to live a life of contradiction and confusion, but you must not despair – nor must you dilute your essence in deference to the expectation of others.
You are beautiful, but you are also strong. The rose in the desert is adored for its petals; it can also be revered for its thorns.
The Slave or The Slavedriver?
You are often heralded for the passion that you put into your work. You are the preferred employee because you work earnestly, to the best of your abilities, and have the uncanny ability to deliver beyond the expected. You are loyal, compassionate, and helpful – but you also tend to be meek, overly complacent, and incredibly easy to please. Filipinos are often mistaken for unflinching drones, devoid of imagination and incapable of entrepreneurship and foresight; good followers, but ineffective leaders. This is preposterous. You are a highly creative, resourceful person, and you never lack for vision. What you need to learn is how to celebrate your achievements and look past your limitations. Be assertive at the work place and know how to demand for what you are worth. Prove to the world that you can handle more, lest it concludes that you deserve less.
Ineng or Imelda?
If you want to be successful, you must project an image of success. Much as you would like to emphasize the beauty and strength that lies within you, the world often assesses you at face value. You must learn how to use this to your advantage. Dress the part. Invest in good clothes and know that the whole package is necessary for success. Dress to be respected, revered, and adored; not to be shunned or ignored like office furniture, or gawked at and hooted at like a streetwalker. Of all your potential challenges this is the one that is most easily solved, so get this out of the way as quickly as you can. You have lands to conquer and kingdoms to run. Look like the queen that you are.
The Martyr or The Mistress?
One of the best things about working abroad is that you get an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Small wonder if some married men take this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves as bachelors. If this works fine for you, then nothing else needs to be said. But if it does not, then steel yourself, because there are plenty of cunning and disarming kuya’s out there who would lie through their teeth to get into your pants. They will tell you they are single, but neglect to tell you that they are only single in the Middle East. God knows what attachments they might have in other time zones. Be wise; be very, very wise. Filipinas are sometimes weak when it comes to matters of intimacy and romance. It’s difficult enough to work in a foreign land, away from your family and friends back home. Don’t compound your suffering with unnecessary heartache.
Purita Or Seniora?
Your remittances help your family and stimulates your home country’s economy. You are blessed because you are able to bless others through your hard work. You are compassionate and generous – sometimes to your own detriment. Learn how to save and be constructive with your money. Be financially protected. Think of ways to diversify your portfolio, instead of letting your funds sit idly in the bank, or worse, blowing it all away in the latest gadgets or designer bags. Invest in business, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or even real estate. There are plenty of resources online to help you learn how to manage your hard-earned wealth. Another option would be to invest in higher learning. Look for after-work seminars or workshops that you can attend, or online classes that you can sign up to. You are not just an ATM machine that regurgitates money at your family’s every beck and call. Invest in yourself and your future.
The Victim or The Vixen?
Propriety is a slippery subject, because everyone likes to think that they have the monopoly of morality. At the end of the day, how you integrate your belief system with the customs and traditions of the Middle East is your call. But know this: the culture of this region will not rewrite itself for you overnight. It may seem absurd and ludicrous to you, but the local population holds it with utmost regard, and they tend to be fiercely protective of it. They struggle to maintain their identity, just as much as you struggle to maintain yours. You are a guest in this region, so be gracious to your host. Learn to be mindful of their values. Do not depend on western sensibilities to dictate how you function in a Middle Eastern community. The west is not your moral compass; your common sense is.
And lastly, Maria…
Be proud to be a Filipina. Wear it like a badge of honor, or perhaps more appropriately, a crown. Yours is the blood of the survivor. Your people have overcome tyranny, discrimination, dictatorship, and classism. Your country has overcome the worst of storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other calamities. Your country’s economy continues to grow and spread its wings, despite the rampant corruption in the government. Your artists are lauded in the international stage. Your athletes continue to inspire awe the world over.
You were born to defy insurmountable odds: a desert rose, a woman of substance. The world is yours for the taking. Seize it.
With love and admiration,