By Lalaine Chu-Benitez
Fresh off the plane? Or, been here for long but still haven’t caught up with the game? Throw away the baggage that you are carrying from whatever you deem as “nakasanayan” back home, because certain things don’t serve a good purpose out here in the big, wide, competitive expat world.
For the privileged and the entitled, your privileges and entitlements stop when you left Philippines soil. You are not in Makati anymore or in your family hacienda. No matter how much you try to stick to your Makati-yuppie twang or colegiala English, you are bound to speak regular down-to-earth Tagalog with your kababayans, as well as varying incarnations of English in an attempt to communicate with everybody else.
You say you’re famous in Pinas? Bad news – your personal ‘brand’ is worth nothing here. And yes, you would have to introduce yourself properly and fill-out forms like everybody else. You need to line-up and go through the process to get things done. Your political/social connections won’t allow you to take shortcuts. Company CEOs do it, business owners do it, rank and file do it. So why not you?
Power Pinoy: You’re Not Special. Get With The Program.
On the flipside, for the less than privileged, know that you’re not in the barrio anymore, bhoi or neng. You are not less than anybody else out here. People don’t have the right to disrespect you, nor do you need to act subservient just because your family is poor back home. Alternatively, you don’t get a hall pass for the same reason, so remember that you cannot get away with excuses like – “mahirap lang po kasi kami,” or “kailangan ko po kasing kumita para sa pamilya ko.” It doesn’t help, and the truth may hurt, but nobody really cares.
There is no caste system in this land. Pantay-pantay lang tayo. People are not classified depending on whether they belong to a posh village or a “gillage” (just at the edge of the village). We all go to the same supermarkets, eat the same food, and go to the same cheerful Pinoy restaurants to get our fill of home. Starbucks is not a status symbol and having coffee there does not make you “sosyal”, just the same as buying “tuyo” doesn’t make you cheap or “mahirap.”
Filipinos and expats, all of us are in the same boat out here. We are all expendable. We are replaceable. There are a thousand other people who could fill-up our space. The same rules apply to us, whatever our pay packets are, whatever positions we have, whether we travel business or economy, or whoever we are back home.
On the bright side, not being “special” also means that here, anyone can start with a clean slate. So, if you have the aspiration, determination and the wherewithal, this is a place where you can reinvent yourself. And we’ve seen it so many times with the success stories all around us. How did they do it? Well, first and foremost, they realized they were part of this big race where everyone starts from zero, they tried their best to gain and grow from that equal footing, and competed as best as they can.
Because you see, when you realize that you are nothing, that’s when your potential to become anything and everything starts.
So, let go of that false pride. Let go of that smallness.
Power to the Pinoy. Compete without looking back.
Editor-in-Chief and aspiring urban farmer “almost superwoman” Lalaine has been driving Illustrado’s mission to uplift Filipinos in the region for almost a decade now. A former corporate dynamo living in Dubai for over 20 years, she has seen enough to know that the Filipino’s best bet in getting ahead is to first and foremost get rid of deeply ingrained idiosyncrasies that hold us back.