It is a given fact - millions of Filipinos leave the country every year in search of “greener pastures.” This has been going on for quite some time now, and many of our kababayans or countrymen have even chosen to adopt their country of work as “home”. They get married there, raise kids, and for quite a few, retire there, spending their golden years in a land thousands of miles away from their native land.
Living abroad, especially BUILDING a family abroad, can be quite challenging. I say this based on my personal experience – growing up in Brunei with my OFW parents and three siblings, most people probably thought that we were spoiled in all things, and distant relatives usually had the misconception that we had lots of money to spare whenever we would come home for a vacation.
This was, however, far from the truth. My parents did their best to raise us to be responsible people – to study and work hard, do our own chores, extend helping hands to others, and most of all, to put God first in all things.
Now that I’m a parent myself, who used to be based abroad (my family and I were on mission in Timor Leste for 5 years), I can relate well to those families who are raising their children overseas. Here, other internationally-based parents share their experiences with us:
Sandy Livelo-Hernandez is an editor/publisher based in Singapore. She has been there for 19 years, and her children, Cody, 17; Nile, 16; Trigg, 10; and Ethan, 9 all grew up there. Sandy started working in Singapore as a technical writer. She went back to the Philippines for two years but eventually returned to Singapore after she got married and her husband, Mar, also received an offer to work there.
Their eldest son was conceived in Singapore but Sandy decided to give birth in Manila as she wanted her mother to be around. “The rest of my boys were all conceived and raised in Singapore!” she shares further.
Sandy says that raising her sons abroad has not been without difficulty: “Our biggest challenge as Filipino parents abroad is how we can impart to the boys the Filipino values that we uphold. There is also the challenge of letting them identify and keep a degree of their Filipino identity.”
It is also hard because, according to Sandy, “Singapore is a highly consumerist society and the children are always exposed to the latest gadgets, branded fashion and dining at its best. It was difficult, at first, to explain to them that they won’t be getting the latest and the greatest all the time. When they see their friends having the best of material things, they used to compare how we provide for them versus how Singaporeans provide for their kids. But we want to instil prudence in them.”