Moving out

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2015 - 9:00am

In one day, two friends bid me goodbye to move to another country. Later that day, someone I respect and look up to made a public confession of his unpatriotic act of willfully sending his children to America in order to get a good education and essentially establish their careers in the US in order to have a better and more competitive “market value” as professionals.

In a couple of weeks, my youngest sister will come to visit for Christmas, after recently becoming a full pledged Kiwi or citizen of New Zealand. That reminds me that a friend who is almost like a sister will also be visiting for Christmas all the way from Canada. I presume that she is already a card bearing Canadian or will eventually become one.

The common thread among them is that their career or the lack of one in the Philippines requires or forces them to move. My expat friends have to go where the job is and where management needs them to be, but even for those who have lived in the country on an extended basis or grew up here, the Philippines has simply become too difficult to live in.

Most people consider it shallow or petty that people generally complain about “traffic” considering it is a global reality. But if your life is now spent in traffic for at least six hours a day everyday, if your activity and daily decisions have been cut down to absolute essentials because the traffic won’t let you get to multiple destinations, when apps such as Waze end up confused or dysfunctional as it tries to apply logic and system to the insanity that is Metro Manila, sooner or later you will come to the realization that we have become prisoners.

Time was when our parents or the grandparents of today’s generation migrated because they wanted to “live the dream” and earn the “greenback” (dollar). Now many people simply want to get out of Carmageddon country and the Domain of the Idiots in politics. Our heroic OFWs are not heroes in the traditional sense, they are desperate stragglers of the Philippine economy, making the ultimate sacrifice of separation from family, enduring emotional and physical pain, humiliation and abuse because the salaries they make in the Philippines can no longer pay for the cost of living. That’s never going to happen when “casualization” is the norm and when underpayment of salaries is the standard practice. Filipinos don’t go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore for windfall salaries, they do it so their families can survive in the Philippines, where progress means progressive increase in the cost of living.

But what about us mere mortals who don’t live in exclusive villages or own chauffeur driven cars? What do we do to survive? I don’t know about you but I’ve been working on my exit strategy for the last 10 years. Yes, the plan is to leave. Leave Metro Manila that is. Whatever your financial or social status is in life, all you have to do is carefully and honestly do a serious study of opportunities versus sacrifices you have to make in staying in Metro Manila.

Yes, the jobs are here or the business is here, but what does it cost you financially, psychologically and physically? And what is the long-term benefits or damage to your children’s lives? If you lived a simpler life in a simpler, safer, healthier place, would you be happier and live longer?

Since the time of Ferdinand Marcos people have been telling government to decongest Metro Manila. That will never happen because the lazy money-making opportunists called the Captains of the Industry are not forward thinking and refuse to go out of their comfort zones. That is the reason why they insist in living in Metro Manila even if it has the worst traffic, air pollution and crime rate. Even worms and maggots love to live in the manure pile.

So if government won’t push then “WE” need to make the move. People I know who took the risk, just like Moses did have established themselves in various provinces, set up small businesses and discovered that Metro Manila is not the standard to live by. The truth of the matter is whenever really successful businessmen visit us in our mini backyard farm that has the scent of pig manure, chickens and dogs running all over the place, they all say the same thing: Wow! THIS is the life!

Well if it is, how come not many people go for it? The answer is FEAR, and the false sense that familiarity is security. Take for instance our biggest hurdle: if we decided to live in Lipa City permanently where would our daughter go to school? There is always the presumption that the best schools are in Metro Manila. Well, after pulling Hannah out of regular school and shifting her to HOME-SCHOOL, we immediately realized that parents will always be the best teacher, experience as in field trips, travel and actual exposure to higher education by bringing her to conferences or events will be just as good if not better because that is real life. In addition, there are good schools out here.

We always felt she needed a social circle of her age, but then most of the leaders we know were constantly exposed to older, wiser people. Such exposure matured those leaders early in life. As the leadership gurus always say, surround yourself or your children with the people you want them to become and they will eventually be.

The next hurdle is always – how will we make a living?

I find this concern ironic in a day and age when people have cellphones, use viber, Facebook, messenger, and email, not to mention Skype and Chat. We all hail the age of Internet. We talk so much about entrepreneurship, being our own bosses and home-based services but refuse to stretch the rope or lift the ball and chain called employment. You don’t walk out of the company door in flash but you need to start with an exit plan. It also helps to know which exit you will take.

One realization many of us have to experience is that you don’t need a lot of things, and like Denzel Washington said “I have never seen a U-Haul trailer (for moving personal belongings) following a funeral car to the cemetery.” Think LIFE, not property or familiarity, earn a living and actually have a life. Get out while you still can.

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 Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com


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