I WAS listening to dyLA’s Jhunnex Napallacan a few days ago when his discourse went to the NBA and eventually the PBA. He said that the PBA is no longer the same as it’s been populated by Fil-Ams or Pinoys whose family names you can’t pronounce.
“Unlike before, in the time of Mon Fernandez. They were all pure Filipinos,” he said in Cebuano. “What happened?”
There were variations of such observation and question during the SEA Games.
Before I answer that question, let me clarify first that Jhunnex--the reason why my daughter says you listen to talkers, Daddy, not singers when I turn on the radio and try to look for an FM station--wasn’t being racist nor parochial. The way he said it, he was just expressing what came to his mind.
What happened? Well, the Philippines happened. I have four nieces and a nephew in the US right now, and that’s just from my two brothers. Extend that to another degree, to cousins and second cousins, I don’t know how many I have. I think it’s safe to say that everyone one of us has at least a relative or two who lives abroad. Who has family abroad. Who have sons and daughters abroad.
What happened? They happened.
The brain drain in the ‘70s led to Pinoys moving abroad for work. It was supposed to be temporary but now workers are our main export. These workers are people. They’re not robots. They have dreams, like the Pinoys who stayed here. They want families. They had families.
And because they’re Pinoys like us, they never lose that connection with their homeland. They come home, frequently. And often they choose to retire here, after spending decades in whatever foreign land they worked on. There’s no place like home, right?
If we find some connection, and have some sense of pride, whenever a contestant in an obscure show happens to have a drop of Filipino blood, why not feel the same when the sons and daughters of the first generation Overseas Filipino Workers come back and earn a spot in our leagues?
I guess this practice of ours of defining individuals based on where they come from—he’s a Bisaya from Cebu or an Ilonggo from Bacolod—had us identifying these kababayans from abroad based on where they grew up.
But, as I’ve said before, they’re Pinoys, just like you and me and have every right to be here.
I know we are going to keep hearing these complaints in the next few years but I hope their presence will no be longer be a cause for concern or debate.