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wilfrido david
wilfrido david I HAD mixed feelings as I saw people in a long line starting from the Luneta Grandstand and leading to the portals of the great US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard. Would-be immigrants, among those applying for a tourist, visitor or work visa, all hoping against hope that they will eventually find themselves in the land of milk and honey, where the streets are paved in gold, where jobs are plentiful and opportunities unlimited, where you can be what you want to be, where dreams come true.

As I look back, I realize that I once had exactly the same dreams and aspirations. I held my immigrant visa in my hands. I brimmed with euphoria, the culmination of a long and arduous wait, all of eleven years of ups and downs, of uncertainty coupled with cautious optimism. But I soon found out that having a US visa in your hands presented a dilemma as well! I asked myself, "Is being able to immigrate to America the be-all and end-all of my life's aspirations?" I held a good job in a reputable company that I had to give up. I had to start from square one in a strange country where one had to confront discrimination and tackle it by the horns. It took me all of four months weighing the pros and cons of uprooting myself from my country and replanting a seed in another land and wait for it to sprout, nurture it to certainty until it can grow into maturity and then perhaps reap what I had sown. To make a final decision, I had to be pragmatic about the whole issue of moving to greener pasture. Otherwise, what's the point of it all?

All would-be immigrants to America have their own preconceptions about how good life must be over there as against staying in the mother country. Self-determination chooses whether to remain stagnant or to move on. Well, either choice entails right and wrong, depending on one's skills and work ethics, as well as on the lifestyle one is after or leads. But is being jobless in America better than being jobless in the Philippines? Again, it all depends. If you take the trouble of saving for a rainy day, wherever you are, you will at least have something to tide you over until times get better. Still, your optimistic preconceptions might well be misconceptions after all.

The current economic situation in America has changed lives significantly. Many who have invested in real estate, stocks and bonds have lost their fortunes. Jobs are being lost everyday, and there is little hope of getting another one no matter how marketable your skills and experience are. Filipino doctors are working as nurses and nurses are relegated to caregiving duties, lawyers are lucky if they could get jobs as waiters, and accountants are reduced to cashiering. One must be plain lovable and lucky to keep his or her job. Even those still employed walk a tight-rope. The pink slip is the order of the day.

The stark reality of it is that America is not as blessed as it used to be. No matter how Americans enjoy singing "God Bless America" at the drop of a hat, America—as viewed from all sectors of American society—is gradually becoming a Third World country. And Americans have only themselves to blame.

More and more Pinoys, especially the retired and elderly, have chosen to return to the old country. They talk about being with family, which we take to mean as the whole clan as we know it in family reunions. They say they wouldn't want to end up in elderly or nursing homes, they wouldn't have to do the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, and whatever else we are forced to do in the States. They pine for the tender loving care of their neices or granddaughters. Their social security checks will tide them over comfortably enough, and that's the whole crux of the matter.

I do not mean to influence the thinking of those who are about to get their immigrant visas. After all, if you have waited that long, and after so many personal sacrifices involved, the outrageous fees in every step towards the final interview, which, by the way, you could fail as well—that much awaited visa is, literally, pure gold in your hands.

At any rate, we all face uncertain futures, wherever we choose to be. We all try to make our own fortunes even as there are pitfalls along the way! It is just a matter of making the right choices, making the right decisions at the most opportune time. The rest, as we like to say, is up to God.

Check your mail—for an envelope from the US Embassy. It could mean your whole future.

[About the author. Wilfrido David first retired as Computer-Analyst from the Ayala Group of Companies. He immigrated to the US in 1985, worked there for another 25 years in the Medical Field (Medical Lab Tech), until he retired for the second time. Sometime ago, he was involved with FAANM (Filipino-American Association of New Mexico) as correspondent-contributor-writer-editor, publisher—all rolled into one. He says about that stint, "I ran out of energy, patience, and money but kept on with my duties until the next set of association officers were voted in." The earliest writing he did was for his high school paper in Holy Angel University. His present writing derives from the perspective of a Filipino expat in the US who faithfully keeps up with what's happening in the home country, as gleaned from his Filipino channels on DirecTV, aside from CNN and HLN.]

-Posted: 1:37 PM 12/5/09 | More of this author on eK!