The Filipino History that’s Overseas – and that’s Missing (Last Part)

OFW Journalism Consortium

(Excerpts [edited] of a speech at the Annual Conference of the Philippine Historical Association [PHA]18 September 2009 —National Museum)

AS local histories are becoming an increasing research endeavor, I hope that some will be interested to document the history of overseas migration from the perspective of the rural birthplace.

We remember what Resil Mojares wrote (1983-1984: page 5) in the Journal of History:

“The task of rural history lies in the documentation and analysis of broad processes which are important in shaping the quality of rural life. These include the breakdown of traditional communities, their integration into the network of a colonial economy, a national state and an urbanizing culture, and the various phases and results, dysfunctional or otherwise, of such integration. It is rural history that provides us with the unique view of such processes over time as they affect specific communities and groups of people.”

Local histories on overseas migration should take advantage of three trends.

One is that Filipinos abroad bring overseas their rural customs and traditions, and show these during community-wide celebrations in host countries. That is their way of reconnecting themselves to their roots.

Another [trend] is that second-generation Filipino-foreigners born in host countries want to know more about their roots and this should include the first Filipinos in their adopted homelands.

The [third] trend is seeing our tourism officials [encouraging] Filipinos to visit the Philippines as tourists while they visit their families in their rural hometowns. Elderly migrants, such as those belonging to the baby-boomer generation, are being egged on to retire in the country or build their retirement homes in their hometowns. If provinces such as Bohol and South Cotabato organize their annual or triennial global homecomings to welcome vacationing province mates, isn’t it that local history about province mates’ overseas migration can be helpful and insightful?

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WHAT the history of Filipino overseas migration can …do is help remind our leaders about the country’s future beside the exodus (Jeremaiah Opiniano, 2004) —that being a concern of development analysts and advocates for the protection of overseas Filipinos.#