It’s no surprise that the number of overseas Filipino workers increases each year, but no matter which part of the world an Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) may be in, there’s no getting the Philippines out of the Pinoy. But what is it about our Inang Bayan that just makes the average Juan long to be back? The Top Three picks are the Fs that most OFWs just happen to miss most: Family, Food, and Filipinos! Here’s why:
Families are the main pillar of Filipino society. They always come first. In fact, they are mostly the reason why OFWs have to leave in the first place – to find better opportunities and build brighter futures for their family.
In the Philippines, there exist strong familial ties. Parents prefer growing together, which is why it is not uncommon to find a few generations living in one household. While it’s customary for foreigners to have their kids move out at legal age, you will find that many Pinoys still stay with their parents even after they’ve gotten married and have had their children. Grandparents are often active in raising and caring for their grandchildren as well since nursing homes are an unfamiliar concept here.
Wherever the Pinoy goes, the family will always be their anchor back home.
Out of all the things an OFW would miss most about home, one of the first that comes to mind is always the food. Pinoy food ranges in flavor and technique from province to province, yet the culture remains the same, and that is what OFWs yearned. There are unique ingredients grown in the tropical climate of these islands that you just can’t get your hands on when you’re elsewhere. Sometimes, this is the reason why it just doesn’t taste like Lola’s recipe.
However, there is always one particular ingredient in Pinoy cooking that you can’t buy anywhere, and that’s the tender loving care or lambing as locals would call it. Each home-cooked meal is a labor of love, and the thought of feeding their families microwaveable dinners and fast food on a regular basis is just out of the question. Even the roadside canteens offer affordable viands because there is just nothing quite like a home-cooked meal.
To the average Juan, eating time is always an exciting affair. There are fiestas or festivals celebrating patron saints in different provinces, the typical reunion salu-salo or get-together, or even just the ordinary Sunday lunch – all these portray different traditions of Pinoy food culture that OFWs can’t get anywhere else. It is not just the flavor or technique that makes a Filipino meal, but the company. The bigger the crowd, the better! Even dried fish and a simple soup dish make a great feast when the family gathers.
The Filipino people are known to be a friendly, caring folk. They are people-oriented and affable, never too shy to greet those around them with a smile. Even to strangers, they never fail to extend warm hellos.
Back in their hometown, Pinoy families know one another because it is customary to greet them wherever you see them. Upon meeting another kababayan or fellow Filipino for the first time, a question that usually pops up is, “What province are you from?”. It is highly likely that they know a friend or family member who resides there, and it will come as no surprise if they find that they are connected by common acquaintances.
Another desirable attribute that Filipinos possess is called Bayanihan. This loosely translates to being a community and reflects cooperation and unity among people. It is a common practice to find Pinoys asking for help from fellow locals, who never mind going out of their way to lend a hand.
All these three Fs traces back to the warmth and closeness of Filipinos as a people, which echo the cultural and traditional practices that every OFW will miss when they’re away, that is why no matter where they may be, no place will ever be home quite like the Philippines.