Filipinos see working abroad as the norm, and more often than not, questions like “Wala ka bang balak mag-abroad?” (Don’t you have plans working abroad?) get casually dropped during reunions.
Most deem that better opportunities are found overseas. In fact, in a 2017 data published by Philippine Statistics Authority, there are 2.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) spread out across the world, 11 million if we count immigrants.
It is impossible to articulate the immensity of missed occasions, birthdays, graduations, the yearning, and nights spent alone. And to generalize the struggle of every overseas worker would be unfair. But one thing we all know and have surely felt is the surreal moment of finally being able to hug and breathe in the person who was away for a very long time. With the newest video of Philippine Airlines, “Regalo,” this priceless present was perfectly captured.
“We wanted to honor the sacrifices of our OFWs and their families longing to spend the holidays with them in the Philippines. We hope that through this simple video, we are able to give back and celebrate the true essence of Christmas – the spirit of togetherness,” says Ria Domingo, PAL Vice President for Marketing.
The selfless sacrifice of our OFWs made them our “bagong bayani” (modern-day heroes), also because they contribute significantly to the country’s economy. Yet, the greener pasture has its consequences: Parents who decide to pursue jobs outside the country must endure being miles and miles away from their loved ones. On top of that, they have to bear with culture and language barriers, the instability of jobs for some, the incessant worrying and sleepless nights, and scrimping on themselves just to save most of their salaries and make ends meet for their families back home.
During the season where love, laughter, carols, and giving gifts are widely displayed and present, the lack of choice for OFW families to spend Christmas together has always been a scene too cinematic and familiar. Kids of OFW parents may have the coolest, branded shoes, latest gadgets, and imported treats but these material things would never equate to the warm hugs from their moms and dads, the setting up of Christmas tree together on a chilly Saturday morning, and the busy but jolly preparations for the Christmas eve feast. For OFW families, loneliness is shared, and both parties need to sacrifice for the lack of presence of the ones they love most.
“Through the eyes of a child, we wanted to express that the best present is one’s presence, and our modern-day heroes can count on PAL to bring them home safely especially during this season. For indeed, we know that at the very heart of every Filipino Christmas is our loved ones coming home,” added Domingo.