Bringing Home To The Overseas Filipino Through Stories
Filipinos, everywhere they go, look for stories. In all its guises, from spoken and written words, pictures, songs and tv programs, the story definitely captures us as a people.
Filipinos’ love for stories and storytelling are reflected in the numerous blogs written for and by Overseas Filipinos (OF). Evidence of these are the many OF bloggers organizations devoted to bring together those with the passion to express themselves through writing.
The blog ofwtimes is an example of a blog written for the OF market. The blog covers topics ranging from news and business to entertainment and sports. The blog encourages contributions from OFs around the globe and has become a platform for ideas and experiences to be exchanged. Another blog, ofwsinhongkong, tackle stories of Filipinos in Hong Kong, their work, social issues that affect them, and others. It has become popular not only in Hong Kong but in other regions as well.
Contents of the OF blogs vary. Some express thoughts and opinions on day to day events while others use them to help fellow OFs thru job postings, tips, and assistance. Practical tips on money, starting a business, buying properties, and others are also popular topics among the OFs.
Meanwhile, community magazines like the Pinoy Star give overseas Filipinos access to local news, trends, community events, successful OF stories, and relevant issues.
Speaking to the Overseas Filipino
Content providers should understand that OFs experience a hodge podge of emotions. OFs struggle with cultural differences, language barriers, and sometimes, horrible bosses and work environment.
Stories that make OFs feel at home is helpful. Cherrie Pelaez, a nurse from Qatar, said that she would hurry home from work to watch her favorite soap opera. Why? “Because soap operas give me a sense of family.” In a place where they usually feel alone, OFs need stories that will make them feel warm so they can deal with homesickness.
Stories create community among the OFs. Lizanne Asis from New York is fond of Filipino romantic comedies. Because of this fondness, she was able to connect with Filipinos in the US who share the same passion for rom coms.
OFs also prefer stories that reflect their being Filipino. Inspiring stories are effective as they take pride when they hear stories of successful Filipinos. Life stories of White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, Manny Pacquiao, and others are interesting to many who experience discrimination because of their naitonality.
The colorful life of an overseas worker is an inspiration to many storytellers. Books, movies, tv programs, and even advertising campaigns have articulated the joys and hardships of our Filipinos abroad.
In 2011, Coca-cola Philippines launched the “OFW Project” where it featured the stories of three OFWs who were reunited with their families in time for Christmas. The video touched the hearts of many because it powerfully resonated the heart of every Overseas Filipino.
The CNN documentary, Documented presents the journey of Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas in the US. Written, produced, and directed by Varges, the film is an honest take on how it is to be an undocumented immigrant in America.
The life of an Overseas Filipino is difficult. And good stories specifically written for them are needed to help motivate and inspire them. With the sacrifices they make, spending years away from their families, scraping for every cent they can send back home, it is the very least we can do.