WORM’S EYEVIEW: Are you happy staying home?

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/2 May) — Why do people leave home, their community, or our country? Simple: they’re unhappy; something is lacking that can only be satisfied or found elsewhere.

For that matter, it’s also why a man or a woman would leave home. There’s unhappiness, a void that needs to be filled by going away.

Airport departure-statistics tell us that upwards of 3,000 Filipinos leave our country every day.
Not counting those on official travel and others out to expand business abroad, that’s more than a million of our citizens going out to fill a void that can be filled only by leaving.

Many of them do despairingly; others become copouts.

Leaving, going away, expresses dissatisfaction or unhappiness. Relating the phenomenon to our society and government, it reflects badly on either one’s capacity to provide citizen satisfaction.

What’s bad is its implications to sense of loyalty or patriotism, that it’s not worth backing with commitment to stay put. As the statistic grows, the void of dissatisfaction and unhappiness also grows and expands like the widening hole in the ozone layer.

Leaving one’s family is serious enough. Leaving the clan and the community is even more serious. Leaving the country for good, the land of our birth, the home of our people, is the ultimate falling out, a vote of no-confidence.

It puts into question loyalty or patriotism, placing it in a bad light. It says: leaving is more important than staying; staying isn’t worth heroic effort or sacrificing for.

This is a demographic hemorrhage that’s taking place every year. A sad statistic.

Imagine a million Pinoys expressing dissatisfaction, maybe disenchantment or, worse, disgust.

When you walk out on a person, it means you no longer desire to maintain the association or keep his company. It means there is a severance of loyalty, trust, or faith.

It is sad that this is happening. The status quo is no longer acceptable to fully ten percent of our people! Does anyone worry and work out what should be done? Is it right that rather than try to change things, people just abandon ship?

A British statesman once remarked about the need to keep a pleasing environment. “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.”

He was right. It’s natural for people to love what’s lovely or pleasing, and to dislike what’s ugly or unsightly.

If we consider the status or desirability of our barangay or community based on what naturally appeals to people, how would it fare? Would it be loved or disliked?

One indicator of a community’s likeability is the extent to which its residents wish to stay put in it or to leave it. A well-arranged community, with efficient maintenance and basic services inspires people to reside in it; another community that is poorly maintained or disorderly tends to repel present and potential residents and dampen loyalty to it.

Would that the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) were progressive in assessing localities their arrangements, and their governance. For instance, does DILG Secretary Mar Roxas notice or care that practically all of the 42,000+ barangays that make up our republic are in the category of hard-to-love, easy to dislike habitats?

With slovenly squatters, filthy slums, disorder, unruly people, and poor sense of law and order in them, there’s so much to dislike and mighty few to be pleased about.

Such conditions discourage love of the municipality or city that they constitute. What does it imply about love of country and the desire to stay or leave it?

It’s not easy to love a filthy barangay, neither is it easy to like a disorderly city…or province…or country—which is made up of clusters of barangays.

Being happy or satisfied with one’s community or barangay is an important aspect of quality of life. Unhappiness or dissatisfaction with it makes people want to leave and seek better living conditions away from it.

The OFW (overseas Filipino worker) factor is another indicator. Would they leave a pleasant community with adequate livelihood opportunity?

But there’s so little attention, if any, to making the barangay or community progressive so that the same will provide citizen satisfaction.

Unsatisfactory communities are a disservice to our society. Dissatisfaction with one’s community makes people unhappy. It makes them want to leave and look elsewhere.

But with politics as the obsessive preoccupation of our officials on all levels, no one seems to give a damn about this issue.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the officials, high or low, that without pride of place, without affection or attachment to community, departing becomes more and more attractive—even if such departure is merely towards the hills to wage revolution!

Letting this situation go on unchanged should pinch the conscience of the caretakers of our government. It should shame them into consolidating the primary level of our republic where the depletion of committed, patriotic citizens is most manifest.

Manny among others is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of Southeast Asian Publishers Association, director at development academy of Philippines, member of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, vice chair of Local Government Academy, member of the Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. [email protected]