It Takes More Than a Village

Ever since I crossed the Pacific Ocean 25 years ago to begin my journey as an expat, I've always nurtured the dream of a global super-community of Filipinos interacting and learning from each other beyond the limitations of geographic borders, but tethered still to the motherland where their expat experiences enrich the native culture and expand the horizons of those who have remained in the Philippines.

It would be a two-way street, of course. Expats, with their advantage of perspective, would be able to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of Filipino culture and traditions, the better to convey such legacy to their children.

The reality of course is murky. Filipinos outside the Philippines are focused -- necessarily -- on surviving in their adopted countries, and there are hardly any avenues to interact with kababayans in other lands, except through family ties.

A Filipino in Abu Dhabi, for example, can be completely ignorant of what's happening to compatriots in Brazil; even Filipino Americans, who can have global information at their fingertips, are generally unaware of the status of Filipinos in Nigeria.

How do we solve this knowledge gap? The Internet has provided us with a valuable tool to bridge this divide. Thus, we have online magazines such asPositively Filipino with its global focus; and Philippine embassies, such as the one in Rome, which are initiating cultural activities that link Filipino expats to the homeland and with each other.

And then there are the community groups organizing events, such as this month's Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco where writers of Filipino heritage congregate to celebrate literature and the arts that spring from the common well of Filipino-ness. And there are sister city agreements that link Philippine cities with counterparts in various countries.

These may be small steps, but they can and should lead to more interaction among Filipinos in the diaspora. It takes more than a village after all to create a global community.


Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino