The picture is that of my brother, his wife and one year old daughter, walking towards the entrance of the International Departures area of the airport.
My brother, the baby of the family, is leaving for the Middle East to earn more and provide a better future for his family. He, along with countless others, have made the difficult decision and the difficult journey to the airport – convinced that a life working abroad is much better compared to life here in Manila.
According to the 2015 figures released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are now 2.4 Million Filipinos seeking their luck elsewhere in the world. In every country-from the snowy mountains of Iceland to the scorching heat of Africa- there is a Filipino quietly toiling in exchange for a better future for his family.
I have always associated airports with happiness. As a hopeless traveler, I love the feeling of entering the departures terminal on my way to my next adventure.
But that Tuesday morning, standing amidst reluctant mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers; amidst the deafening cries of children not wanting to be apart from their parents – the departures terminal has turned to be the saddest place in the world for me.
I didn’t know when I started to cry: was it when my brother said it was time to go inside and my mother started bawling, clutching her only son, imploring him to take care of himself while in a foreign land? Was it when my brother hugged me and said for us not to worry? Was it when my niece stared at her father oblivious to the fact that the next time she sees him, she will already be three years old?
I really do not know but as tears started to fall, all I could think of is that we were not the only family in the midst of tearful goodbyes.
Behind us, a kid was screaming his lungs off as his father tries to hold off tears, passport and luggage in hand. In every corner, there are families hugging and kissing goodbye. Mothers and fathers imploring daughters and sons to “take care”, “always pray”, “study hard.”
But you know what’s even sadder? That even after seeing all these, I have never wavered in my decision to also leave eventually. That as I type this, I continue to explore options, hopeful that a company in a far-away land willl respond.