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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Something To Smile & Be Proud Of - LOVE LETTER to FILIPINOS

Dr. David H. Harwell
Below is a "LOVE LETTER" - not about a typical boy/girl relationship but it digs deeper than that. It talked about praising our race. 

When I read it, my heart melted that I wanted to look for the person to thank him for saying many nice things about us. 

The letter made us remember that we are a chosen race and that we exudes love and compassion as a result of our sacrifices. 

A letter reminding us to love more our race and our being a Filipino.

This is from the writings of Dr. David H. Harwell as published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 17, 2013 (Sunday) as seen by yours truly in Facebook.

It is worth sharing that I personally share it here in my blog for you - my blog readers.

Anyhow, we have been so blessed to have received countless accolades from different people not from our race. But, it is more lovable and more heartwarming to receive it from someone who expressed his deep connection to us. And that person is Dr. David H. Harwell.  Don't skip read or else you'll miss the full extent of your smile or how fast your heart will melt. THIS IS A MUST READ!

I am writing to thank Filipinos for the way you have treated me here, and to pass on a lesson I learned from observing the differences between your culture and mine over the years.

I am an expatriate worker. I refer to myself as an OAW, an Overseas American Worker, as a bad joke. The work I do involves a lot of traveling and changing locations, and I do it alone, without family. I have been in 21 countries now, not including my own. It was fun at first. Now, many years later, I am getting tired. The Philippines remains my favorite country of all, though, and I’d like to tell you why before I have to go away again.

I have lived for short periods here, traveled here, and have family and friends here. My own family of origin in the United States is like that of many Americans—not much of a family. Americans do not stay very close to their families, geographically or emotionally, and that is a major mistake. I have long been looking for a home and a family, and the Philippines is the only place I have lived where people honestly seem to understand how important their families are.

I am American and hard-headed. I am a teacher, but it takes me a long time to learn some things. But I’ve been trying, and your culture has been patient in trying to teach me.

In the countries where I’ve lived and worked, all over the Middle East and Asia, it is Filipinos who do all the work and make everything happen. When I am working in a new company abroad, I seek out the Filipino staff when I need help getting something done, and done right. Your international reputation as employees is that you work hard, don’t complain, and are very capable. If all the Filipinos were to go home from the Middle East, the world would stop. Oil is the lifeblood of the world, but without Filipinos, the oil will not come from the ground, it will not be loaded onto the ships, and the ships will not sail. The offices that make the deals and collect the payments will not even open in the morning. The schools will not have teachers, and, of course, the hospitals will have no staff.

What I have seen, that many of you have not seen, is how your family members, the ones who are overseas Filipino workers, do not tell you much about how hard their lives actually are. OFWs are very often mistreated in other countries, at work and in their personal lives. You probably have not heard much about how they do all the work but are severely underpaid, because they know that the money they are earning must be sent home to you, who depend on them. The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen. They have their pictures taken in front of nice shops and locations to post on Facebook so that you won’t worry about them. But every Pinoy I have ever met abroad misses his/her family very, very much.

I often pity those of you who go to America. You see pictures of their houses and cars, but not what it took to get those things. We have nice things, too many things, in America, but we take on an incredible debt to get them, and the debt is lifelong. America’s economy is based on debt. Very rarely is a house, car, nice piece of clothing, electronic appliance, and often even food, paid for. We get them with credit, and this debt will take all of our lifetime to pay. That burden is true for anyone in America—the OFWs, those who are married to Americans, and the Americans themselves.

Most of us allow the American Dream to become the American Trap. Some of you who go there make it back home, but you give up most of your lives before you do. Some of you who go there learn the very bad American habits of wanting too many things in your hands, and the result is that you live only to work, instead of working only to live. The things we own actually own us. That is the great mistake we Americans make in our lives. We live only to work, and we work only to buy more things that we don’t need. We lose our lives in the process.

I have sometimes tried to explain it like this: In America, our hands are full, but our hearts are empty.

You have many problems here, I understand that. Americans worry about having new cars, Filipinos worry about having enough food to eat. That’s an enormous difference. But do not envy us, because we should learn something from you. What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full.

I have many privileges in the countries where I work, because I am an expat. I do not deserve these things, but I have them. However, in every country I visit, I see that you are there also, taking care of your families, friends, bosses, and coworkers first, and yourselves last. And you have always taken care of me, in this country and in every other place where I have been.

These are places where I have been very alone, very tired, very hungry, and very worried, but there have always been Filipinos in my offices, in the shops, in the restaurants, in the hospitals, everywhere, who smile at and take good care of me. I always try to let you know that I have lived and traveled in the Philippines and how much I like your country. I know that behind those smiles of yours, here and abroad, are many worries and problems.

Please know that at least one of us expats has seen what you do for others and understands that you have a story behind your smiles. Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. 

"Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat."

David H. Harwell - PhD, is a former professor and assistant dean in the United States who now travels and works abroad designing language training programs. He is a published author and a son of a retired news editor.

P.S. photo credit from Facebook/ Internet


  1. read this too :) nakakatuwa! Yang ang galing ng Pinoy :) Nakakalungkot nga lang that there those who tarnish the ideal filipino persona.

    Our race is a mix of several races yet we stand out unique from all of them. May Dr. Harwell continue to meet good people and let not bad experiences erase the fun times he had in the Phil.

  2. Awww, ang galing naman. That's why we really have to be proud na tayo ay mga Pilipino. Lahi ng mga hard workers, masisipag at hindi basta basta sumusuko. Si Mr. David Harwell na mismo ang nag confess na da best talaga ang lahing Pilipino. I truly believe what he said on his article above. Kahit saan panig ng mundo (mayaman or mahirap na bansa man. Disyerto or Nagyeyelong lugar laging may mga Pinoy - nagkalat sila sa buong mundo)

    I love this part -> What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full Very resilient kasi tayong mga Pinoy. Kahit walang wala na at sobrang naghihikahos, kayang kaya pa din natin lumaban at hindi sumusuko sa hamon ng buhay. Lagi mo pa din mababanaag ang ngiti sa mga labi. San ka, kahit binaha na or nasunugan, nakangiti pa din dba? Only in the Philippines lang yan.

    Ipagmalaki natin ang lahing Kayumanggi!

  3. ay! super inspiring to dad. thanx sa pagshare. expat pala term sa oaw. hehhee. yung prens ko na nasa abroad sinasabi nila na dapat magsawa na ako sa kagagala bago magbroad. kasi pag nasa ibang bansa na at nagwork, wala ng gala. honestly di ko pa na re realize mga sinasabi nila. masaya din namn kasi sila sa facebook post siguro tama si doc harwell, para lang di mag-alala family nila.

  4. I just hope that other people abroad see what Filipinos can do and how we greatly affect the world through our hadships and perseverance. I love it when the author said the "the world would stop without Filipinos"

  5. Touching letter... It reminded me to still feel proud to be a Filipino!

    I love that he recognizes the stories behind every smile...

    Thanks for sharing this. May mga parts na naiyak ako kasi crybaby rin ako 'pag nationalism ang topic.

  6. Ibang klase. Isang amerikano pa ang mag papaalala satin na maganda ang ating bayan, pati kultura. Naiiyak reading this. It is not bad that we aspire for american dream, pero ang mahalin at wag malimutan ang sariling atin, yun ang mas mahalaga. Nice post!

  7. This is so nice. I hope more Filipinos will get to read this. :)

  8. Such an inspiration! Another great reason to love being Filipino :) Thank you for sharing :)

    The Girl with the Muji Hat

  9. wow. this is such an inspiration. Filipinos are one of a kind. ^_^ :)

  10. I just hope we filipinos see ourselves that way,
    I mean napakadaming pinoy na masyadong naiimpluwensyahan ng foreign culture to the point na di nila nakikita ang kagandahan ng sarili atin
    at sana lahat din ng kano ee ganyan ang tingin satin
    natatandaan ko ung nakadebate kong amerkano

    tho my point sya sa sistema ng lipunan natin ung core ng pagkapipilipino ee isnag bagay na dapat nating i sustain

    Iam proud to be and will always be proud of being a filipino no matter what

  11. I have met many Americans here and they will always be by your side when things get tough in the job. Most are not racist and see the goodness in people just like Dr. Harwell. People who had travelled out of their own country can see the differences and his story is just but inspiring and great.

  12. super inspiring talaga yung letter nya... I read this on fb super nakaka touch... We should be proud.

  13. Reading the letter makes me think I'm reading his blog. Akala ko di sayo to Dad. Gusto ko sana i message and mag thank you for all the stuff he said. But anyways I know he knows how happy we are about what he wrote.

  14. really inspiring! we should all be proud being Filipinos and in my case, being a Filipina! Pak! :)

  15. You have a wonderful blog, Jay, just discovered it today and I look forward to reading more of it. This is a great article, and as an American married to a Pinay now for 19 years and soon to take my 6th visit to the Philippines, I have to concur in large part with what David Harwell says. I've been friends with Filipinos since my youngest years, when a lot of Pinoys immigrated to my small town in the US for a better life and probably also to escape some of the troubles under Marcos. I've always found Filipinos, particularly while in the Philippines, to exhibit all the qualities David Harwell mentions, and I have deep respect and admiration for Filipinos, their country, and their culture. While there are good and bad individuals and criminals etc. in every race, country, and culture, the engrained cultural traits of Filipinos are a breath of fresh air for me and I'm sure those Americans who visit the Philippines.

    Like David Harwell, I am hard-headed, driven, detail-oriented, etc. and my heroes as a child were (and remain) folks like Neil Armstrong, John Young, John Glenn, Chuck Yeager and others who were driven, "pushing the envelope" trailblazers and explorers who could accomplish anything if they worked extremely hard, were fearless, and put their minds to it. That is a great quality that all parents should inspire in their kids, but this passion, drive, and ambition needs to be balanced with an equal passion and drive for love, family, peace, thinking of others, taking care of those who cannot do so for themselves. That Filipino hospitality and smile (even while the smile hides worries and problems). While I don't really agree with David Harwell that Americans as a whole "live only to work and work only to buy things we don't need", I think materialism can get the best of anyone, so we can learn much from the example of Filipinos to find a better balance in life. We can work hard and still enjoy the fruits of our labor with our family, and cherish those times together, and help others in need. As I learn more and more through friendships and in traveling to the Philippines, I realize that it is the place I would ultimately like to live when my wife and I retire.

  16. Wow daddy jay...makes me really think of what is important in life and what really matters....we hardly get those inspiring words from americans, but he did...I'm proud of those OFW's who work far away just to provide something for the family too...:)

    Proud to be Pinoy!



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