The First OFW* & The First Balikbayan**
I just read the latest issue of the LA Asian Journal and the front page story was titled “Who was the First OFW?” with the picture of Jose Rizal and his other Filipino contemporaries who we now regard as heroes of the country’s fight for freedom from Spain.
Anyway, if you read the story it doesn’t speak of any of those heroes but of a slave from the early 1500s or before Magellan came to the PI (the Philippine Islands).
This story is by Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil of Philippine Star & you can read the whole story at this link:
And if you go there & read about it you will find out that according to the writer, “Enrique” was not only our first documented OFW but he is also our first documented balikbayan.
And even though it is not generally recognized, he appears to also be the first true circumnavigator of the globe as “He had sailed from the archipelago where he had been kidnapped to the Moluccas, from there to Europe and back again to the archipelago with Magellan in 1521.”
Now, most of us do not need to be kidnapped to be an OFW, but most of us would readily sell our lands, our modest homes or whatever few material possessions we have or even get a loan with a huge interest, only to have an opportunity to be an OFW.
How times have changed.
But one thing never changes, deep down inside, like Enrique, if given the chance, we would rather go back home or be “balikbayans”.
* OFW – Overseas Filipino Worker
** “Balikbayan” – back to town or country is a word coined in the ’70’s as part of the Department of Tourism’s program to give recognition to the hardwork and persevering spirit of the Filipino expatriates or OFWs. These OFWs normally send back home huge boxes aptly called “Balikbayan boxes” to their families in the Philippines containing an assortment of goodies. They also bring “Balikbayan boxes” home when they return to Philippines (balikbayan) for a short visit or for good (or for worse).
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