MANILA, Philippines—An official from the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) said young people migrating overseas have been observed to be more adaptive to foreign culture than their adult counterpart.
According to Maria Regina Angela Galias, CFO Chief Emigrant Services Officer, “Children aged 19 and below can easily adapt because they are sent to school right away, thus they get to socialize with a lot of people.” Adults get to socialize with other people, she said, only after they have found work.
Galias pointed out that there are, however, various adjustments that Filipino teenage migrants typically encounter upon entering foreign countries. She said the CFO is trying to address and resolve issues such as racial discrimination, bullying, and being involved in gangs.
To cover these issues, the CFO offers a special pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) among young emigrants—otherwise called peer counseling—which teaches them how they may adjust to the new environment while retaining the Filipino spirit, and how to live in a foreign land with their family, but away from old friends and support systems.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to address these (problems and concerns). We are using new technologies like Facebook. We ask them to give us messages via Facebook to know how they are doing,” said Galias.
Teenage migrants also faced language difficulties, especially in non-English speaking countries.
“In countries like Italy and Japan, if you do not have any basic knowledge on their language, you will find it hard to adjust to the next level (in school). If you were in high school in the Philippines, you will need to go on the lower or lowest level in order to learn their language,” said Galias.
She said there are greater adjustments and additional pressure for teenagers who went to Italy and Japan than those who flew to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or United States.
In a Facebook interview by this writer with siblings Daniel, 16, and Mariel Llanura, 14 said that they flew to Canada for good with their family in 2010. According to them, socializing (in school) helped them adapt more easily to the Canadian culture.
“Being young gives us the chance to socialize better because we share with our classmates almost the same taste in games, celebrities, and music, which are quite universal and hip,” Daniel said.
Daniel also said he enjoys exploring other people’s culture, at the same time sharing his native culture. He added that having the ability to speak Filipino and English languages is an advantage.
“The (English) language did not really affect my studies since I went to an English-speaking school back in the Philippines. It’s my youngest sister, Kyna, (a seven-year-old grader), who’s still struggling a little with the English language. But we see to it that she never forgets the mother tongue. I teach her Tagalog words every week,” Mariel added.