Over in the food blog, two separate entries spawned some discussions about tortilla presses. I’m looking for one, some readers gave advice as to where I can buy one, another suggested that, since it isn’t hard to make one, I can have a karpintero do it for me. I replied to the latter that with the very skilled carpenters having flown out of the country to become OFWs, there is a dearth of good carpenters among those that remain. And while most of them are okay with simple projects, something with moving parts might be problematic.
Even good cabinet makers are hard to come by. And the good ones don’t take small projects. They prefer major projects. Like do an entire kitchen. Or an entire bedroom. Hire one to make a tortilla press for a few hundreds and he probably won’t even pick up his phone.
So have someone make a tortilla press? I think not, unless there is an exact model to copy from. But if I have to buy a tortilla press that a carpenter can copy from, why hire a carpenter to make a copy, right, when I have the real thing already?
We live in a generation of overseas workers. But the dearth of skilled workers left in the country is just one of the many consequences. The discussion about the tortilla press made me think about a neighbor whose entire family is financially dependent on an overseas worker. A young couple with two toddlers. The guy’s father owns the newly-built house they live in, the father works abroad, the couple living in the house are both unemployed. The husband spends most days drinking with similarly unemployed neighbors (yeah, lots of OFW families here). Other residents have complained about them; one even called the barangay once because of a drunken ruckus.
I understand that overseas workers are lauded as heroes. I don’t agree with the label but I understand that they prop up an economy that would have collapsed long ago were it not for the remittances they send regularly to their families back home. But the system has also bred a culture of dependency. There are families that make good use of those remittances by putting up small businesses so that if the one working overseas is laid off, or if his contract ends and there isn’t a new one immediately lined up, there would still be a viable source of income for the family.
But what about those like my neighbors who spend and spend the remittances and nay a thought on what will happen when the money stops coming?
And what happens to the economy when this generation of overseas workers pass on and the next generation is made of drunks with no skills because they spent their youth as dependents whose only skill is to drink and be merry?