Economic Pressures OnThe Family
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Economic instability may be the most pressing problem of the Filipino family today. The lack of financial resources and/or the competition for the little that is available is affecting the relationships of family members. Poverty is not new and has always been a problem for many Filipino. The years since World War II have brought great economic gains, but poverty has not been eliminated. As indicated in chapter eight, poverty is difficult either to define or to measure but there is no doubt that it affects many families and the depression years starting in 1983 were especially difficult.
Effects of Poverty on the Family
Children of the poor are severely disadvantaged in terms of health nutrition, emotional growth, and educational opportunities. At an early age, children are forced to help earn for the family and are thus exposed to objectionable and sometimes illegal and immoral influences. Many young girls marry early to escape or work as domestic’s waitresses or entertainers in bars and restaurants. Another questionable influence especially among adolescent boy is the barkada, a gang relationship where they indulge in, drinking, burglary, holdups, picking and extortion. Although there are no reliable statistics at the moment, drug addiction among the low income teenagers exists as shown by newspaper reports on crimes committed by low-income youth "high" on drugs that support their dependency on the money obtained from the muggings, burglaries and thievery.
Most wives join the labor force because of economic pressure. However, among the middle and upper classes, married women continue to work even when the family's financial needs do not demand it. Philippine society approves of women working outside the home although it does not encourage it.
Unemployment and underemployment are two factors that have affected family income and have resulted in changes in the traditional structure of the family. To solve this problem, some Filipinos have taken jobs overseas. Overseas employment grew from 14, 366 workers in 1972 to 53,894 in 1982 and to approximately 617 000 in 1984. Of this number, 24 68 percent are women. About one half of overseas workers go to the Middle East. Most are men but women accounted for most of the domestic type of services.
Since married workers comprise 73 percent of the total and they leave their families behind the remaining parent is left to bring up the family resulting in temporary single parentage. Often, the emotional strain, loneliness, and anxiety have become major problems for both the husband and the wife. While the migrant husband's great worry is jealousy caused by rumor and gossip from coworkers and relatives at home "the wife has interference and meddling from her in-laws in addition to the problem of rearing and disciplining the children. The resultant increase in income (dollar remittances) has led to value disorientation. The household standard of living rises appreciably and there is a tendency to extravagance and the purchase of consumer goods rather than investments which earn income.
The traditional concept of a well-knit family where members forego job opportunities elsewhere to remain with their families has undergone changes especially in the last decade. Nowadays, many young people seek employment overseas for a better income irrespective of the social status of the job. College graduates, school teachers, white collar workers accept assignments as domestic helpers in Hong Kong, Australia, Madrid, Singapore, Great Britain, and elsewhere. Yet in spite of these separations, the family closeness, interrelationships, and interdependency remain strong. Overseas workers remit their earnings to the family in the hope that it will improve the family social and economic status. Social scientists are studying this new pattern of behavior, but it is still too early to get a definite picture of the effect of overseas employment on family relationships.
Famous essay by William Zinsser, “College Pressures”, may have been written more than three decades ago, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less relevant today than it has been back in the seventies. If anything, the pressures described by him have even grown in intensity since then.
It should be, however, noted that pressure is not necessarily connected with hardships of getting an education per se – on the contrary, it generally exists outside of the curriculum.
According to Zissner, there are four types of pressure students are subjected to: economic pressure, peer pressure, parental pressure, and self-induced pressure.
The source of economic pressure is simple: we live in a highly competitive era, and if a person is willing to do well in his or her life, they are looking to enter a prestigious profession and be as good at it as possible. The better the job pays, the more education costs, the more high-profile the university is, the harder it is to get into it. Only a fraction of those who are willing to enter Harvard or Yale are going to make it – and they know it, but they are willing to do their best to find economic independence and prosperity later on.
Parental pressure is going hand in hand with economic one – if fact, they reinforce each other. Parents want their children to be successful, to exceed their own results – and as a result they push them in the direction they deem necessary. Hence the overabundance of applicants to law and medical schools, which are traditionally considered among the most well-paid fields of expertise. It doesn’t mean that all applicants are eager to become doctors or lawyers – they are doing it because their parents, directly or indirectly, made them do it.
Peer pressure and self-induced pressure also constitute a heavily interconnected couple. Students feel pressure coming from their peers because they are cleverer, more successful in studies, spend more time studying, get better results at tests. They strive to be as good as the brightest student they know – but very often their perception in this respect is skewed, and they tend to overestimate the brilliance of those around them and underestimate their own powers. Thus peer pressure quite often has a lot of self-inducement about it – it is not other students who intimidate us with their intellect, it is our own imagination that makes them cleverer and us stupider than we are.
However, one should note that all these pressures are to this or that extent self-induced, because only those students who are really willing to do something, to sacrifice their time and efforts in order to receive education and, in perspective, good jobs, suffer from them. They are self-imposed challenges, just like education in general – there is nothing easier than to forego it entirely or decide to go easy and never spend too much effort. You will be able to lead a life of sorts afterwards, but it will be, most likely, deprived of success and accomplishment – not because all success demands education, but because it is the willingness to stay under pressure that makes people successful. And if you don’t want to suffer from it – well, it is your choice.
Thus, I can hardly see why pressure is a bad thing. College is not a kindergarten – you go there not to play around and maybe stumble upon your way in life, but to pursue a certain career choice and prepare yourself for the life of work. And, naturally, those who are willing to make sacrifices will do better than those who are not willing – it is in the nature of things. It is strange to condemn the situation that only follows the natural order.
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