I ask this question because lately I have been forced to do a serious accounting of all the financial support I have been sending out for the entire year. I realized that for all those two decades since I left my home country, there has never been a break. Unlike other people I know, I do not like sending padala through someone just to avoid paying the processing fees required if one sends by bank remittance. I have kept all my remittance slips, every single one of them. I suppose I could go and do a tally, see how much I’ve sent over 20 years. But it doesn’t really matter now, does it?

How much does it take to live comfortably in the Philippines? Well that largely depends on your definition of “comfortable.” If you would ask my Dad, he would tell you that he could live on 100 pesos a day, but he would insist that my Mom could never ever, not by a slim chance.

So like a dutiful daughter, I sent padala. Every single month, to my parents. Until my Dad passed away, and then there was only my Mom left to support. Mom of course eventually started receiving pension money, but the monthly pension she receives is only about the same as what I would normally spend on weekly groceries here. It’s like a damn sick joke.

How does a widow survive on a pittance? No health insurance, no backup plans, no savings, no nothing. And so the remittance just keeps flowing out…to support life, to support the living, to keep things going.

I am not complaining, merely trying to reflect on how much of our lives we spend working and earning, and some of those earnings gets shared to our loved ones, and somehow it is alright. You just have to accept that that’s how the world works. That the reason you are where you are now is because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.