By HECTOR PASCUA, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau | 12/05/2008 9:50 AM
In the early 1970s, the regular influx of Pinoy nurses to Austria was a normal phenomenon since Austria asked the Philippine government to send professional healthcare workers to the country.
In the late 80s, however, the Austrian government stopped the flow of nurses from the Philippines after some European borders opened up, resulting in the influx of healthcare workers from neighboring countries.
At present, those Filipino nurses who went to Austria at the height of the deployment program are nearing retirement age.
ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau was able to talk to some of them about their choice of either staying in Austria or retiring in the Philippines.
Elisabeth S." was one of the pioneer nurses who came to Austria in 1975 after finishing the GN course in Manila. Together with 10 other fresh Pinoy nursing graduates, they were given the chance to study the German language and after some basic German course.
“Needless to say I have been working as a nurse here in Austria since 1976 and I have been working in a county-owned hospital as a civil service RN, therefore as a government employee I have been eligible to retire next year. Well, I have already planned to enjoy my retirement in the Philippines. There's no place like home... yes, life can be so good here in Austria but the best things in life are free and they're in the Philippines! Money can't buy them,” she said.
Alfred and Carmina Santos, both nurses, meanwhile, thought at first about retiring in the Philippines. However, they decided to stay in Austria.
“My wife and I contemplated of retiring in the Philippines but after careful considerations we decided that we will be staying in Austria for the rest of our lives. Our two grown kids are both Austrian-born and most of our relatives live here. Whenever I go back to my hometown I know very few people there now because most of the people I knew when I was growing up have also moved abroad,” said Alfred.
Rosel Villanueva, on the other hand, thinks otherwise.
“Still the Philippines is very close to my heart. I have working here in Austria for the last 30 years. I am very much convinced that I will be spending the rest of my life in the Philippines. I will just be visiting Austria once or twice a year after I take my retirement from the government-owned hospital where I currently work. In the Philippines, I plan to establish a small business to keep myself busy, keep my skills current and of course earn extra pesos so that I can afford to fly back and forth to Austria in order to visit my children and apo’s here.”
Rosel will be enjoying her pension starting May next year.
Nida Resch is also waiting for the approval of her early retirement, after serving in a private hospital in Vienna. She is very eager to spend her retirement in the Philippines, together with her Austrian husband Gustav. The couple decided to invest in real estate in the Philippines.
“Surely, we will still get homesick now and then, most especially my husband. Though, we will surely be visiting Austria. If we are in the Philippines, we will try our best to contribute in our small and humble way to the economy of the country.”
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