The most beautiful thing about the Filipino (and why I need my Irish Mom to see it)

mike-groganIRISH moms are like Filipina moms. They worry about their sons a lot. It is now 10 years since I became an OIW (overseas Irish worker), and my Mom’s dream is for me to come back to Ireland. That’s normal right? One of my dreams for my Mom is to bring her here to the Philippines. Not to see El Nido, Boracay or the other popular tourist destinations. But I want her to see what I see every day—the potential of the Filipino people.

It is a difficult conversation to have with your Mom. To convince her that I see my future in a land 7,000 miles away from where I was born. For the last 10 years, she has had to accept my passion to discover the world. So far, her adventurous son has lived in England, the United States and Tanzania, as well as traveling to another 30 plus countries. However, it is the Philippines that has won his heart.

envoys03a-103016-1Like any son, I want my Mom to be proud of me. But, perhaps, more important than that, I do not want her to worry about me. Sadly, the world’s media only highlight the Philippines when disaster strikes.

I fear this would give her an imbalanced perspective of what life in the Philippines is like. Thus, I need my Mom to experience the Philippines directly for herself. I want her to understand why I get so inspired here. I want her to be inspired by the greatest treasure of the Philippine islands—the Filipino people themselves. 

In almost every motivational talk I give, I share with organizations one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned from the Filipino—“The Secret to Living is Giving”.


For most of my adult life, I had a very different definition of success. I had defined success based on a very shallow, materialistic and selfish perspective. I was programmed to believe that success was primarily defined by money and social status.

It took me a long time to realize that this way of thinking will never create a sense of peace, fulfillment and happiness in my life. I know now that real success in life is about service—working for something that is bigger than you—sacrificing for others, so they have a better life than you.

This is what I believe is the most beautiful thing about Filipinos. How they love their family, how they sacrifice for others, how they serve the greater good. This is bayanihan in action. This is what I want my Mom to see.

As I travel across the Philippines sharing this inspirational message, many in the audience are still shocked that a foreigner has so much faith and belief in their country, when today so many Filipinos do not share that optimistic view of the future.

In my last column “The greatest enemy of the Filipino(, I wrote that this self-doubt is normal, that it is a default human condition to always look first at “what is missing” or “what is wrong”.  Yet, despite the challenges that the nation faces—this really is the greatest time in history to be in the Philippines.

The story of the Filipino is not finished yet.  I believe the greatest victory of the Filipino still lies in the horizon—A First World Philippines in our lifetime. A First World Philippines where no one is left behind. A First World Philippines built on the spirit of bayanihan.  A First World Philippines that will inspire the world.

I am confident that I will be able to convince my Mom, however my great mission is not in convincing her, but in convincing more and more Filipinos to believe. For belief is the foundation of all success. This message has become my life’s work. This is why I am not leaving the Philippines. The greatest days are ahead. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.

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1 comment

  1. Though I find it ironic that it would take an Irish Man to give credit to the difficult life of an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), I admire you Mr. Grogan for doing so. Because not so many of my countrymen will do the same.

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