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Nincompoopery

As of this posting, there have been some news that PNoy stopped the planned random checks of Balikbayan boxes sent by OFW’s to the Philippines, and the imposition of applicable taxes on the items in those boxes. Even so, I still believe I need to re-post this article I wrote (er, vented) in my FB page, because it was the collective cry of indignation made up of individual voices like this piece that provided the pressure needed by the President to rouse from his apathy and rectify an unforgivable transgression about to be committed by his government. Here it goes:

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Opening a Balikbayan Box from a loved one abroad is a sacred and highly-charged occasion. Imagine the scene: The whole family gathered around the box, some kneeling closer to it while others squatting further behind, forming an outer ring, seemingly providing a reinforcing perimeter wall around the sacred box.
The patriarch holds a pair of scissors, starting to snip at the layers upon layers of packaging tape in one corner of the revered box and everybody grows quiet. The air is tense with anticipation. What could be inside? For sure, there will be chocolates and biscuits, coffee and soap or even perfume! There definitely will be Spam, corned beef and canned salmon, and some other unknown (well, at least to the barrio folks) canned goods. The shoes requested by the teen-aged brother, or the 1 Direction shirt that the youngest sister begged to be included…
In those moments, there is a suspension of reality as the whole family forgets the separation and the longing, the poverty and lack. At that very moment, they are rich! All they could think about are the goodies inside the box, small tokens of love from their kin working abroad. An inconsequential albeit cherished gift, in comparison to the years of absence of a loved one.
Soon, each of them will have their gifts. Lovingly wrapped and labelled by their benefactor who packed the box full almost to bursting point. Usually these boxes are packed by our OFW’s after their working hours – the only time they have, to do something as tedious and labour-intensive as packing a truckload of items into a single box of love.
These boxes have been a symbol of love and devotion, a fulfilment of promises made to kids who were crying when their parent left them to work abroad. “Magpapadala ako ng mga laruan mo. Ibibili kita ng magandang sapatos mo,” all said by the parent while trying to extricate themselves from the tiny arms clinging around their neck at the airport.
These boxes show our solidarity as families, our generosity as a people as even neighbours are included in the bounty at times, our resourcefulness as providers and our drive to get what the world has to offer and give our families a chance to have them, too.

And then the BOC decides to tax these items, taking away the magic and violating the sacredness of this enduring expression of love and family ties. The OFW’s are hurt. They are the ones who brave the loneliness to provide for their families, helping shore up the economy and giving pride to every sitting President, Senator and Congressman, who, in their own conceited ways, try to claim the credit for a growing economy. The OFW’s are a big part of why the Philippines is growing economically. This very same government that claims the credit for the hardwork of remitting OFW’s, want to tax these boxes that they send to their families! They are being betrayed by the same government that should have given them jobs at home so that they did not have to leave in the first place. How can they be so foolish? Nincompoops!

viral young boy studying under street light

image:borrowed

The world is inspired, humbled and challenged by the perseverance and hardwork of this young boy. His name is Daniel and he is only 9 years old. He loves singing, drawing & reading. He is fatherless, too. Their family house got burnt so they don’t have a secure or permanent home at the moment.

He does not have much in life and he had been dealt with some pretty bad cards but he insists on being educated because as every FIlipino knows, education is a ticket out of poverty. He is inspired by his family to persevere, to help them have a better quality of life, especially his brother who is unwell.

Some rich spoilt kids who have every expensive gadget imaginable hate to study. They have a desk that they never use. They have a bright room that they only hide in to play computer games.

Daniel has none of these. All he has is determination and a dream. God bless kids like him. Kids who may not have much in life but more than make up for it by having the biggest ambitions and gigantic determination to propel them to a brighter future.

Mabuhay ang mga “Daniel” ng Pilipinas!

There is this EVENT on the 8th of June in Cambridge featuring the Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He is supposed to talk about the booming economy of the Philippines and that it is a rising STAR in Asia. I must admit when I saw the invite on Facebook, I was intrigued and curious at the same time. For years now, I have been hearing all these wonderful news about my native country doing so well economy-wise.

But then, something inside of me is still pessimistic and unconvinced that indeed, the Philippines has finally woken up and flexing its muscles. After all, most of its income comes from the remittances of millions of Filipinos leaving their families for greener pastures, and not from actual wealth generated there.

This “rising star” status is being made possible at the expense of families that are breaking up due to distance or separation, children growing up without a parent and in some cases, both parents. I believe that for a country to be truly considered as progressive or affluent, it should be able to generate its own income without exporting its people. I believe that if the Philippines is indeed progressing, we should not hear of Mary Jane Veloso’s anymore. Or, that China should not be that arrogant and cocky to occupy its rich islands because it should have the respect of other countries, most especially a neighbor.

But then, maybe, when they say that the Philippines is on the up in terms of its economic status, perhaps they mean it is on its way to becoming a truly progressive country. Perhaps, the leaders are just starting to figure out how to lay down a policy structure that is supportive of small businesses. Or maybe, they are now thinking of ways to improve farm to market roads to ensure food security and greater progress for the farmers.

I am hoping that the Filipinos back home are now deciding never to vote for corrupt officials ever again or sell their votes. I am also desperately begging God that dynasties and actor-politicians will be gone from the Philippine political landscape. More importantly I am praying that a true transformation of the country starts with every Filipino wanting to be a contributor to the nation’s progress: paying proper taxes, abiding by the law, abandoning crab mentality, avoiding “lagayan” system, or simply investing instead of spending their money.

This Rising Star status has inspired my pessimistic self to hope this way, and I hope this time, it will not come to naught.

More than six years ago, I stopped writing in this blog. I fell out of love of writing, so to speak, and did the unforgivable; walk away from my blogs. In fact, my other paid and self-hosted blog, I totally shut down and lost the product of years and years of writing and chronicling my life as a mother and wife.

A few weeks ago, I was inspired to take up online writing again. I guess, once a writer, always a writer. Or, more appropriately, once a blogger, always a blogger. So, I set up a new blog again called Happiness Overload and have been relentlessly learning and re-familiarising myself with the blogging life again.

And then, last night, I remembered this blog! I actually stumbled upon it, so to speak, as I was trying to access my WordPress account. I was so happy! No, I was ecstatic! I mean, I was over the moon! I felt like finding a lost child, or something. The guys at WordPress helped me to access it again as an admin and here I am! Back in this lovely spot of the cyber world, my Pinoy Around the World blog!

I hope I will find new friends here, new blogging mates and new kababayans scattered around the globe! We will have a lot of topics to talk about, a lot of catching up to do, a lot of things to explore! This blog will be all about telling our story, lifting our spirits and making our mark in the world. Mabuhay ka, Pinoy!

Pinoy Around the World logo

Once in a while I stumble upon videos in the internet that really make my heart swell. I hope you guys will find this inspiring, the way it inspired me enough to share it.

Filipino Nurses in the UK

There is this email sent to me showing photos of a beautiful house in the US. The pictures speak of the opulence of the house and its decadent ornateness – of all its parts and rooms.

 

At first, I was thinking that perhaps, one wealthy sheikh or prince from the Arab world owns it. The house reflects the same gilded style that royalty are so fond of.

 

 

 

While my jaw kept on dropping lower and lower to the floor because of my shock and amazement at the sheer luxury of everything I was seeing, my eyes also started watering because of the dazzling beauty of the whole house!

  

 Then, I could not believe it when I read that this house actually belongs to one of the presidentiables in the Philippines – none other than the ‘poor beginnings’ guy who portrays himself as one with the poor people whose votes he is wooing, none other than Manny Villar.

So, our hopeful president-in-waiting has actually built himself a grand mansion in the US in preparation for his retirement, perhaps? His campaign jingle portrays him as someone who had experienced spending Christmas in the streets and yet, in reality, he lives like a king away from the eyes of the people he (pretends) to want to serve as their President

If this house is indeed his, I have one word for him: Hypocrite!

I don’t know when he built this, maybe when he was still a Congressman representing Las Pinas (am not sure about his actual constituency that time). Has Las Pinas known any progress yet? Or when he was Senator? Or when he was still a professional land grabber. Whatever.

Am posting this for all of you to ponder upon before you cast your vote.

I stumbled upon this report in the internet and it somehow did not surprise me – just shook me to the core, because it is something to be slapped by the truth, even if you knew about it all along.

Philippines Ranked 4th Most Corrupt in the Asia-Pacific Region link: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/abs/20100309/tph-philippines-ranked-4th-most-corrupt-85c5a6c.html

Shame. But I am not giving up on my dear Philippines. Even if I am far away, I pray for it and care for it because it is the only land I can call my own.