Archive for January, 2009

America at its Best


The world watched with bated breath as America’s 44th President was sworn into office. A few decades ago, no one would even have thought that this was possible. The first coloured President of the most powerful nation on earth – even now, it’s too surreal for me. Not that I have anything against Obama. In fact, I think that by electing him as their President, the Americans have shown how far they have come from their slave-trading and owning past. This is indeed a defining moment in their history and with them, the rest of the world. At least this once, I can say that America is at its best.

Again, I can’t help but think about my country, the Philippines. I hope to see the day when my people will finally decide to vote for a leader not on the basis of his lineage (political dynasties are still very much alive in the country), his wealth or his fame but on his character, conviction and fitness to govern.

I hope to see a Philippine president in Malacanang who, like Obama who was elected based not on his skin colour but his abilities, will be chosen by his own people because they know that he can bring about positive change and usher the country out of the Dark Ages.

Meanwhile, for the sake of my country, I hope Obama makes good on his promises which he reiterated in his inaugural speech. Thousands of my countrymen are in America, trying to find a better future for them and their children, which at the moment, is hard to secure in their own country. For their sake, I pray that America’s new President will succeed.


Read Full Post »

Going Home but Sad

Hundreds of Filipino workers abroad have been sent home and more are expected to go back to the Philippines in the coming months. This is one of the effects of the global economic crisis gripping every developed country today.

It is sad because while going home means being with one’s family and sharing special moments together, it also means going back to a bleak and uncertain future where job opportunities are virtually non-existent.

My sister-in-law who has been in Taiwan for only a few months, is scheduled to go home early this year – what a disheartening way to start 2009. Powerless OFW’s like her are just victims of circumstance. She borrowed money from her sibling but how can she repay now?

I imagine all the other families affected by this economic turmoil and my heart melts and is gripped with fear. I think this a a backlash to the cowardly if not lousy policy of the Arroyo Administration to export its human resource and RELY HEAVILY on remittances to keep the economy afloat. And what are they doing in their posts as we slave away here and send home the bucks to our families?

Are they supporting the industries and service providers that produce the items our families buy with the money we send them so that the workers in these industries do not lose their jobs? Are they doing something with the corruption that pervades the entire bureaucracy like the stench of rotten flesh, so that more money can be pumped into providing social services for the poor Filipinos? Are there enough infrastructure to support agriculture, education and health in all areas of the country? Are they looking for new ways to create employment to accommodate all of us who might return to the Philippines anytime?

Oh, dear! I can go on and on listing the things that they are supposed to be doing, instead of the political bickerings and media hustling that they seem to think as part of their job description.

Who can these “kababayans” who might be sent home anytime now, turn to?

Read Full Post »

It’s 2009 already. This new year, it is my prayer that every Filipino away from home – those who are working in different countries in every nook and cranny of the globe, will get to keep their jobs and be able to continue pursuing their dreams. This is a big thing to ask from the Almighty, knowing that an economic crisis rapidly deteriorating into one gigantic world economic recession, is affecting every country, rich and poor alike. I have heard of hundreds of my kababayans already sent home and it is not impossible to see thousands more as the crisis worsens.

But Filipinos, inherently deep believers of God, are sure to be joining me in this prayer. I am sure the Lord will listen. Perhaps not as soon as we want Him to, but as soon as we, as a nation, have learned what we need to learn as a people out of this difficult time.

I hope families of OFW’s back home will realize how flimsy their hopes in remittances are in the face of this crisis. Not that I am happy to disillusion them, but just for them to see the need to spend their allotments or remittances wisely and investing as much as possible, instead of living a la one-day-millionaires. I know this to be true – children of OFW’s wantonly spend their allowances which their parents work hard for and then not bothering to finish their studies. Husbands of domestic helpers get into all kinds of vices while their wife works abroad, and I can go on.

The government should also put in place initiatives to encourage the people to develop home-grown sources of income instead of just relying on exporting its people as domestic helpers, medical professionals or elderly carers. While there is nothing wrong with these professions, there is something sinister about a government relying solely on its OFW remittances to keep the economy afloat. It tells me some people are not dong their jobs while enriching themselves from the public coffers. The word “opportunist” comes to mind, as well as “lazy”.

But how can a nation learn its lessons? How can my people learn to stand up for what is right and demand the kind of leaders that will lead them and not enslave them to other countries? How can they learn from past mistakes and vote for the right people come election time?

There are other lessons to be learned out of this. For sure, everyone will realize how closely inter-related our lives are with the rest of the world. Fighting in the Middle East affects us via the fuel we depend on from them. Banks collapse in America and we see the value of everything we hold so dear as wealth come crashing down upon our heads. Industries grind to a halt and we see our dear OFW’s sent home for lack of job already.

The Filipino people, having populated most countries in the world, somehow, in one way or the other, get affected by whatever is happening. So while the government puts its hopes on their remittances, it should also realize that the world’s downfall is its own. I hope this will wake our leaders up to take the country’s future in their own hands and not just rely on the progress of other nations.

Read Full Post »