Wednesday, February 8, 2006


Today I found out that one leading recording artist and entertainer in the Philippines is emigrating to Australia. He says he is doing this for his children. An absolute majority of Filipinos these days will not think twice of moving to the US, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Middle East in search of a better life. What my wife and I are planning to do is certainly a move upstream.

What is funny is that "the better life" may actually be in the Philippines. Where your family is, where your classmates live, where your childhood friends or whatever is left of them continue to stay. America is such a wealthy nation but there is so much that one can live without and remain perfectly contented and happy. Reduce your needs and produce your wants, if I may be allowed to paraphrase Gandhi. Our people should not strive for a trillion-dollar economy nor should we aspire for much material luxury. Some needs however have to be provided and guaranteed: safe water, clean air, rice and vegetables and fish, affordable beer, sufficient electricity, basic health care, peace and security, solid elementary education, internet access, fair elections...

These are common goals that are essential for the common good. We all need to start planting trees, conserving energy (like turning unnecessary lights off, curtailing the use of airconditioners and taking cold showers, riding mass transit and maintaining vehicles with tiny engines), paying taxes and asking for receipts, limiting the size of our families to what we can afford to comfortably sustain, cleaning our surroundings and participating in community projects that will promote those aforementioned needs.

I do not blame the emigrants. They have seen their hopes repeatedly thwarted. Back home, people think that we have it all so good and they don't seem to realize that we have to work much harder abroad and suffer loneliness which is the worst part of it all. We are essentially forced to flee because our efforts are commensurately rewarded in other lands not our own. What we currently have is a system that is not working and requires a serious overhaul. Obviously the combined expertise and experience of our current and previous dispensations have not been successful in alleviating poverty and disease and death.

We need to start on a new and different path.

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