Monday, May 29, 2006


We have a date. I had originally planned to return on June 12 which is Philippine Independence Day until upon further research, I learned that the United States granted us independence on July 4, 1946. How suitable that I will be home on the 60th anniversary of this auspicious occasion. One of my classmates in high school has become the governor of Leyte province. How wonderful it would be to wade across the Leyte gulf beach and repeat the words uttered by Douglas MacArthur "I have returned".

Although I realize now that I had never truly left the Philippines. I was simply on an extended, learning vacation. I have always kept current with what was going on and my twice-a-year trips back home have always sustained my spirit and kept me firmly grounded.

If I had been a scion to a fabulous fortune or a political dynasty, I might never have sought to go elsewhere for life-lessons but my wife and I realized very early on that financial independence was essential to leading a life lived to your our own specifications. We have no regrets let me make myself clear. You do the best you can with whatever cards you are dealt.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Good Bye Nurses

The US Senate is expected to pass a sweeping immigration bill that will remove the cap on existing quotas on nurses. This can potentially hurt the Philippines in a very bad sort of way. But look at what the government has to say:"

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye allayed fears by some groups that the measure the US Senate was expected to pass soon will hurt the country's health care system, which was already facing a severe shortage of nurses.

The US legislation removing the cap on the hiring of nurses was needed to help the US cope with its own growing shortage of nurses, reports said."

New nurses keep coming up, they are replaced at almost the same rate they are recruited, so I think we will not have shortage of manpower," Bunye said.

Besides, Bunye said the government could not prevent its manpower from leaving the country to seek "greener pastures."

He added that Filipino talents were "marketable," being known as world-class workers.

He also said that remittances sent by Filipinos overseas did not only help the country but most especially their families, who use the money to finance the schooling of those willing to take up nursing.

What the government can do is to accelerate the training of those in medical services, Bunye said."

As always, short-term thinking dominates. Does the press secretary know that the bill will enable these nurses to take along with them their entire families? I wonder how many weeks these promised remittances will continue to shore-up our dependent economy until they dry up permanently. Our greatest resource has always been our people, decent, hard-working, honest and capable of tremendous sacrifice. How the government treats its people as dependable cash cows regardless of whatever personal sacrifices they have to endure shows the entire world how much regard the people in power back home have for us.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Happy Days

My father and mother are here visiting in Guymon. I showed them around and they see why I think this place is so beautiful. They saw their fourth granddaughter for the first time.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Character Change

Let me expand on my idea for character change. We Filipinos need to become more aware about our responsibility to help one another. We have a lot of work ahead when it comes to the concept of common good. What seems to come so natural here in the US and that is people in a community coming together to build projects or organize into groups remains largely a dream in the Philippines.

A good area to start is the concept of recycling as much as we can. This may be more expensive in the short term but this will eventually free-up a lot of land fills and keep everyone conscious about the need to conserve our resources. Garbage collection must be made regular and more often. And we need to make fresh potable water readily available. Society needs to put more premium into cleanliness.

We all need to be reminded that we are all in the same boat and we all need to work together to improve our common lot.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Genetic Pool

I am a firm believer in the genetic pool. What do I mean by this. The Philippines has a population of 87 million people. In my time, there was only one single state-subsidized medical school, the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. My 1989 class was composed of 142 students. To this day, I am confident that pound for pound, we could compete with Harvard.

This brings me to my message for the day. I have no doubt that if the 13 colonies in 1776 were able to assemble a group of far-sighted geniuses who would be able to draft the Declaration of Independence and a formidable Constitution, we also have in the Philippines today a surfeit of talent and genius that will reel us back in record time. The substrate is there. We are not starting from scratch. Our country has a long history and we have generations of educated as well as patriotic people who will bring us back.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Declaration of Independence

How fortunate for the United States to have such an extraordinary bunch of geniuses for a first team 230 years ago--Washington, John Adams, Jefferson and Franklin. "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another...."

Jefferson was 11 years younger than I when he wrote the majority of those words "not to find new principles, or new arguments...but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent...".

"We hold these truths to be self-evident....".

Is there still any question that revolutionary change will need to come from outside the Philippines? There are so many heroic Filipinos that will join without hesitation the cause that will make our country rise from these desperate depths. Enough of these superficial sound bites and pathetic displays of patronizing leadership. We need real and constructive debate; a serious discussion of the major problems that keep the Philippines stunted. A strong political resolve to finally end the generations-old problems of land reform, population control, environmental stewardship, relevant education and most important, CHARACTER CHANGE. We need to get rid of our bad habits as a nation. We must all strive to become more productive towards common goals. We need to bring God back into politics. Justice, truth, love for neighbor have never been proprietary concepts of any single religion. These are universal human attributes we need to continually strive for.

Monday, May 8, 2006

UNICEF Report on Malnutrition

"THE Philippines was able to reduce the incidence of child malnutrition by 0.9 percent every year from 1990 to 2004, the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) reported.

This rate however, the report said, is insufficient to meet targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The report card is the fourth of a Unicef series that monitors progress for children toward the MDGs, a set of time-bound strategies listed in 2000 by the international community to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

Among the benchmarks outlined by the MDGs for the year 2015 is to halve the proportion of underweight children under 5 years old.

In the Philippines, the prevalence of underweight children under 5 stands at 28 percent."

I will admit that I did not realize how bad it continues to be in the Philippines. When I left the country 17 years ago, people here in the US could not understand why I disliked Ronald Reagan. That was the reason then. Because by supporting a dictator like Marcos, children were dying and nobody cared so long as corporate profits were sustained and American interests were protected.

Well, Marcos has been gone 20 years now and it looks like we are only sliding further down. We have run out of excuses. It is truly not out of any Messianic mission that I am returning home. I simply find it unconscionable to remain here in the US while children continue to die in droves from parasitic infections and upper respiratory diseases. And all these hotshots can think of is charter change.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Reverse Flow

Maybe it is because I have become more conscious but I have been learning of more and more established professionals preparing to move out of the Philippines. I refer to grounded and gifted heads of families, some of whom already have grandchildren who are committed to uprooting 25-year careers in search of safer, cleaner and more prosperous surroundings. Without exception, all these who are part of this exodus are bitter towards the succession of governments and politicians who have miserably failed them.

I can't blame any of these people. Family comes first. Personal sacrifice arises from a personal choice. When these sacrifices begin encroaching upon the welfare of your children you need to pause and reflect.

Meanwhile back home, charter change is the political gimmick of the day. As if it would prevent or even delay the departure of a single disillusioned Filipino. Why can't the people ever feel that these politicians care for the general good? Sacrifice, patience and hard work have always been demanded from us while the situation seems to become only more desperate. Do these clowns really think that they can get away with this degree of criminal neglect forever?

The Filipino hero Jose Rizal said "there are no tyrants where there are no slaves". More than ever I am returning home because I remember that phrase from Julius Caesar, "the fault dear Brutus lies not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings". We, the Filipino people can only take so much. We need to take our nation back.