Thursday, June 19, 2008


Bacolod City has more than half a million inhabitants, bigger than Amarillo and Lubbock combined. I was surprised to find an ad in the community billboard of the cable channel : Congratulations Engineer So and So and Family for acquiring a work visa to Australia, Bon Voyage!

In years past, families would hang banners or take out ads in the community paper announcing a topnotcher in the medical board exam or the Bar. Either standards have fallen terribly or there are now other more practical achievements that our society chooses to recognize.

Half of the households in Bacolod City (about 40,000) are referred to as “informal settlers”, a technically accurate euphemistic term for squatters. Talk to these parents and you will hear of dreams consisting of seeing their children work aboard cruise ships, “caregivers” all over Europe, a collection of nebulous job descriptions in the deserts of the Middle East. This is where it has come to a stop, the na├»ve understanding that all these migratory movements were but temporary arrangements that would end when the economy would get better.

Well it’s all over, with oil at $135 a barrel and with a liberalization-crippled economy that is completely dependent on loans and importation. How can we be proud of our economy that hardly adds any value to products? It has become clear these past months that most of the trumpeted growth in the economy was brought about by overseas remittances. We will see inflation and stagnation in unprecedented numbers when those abroad will decrease their contributions from sheer economic necessity. For those in other countries, it will no longer mean postponing yet again the trip back home or holding off from purchasing a newer vehicle. Health insurance premiums, college funds and retirement are what’s at stake here.

Yet the informals seem to be happy. They complain about the government-subsidized rice that is fleetingly available and only in limited quantities, they grouse about the high cost of electricity and they grumble over the long distances they need to carry their containers of potable water but you won’t hear anything about the frightfully inadequate quality of education their children are receiving and the glaring absence of meaningful healthcare anywhere. You won’t find too many big dreamers here.

So, this is where it ends, If We let it end here and now. All those broken families, all those rapes and molestations and incest, all those executions, all those drugs and alcohol abused, all those celebrations and funerals missed, all those nights of utter desolation, loneliness and heartache.

If We let it end with the proclamation of Erap Estrada of his 2010 election candidates chosen for their integrity against the line-up of GMA that will resoundingly guarantee the continuation of our nation’s decline. Because if this is the best we can come up with, applying for that elusive visa may not be a bad idea at all.


azron said...

So many economies of the world are now based on remittances - the money sent home by family members who work in another country. Did you know that the biggest percentage of the GNP of Mexico is now the money sent be 'illegal alien' working in the US? This amount surpassed oil revenues in Sept. of '07. Very sad. There is no motivation for the Mexican government to change this reality - who would want to?


Anonymous said...

We've unfortunately become a nation of short-sighted people, caring only about what is immediate, with long-term dreams that also address immediate needs.

Sad part is nobody cares about who runs the country, thinking that it doesn't matter to what is immediate nor to their short-sighted view of the future.

Have you heard of the recent buzz-phrase among GenYers in the Philippines? Bahala na si Batman. Can you imagine entrusting your future to some modern-day mythical being?

md bautista said...

and that is what infuriates me megamom, that the people most affected, the people who are living in depraved conditions seem clueless to the worsening disaster unfolding before their eyes.