Thursday, January 8, 2009

Overseas Filipino Workers of the World, Unite!

Smiles are abundant in the Philippines. It does not matter if the material quality of life is decidedly poorer, amid the hunger and disease and nakedness, you will find that people smile a lot more out here. And visitors from other countries never fail to remark upon the general warmth they receive from the natives.

Perhaps it is because we never need endure sub-zero winters or we can sleep outdoors the whole year round that we are so warm and hospitable. We have rain, regularly in the evenings and we have no pauses in our planting seasons. We have it very good in this country, so many of us simply take our profuse blessings for granted.

A popular folk tale is of Juan Tamad (John Lazy) who would rather wait for the crop to drop into his open mouth than summon the energy to bring his arm and hand to pluck the nearby fruit.

How do you explain our dismal productivity as a nation? The prevailing torpor that from time immemorial has kept us in the launch pad. How the over-solicitous cousin in the immigration desk can suddenly change into a tip-seeking tyrant to the next tourist in line, or how the loving family man of a cop can be capable of inflicting so much cruelty to drug-addicted minors?

No wonder powerful politicians will move mountains to help a stranded domestic helper somewhere in Saudi Arabia and rapidly turn around to collect a multi-million dollar commission in a public project. Religious leaders feed the hungry and provide shelter to the homeless with funds derived from gambling. Crusading journalists who begin as fearless tribunes until they become part of the same corrupt system no longer see a problem when they accept gifts from those they should be keeping an eye on. Teachers who patiently attend to 80-student classes make a little extra on the side selling reviewers that curiously appear like excerpts of the actual examinations. The most compassionate physicians who work brutally long hours will not think twice about splitting their fees with referring colleagues. Lawyers who consider themselves above the ethical fray routinely over-bill and further extend already drawn-out legal proceedings. The dispossessed urban poor will not hesitate to invite you to share their humble meal but will completely disregard property rights.

The miasma of corruption we all rail against is all over us. Proof of our infection is the degree of bitter cynicism we greeted the clarion call of, of all people, the former Speaker for a moral revolution, knowing each of us will be a casualty in such a revolution. How our insurmountable despair is reflected upon our forlorn hope that young, mega-traditional politicians will somehow scrupulously reform themselves in order to rescue us all.

The safe, reliable passage available all these years has been to leave the country. To stay as far away from a milieu that delayed development for most of us; a structure zealously secured by its principal beneficiaries. Jose Rizal lost his life more than a hundred years ago demanding the very same reforms that would enable us to transform ourselves into enlightened citizens with formed consciences. Then, as now, exile was the only option. Only now there are millions of us.

Can anyone be blamed for the prevailing hopelessness? We have been through a lot and still we remain mired. We need to save our country. Overseas Filipino Workers of the World, Unite! The situation in our country will become hopeless only when we stop looking back and caring for all our sisters and brothers we have left behind.


Pedestrian Observer GB said...

It is not just in our country where people are suffering and there is a segment of OFWs that are in a dire situation especially their children at risk of being stateless subjected to inhumane abuse and exploitation living in the streets of Sabah with no hope in sight.....

Anonymous said...

I believe there's power in unity. The Ofw sector not only has power in sheer number but also has economic power as well. Majority of them just dont realise this or just too unpatriotic for most of them already adopt the culture of the coutnry they are in. If and when the ofw's realise their strenght and real worth in effecting change in our country, our counrty will be great again.

JayM said...

I'd like to heed that call.

How should the Filipino diaspora unite?