Saan KAMI sa Puso MO

State of the Nation Address : Saan KAMI sa Puso MO   (Walong Taon na ang nakalipas “Pagbabalik Sulyap sa SONA ni PGMA”)

Click SONA Icon for the full text.  

SONA 2001

SONA 2001

 

 

 

 

“Instead of speculating, let us further strengthen the financial sector. We will design innovative policies to develop our capital market. We will set up a secondary housing mortgage market, an asset management company, and a provident  fund for overseas Filipinos”.

“I ask Congress to enact a law giving Overseas Filipinos, who continue to play a critical role in the country’s economic and social stability, giving them the right to vote”.

SONA 2002

SONA 2002

 

N O N E

                        

SONA 2003

SONA 2003

 

 

 

 

“The Filipinos  is now recognized as a truly global worker, both at home and abroad”.

“Eight Million Filipinos live and work abroad, in jobs where they enjoy the unbeatable comparative advantages of an English speaking education, advanced skills and a uniquely caring nature”.

“The Filipino people will work anywhere because he is not afraid, like Manny Pacquiao, given the chance to compete, he will take it and he will win. It was only fitting that because of your work in Congress, Overseas Filipinos were given the overseas voting right”.

SONA 2004

SONA 2004

 

 

 

 

 

“Why was Angelo Dela Cruz saved? Because I stuck to my oath. Since I first became President in 2001, my declared foreign policy focus has been to protect the vital interest of the nation, including our eight million overseas Filipinos”.

“Sacrificing Angelo Dela Cruz would have been pointless provocation; it would have put the lives of a million and a half Filipinos in the Middle East at risk, by making them part of the war”.  
SONA 2005

SONA 2005

 

 N O N E

 

 

SONA 2006

SONA 2006

 

              

 

 

“Sa ating mga OFW, tunay kayong mga bagong bayani. Sa inyong paglilingkod sa pamilya, sa ating bayan at sa Diyos, maraming salamat”.

 

SONA 2007

SONA 2007

 

  N O N E

 

 

 

 

SONA 2008

SONA 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I care for our OFWs, famed for their skill, integrity and untiring labor, who send home their pay as the only way to touch loved ones so far away. Nagpupugay ako ngayon sa kanilang mga karaniwang Pilipino”.

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Pasaway

Yesterday, I read an online news at GMANews TV  about “72 Filipinos” rounded up during a concert inside a compound in  eastern Riyadh.  Gays are not prohibited in Saudi Arabia but  display of homosexual behavior is strictly forbidden.  Such offense could suffer imprisonment and lashing for immorality.

Vice President Noli De Castro who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs reminded OFWs to abide laws in their respective host country more particularly in Saudi Arabia.

This blogger also reminded fellow kababayan’s in KSA to respect the strict laws of the host country in an entry titled ” Immorality a Serious Offense “.

Just two weeks ago  the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Kingdom raided a Gambling Den (Sabongan) in Buraydah.  A total of 150 gamblers in different nationalities many of them Filipinos  were arrested during the raid.

2Gambling is also strictly prohibited in the Kingdom.  Caught and if found guilty of organizing such gambling arena will be imprisoned for months, lashing and be deported to their respective country of origin and be blacklisted to enter back again in the Kingdom (see related entry “Massive Fingerprinting of Expats Begins“).

Filipinos said “we are smarter than other nationalities when it comes to work, we are not lazy, we are very industrious, we have bigger brains, we can invent things that can make our life more easier and safer”  that is why in every corners of the world there are Filipinos and it is true. Though sad to say that in every part of this world there are also “PASAWAY Filipinos” see more photos below.

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Exemplary Filipino

Dr. Rusty Balderian  has been featured in the Philippine Daily Inquirer with the title of “Doc Shares Blessings with Leyte Youth”  published on November 8, 2008.

Tabon Tabon, Leyte Mayor Rusty Balderian

Tabon Tabon, Leyte Mayor Rusty Balderian

This is a story of a young man from a family which owned a sari sari store in the town of Tabontabon, Leyte who practically supported himself as a working student to become an optometrist and a physician.  He went to the United States and run several successful businesses. 
 
In 2003 he went back to his hometown and opened a school for nursing.  Out of the initial enrollment of 153 only 60 graduated due to the requirement to maintain an average grade of 2 with no grade in any subject lower than 2.5.  Out
of the 60 graduates only 57 took the nursing licensure examination and out of the 57 who took the nursing licensure examination 52 passed making his school the highest in the number of graduates passing the examination in the region and the ninth in the whole country.
 

At present there are 648 students and all are 100% scholars with free use of the dormitory. This is what makes the school unique. Parents are required to work in the school for 8 hours a day. The other requirement is for graduates to pass the Philippine board examination and the NFLEX and work in the U.S. When they start working they are required to send $1000.00 a month to their parents. This amount, Dr. Balderian believes, will be spent in the community by building better homes which in turn will provide jobs for local people and multiplier effect on the local economy of the town.
 
What makes Dr. Balderian so exemplary? 
 
1. His own passion to secure education and be successful in business

2. His desire to help his community by sharing his success and offering scholarship to the youth of his town

3. His vision, creativeness and innovativeness in creating a unique school that will improve the economy of his town and help the poor while encouraging the youth to seek higher education that will qualify them to work abroad.

4. His superb administrative ability to manage a school and run a town as mayor with passion for progress and help his town as the driving force that can only end up in success.

5. His ambitiousness and courage to start something that has never been done before (school of nursing offering full scholarship to each student)

6. Despite his successful business in the U.S.A. he still went back to the homeland to start helping his town and its people. 

This is why I am anxious to share this information that he may serve as a model and inspiration for all of us.  We need more people like him.

By: Bart Saucelo

Ang Tunay na OFW

Hindi mayaman ang OFW – We have this notion na ‘pag OFW o nasa abroad ay mayaman na. Hindi totoo yun. A regular OFW might earn from P50K-P300K per month depende sa lokasyon. Yung mga taga-Saudi or US siguro ay mas malaki ang sweldo, but to say that they’re rich is a fallacy (amen!).

Malaki ang pangangailangan kaya karamihan ay nag-a-abroad. Maraming bunganga ang kailangang pakainin kaya umaalis ang mga pipol sa Philippines . Madalas, 3/4 o kalahati ng sweldo ay napupunta sa tuition ng anak at gastusin ng pamilya.

Mahirap maging OFW – Kailangan magtipid hangga’t kaya. Oo, masarap ang pagkain sa abroad pero madalas na paksiw o adobo at itlog lang tinitira para makaipon. Pagdating ng kinsenas o katapusan, ang unang tinitingnan eh ang conversion ng peso sa dollar o rial o euro. Mas okay na magtiis sa konti kaysa gutumin ang pamilya. Kapag umuuwi, kailangan may baon kahit konti kasi maraming kamag-anak ang sumusundo sa airport o naghihintay sa probinsya. Alam mo naman ‘pag Pinoy, yung tsismis na OFW ka eh surely attracts a lot of kin.

Kapag hindi mo nabigyan ng pasalubong eh magtatampo na yun at sisiraan ka na. Well, hindi naman lahat pero I’m sure sa mga OFW dito eh may mga pangyayaring ganun. Magtatrabaho ka sa bansang iba ang tingin sa mga Pinoy. Malamang marami ang naka-experience ng gulang o discrimination to their various workplaces. Sige lang, tiis lang, iniiyak na lang kasi kawawa naman pamilya ‘pag umuwi.

Besides, wala ka naman talagang maasahang trabaho sa Philippines ngayon. Mahal ang bigas, ang gatas, ang sardinas, ang upa sa apartment. Tiis lang kahit maraming kupal sa trabaho, kahit may sakit at walang nag-aalaga, kahit hindi masarap ang tsibog, kahit pangit ang working conditions, kahit delikado, kahit mahirap. Kapag nakapadala ka na, okay na, tawag lang, “hello! kumusta na kayo?”.

Hindi bato ang OFW – Tao rin ang OFW, hindi money o cash machine. Napapagod rin, nalulungkot (madalas), nagkakasakit, nag-iisip at nagugutom. Kailangan din ang suporta, kundi man physically, emotionally o spiritually man lang.

Tumatanda rin ang OFW – Sa mga nakausap at nakita ko, marami ang panot at kalbo na. Most of them have signs and symptoms of hypertension, coronary artery disease and arthritis. Yet, they continue to work thinking about the family they left behind. Marami ang nasa abroad, 20-30 years na, pero wala pa ring ipon. Kahit anong pakahirap, sablay pa rin. Masakit pa kung olats rin ang sinusuportahang pamilya – ang anak adik o nabuntis; ang asawa may kabit. Naalala ko tuloy ang sikat na kanta dati, “NAPAKASAKIT KUYA EDDIE!”

Bayani ang OFW – Totoo yun! Ngayon ko lang na na-realize na bayani ang OFW sa maraming bagay. Hindi bayani na tulad ni Nora Aunor o Flor Contemplacion. Bayani in the truest sense of the word. Hindi katulad ni Rizal o Bonifacio. Mas higit pa dun, mas maraming giyera at gulo ang pinapasok ng OFW para lang mabuhay. Mas maraming pulitika ang kailangang suungin para lang tumagal sa trabaho lalo na’t kupal ang mga kasama sa trabaho. Mas mahaba ang pasensya kaysa sa mga ordinaryong kongresista o senador sa Philippines dahil sa takot na mawalan ng sweldo.

Matindi ang OFW – Matindi ang pinoy. Matindi pa sa daga, o cockroaches which survived the cataclysmic evolution. Maraming sakripisyo pero walang makitang tangible solutions or consequences.

Malas ng OFW, swerte ng pulitiko – Hindi umuupo ang OFW para magbigay ng autograph o interbyuhin ng media (unless nakidnap!). Madalas nasa sidelines lang ang OFW. Kapag umaalis, malungkot and on the verge of tears. Kapag dumadating, swerte ‘pag may sundo( madalas meron). Kapag naubos na ang ipon, wala ng kamag-anak.

Sana sikat ang OFW para may boses sa Kamara. Ang swerte ng mga politiko nakaupo sila at ginagastusan ng pera ng Filipino. Hindi nga sila naiinitan o napapaso ng langis, o napagagalitan ng amo, o kumakain ng paksiw para makatipid, o nakatira sa compound with conditions less than favorable, o nakikisama sa ibang lahi para mabuhay. Ang swerte, sobrang swerte nila.

Matatag ang OFW – Matatag ang OFW, mas matatag pa sa sundalo o kung ano pang grupo na alam nyo. Magaling sa reverse psychology, negotiations at counter-attacks. Tatagal ba ang OFW? Tatagal pa kasi hindi pa natin alam kailan magbabago ang Philippines , kailan nga kaya? o may tsansa pa ba?

Masarap isipin na kasama mo ang pamilya mo araw-araw. Nakikita mo mga anak mong lumalaki at naaalagaan ng maayos. Masarap kumain ng sitaw, ng bagoong, lechon, inihaw na isda, taba ng talangka. Masarap manood ng pelikulang Pinoy, luma man o bago. Iba pa rin ang pakiramdam kung kilala mo ang kapitbahay mo. Iba pa rin sa Philippines, iba pa rin kapag Pinoy ang kasama mo (except ‘pag kupal at utak-talangka), iba pa rin ‘pag nagkukwento ka at naiintindihan ng iba ang sinasabi mo. Iba pa rin ang tunog ng “mahal kita!”, “day, ginahigugma tika.” “Mingaw na ko nimo ba, kalagot!”, ” Inday, diin ka na subong haw? ganahan guid ko simo ba”. Iba pa rin talaga.

Sige lang, tiis lang, saan ba’t darating din ang pag-asa.

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The Paintings of Gene Loyola

“Realisms  not only a detailed of drawing and composition or form of  colors, temperature warmness, cool define and abstract of element that we feel and see in our naked eye  but this is the concrete essence of  Truth  that conquered  the wholeness of reality”

Gene Villaflor de Loyola

"Nena" Artist : Gene Villaflor de Loyola

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Gene Villaflor de Loyola born on September 10, 1956 in Naga City, Camarines Sur, and Philippines.He is the second of eight children of a World War II Veteran Osmundo B. de Loyola Sr. and Leonida V. Villaflor. Married to Teresita A. Dequina of Roxas City. They have four lovely daughters who are all inclined to arts. The eldest Racquel, second is Maan, third is Soraya and the youngest is Clarissa.

 

Gene started drawing at a tender age of four. When he was six years old, he was introduced by his Father to Mr. Broulio Roman Dayao, who happened to be their neighbor in Frisco, Quezon City. Mr. Dayao, is a graduate of UP Fine arts, He is a very good artist doing landscape and portraiture. De Loyola was so impressed with the maestro that almost everyday from school, he would proceeds to the studio of Mr. Dayao to watch him paint. He was so impressed with the paintings that one day he requested the maestro to teach him, and the artist was more than willing share his knowledge of the arts. He was tough first how to use watercolors and other mediums. At age 7 the first oil painting that he did was copy of Russian scientist of a known Russian master, which belongs to a collection of Hermitage Leningrad Museum.

To read more about the artist click link : “The Paintings of Gene Loyola”  @ Anita’s Kitchen

Global Bisayan Entrepreneur (GLOBE) Multi Purpose Cooperative

globe

I was invited last Friday by William R. Jao, a fellow Boholano from Tubigon in a get together meeting of Global Bisayan Entrepreneur (GLOBE) Multi Purpose Cooperative.  GLOBE is a group of OFW’s hails from Visayas and Mindanao who collectively tightened the bonds of helping each other forming  a Cooperative that could ensure promising prospect when they decide to go home for good. They start the “banana” project where they market “Golden Saba” here in the Kingdom.    

The Primary objectives for which this Cooperative is formed are:   

a.   To encourage thrift and savings mobilization among the members for capital formation;

b.   To create funds in order to grant loans for productive and providential purposes to its members; 

c.   To encourage among members systematic production and planning;

d.   To provide goods and services and other requirements of the members;

e.   To develop business expertise and skills among its members;

f.   To engage in all forms of general and allied services needed to promote, protect and pursue the social and economic upliftment of its members; 

g.  To insure against losses of the members;

h.  To promote and advance the economic, social and economic educational status of the members; 

i.   To establish, own, lease or operate cooperative banks, cooperative wholesale and retail complexes, insurance and agricultural/industrial processing enterprises, and public markets;

j.  To coordinate and facilitate the activities of the cooperatives, and to undertake any and all other activities for the effective and efficient implementation of the provisions of Cooperative Code of The Philippines (RA 6938); 

 

GLOBE MEmbership Meeting

GLOBE MEmbership Meeting

 

During the meeting proper, we discussed the pros and cons of cooperativism where many OFW Cooperative groups formed by our fellow OFWs in the Kingdom fails to pursue the long term success of the Cooperative.  

It is important to identify the keys towards the success of its operation and understanding the causes of cooperative failures. 

It was also discussed during the meeting the importance how changes in various means of finance can affect member control and influence in their cooperative owned businesses in the near future.   

The Global Bisayan Entrepreneur (GLOBE) Multi Purpose Cooperative is duly registered with Cooperative Development Authority and all their members attended the Pre-Education Membership Seminar (PMES) conducted by the Overseas Filipino Workers Cooperative Council.  OFWCC is an umbrella organization of Cooperative based in Jeddah, KSA whose members are accredited CDA lecturer.  

To: William Jao, Romy Cometa, Rino Punay and to those I forgot the names, THANK You so much and see you this coming Friday. Mabuhay ang GLOBE!

A new political party is born


A new political party is born
FilExpat News

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2 May 2008 – The Overseas Filipino Workers community leaders from various Filipino organizations in Riyadh gathered at Al Mutlaq Hotel in the observance of International Worker’s Day, also known us Labor Day.

In many countries, May 1 is commemorated as economic and social achievements of workers. Being part of the labor force outside the Philippine soil, OFW community leaders celebrate the occasion.

Overseas Filipinos dubbed by the Philippine Government as “Bagong Bayani” or “New Hero” and “Unsung Heroes” because of its remittances uplifting economic downturn in the country. But most OFWs complain that nothing much has been done for the so called “New Heroes.”

Working away from home, the progress they seek is too elusive, comfort they long, yet comfort is a myth.

Many OFWs says “they leave the country honored, they come home betrayed.” An easy prey for illegal recruiters; the sad story and the untold stories of maltreatment and abuse in their country’s destination.

OFWs or Overseas Filipinos probably the biggest sector outside Philippine society yet neglected and unrepresented in Government policy making bodies, even in the Philippine Hall of Congress.

Thus in the same day in commemoration of the Labor Day, an OFW led Political Party is born. They named it “Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino” the worldwide OFW-led national political party for the Overseas Filipinos, Overseas Filipino Workers and the Filipino People.

PPP offers itself as the instrument of the people to sweep away abuses, injustice, graft and corruption, to build a new and nobler Philippine republic. Overseas Filipinos today are estimated eight to ten million in diaspora with more than 20 million dependents in the homeland.

A year ago, an e-group was created as a discussion forum for the purpose of uniting Filipino community leaders and OFW advocates worldwide. After tedious and usual negative setbacks normal to any organizations in its formative stage, the long time dream come true. Exhausting all possible efforts to unite Filipinos worldwide was a great success.

OFWs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the leading proponent of the party’s birth decided to draft the “Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino” Constitution and By-laws. Crafted by brilliant minds in the party chapter Committee on Rules and Resolutions headed by Joey Badong together with long time OFW advocates like Francis Oca, Alex Veloso Bello and the Party President Dr. Lito Astillero presented to the chapter members the party’s draft Consitution and By-Laws. After long intense deliberations the said charter and by-laws was approved. The party members agreed that the “working draft” will be presented in the coming Global Filipino Leaders meeting next week in Manila. If ratified by the founding members, it will be soon registered to COMELEC as the new national political party in the country, the first ever in the history of Philippine politics.

Ramon Ignacio, who support the idea in the formation of an OFW led political party in his proposed party platform outline said “The conscience of the people, in this time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party – the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino, born of the Filipinos’ sense of nationalism, social and economic justice, quest for progress and demand for effective governance in the Motherland. We of the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the dreams and aspirations espoused by our heroes and forefathers to stand with the Filipino pride, and in today’s reality – wherever we are.”

“The PPP will be like a national political party, much like the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party where only one part of it will be devoted to elections. The rest will have other concerns like getting OF representation in related government agencies like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration” said Francisco “Jun” Aguilar one of PPP prime movers.

Jun Aguilar now based at home is a former technical analyst in Saudi Arabia for 13 years and presently a successful “OFW entrepreneur”. He is actively running businesses in the country along with other Filipino expatriates who belong to the Filipino Migrant Workers Group or the FMW Group.

Aguilar added that “this party will open up more slots and positions to willing, capable and qualified PPP members who want to serve the sector. It will create a tremendous clout in any administration which could result in better consultation and cooperation to lead to the improvement of the sector and to good governance.” He further added that “the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino or PPP will be a party for overseas Filipinos regardless of his or her status in his or her respective host country as well as those who have come home and the families of overseas Filipinos.”

In Jun Aguilar’s concept paper, it is stated that “the basic reason why PPP is born is that overseas Filipinos, despite their large number has never maximized its potential to address its numerous concerns. It has failed to garner a seat in Congress despite several tries by OFW Party Lists. Moreover, the sector has never been consulted on any State policies, regulations and major appointments that would greatly affect its concerns.”

Bong Amora, one of the movers clarified that “the PPP Constitution and By-Laws could not be perfected at this time but if ratified and approve by the Global Leaders in Manila, a General Membership Assembly will be called maybe this year or next year for amendments and election of the party’s National Executive Council.”

He added that “PPP’s participation this coming 2010 election once recognized by COMELEC, will start by forming its political machineries at Barangay or grassroots level and probably support a certain candidate identified as an OFW advocate or to those who are concerns in the plight of the Overseas Filipino Workers.”

Roger Bantiles, one of the founding members based in the National Capital Region also said “the Philippines has more than 42,000 barangays, I doubt if we can claim influence over even 1% of total, or 420 and yet, this is where the votes are first counted and protected. And the barangay people are the ones who will go all the way to the municipal and provincial Comelec offices to protect the votes. PPP, which is global or pandaigdigan, will have to go “barriotic” or “baranganic”, literally “thinking global, but acting local.”

The PPP Constitution and By-Laws dubbed as “The Working Draft” approved by the PPP-Riyadh Chapter during its intense deliberation, OFW Congress Riyadh President and Board Chairman of PPP Riyadh Board of Trustees, in the person of Mr. Alex Veleso Bello will present the “draft” to the PPP Global Leaders in Manila this coming May 8 to 11, 2008. The PPP Global leaders are among the participants coming from all over the world to attend the “Global Filipino Nation International Conference” at the University of Makati.

In the said GFN conference PPP Riyadh will also present in the Political Module the proposed OFW empowerment which is the creation of an OFW led political party as a means for a change in the shattered image of Philippine politics. Mr. Alex Veloso Bello stresses a point during the meeting that it is about time that Overseas Filipinos and dependents at home are represented and be actively involved in Philippine governance.

The goal of the GFN conference would bring all overseas Filipinos who share a common goal of effective governance in the Homeland, anchored on grassroots economic empowerment and resolution of issues facing migrant workers and their families, and with raised consciousness of a nation ready to march as one. The event is an assembly of overseas Filipinos leaders, members of their families, their friends onshore who share the same governance vision, collaborative global business partners and investors, grassroots entrepreneurs, new nationwide potential political leaders.

A job fair will also be held simultaneously at the University of Makati campus.

Article 3, Section 6 of PPPs Charter is as follows:

SECTION 6 – Advocate and/or legislate such programs for the welfare of Overseas Filipinos, like:

6.1. Advocate for the safety and well being of the OFs.
6.2. Promote civic, social and economic programs designed for the upliftment of OFs.
6.3. Advocate for the implementation of a social security systems designed to meet the needs and requirements of OFs.

6.4. Advocate for the national Policy and program for crisis intervention on the plight of OFs in distress in various parts of the world.

6.5. Advocate for the national policy and program for the re-integration of OFs into the mainstream of Philippine economy and society;

6.6. Legislate laws to safeguard OFWs from illegal and exploitative recruitment practices, and enact a law that will provide stiff punishment;

6.7. Legislate laws that will provide stiff punishment to proven corrupt officials in the POEA, OWWA, DOLE and other government agencies mandated to take care of the plight of the OFWs.

6.8. Advocate for upholding the Human Rights of OFs all over the world, and urge the Philippine Government to exert more efforts through diplomatic channels to provide relief to OFs who have fallen victim to human rights abuses.


MORE THAN 10% OF PHILIPPINE POPULATION WORK OUTSIDE OF THEIR HOMELAND
By CESAR TORRES
April 13, 2007

This is probably a first in the history of mankind.

More than 10% of Philippine population of 89.5 million are in Diaspora. We are working in various capacities all over the world. We have remitted US$15 billion to the homeland in 2005, according to the London-based Economist, an amount which is equivalent to 15.2% of Philippine Domestic Product for that year. Two-thirds of our people rely on us. Obviously, under normal circumstances, we should be given a little importance.

The powerful people in the Philippines cannot just consign us to a position as a lucrative and dependable source of Philippine foreign exchange to help stabilize our economy.

As a matter of fairness and in the national interest, we have to be represented in the affairs of government. When there is massive and legitimate dissatisfaction with the quality of national leadership and system of governance, our people can no longer continue to mass by the millions on a major street in Metro Manila like what happened in 1986 and 2001, in EDSA I and EDSA II, to demand that presidents depart from Malacañang. Resorting to “direct democracy” through mass actions can no longer guarantee a peaceful change in power. The potential risks have become deadly.

Consequently, less dramatic and less potentially dangerous was the enactment of two legislations by the Philippine Congress affecting overseas Filipinos. In 2003 a law allowing “Dual Citizenship”, Republic Act 9225, was passed. It allowed natural-born Filipino citizens who may have lost their Philippine citizenship due to naturalization as citizens of a foreign country to re-acquire their Philippine citizenship. As of January 2007, the Bureau of Immigration had approved the application for dual citizenship of more than 24,000 former Filipinos.

In the same year, the Overseas Absentee Voting Law (OAVL) was also enacted. This law allows qualified Filipinos outside of the homeland to exercise their right of suffrage.

The latest figure from the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Foreign Affairs indicate that some 504,000 Filipinos have registered as Overseas Absentee Voters.

It is noteworthy that based on the available data, in North and South America as of January 19, 2007, the Consulate General in San Francisco tops the list of the number of registered absentee voters at 4,800 out of a total of 13,083. For the same period, Los Angeles recorded 154 and Honolulu 20. Needless to say, the figures in these two cities are dismal, considering the great number of Filipinos in those places.

The San Francisco Consulate General also accounts for some 6,500 Dual Citizens out of the 24,000 or so all over the world. This is more than 27% of the total world wide. In fact, about 50 Filipino-Americans are sworn in as Filipino citizens every week.

Participation in Philippine governance by exercising the right of suffrage is one way of being involved more closely in the affairs of the homeland. The Overseas Absentee Voters and the Dual Citizens who have registered to vote can help in the selection of the more qualified and competent legislators. It is unfortunate, however, that the right of suffrage is confined to voting for President, Vice President, Senators, and Party List representatives. Overseas Absentee Voters would prefer to vote for their congressmen and governors because they have a direct impact on their hometowns and communities more than senators and Party List representatives.

Aside from participating in the election of their Senators, Party List Congressmen, Presidents and Vice Presidents, there is now an intensifying clamor among the 10 million Filipinos all over the world that they should have the right to be voted on as candidates for political offices without renouncing their other citizenship. It is argued that the right to vote implies the corresponding right to be voted on. If one is a dual citizen of, say, the United States and the Philippines, and US laws do not prohibit Philippine citizenship while retaining American citizenship, Global Filipino Nation advocates such as Dr. Jose V. Abueva, Victor Barrios, Lito Gutierrez, Carmen Colet, Evelio Flores, Aida Barrios, Morgan Benedicto, University of San Francisco Professor Jun Jun Villegas of the Global Filipinos Coalition, UP lawyers Johannes Ignacio and May Ann Teodoro, journalists such as Greg Makabenta and Perry Diaz in the United States, and other concerned civic Filipino leaders all over the world such as Bong Amora, Sultan Rudy Dianalan, Bong Karno, Gerry Cuares in the Middle East, and Jun Aguilar and Leo Santiago whose network extend to sailors and Filipino workers all over the world, passionately argue that dual citizens should have the right to be candidates for political office or to be appointed to public offices in the Philippines.

This advocacy is now being hotly contested in the Philippines. Theodore Makabulos Aquino or Kuya Ted, a nephew of the assassinated martyr Ninoy Aquino, who is both a Filipino and an American citizen has filed his certificate of candidacy as an independent candidate for Senator this May 14, 2007 election. A graduate of the University of the Philippines, president of the UP Alumni Association of America, a volunteer in the Transfer of Knowledge and Technology program to the Philippines of the United Nations Development Program, an engineering and environmental consultant in America, the Comelec has disqualified his candidacy because he has not renounced his American citizenship. A request for reconsideration has been submitted. As we go to press, a decision is now being awaited. If the decision is adverse, then off to the Philippine Supreme Court it will be. It is imperative that the highest court in the land should rule on this critical issue.

In these critical times when mankind is faced with the deadly challenges of terrorism, global warming, globalization, intensifying poverty, environmental degradation, revolutionary movements, and hunger in the Philippines, our leaders cannot continue to lean on traditional and hackneyed ideas of citizenship and political participation. In California, the eight largest economy in the world, Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger is not only a dual citizen. He is a Triple Citizen. He is American, Austrian, and European Union Citizen. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is a dual citizen. He is American and Mexican. The Philippines needs to take this “New Reality”, in the words of Mr. Robert Ceralvo, an outstanding Filipino and IT engineer, into consideration.

In addition to the foregoing types of representation, the Philippines can learn from the system in Italy. Italians who are outside of Italy, those in what are known as “Foreign Constituencies”, are represented in the Italian legislature. Six senators and twelve deputies represent these “Foreign Constituencies” in the Italian legislature.

After the election on May 14, it is more or less certain that the issue of Charter Change will be addressed again. We are not familiar with all the details of the draft Philippine Constitution that the House of Representatives wanted to impose on the Filipino people. Whatever it is, the 10 million Filipinos can no longer be regarded as just brutalized and maligned domestic helpers and exploited Filipinos. They have every right to participate in shaping the kind of society that their fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, relatives, and fellow Filipinos are hoping for – the dream of a progressive, peaceful, respectable, and just Philippine society. They are paying with their lives, with their misery, with their pain for this dream.

[Published in the April 2007 issue of The Filipino Insider, a monthly supplement of the San Francisco Chronicle. The author was a former faculty member of the University of the Philippines Department of Political Science. He can be reached at Cesar1185@aol.com.]


Dear All,

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Bong Amora and I proudly present to the whole world, THE GLOBAL KITCHEN that will cater to all ages, creeds and religion, all people of colors without discrimination. Please feel at home, and enjoy the Filipino-American hospitality. As usual, as in most Filipino Homes, we invite you to take your shoes off, sleepers are provided, go to the reception room for a cup of delicious Tea with Ginger, Lemongrass and Honey. Listen to the music, the sultry, bedroom voice of Charmaine Clamor, she breaths life into the song, and relax and your friendly hostess will lead you to the DINING ROOM.

While in the KITCHEN, join Anita by going to our HOME PAGE and learn about your HOSTESS, and go to ABOUT US and read the introductions of two very dear civic minded friends of mine, who support the advocacies of Anita. We , of course feature recipes from the country, but will also answer to all your requests for food extraordinaire. We are open for any discussions and if you enjoy the visit please sign our COFFEE TABLE BOOK.

Please feel at home at ANITA’S KITCHEN.

Deliciously yours with the smell of Filipino Cuisine,

Anita Sese-Schon
State of Washington
Director, OVERSEAS FILIPINO COUNCIL INTERNATIOANAL
Serving Filipinos Worldwide through Strategic Alliances

Anita
NITZKITCHEN.COM

New Political Party is Born By Joe Avancena Saudi Gazette

Filipino community leaders in Riyadh drafted the constitution and by-laws of a new political party earlier this month.

The party is envisioned to represent the over eight million overseas Filipino workers around the world in the Philippine congress and government.
Called the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino (PPP-Worldwide Political party for the Overseas Filipinos), the draft was presented for ratification during the four-day Global Filipino Nation International Conference on May 8-11 held at the University of Makati, Metro Manila.

The conference was attended by an estimated 10,000 clusters of overseas Filipino leaders from all over the world.

Alex Veloso Bello, president of the OFW Congress and board chairman of the PPP Riyadh board of trustees, presented the working draft of the new political party during the conference.

Thirty five community leaders from Riyadh, Jeddah and Eastern Province attended the conference.

After the ratification of its constitutions and by-laws, PPP will be registered with the Philippine Commission on Election.

The PPP will be like the existing national political parties in the Philippines that participate in elections.

It will also focus its mandate for proper representation of OFWs in government agencies like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

The PPP is expected to participate in the 2010 Philippine national election and will be fielding its candidates from local to the national level of political positions.

The PPP was born out of frustration of OFWs who had been long denied of representation in the Philippine congress and in the general body politics in the Philippines.

The over eight million OFWs and their estimated 20 million families and dependents are considered strong voting blocs.

The draft of the PPP constitution and by-laws were penned and approved by the following PPP-Riyadh Chapter members, namely, Dr. Carlito Astillero, Alex Veloso Bello, Francis Oca, Manuel Amora, Joey Badong, Francisco Naval, Bioux Manilum, Abdullah Ronnie Ulip, Abdulaziz Virgula, Dante Villaflores, Ed Estrada, Pete Vicuna, Macario Escober, Cayetano Aloboyog, Roberto Barreto, Madid Alonto, Faizal Sarque, Manuel Morden, Abdulgaafar Dimalotang, Cenon Sagadal, Jr., Romeo Sinamban, Robert Ramos, Ricardo Roda, Jun Nacion, Engr. Allan Macabangkit, Saleh Ampaso Bucay, Dante Pangcoga, Mohd. Elias Mua, Rene Esperanzate, and Michael Dimalotang.

The drafted constitution and by-laws of the PPP provided wide-ranging support programs for OFWs, such as their representation in legislative branch of the government, promotion of their civil, social and economic, and safety in their jobsites.

OFW still in contention for top OWWA post


OFW still in contention for top OWWA post
KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMANews.TV
08/30/2008 | 03:04 PM

Philippines – A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia have said their nominee for the top post of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is still in the running.

“Allow us to clarify that Dr. Carlito Astillero has not withdrawn his nomination,” Manuel Amora, secretary-general of the OFW Congress in Riyadh, said in an e-mail GMANews.TV.

Amora said Astillero’s letter to his campaigners and supporters, which was the basis of a news report that he has withdrawn from the race, was only meant to thank everyone for their support.

Astillero’s e-mail read: “Thank you for all the support. I cannot forget your efforts although everybody knows what would be the outcome. As I told you from the beginning we have a very slim chance of being appointed.”

Astillero wrote the letter to his campaigners as speculation spread that former Surigao del Sur congressman Prospero Pichay Jr, an ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was already appointed OWWA administrator.

The rumored appointment was caused by a faulty memorandum issued by Malacañang Palace addressing Pichay as OWWA administrator. The correspondence office of the President dismissed the matter as a “wrong address.”

Last week, the OWWA Search Committee headed by former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas was reported to have excluded Pichay from its shortlist of seven names, after which the Palace announced that Pichay was being appointed chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

Reports said that Pichay really wanted the OWWA position but was forced to back down because of many objections to his appointment.

Meanwhile, Filipino workers in Riyadh are hopeful that the President will heed their calls of appointing somebody from the migrant workers’ circle to the controversial post.

“In the meantime, we the OFW community leaders in KSA and around the globe are determined to continue our fight that a true bloodied OFW will be given a hand in the affairs of OWWA,” said Amora.

It was not known if Astillero is among the seven names in the OWWA short list. – GMANews.TV


New execs as biggest OFW group in Saudi marks 5th year

A new set of officers has been elected to lead the biggest organization of overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia during the group’s 5th founding anniversary recently.

The election and induction of the board of trustees and officers of the 7,000-strong United OFW Association were held at the compound of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

The election was conducted under the supervision of chairman Joey Badong. It was assisted by Ed Estrada as vice-chairman and commissioners Tess Javier and Berna Degamo.

The new trustees are Frank Naval (chairman); Francis Oca (vice-chairman); Soledad Bahaynon, board secretary; Alex Bello, Jun Nacion, Manuel “Bong” Amora, Doming de Palma, Ding Manalo, Ping Gabriel, Dennis Porlares, Herman Honrado, Mohammad Eli Mua, Dante Guina, Gob Dimalotang, and Habib Batua.

From the elected trustees, the following executive officers were appointed: Mua, national chairman; Nacion, national vice-chairman; Manalo, finance officer; Porlares, administrative officer; Amora, information officer; Dimalotang, public relations officer; De Palma, logistic officer; Honrado, business manager; Batua, auditor; and Badong, the only non-trustee, is campaign manager.

During his keynote speech, Consul Romulo Victor Israel, Jr. took note of the transformation of the socio-economic organization which was founded in Riyadh on July 10, 2003 not only in terms of numbers but more so in the quality of its members, leaders and programs.

Also present during the induction ceremonies was Labor Attaché Rustico SM dela Fuente, who graced the occasion by awarding the Certificates of Appreciation to the guests, outgoing officers, and members of the organizing committees.

Outgoing national chairman Engr. Frank Naval expressed his thanks and appreciation to all the members and officers for their full support and participation in the activities and programs of the organization during the last five years.

Likewise, he also thanked prominent community leaders who attended the celebrations like Virgilio “Boggs” Bolor, president of PGBI; Cesar Gervacio, president of Royal Guardians; Flor Coronado former president of MKB; Ritchie Civil, president of ALCA; Danny Bendoy, president of Dabao; Engr. Faizal Sharque, founding president of the Filipino Retirees Overseas Movement; Engr. Ronnie Ulip, founder and advisor of GBI; Vouchard Arzadon, founder of Guardians Brotherhood Inc. in Al Hasa, 400 kilometers east of Riyadh; and Mario Ben of Kapitiran sa Gitnang Silangan.

Strategic partnership

Mua, the national chairman-elect, said there are three tasks the group should aim for and these are: “strategic partnership with all groups and agencies concerned with the plight of OFWs; a stronger and productive partnership with the Philippine Embassy; and greater involvement in improving the economic and cultural relation between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

“Without your true involvement, the affair could not have been historic – yes, “historic” because it showed how thousand of OFW can be “united” for a cause with joy,” Mua said.

The group’s adviser, Dr. Carlito Astillero, 1990 Most Outstanding Filipino in Saudi Arabia awardee and 1992’s Bagong Bayani awardee, congratulated the elected trustees and officers.

“We all pray that United OFW will continue to inspire and unite all Filipinos in diaspora,” Astillero said.

Meanwhile, the celebration of the group’s anniversary also featured intermission numbers in the form of songs and cultural presentations provided by student performing artists from Elite International School and Millennium International School, under the direction of Ritchie Civil of the Artists’ League for Culture and Arts (ALCA).

An overview of the “Search for Miss United OFW World 2009” was also presented. The search will be one of the United OFW’s main social events that are going to be held in Manila next year. It will be participated by the prettiest among lady OFWs worldwide.

United OFW emcee Engr. Elmer Aquino acknowledged the sponsors, donors, patrons and support groups, some of which are the Philippine Embassy, Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Nadec, Dajen Restaurant, The Filipino Channel, Arab News, Abante Middle East Edition, Snacks-pack, Batterjee & Bros. Co., General Philippine International School, Royal Guardians, PGBI-GBHFI, ALCA, MIS, EIS, Partido Pandaigdigang Pilipino, Mr. Sonny Bello, Engr. Faizal Sharque, Engr. Ronnie Ulip, Nilda Ballesteros and the Filipina nurses from King Abdullah Medical Complex.

Overseas Absentee Voting Turnout in the Middle East
OAV Turnout Doubles in Riyadh, Alkhobar
Dinan Arana & Rachel Salinel, Arab News

ALKHOBAR/DUBAI, 1 May 2007 – Voter turnout both in Alkhobar and Riyadh dramatically doubled on Friday night compared to the previous week, the Philippine Embassy reported.

Philippine Ambassador Antonio Villamor said that the total turnout now has reached 2,965 voters in Riyadh, thanks to the 630 voters who showed up last Friday at the embassy. This is more than a one hundred percent increase in the turnout of 1,403 voters on the first week.

In Alkhobar, the total turnout last week was 941, more than double than on first week figure of 652. The running total at the end of Friday in Alkhobar was at 1,593 voters.

The embassy also started on its get out and vote campaign with the launching of a campaign poster which asks, “Bumoto ka na ba?” (Have you voted?)

Despite the increased turnout, it is very low number considering the total number of registrants. The result in Alkhobar is only 5 percent of the 29,113 total registrants. The result in Riyadh is also 5 percent from its total registrants of 58,243.

Filipino community leaders in Riyadh are trying to help the embassy woo registered OFWs to vote early and avoid the rush during the last two weeks.

Led by Bong Amora, Francis Oca, and Alex Bello, the group distributed leaflets and posters to OFWs in Batha to promote the “Go Out and Vote” campaign.

They were surprised to hear that some OFWs had not even learned that the OAV had already started last April 14.

“We ask our fellow concerned OFWs who believe that the spirit of democracy is measured through the electoral process, to please help us in our campaign and encourage our kababayans to vote,” said Amora.

In Dubai, the controversial whistle-blower Sandra Cam was also distributing leaflets to Filipinos to vote.

Cam told Arab News she will be guarding both the consulate in Dubai and the embassy in Abu Dhabi to protect the votes for Sen. Panfilo Lacson and ensure that cheating does not occur.

Last Friday, only 2 percent or 424 turned out to vote out of the 18,648 registered voters in Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, so far only 3 percent or 530 voters showed up out of the 16,532 registered voters.

Majah Moralde, the Dubai-based reporter of Balitang Middle East (BME), said that Filipinos are still in a wait-and-see mode on what’s going on in Philippine politics.

Almost 5 percent already out to vote at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait upto last Friday.

Maxxy Santiago, also a BME reporter based in Kuwait, said that 837 voters only showed up, out of the 19,003 who came out to register.

Rowen Soldevilla, BME reporter in Oman, said that only 197 OFWs cast their votes so far. This is almost 6 percent of the total 3,380 registered voters.

Delfin Montenegro, the BME reporter in Qatar, said that there is also a meager 3 percent turnout, or 321 voters out of 11,493 registrants.

In Bahrain, Titus Filio said only 120 voters turned up in the first two weeks, out of a total of 5,100 registrants, or 2 percent.


Basketball Referees Take Time Out to Help Distressed OFWsArab News

RIYADH, 19 August 2007 — Basketball referees are not lovable on the hard court, but in Riyadh a group of Filipino referees have shown that they actually have hearts of gold.

Last weekend, the Siglakas Group of Referees (SGR) demonstrated this last Friday by bringing grocery items to the Bahay Kalinga, a shelter for distressed Filipino women maintained by the Philippine Embassy.

Gerry Espinosa, the group’s president, said that this was their way of sharing what little they were earning during their free time. SGR’s members are hired for a fee per basketball game and the group, which was organized only last year, set aside 10 percent of their earnings for charitable purposes.

“Lending a hand to those in need is a fulfillment. The feeling is very different,” Espinosa said as his group turned over their donation to Welfare Officer Abdulghani “Jimmy” Umag, the shelter’s administrator, together with Labor Attaché Resty Dela Fuente and POLO/OWWA administrative officer Mimah Mangotara.

“The fees for our services is another form of blessing from God, and we thought we should share the same to others in need. We hope to continue this charity work for as long as there are basketball activities within the Filipino community,” said Ricky Arellano, an officer of the group.

SGR’s members are the most sought-after professional basketball referees by Filipino basketball leagues in Riyadh, said Bong Amora of the Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Mangagawang Pilipino sa Ibayong Dagat (Kakampi-KSA), who along with Reynaldo Ruiz coordinated the charity act. Kakampi-KSA is based in Riyadh’s 3rd Industrial Area.

SGR leaders said the wards of Bahay Kalinga were easily identified as beneficiaries of the group’s first donation since they are undoubtedly in need of help.

Officially known as the Filipino Workers Resource Center or FWRC, the shelter houses tens of mostly household service workers who have escaped from their employers either because of maltreatment, sexual abuse or non-payment of wages. As of Friday, the shelter had 106 wards and some of them would soon be repatriated to the Philippines once their plane tickets come, said Dela Fuente.

“We are not soliciting any form of donations from the Filipino Community but if the good deed was given wholeheartedly from any Filipino groups, they are most welcome and we are very grateful for that,” he said.

Dela Fuente heads the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, which runs Bahay Kalinga.

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=10&section=0&article=100067&d=19&m=8&y=2007


Nasipit Pinoys to Hold Reunion in Riyadh

RIYADH, 23 July 2007 — A reunion will be held in Riyadh on Thursday among Filipinos from the southern Philippine town of Nasipit, organizers said yesterday.

Bong Amora, one of the organizers, said the reunion is in commemoration of “Araw ng Nasipit (Nasipit Day)” which is on Aug. 1.

For more details, interested participants are encouraged to contact Dong Come at 05602-94177, Jhun Redoble at 05088-78922, Mawe Amora at 05097-97120, Jeri Espinosa at 05546-50842 or Jhun Exclamador at 05636-43837.

During the reunion, officers of the group Nasipitnon-KSA, International will be elected and its articles and by-laws would be presented to the body for ratification. Amora said Nasipitnon-KSA, International, was organized last weekend with the aim of looking after the welfare and concerns of Nasipitnons in the Kingdom.

Its other aims include supporting worthwhile projects that could help in the development of Nasipit, including scholarship for children of poor families.

Amora said participants of the group’s meeting in Batha last weekend also called for support for the projects of Nasipit’s current mayor, Roy Orlando Doyon to help raise the economic standing of the town.

Nasipit, in the province of Agusan Del Norte, has a population of close to 40,000 from 19 barangays.

Mayor Doyon wants to bring back the ships docking at the Nasipit International Port, the town’s main source of income, by offering shipping companies to use facilities of the Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte Industrial Estate as possible site of their warehouses.

Shipping companies such as the Cebu Ferries and Trans Asia have difficulty moving goods due to the distance between the port and their warehouses in Butuan.

Arab News

Riyadh Group Seeks Support for OFW Eyeing Senate Seat
Arab News

RIYADH, 27 February 2007 — A community organization in Riyadh yesterday urged overseas Filipinos who are eligible to vote in the forthcoming Philippine senatorial election to include a fellow expatriate in their “Magic 12” list.

The Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Ibayong Dagat, or Kakampi, endorsed the candidacy of Theodore Aquino, “Ka Ted” to his friends in the Filipino global community, saying he has “heart for OFWs.”

“Please call, write, text, persuade, convince your parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, cousins, relatives and friends to support us OFWs in our long quest for electoral equality, our right to vote and to be voted upon for public office,” said Kakampi political affairs committee chair Bong Amora in an e-mail.

Aquino, a civil engineer based in San Francisco, California, is currently the president of the U.P. Alumni Association in America.

Kuya Ted had been disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last week for not meeting the residency requirement but Amora disputed the ruling. “Kuya Ted is a Filipino citizen and a resident of the Philippines. He was born to a Filipino father and a Filipino mother,” he said in his e-mail, adding that “Kuya Ted never renounced his Filipino citizenship…”
The Comelec has also ruled that votes cast for senatorial candidates under the name “Aquino” will be credited to Tarlac Rep. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Noynoy, son of the late former Sen. Ninoy Aquino and former President Corazon C. Aquino, has asked the Comelec to declare Kuya Ted as a nuisance candidate.

Kuya Ted, who had been acknowledged to be a successful engineer in San Francisco where he has been residing for about 40 years, is a nephew of Ninoy Aquino.

He said he was running on a platform to reverse the brain drain, and that he claims to represent the interests of Filipinos overseas.

But Noynoy Aquino, in his petition, cited news reports quoting Kuya Ted as saying he just wanted to run for the Senate to test the effectivity of the Dual Citizenship Law.

Noynoy’s petition also noted that Kuya Ted was not endorsed by any political party and does not have the capacity to conduct an electoral campaign.

Despite the disqualification, Kakampi leaders said Kuya Ted deserves the support of OFWs.
Leo Menez, chair of the Kakampi-KSA information committee, sought support for lesser known candidates running under the Ang Kapatiran Party.

One of these is lawyer Zosimo Paredes, who was fired as undersecretary of foreign affairs for standing up to Malacaٌang in the custody case of a US Marine soldier convicted of raping a Filipino woman.

Also running with Paredes are Dr. Martin Bautista and lawyer Adrian Sison.

“It is about time that new faces in Philippine politics should emerge and this could only be realized if we really have the will to choose the right one,” said the Kakampi press statement.

*****
Dual Nationality

What It Is
The Supreme Court of the United States has stated that dual nationality is a “status long recognized in the law” and that “a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact that he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other”, Kawakita v. U.S., 343 U.S. 717 (1952).

How Acquired
Dual nationality results from the fact that there is no uniform rule of international law relating to the acquisition of nationality. Each country has its own laws on the subject, and its nationality is conferred upon individuals on the basis of its own independent domestic policy. Individuals may have dual nationality not by choice but by automatic operation of these different and sometimes conflicting laws.

“From the mouth of a political babe”
Lito Gutierrez
Inverted Pyramid
Jan. 22, 2007

RIO VISTA, Calif. Philippine senatorial candidate Theodore Bradford “Kuya Ted” Macabulos Aquino instantly realized the gaffe the moment it left his mouth.

During a TV interview in his living room, Cristy Morales of The Filipino Channel must have asked him what he thought of the Philippine political situation when he blurted out, “You know, Philippine politics is like organized crime.”

Then he went on to explain, though anybody listening would have perfectly understood what he was talking about.

Later, after Cristy had left, he furrowed his eyebrows and muttered, “That was a mistake, wasn’t it? Calling Philippine politics organized crime.”

Kuya Ted lives in neat, three-bedroom house in a plush gated retirement community here nearly a two-hour drive east of San Francisco. But he is not retired. He is a civil engineering consultant who telecommutes.

He was able to acquire a house here because at 58 he is a senior.

From his living room the view is an immaculately manicured golf course and a sculptured water cascade at the center of which was a stunning sculpture silhouetted by the setting sun.

A two-minute walk away is an ultra-modern country club that includes a covered and heated Olympic-size swimming pool.

Maybe Ted Aquino, the president of the U.P. Alumni Association, needs to see a psychiatrist, one is tempted to suggest.

Who with a sound mind would decide to set aside the comforts and security of home to wade into the toxic swamp that is Philippine politics?

Actually when he first broached the thought of filing his candidacy, his objective was not really to campaign for, much less, win a Senate seat.

As part of the Gobal Filipinos Coalition, a nonpartisan San Francisco-based group advocating equal rights for all Filipinos, he said he wanted to test the principles of the Dual Citizenship Law, whose provisions about dual citizens’ ability to run for elective office in the Philippines is rather murky.

The group’s position is unequivocal: dual citizens have the same rights and privileges as all Filipino citizens.

Ted said the most he expected was a challenge to his candidacy in Supreme Court, for which he is now putting together a team of lawyers to argue his case.

Then something happened after word came out that he had filed his candidacy.

Wishes of congratulations and pledges of support came pouring in, largely through phone calls and emails. Suddenly it seemed he had become a viable candidate.
Is he?

The simple answer is no. Not yet, anyway.

According to him, he learned that he needs about 400 million pesos (about $8 million) to run for a Senate seat, much of it to buy votes and/or protect them.

For somebody who has to worry about who’s going to open his mail and attend to his bills while he is campaigning, the amount looks pretty formidable.

He also neither has the eloquence of a Joker Arroyo nor a film star for spouse as senators Francis Pangilinan or Ralph Recto have.

And already he is under attack no less than by members of his clan.

According to him, Tessie Aquino Oreta, Ninoy’s younger sister, who is making another bid for the Senate, has asked him to withdraw. Some have also questioned whether he is a real Aquino. (Yes, he is and he’s got a book to prove it.)

And he is also being branded another opportunist, trying to capitalize on Ninoy’s legacy. (To which his response, particularly to the other Aquinos, has been to run simply as “Kuya Ted.”)

But what he has, he says, is Ninoy’s dream which, being one of the founders of the Ninoy Aquino Movement, he helped craft while the martyr was in exile in the U.S.

It is a dream that, many of us feel, has been squandered by politicians, among them Ninoy’s kin, who invoked his name but later upon winning only worked to perpetuate the system Ninoy fought.

(Tessie Aquino Oreta dancing on the Senate floor and playing mahjong with Blue Label-sipping Erap Estrada and current prison inmate Atong Ang are vivid recollections.)

He also brings with him a message of hope from Filipinos across the world who feel it’s about time they give back to their motherland. It is a message shorn of pretense and rhetoric, but pregnant with meaning and substance.

And he is putting what little money he has where his mouth is.

Like everybody else, myself included, Filipinas Magazine publisher Greg Macabenta has something to bitch about in government, particularly the Philippine government. One day, he related, someone challenged him: instead of whining, why don’t you run instead?

The usually quick-witted Greg, who could get crusty with dimwits, was stumped.

The way I see it is thus, Kuya Ted is running in place of all of us whiners. And at this point, the most we can do is lend whatever support we can so people can at least hear what he has to say.

No, he is not your garden variety traditional politician.

He is one of us, the only difference being he has the courage of his convictions.

Lebanon OFWs top migration story for 2006

Lebanon OFWs top migration story for 2006

By JULIE JAVELLANA-SANTOS
abs-cbnNEWS.com

Former migrant worker Rosie Mamaoag will be spending Monday, the International Day of Migration, thanking her stars that she was able to come home in July courtesy of the Philippine government.

When the Philippine government first sounded the call for overseas Filipino workers in Lebanon to evacuate because of a bombing war between the Israelis and the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, her female employer started locking her and her fellow domestics up.

“Sabi niya sa akin, hindi ka uuwi except kung patay ka na (She told me I won’t be able to come home except in a coffin),” she narrated.

“Malapit kami sa bundok at nakikita namin ang mga bomba na sumasabog sa mga apartment na malapit sa tabing dagat. Safe nga daw kami pero gabi-gabi nakikita namin mula sa balkonahe ang mga sumasabog at naririnig namin ang mga eroplano na dumadaan (We lived near the mountains and so we can see the bombs exploding in the apartment houses near the sea. We were told we were safe but every night we see bombings from the balcony and hear the airplanes passing overhead),” she said.

Agnes left Beirut with nothing on her back. While on an errand, she ran away to the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish church in Beirut, where most of the Filipinos were temporarily lodged.

“Ayoko nang bumalik doon. Sana madamay na sa bomba ang mga employer ko (I don’t want to go back there anymore. I hope my former employers were hit by the bombings),” Agnes said.

Horror stories of Filipinas caught in southern Lebanon’s hostilities between the Hezbollah and the Israelis dominated much of 2006.

Although the war lasted only a few months in the middle of the year, it was easily the most poignant and repugnant, picture of Philippine migration for they year.

OFW voices
From New Jersey, Filipino community leader Robert Ceralvo said in an e-mail to abs-cbnNEWS.com that, “I hope we learn from this experience – every OFW should leave enough money and provisions for themselves, for emergencies like this one, just enough to buy a fare to bring them home or to safety.”

At the same time, he said, “Our government should also re-think their strategy of sending our OFWs to far-away lands, in order to send back their dollar earnings.

The [Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration] (or our government) should allocate reasonable funds for quick evacuation and repatriation of our compatriots in time of crisis.”

Edna Aquino, who set up the Center for Filipinos in London, added in another e-mail message that, “It (the Lebanon crisis) exposed the political bankruptcy of the Philippine government in not getting its acts together which then affected its ability to urgently respond to a crisis situation involving its citizens abroad.”

But Saudi Arabia-based Filipino community leader Manuel “Bong” Amora said in turn that it is not just the government’s response that is central to the Lebanon crisis.

“The vulnerability of Filipino overseas workers of violence particularly our Filipina domestic helpers continue to worsen year by year. Our government and policy makers’ response [to] the issue has not been comprehensively explored or little has been done.”

In another e-mail message, Amora narrated a recent news story about two Filipino domestic helpers gang raped in Kuwait. He said this just shows how the government ineffectively addresses the rampant activities of illegal recruiters coddled by big-time syndicates and crooked officials.

“The story conveys how helpless our [Filipino] maids in foreign countries are and how they are susceptible to maltreatment and abuse. It does not only give damage to the reputation of working women sector but to the whole country as well,” Amora said.

He added: “Does our government have to wait for another Sarah Balabagan in the making to attract international attention before we can have a concrete measures to prevent such inhuman act to our Filipina household workers?”

From New Hampshire, Marvin Bionat who formed ‘Talsik’, a movement to keep an eye on the government and allegations of corruption, said the horror story of 2006 was, “Filipinas jumping out of windows to escape the cruelty of their employers and their decision to stay abroad anyway.”

“Why do Filipinos have to leave the country even if it means breaking up their families and facing the desolation and dangers of exile? Lack of opportunities and the desperate need to get out of the rut plus a general hopelessness that the government can’t do much to help create the conditions of progress continue to drive young and bright Filipinos/Filipinas away to foreign shores,” Bionat said.

OFW representation needed
But Vic Barrios, chairman of the San Francisco-based Global Filipinos, said, “The most important issue for 2006 is the glaring need for Philippine authorities to recognize in concrete terms the important role and requirements of global Filipinos. While global Filipinos receive accolades as ‘economic heroes’ who keep the country afloat, they have been marginalized given the absence of a crisis-responsive government safety net and non-recognition of their rights to participate in the Motherland’s governance.”

Definitely, Barrios said, “a quick-response capacity requires that global Filipinos should be actively involved in the Motherland’s governance. Overseas/global Filipinos are political orphans. Is it understandable, then, that there are no mandated public servants who regard them as their constituencies. This anomaly needs to change, as well. Only global Filipinos in legislature can genuinely be concerned with the needs of global Filipinos.”

Remittances
Aquino said the issue of OFW remittances should not be forgotten as it was also a highlight of 2006.

“Migrant workers’ remittances continue to be consistently on the rise but government continues to lack a comprehensive long-term strategy on the export of its labor that would address its over-dependency on these remittances to prop up the economy,” Aquino said.

OFW remittances for the first 10 months of the year have reached $10.3 billion for 2006. Remittances last year totaled $10.6 billion.

Idelfonso Bagasao, founder of the Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos (ERCOF), who shuttles between Manila and Brussels (Belgium), said “the biggest story is the one that is not most written about, and that is the resiliency and capacity of OFWs and their families to survive and bend with the wind despite the adversities, the social costs and insensitivity of politicians, alongside an increasing trend for volunteerism and willingness to share resources and skills.”

“This not an issue for OFWs but more for government, because if this trend continues, then one day, government may wake up to find itself extinct and totally useless,” he said.

OFW remittances today make up almost 10 percent of the country’s gross national product and at more than $8 billion for the first 11 months of the year, is about to surpass the 2005 figure of $10.6 billion.

But OWWA head Marianito Roque told abs-cbnNEWS.com that aside from the horror stories from Lebanon, the top migration issue for 2006 was the trafficking of these workers to the war-torn country.

Roque once said that roughly 2/3 of the OFWs who arrived from Lebanon were not even documented as migrant workers. A few were even minors. It was no wonder that others, like 18-year old Sabel Abano, were thankful when their passports were destroyed in the bombings.

Ellene Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy, said the Lebanon evacuation was indeed the country’s top issue, but all it did was highlight how unprepared the government was in dealing with that issue.

“The government did not learn their lessons from the past. They should have been prepared because of what happened during the two gulf wars and the creation of the Middle East Preparedness Team,” she said.

What happened instead was that government effort was uncoordinated. “They did not even know where some of the OFWs were,” Sana lamented. She added that the Philippine government did not even know where to source resources for the evacuation. Most OFWs in Lebanon were repatriated through the International Organization of Migration.

“Watak-watak ang naging response nila (Their response was uncoordinated),” she added.

Eager to escape Beirut, Abano said: “Mas masahol pa ang mga babaeng employer kaysa sa mga lalaki. Pag may nagawa akong mali, hinihila ako sa buhok at pinapaulit. Sinasagot ko nga lang at hindi naman nakakaintindi ng Ingles o ng Tagalog ang babaeng amo ko. (Female employers are worse than the male ones. Whenever I do something wrong, she pulls my hair and orders me to do it again. I answer back because she cannot understand Tagalog or even English anyway).”

She hopes never to go through that again. But if the need arises, she just might have to find pack her bags and find overseas work again. One thing is for sure, though, it will never again be in Lebanon.