Filipinos: The OFW, the Modern Day Slave

12 05 2010

Filipinos are synonymously being referred to as Transnationals with 3,000 Filipinos leaving their homeland, the Philippines a year.  That’s equivalent to more than one million Filipinos leaving the country a year.

Why do they leave?

Majority of Filipinos who leave the Philippines are not tourists, rather they leave the country to seek opportunities.  Very few opportunities for employment exist in the Philippines.  7 out of 10 students who graduate are unemployed.  3 out of 10 generally compete with the rest of the labor market and previous unemployed out-of-school students.  Most do not get a job related to their field of study.  When the intellectuals and workers can’t find jobs in their homeland, they seek work outside.

Modern Day Heroes

The former president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says its a sacrifice that must be recognized as Modern Day Heroes.  The Filipino migrants are known as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).  The Philippine economy is held together by the hard work of these migrants.  Yet, these very same migrants are taxed heavily for the application and testing process prior to leaving, they are taxed in the airport, and their remittances are taxed as well.    More often then naught, they have been modern day slaves.

Many migrant Filipinos also suffer from discrimination and violence from being abroad on top of being homesick.  Pinays get sexually molested.  The U.S. military is partially to blame for some of those incidents. Adam Corolla’s comments about the Philippines’ doesn’t exactly help.  In the Mid-East, some Filipinos are enslaved inside of their employers house.  Sometimes the Filipino gets executed without the help of the consulate general.

With the rise of Ethnic Tensions in the United States since 9/11 to current day Juan Crow laws (see Arizona’s recent anti-immigration, anti Ethnic Studies ban) should Filipinos really leave their country in midst of danger?

Indeed these Modern Day Heroes should be recognized as the former president mentioned, how can we protect them from the dangers of a foreign land?

What is Solution?

The Philippines owes it to their people to nationalize their job industries to provide quality jobs.  There are so many brilliant and hard working people forced to leave to provide for their families, this doesn’t have to be the case.  The newly elect, President Aquino should use his mandate to win the hearts of the people.

There are so many raw and natural resources that the Filipino people can enjoy.  The dams have enough power to power the whole Philippines so why charge ridiculous power rates.  At times, the power bill at the Philippines is more expensive then the ones here in the United States.  With so many poor people, who can afford it?  Drop the profits?  Profits only benefit the manager.  Spread the cost savings to the people or use that money to invest in better infrastructures and jobs instead of paying the executives.  Invest in solar clean power.  This one is a no brainer, when there are droughts, solar power should replace the energy lost from the energy garner from dams.

Roads needs to start from the farthest communities inward.  These are the most poverish areas that suffer the most.  Education needs to also be nationalize as well as the language.  The former president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, made english the national language.  Okay, this isn’t America and it shouldn’t be a colony of America.  The people have their right to speak their native dialect with a national language being developed (Filipino).

Last but not least, the majority of the Filipino Population are land tillers, Peasants, but they’re landless.  They work the land and pay land owner’s “rent”.  Sometimes rent can be as high as 50% of all your work.  Today, we know that as stealing.  The President elect, Noy Noy promised to go after thieves.  He’s going to have a tough time  bringing down his own family who are responsible for the Hacienda Lucieta Massacre in 1995.  Once land is redistributed out, the feudal practices of the past should fade away with time as culture starts changing.  Migrants won’t be forced to leave and society will progress


Confessions of a Comic-holic

8 05 2010

Now that election season is wrapping up in the Philippines and who knows the mayhem that can spring out the chaos of the AES (Automated Election Systems) I can take a few short breaths.

When Iron Man II did well in the box office ticket sales, Marvel franchise breathe a little easier. The Marvel team will try to transform their superhero solo movie pieces into a larger puzzle that all comes together.  The Avengers is set to be released in May 4th, 2012.

With the recent success of most comic book or Sci-Fi made movies (X-Men, Spider Man, Hulk, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, District 9, The Matrix to name a few), 2011 and 2012 might continue that trend:

June 29th, Star Trek Sequel (untitled) but the script writers are already saying the plot will be centered around the villain just like in Wrath of Khan.  Anyone who has seen Wrath will welcome this as good news. By the way, Star Trek, a post modern imagination of society without capitalism-the social norms are to accept diversity (Roddenbery did a great job creating Star Trek before audience were ready to accept it:  Star Trek, although only lasting 3 seasons was immortalized with Sci-Fi fans, peace lovers, and dreamers.

July 20th also includes Nolan’s untitled Batman III.  Alright Bale, you got a 3rd chance to make your batman voice better-you can’t blame it on a chunky suit as they slimmed down your outfit in Dark Knight.  Nolan’s Batman series has been my favorite out of the Batman Franchise despite Nolan’s voice.

July 3rd, Spider Man Reboot (untitled) New cast and director:  I was tired of Kirsten Dunst playing Mary Jane.  The film will be directed by Mark Webb of 500 days of Summer.  John Malkovich was part of the team on board for Spider Man 4 before the project was scrapped in favor of rebooting the Spider Man franchise.  The new Spider Man will display a younger Peter Parker in Highschool.

Speaking of a younger Peter Parker, Marvel has also decided to feature X-Men 4 as the prequel to the original trilogy.  The release date is slated for June 3rd, 2011 with the title X-Men: First Class directed by Matthew Vaugh. Also released in 2011, is the Green Lantern on June 17th directed by Martin Campbell.  Speaking of the Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds, who is casted as the Green Lantern and casted as Deadpool in Wolerine: Origins, is the husband of Scarlett Johansson. Johansson, who starred as the Black Widow in Iron Man II, is open to make a spin-off, do another Iron Man movie, or have a role in the Avengers. Gwyneth Paltrow on the otherhand, can’t see herself in the Avengers or Iron Man III, if all she does is gets frustrated at Tony Stark.  She envisions Pepper Potts to have a larger in Tony’s world besides pressing his suits-rather, she prefers to kick some butt.  We’ll see if this is the last we see of Paltrow.  Last for 2011 is Captain America: The First Avenger directed by Joss Whedon.  The Villain will include the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and Zola played (Toby Jones).

But I digress, going back to movies being released in 2012 that I wouldn’t want to watch: Men in Black III in 3D, Super Man Reboot Untitled to be released in December, and G.I. JOE: Revenge of Cobra.  The 3 movies here seem to just waste time and space in the effort to make more money. Too bad they didn’t put the hatchet on G.I. Joe and rebooted the package all together. I could be wrong though, Edward Norton’s Hulk proved me wrong after Marvel committed to improving its script and marketing.

Spoiler ALERT

What will the direction of Sci-Fi movies be like in 2011 and 2012 be like for Comic Book lovers, well hopefully not like how the COMELEC (Commission on Election) handles the AES (Automated Election System) in the Philippines.  The COMELEC decides to solve its problems with prayers while disregarding the real problems – they totally screwed that one up.  Too bad there is no REBOOT for this election. If outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) still needs a job, I’m sure they can push over Hugo Weaving in favor of GMA as the Red Skull.  Her deadly ability to dodge and maneuver her way into power is uncanny.  Her gross detest to human rights is on the same podium as that of Hitler or the Red Skull.  Whoever replaces her know that we seen a couple of bad Batman Movies already (see Batman Forever and Batman and Robin) we’ll demand our Batman Begins and Batman: the Dark Knight.

One thing I love about most superheroes is that they go out of their way to protect and serve the people.  Often times, those of us who can do something to defend the weak, change the current system, act on brotherly love – fail to do so.  Oh, and one last thing, as much as I love super hero movies:  in reality, the people are the heroes, the makers and shakers of history we can’t rely on just one person or group to change things, sorry Obama.

Philippine: Education in Shambles

22 04 2010

April 22nd 2010 – According to the Alliance of Concern Teachers (ACT), the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has failed to do her job as the primary teacher and role model to the nation despite her own claims of boosting more than 3,000 new classrooms.  She mentioned that new taxes were put into place for a better health care system and stronger education system. According to her State of the Nation Address (SONA) speech,

We will work to increase tax effort through improved collections and new sin taxes to further our capacity to reduce poverty and pursue growth. Revenue enhancement must come from the Department of Finance plugging leaks and catching tax and customs cheats. I call on tax-paying citizens and tax-paying businesses: help the BIR and Customs spot those cheats

A student protest the rising tuition as the State of Education has failed Families, students and teachers

These regressive taxes do not help the Filipino people as the majority indulge in “sin”ful activities because they are despaired and poverish from their current condition of low standards of livings.  Majority of those in the Provinces send their kids to cities to get an education only to find out that their children can not use the knowledge they acquired despite forking over their life-savings or going in debt from borrowing.  Many even end up leaving the country because of the lack of opportunities and face tough challenges and abuses because the Philippines can not even offer its own people a way out of poverty.

According to Ken Ramos, The chair of ANAKBAYAN and 5th nominee to the Kabataan Partylist, “In the national budget, only 14 percent is allotted for education. This means that only P6.80 is allotted for every student studying in SUCs per day. This is very small because international standards recommends at lest 20 percent of the composition of the national budget.”  Ramos said Kabataan Partylist and its member organizations are challenging all politicians running this May Elections to initiate reforms in the education system. He also blamed the present administration for the continuing deterioration of the education.  The PUP administration had earlier planned to increase the tuition in the state university from the present P12 per unit to P200, or nearly 1,700 percent increase.

The Alliance for Teacher’s Concerns Reportcard:

Access to Education: Fewer Children are enrolling in basic Education. Over 3 million students between the ages of 6- 15 are not enrolled. Enrollment growth in Elementary School and High School have remained Stagnant since 2003 – something not seen in previous administrations. Read the rest of this entry »

9 YR REPORT CARD: Landlessness still Persists

22 04 2010

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines Toots her own horn in her 9 years in Office

Manila. April 22nd, 2010 – One month ago, The president for the past 9 years declared her administration’s accomplishments boasting that economic growth is making positive impact on the lives of real people.  Based on her economic policies, her administration declared the peso strength was gaining on the weak dollar.  The President whose term ends after the middle of this year had been marred with scandal after scandal.  However, that has not stopped the President from tooting her own horns.  She repeated the Agriculture departments claim of generating millions of jobs by establishing security in governmental targeted economic development regions such as Mindinao.

It seemed like only yesterday, when my friend Jack Stephen, who runs and operates The Musturd Seed, went to the Philippines to understand the plight of Filipinos especially in the Labor sector.  There he found out from conducting his own research that the labor struggle is very much indeed connected to the Peasant landless struggle.  Furthermore, instead of just blogging about his experience he decided to take a proactive stance in educating those around him while firmly denouncing the military for their harassment and lack of interest in the protection of the people’s interest.

We will examine her claims and report on the various sectors (Peasants, Labor, Women, Youth and Students, and Indigenous people).  We will also look into her economic policies and her human rights rapport to determine her overall Report Card.

2009 Laklayan was mostly ignored by government officials when they passed into law an extention of CARP with Reforms. Peasants still remain landless and Landlords continue to profit of the current laws: CARP

On PEASANT –  The majority of land tillers still do not own any land.  Most peasants stay poor borrowing year after year to pay for farm tools, seeds, supplement food, and sometimes medicine if there is any money left over.  The majority of peasants are not satisfied.  According to a survey, 8 out of 10 in the country considers themselves poor.  75% of the country are Peasants.  Based on the popular majorities needs, local to national leaders need to address their main problem:  Land distribution. I n order to lift poverty, they will need to address the backwards farm tools by industrializing the economy nationally.

Here is a look at what President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo:  In 2008, she  extended CARP for a third time since the late Cory Aquino first introduced in in 1988 and Ramos extended in 1999.  Each time CARP was supposedly extended was because it fell short of its goal. The president signed into law CARPeR (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms).  Did landlords including the President and her husband go against their own interest to redistribute land from landlords to peasants?  More importantly, did CARPeR finally resolve the centuries old problems of landlessness affecting the peasantry? Read the rest of this entry »

Elections Updates (People’s Criteria, Election Frauds, Clash of the Titans)

15 04 2010

12 People's Criteria to choose the Next President

Philippines, April 15th 2010 – As the May 10th elections approaches with less than a month to spare, here are a few things you need to know:

1. 12 – People’s Criteria to choose the next president

Pagbabago! and Ibon Foundation dare the Filipino people to be more critical in choosing their candidates.  high on their “people’s criteria” are concrete steps by the presidential candidate to stamp out corruption and to promote human rights and abuses.

1. On Corruption.  Will they seek the truth behind the “Hello, Garci”, NBN-ZTE and fertilizer scam to name a few of the anomalies that involved the president?

2. Human rights. Will they end the policies giving rise to human rights violations?

3. National Patrimony. Will they protect the national patrimony and environment by opposing large-scale, export oriented, and foreign led extractive industries such as mining and oil exploration?

4. Agrarian Reform and agricultural Development. Will they work for genuine agrarian reform anchored on the Distribution of land to the tillers?

5. Nationalist Economic Policies.  Will they work for national industrilization?

6. Jobs and wages. Will they promote job creation and uphold job security by protecting domestic industry?

7. Social Services. Will they stop the commercialization and privatization of education and health services?

8. Taxes. Are they in favor of scrapping the reformed value added tax (RVAT) and other regressive taxes?

9. Foreign Policy. WIll they work for an independent foreign policy?

10. Peace Process. Will they pursue the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the national Democratic Front of the Philippines?

11. Gender. Will they uphold gender equality?

12. National Culture. Will they promote National Culture?

2. Election Frauds

The COMELEC (Commission on Elections) has decided to push through for the Automated Elections System (AES) using Precinct count optical scanner Machines from Smartmatic (S-PCOS).  The COMELEC sees poll automation as the answer to fraud and a step to “modernizing democracy.”  Although this is not a bad idea, giving the elections added advantages such as speed and accuracy in tabulation, it can still lead to wholesale cheating if safeguards and security measures are not properly implemented especially in the counting and canvassing stages.

According to Project 30-30, a project that refers to the Philippine automated election system’s 30 Vulnerabilities or risks and 30 safeguards identified by CenPEG (Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance), “The automated Election Law (Republic Act 9369) is a landmark legislation aimed at modernizing the election system in the Philippines. Not only does it recognize the need for technology chosen to be “suitable to Philippine conditions”, it is also unique in that it provides major safeguards to help ensure the integrity of the vote, promote secret voting yet transparent and credible counting in the poll automation – in short, to make election a mechanism for making democracy work.” Read the rest of this entry »

State News around the Philippines

9 03 2010

Passing on the Torch


In a survey conducted by Political Economic Risk and Consultancy (PERC), the Philippines ranked the 4th most corrupt nation in the Asia Pacific next to Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.  Out of a total score of 10, zero being the best score, and ten showing the nation to have the most corrupt officials and public servants, the Philippines scored a (8.06).  Gloria Macapagal Arroyo attributed the cause to the “Filipino culture and mudslinging”.

Beyond politicians trading verbal jabs at each other, there is a serious history of graft and corruption in the Philippines.  Just because GMA allocates a certain number of money to fight graft, doesn’t mean graft will be lowered.  In 2005, GMA was caught selling off votes and changing the votes in the presidential election.  The fact that congress wasn’t acting on her illegal action was mostly due to her political allies siding with her at the time, some of them having been bought off.

GMA is right, a new culture needs to be ensure…. one of accountability to the people.  A new system needs to be in place where checks and balances are realized and the peoples needs are addressed and not pushed over for corporate money.


From Jovito Palparan, an officer who rose to the ranks of general with his brutal operations in mindoro to General Victor Ibrado and now Delfin Bangit who will now carry on the structure of a corrupt military.  Palparan has earned the nick name the “Butcher” for the hundreds that were abducted, tortured, and killed.

Many progressive students that have fought against the tuition fee increase, and for a better education free of privatization have connected the student struggles to the workers and peasants.  These students have been called trouble makers by the Armed Forces.  There fear of Palparan is legitimate after the aduction, rape, torture and murder of 2 female student activist, Karen Empeno and Sheryln Cadapan.  At night, when students have to walk alone, they tease each other to be careful otherwise “uncle palpy” will get you.

Someone should warn Bangit that history will not be kind to those who are butchers.

In 2007 alone, more than 133 military violations occurred under the command of then Lt. gen Victor Ibrado.  What will the legacy of Bangit be?  His connections to the GMA has always been close since the Estrada administration and has been incharge of presidential security ever since.

Platoon Neutralized

The Armed Forces of the Philippines had encountered a problem in Mindoro.  The New People’s Army (NPA)had neutralized soldiers that had almost made up the size of one platoon. The armies orders was to carry out Oplan Bantay Laya II (OBL II) to wipe out the communist insurgency around the country by 2010.  The army however, has been indiscriminately targeting teachers, lawyers, journalists, women, students, workers and peasants.  OBL II has seen the rise of civilians and mass activists abducted, tortured, missing, and murdered through frustrated efforts to eliminate the communists and their armed wing, the NPA, in the country.  This tactic however has draw backs to the military.  It doesn’t accomplish the goal that OBL II set out to do but instead turn the peoples wrath against the military.