Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reflections on Overseas Employment*

“Wala na naman si Papa,” my youngest sister whined a couple of days before her college graduation. I almost retorted “What’s new?” but my better judgment decided against saying so. The last and the only graduation my father has attended was my eldest sister’s. That was the first in our family, when she finished primary school in 1992. Eleven other graduations followed in the course of fifteen years, all of which my father never saw, add to that the countless recognition days he has also missed.

Not that my dad neglected us or something. His absence meant exactly the opposite. He is one of the millions of Filipinos breaking their backs in foreign lands to give their families a better future. I know that if he had a choice he wouldn’t leave. But that has not kept me from wishing that we had a normal family set up -– that he had an eight-to-five job, that he fixed the broken whatever at home, that he greeted us personally on our birthdays and other occasions instead of sending cards, that he gave my brother tips on courting, and that he subjected my sisters’ suitors to interrogation. My mother did all these quite satisfactorily but I still think things would have turned out differently if my dad was around. It really is difficult to have spent half of our lives with our father physically absent but I reckon it’s a lot harder on his part. Imagine leaving your family to live in a strange land with strange people. He gets to spend a month or two with us every two years but that isn’t enough to keep him from casting awed glances at us, betraying his amazement at how fast the years wore on. And his “Dalaga/Binata na ang anak ko” remarks always make me feel like we have virtually excluded him from our lives despite the letters and pictures and overseas calls.
Image taken from this site

As a child of an overseas worker, reading the three articles on overseas employment struck a sensitive chord in me. The articles are commendable for their attempts to explain the implications of the OFW phenomenon.  They are, however, guilty of reducing the question into statistics and cost-benefit analysis as if what they are dealing with are inanimate tools in a science laboratory. Dr. Licuanan’s  article delivers what its title promises, “a closer look” into the overseas workers’ experience, providing a comprehensive review of the positive and negative effects of overseas employment not only on the individual worker and his/her family but on the Philippine society as well. She likewise poses a question which the government apparently chooses to ignore -- Do Filipino workers really have a choice?

The answer is pretty obvious. Given the deplorable state of labor and economy at home, Filipinos are driven to take jobs abroad. Often, this is not even a move to greener pastures but some sort of a forced relocation to somewhere just a little better than the barren tract that is our country. Indeed, the uncertainty of working abroad is a better choice than the uncertainty of where the next meal would come from. Kapit sa patalim, so we say. Yes, OFWs have a choice, between the devil and the deep blue sea.

On the “national obsession” as Licuanan puts it, about working abroad. I agree that the material equivalent of having an OFW in the family is overrated. The obsession, I think, applies more to OFWs who are fortunate to have a choice, and to the neighbors and distant relatives of the individual working abroad. The first group is composed of those with well-paying jobs here but chooses to go abroad anyway for various reasons. The second are those outside looking in, those who don’t feel the emotional strain of leaving or being left behind. I have a friend working in Singapore who, when asked if it is ok to be a second-class citizen smugly replied, “Nationalist pretensions will not keep food on the table.” This is why I am not so keen on OFWs being called “bagong bayani”. The word bayani has its roots from the term “bayan” or nation. True, OFW remittances help keep the economy afloat but this is merely incidental to the primary force that drive them from home, which is personal/familial. But then again, this terminology just may be the government’s marketing strategy to lure more workers to go overseas, have more remittances sent home and consequently shift the burden of saving the economy on them -- a fancy phrase to mask the ugly realities of it. Aside from this glorification, what else has the government done?
Well, there’s Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, a lame concession to appease public indignation over Flor Contemplacion’s fate. Section 2(c) of said law provides: 
“While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizen shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated. The State, therefore, shall continuously create local employment opportunities and promote the equitable distribution of wealth and the benefits of development.” 
This and a couple more laws aimed at protecting migrant workers and establishing agencies to ensure the same. No, it is not promotion but institutionalization. A futile exercise in doublethink.
The issue of overseas employment should not be limited to questions of cause and effect nor should it be bound by the law on supply and demand. Call it elementary, but I believe there is a remedy to stop pushing our country’s best and brightest abroad. While we are in search of it, there are Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations missed.


*Reflection paper for Labor Law 1 on the following articles:
1) Soriano, Ma. Teresa M., Implications of International Migration: A Focus on the Philippine Experience, Philippine Labor Review, Vol. 20, No. 2 (1996) 
2) King, Amelia M., Social and Economic Benefits and Costs, Philippine Labor Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1985) 
3) Licuanan, Patricia B. Katas ng Saudi: A closer look. Philippine Labor Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1985).

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Usapang Ewan

Prin: Masaya ka ba?

Cess: Mage-emote ba ako nang ganito kung oo ang sagot?

P: What’s bothering you ba?

C: Di ko alam. Parang hilo lang ako sa bilis ng ikot ng mundo. Dalawang buwan na lang 25 na ako tsong. Parang lumipas ang panahon nang hindi ko nararamdaman.

P: Ano bang hindi, e panay nga ang angas mo diyan? Ang pag-angas ay reaksiyon sa mga nangyayari sa buhay mo. Paano ka makaka-react kung wala ka palang nafi-feel?

C: Meron naman, pero hindi ito ang gusto kong ma-feel. Bagot, inip, wala lang.

P: Paanong “wala lang”?

C: Puro ka na lang tanong. Wala ka bang alam na declarative sentence?

P: Anlabo mo kasi. Puwede ba ‘yon, for a living homo sapien to sum up her existence like that? E buti pa pala yung pusang nakikipag-do sa bubungan, alam kung ano ang meaning ng excitement. Ng life.

C: Tama bang i-compare ako sa pusa? Seryosong usapan ‘to. Sabi nga ng U2, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

P: Ano ba kasi ang hinahanap mo?

C: Yan ang problema. Hindi ko alam.

P: Sus! Kung di ka ba naman tanga't kalahati e. Paano mo makikita kung hindi mo alam kung ano ang gusto mong makita? Gudlak naman.

C: Hay. Hindi mo ako maiintindihan. Hindi mo kasi alam ang feeling ng gumising sa umaga sa saliw ng Do you know where you're going to / do you like the things that life is showing you...

P: Mariah Carey version?

C: P---- ina. Ewan ko sa 'yo. Diyan ka na nga!

P: Tanga! Magkasama tayo sa isang katawan. You can't run away from me! (Evil laugh)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Punta Fuego Weekend Trip, Day 2 (10May2009)

Tin, Lou, JD, Gian and Agnes had an early morning walk, Patty slept her hangover and April her brewing flu, and Golda and moi prepared breakfast.

After the sumptuous breakfast with Kahlua and vodka (we are not alcoholics, really), we trooped to the beach to swim once more and well, do choreographed jump shots.

Quote of the day was utterred by the talented Ms. Lacson.

Tin/Ags/Gian/Lou/Cess/Golda (it could have been any of us): Isa pa, nakababa na si ____.
April: Mga baliw! Pinapahirapan nyo ako!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Punta Fuego Weekend Trip, Day 1 (09May2009)

After days of sundancing and praying for typhoon Emong to go away, Golda, Patty, Tin, Gian, Agnes, JD, Lou, Ms. Fit and Trim April and moi finally packed our bags and drove (well, Tin did) to Batangas!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Man Who Sued God (2001)

Genre: Comedy
Steve Myers (Billy Connolly) is an eccentric guy who drops out of society after losing his job, marriage and almost all his worldly possessions. He invests all his money in a yacht to start the simpler life of a fisherman. Conflict begins when he wakes up one day to find that his yacht has been struck by lightning. He files a claim with the insurance company, but the latter refuses on the ground that the boat’s destruction was an “act of God”. Finding that he wouldn’t stand a chance if he sues one of the world’s biggest insurance companies, he decides to sue the root of his problems – God, and names the Pope, the local bishop and a rabbi as respondents. God’s representatives face the dilemma of admitting that the destruction of Steve’s boat was actually God's act and compensate the former, or deny it and thereby deny God’s existence.

I forgot much of the film’s details because I saw it a loooong time ago in one of those Australian film fests held in UP Film Center, but the fresh concept and engaging humor made me remember it as I was reading an Insurance case (where the insurance company raised the defense of force majeure to escape liability under the insurance contract). Back to the movie. Much of the film’s brilliance comes from Billy Connolly’s portrayal of the ill-tempered hero, who, despite his eccentricities, easily attracts the audience’s sympathy. And why not, he is cleverly depicted as David who engages in a fight against society’s Goliaths -- the Church, the media and the legal system. The biggest joke, I think, is that Steve himself was a lawyer who gave up law because of his disappointment with the corruption afflicting the profession.

The movie tackles philosophical issues about God’s existence and his involvement in people’s lives and makes a case against greedy insurance companies who insure their profit more than their clients’ welfare.

Rating: 4 stars

For a real case against God, read the story below.

Prisoner sues God 

(from (http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_1576068.html)

A Romanian prisoner is suing God for failing to save him from the Devil.

The inmate, named as Pavel M in media reports, accused God of "cheating, abuse and traffic of influence".

His complaint reads: "I, the undersigned Pavel M, currently jailed at Timisoara Penitentiary serving a 20 years sentence for murder, request legal action against God, resident in Heaven, and represented here by the Romanian Orthodox Church, for committing the following crimes: cheating, concealment, abuse against people's interest, taking bribe and traffic of influence."

The inmate argued that his baptism was a contract between him and God who was supposed to keep the Devil away and keep him out of trouble.

He added: "God even claimed and received from me various goods and prayers in exchange for forgiveness and the promise that I would be rid of problems and have a better life. But on the contrary I was left in Devil's hands."

The complaint was sent to the Timisoara Court of Justice and forwarded to the prosecutor's office. But prosecutors said it would probably be dropped and they were unable to subpoena God to court.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gobbledygook (or words of a perfectly perplexed person parrying patois)

Pactum commissorium!
This is not a spell from the world of Harry Potter. This is just one of the many alien terminologies in law that make its study harder than it already is -– antichresis, dacion en pago, usufruct, commodatum. There are those that seem harmless enough because of common usage but are actually more toxic than the foreign-language stuff -- insurance, possession, loan, mortgage, agency, partnership.

The key, one of my professors said, is to consult a dictionary. But alas, the definition provides more questions than answers, and one ends up jumping from one entry to another in the search for meaning. A student may a) rely on context clues, or b) continue reading as if the abstruse term does not exist. Doing any of these will definitely shorten the time spent on reading, which, being inversely proportional to the time for R&R, makes the aforementioned options very attractive. And yes, will also increase the chances of one being Avada Kedavraed by the professor come recitation time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


You Are Charming and Eloquent

You are influential and persuasive. You tend to have a lot of power over people.
Generally, you use your powers for good. You excel at solving other people's problems.
Occasionally, you do get a little selfish and persuade people to do things that are only in your interest.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.
You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.
A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.
You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.
You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are confident, self assured, and capable. You are not easily intimidated.
You master any and all skills easily. You don't have to work hard for what you want.
You make your life out to be exactly how you want it. And you'll knock down anyone who gets in your way!

You are incredibly wise and perceptive. You have a lot of life experience.
You are a natural peacemaker, and you are especially good at helping others get along.
But keeping the peace in your own life is not easy. You see things very differently, and it's hard to get you to budge.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

isang taon

"You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear."


Salamat sa isang taong puno ng awiting tayo lang ang nakakarinig... kahit wala sa tono minsan. hehehe. ;-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

pasok sa banga!

“Being a middle child would mean they are loners. They really don’t like to latch on to a person in a relationship, therefore they have trouble keeping one due to lack of interest. Not liking to take the limelight for anything, they are not over achievers and just simply work enough work to get by, and typically that goes with school as well as a career. They are however very artistic and creative. If forced to use abilities they will work well, but do not work well under pressure. They often start several projects but rarely keep focused long enough to finish a project. The best career move for a middle child would be along the lines of using their creative. Going into a writing or journalism career, and into a career that they could freely express themselves would be good. Anything that would have hours that are flexible, and projects that frequently changed would be good for a middle born child. Since relationships are not of high importance to a middle child, often times they are alone. However, the best possible match for a middle child would be a last born.” (From the advice website http://www.essortment.com/)

Why do I have a feeling that this was written for me?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

This Year

by Chantal Kreviazuk
OST -- Serendipity

This year, is gonna be incredible
This year, is gonna be the one
All the planets are lining up for me
This year, I'm gonna have fun

This year, I'll paint my masterpiece
This year, I'll be recognized
I can feel like I'll fall in love for real
This year, this year

January, I'll learn to fly
February, love's gonna find me
March, April, May, I'll get carried away
Oh, oh...

This year, I'll reach the pinnacle
This year, I'll get to the top
People will ask where she get that energy
This year, I'm never gonna stop

January, I'll learn to fly
February, love's gonna find me
March, April, May, I'll get carried away
Oh, oh, oh, oh...

This year, is gonna be incredible
This year, is gonna be the one
All the planets are lining up for me
This year, I'm gonna have fun

I'm gonna have fun
Just watch me now
This year
This year
This year

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Don’t Bore Us – Get to the chorus! Roxette's Greatest Hits

Genre: Other
Artist:Roxette (1995)
When they say “greatest hits,” they mean it. I fell in love with this CD from the Swedish duo Roxette the first time I heard it. And why not? The album includes some of their most popular hits like The Look, Dangerous, Dressed for Success and Vulnerable, heartbreak hymns It Must Have Been Love, You Don’t Understand Me, Spending My Time, and the little-known yet overly heartrending Crash! Boom! Bang! (Cos every time I seem to fall in love / Crash! Boom! Bang!/ I find the heart but then I hit the wall / Crash! Boom! Bang!/ That's my real middle-name / It has always been the same…), all guaranteed to get anyone singing along. Sunshine-y ditties June Afternoon, Joyride, The Big L and How Do You Do complete the collection.

With all these hits, Roxette doesn’t really have to enjoin us to get to the chorus. Too bad they didn’t stay long enough to give us more.

18 Til I Die

Genre: Other
Artist:Bryan Adams (1996)
I’m not a Bryan Adams fan but during the long vacation, I (re)discovered his 18 Til I Die album and was pleasantly surprised. We had the CD since I was in 5th grade and I never realized that it’s pretty sexy. =)

The 13-track album showcases Adams’ versatility. Contrary to what I thought, his sound is not limited to Canadian mellow rock. There is quite a number of romantic ballads (I Think About You, You’re Still Beautiful To Me and probably the most popular in the album, Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman), a couple of pop-py songs (Star, We’re Gonna Win), and some sweet sexy stuff (Let’s Make a Night to Remember, Do To You, The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You). The title track 18 Til I Die is a bit so-so but it’s worth listening to if only for its live-for-the-moment message.

And oh, did I say sexy? Watch for track # 6. It’s called I Wanna Be Your Underwear. Ooh, hot…

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ang Aking Bakasyon

Noong elementary student pa lang ako, tuwing darating ang Enero’y pinagsusulat kami ng formal theme tungkol sa kung ano ang ginawa namin sa nakaraang Christmas vacation. Dahil hindi ko naman puwedeng ilagay na nagbasa ako ng libro (boring), nanood ng TV (tamad), o ginawang errand girl ng nanay ko (kawawa), ay laging ang bakasyon sa isang malayong lugar na kung tawagin ay Maynila (promdi e) ang aking ikinikuwento. Ilalahad ko kung paano kami namasyal ng mga pinsan kong Manilenyo sa mall at siyempre sa Manila Zoo. Nangyari naman talaga yon nung Grade 4, sakto sa first ever formal theme, pero noong Grade 5 at 6, dahil wala nang mailagay ay ni-rehash ko na lang. Iba naman ang teacher e. Saka nag-mature naman siguro ang aking writing, bukod pa sa dumami ang mga hayop sa zoo. Ngayon, dahil wala nang teacher na magchi-check at magbibigay ng grade, di na ako mag-iisip ng magandang kuwento at mag-aalala sa grammar. Bullet points lang ok na. =)

· Nag-unwind kasama ang ranters. Yes, the Order of the Pasaway Forever lived up to their name at nagpaka-pasaway sa Boni High Street, matagumpay na na-B.I. si Gian pero bigo pagdating kay Tin. Tsktsk.
· Christmas parties. Nag-mellow down na ako at di na masyadong naglalasing. Medyo nasira kasi ang reputasyon ko dati...
· Christmas shopping. Hindi masyadong enjoy dahil ayoko talaga lumabas/ sa mga mall/sa mga tao. Buti na lang tapos na.
· Nanood ng TV. Vacation is the time to catch up on what I’ve been missing because of evening classes. Dyosa, I love Betty La Fea, Eva Fonda, Pinoy Fear Factor… Parang na-miss ko bigla ang Malcolm. Hehe.
· Nag-alaga ng mga hayop. “Mga hayop kayo!” ang tangi kong nasambit dahil nakakapagod ang magpakain at magpaligo sa mga pets ng nanay ko (1 aso at 4 pusa). Nadagdag pa si Marble, ang Persian cat from Tin na mukhang nahawa sa couch potato mode ko.
· Nanood ng movies. Hindi ko masabing movie marathon kasi dalawang pelikula lang naman ang pinanood ko nang paulit-ulit-ulit: Breakfast at Tiffany’s at Roman Holiday. I love Audrey Hepburn!
· Nag-sound trip. Ngayon ko lang ulit napakinggan ang aking Beatles collection. At nakuha ko pang maghukay sa baul ng mga ancient CDs ni Bryan Adams at ng Roxette (at gumawa ng review tungkol sa mga ito).
· Gumawa ng digest. Out of 62 cases to digests, I wrote a whopping… seven digest! Hay, petiks!

Medyo uneventful pero masaya naman. Sana talaga, matupad ko na ang pangakong “Magbabagong-buhay na ako this year, promise!”