Friday, March 31, 2006

OFWs fighting for demoCRAZY

THERE HAVE BEEN TALKS over the past week discussing the issue of government regulating the number of OFWs leaving the country. As government actually tries to tackle a pretty relevant topic for a change, columns in the newspapers as well as guests on news talk shows have all expressed varying opinions.

I think there should be some form of regulation by the government. It’s crazy to simply allow anyone who is ready and able to find work abroad to leave. People who have opposing point-of-views will probably give me the whole “we are in a democracy” crap and how citizens should be “free to choose.”

That’s all fine and dandy—living up to the ideal of an overused D-word. But when you just look at the facts, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that a free-for-all in terms of leaving the country is demoCRAZY! (Shout out to my idol Sir Mike Coroza for that term.)

Let’s get the given positives out of the way. Okay, Filipinos working abroad are able to help their families here. Sure, the remittances from OFWs help our economy. The situation locally isn’t so great—Duh! And for an added bonus to the other side: fine, OFWs give us a good name because they’re hardworking, nice, yadayadayadayada…

Now let me flip the script and inject some reality into this whole thing…

We are experiencing a “brain drain” locally. Nowhere is this felt more than in the field of medical care. We’re running short on competent nurses because all the good ones are continually booking tickets for themselves to work in New York, London, Australia, and other countries who love cheap brown people. With all the good ones gone, we’re left with…well…leftovers—and we don’t even have enough of them!

Then we’re also running short on doctors because many of them turn into nurses to go abroad. And for the young cats entering the medical world, they’d rather take up nursing than go to med school because it pays more (abroad that it; it’s like they don’t even consider serving here in the country anymore).

Getting our country’s best goes beyond medicine. Our best of anything that’s in demand abroad are being kidnapped in front of our eyes. This rids us of any opportunity to progress locally. In all their noble and sincere desires to help their families, they leave us as a less self-sustainable country.

We’re only getting by now but we will eventually reach a point of no return. What does that mean? We’re in danger of being such a mess locally that even the remittances OFWs take pride in would be merely chump-change amidst the irreversible disorder within the country.

And let’s not forget, when Pinoys go abroad, few get the top-notch jobs. No matter how well we do, we’ll always be just foreigners being subordinates to the world. This, my friends, is nothing to be proud of. How can we push to be seen eye-to-eye with the rest of the world if we can’t even handle maintaining our own country? There’s nothing OFWs can do there, and having too many of them actually hurts us, for we’ll forever be cemented as the world’s best employees. (Da best tayo pero da best at following directions lamang.)

Sige, aaminin ko… baka extreme ang pananaw ko. Pero ganun talaga ang mangyayari kung di tayo handa.

In terms of freedom, I say yes, Filipinos should be able to desire to work abroad. But the government should put limits to the number that can actually go abroad. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. In fact, it appears like the only reasonable scenario when discussing this topic. It’s a matter of survival. An absence of such a policy is failure on the government’s part to protect its citizens living within the country.

Other than the limiting of OFWs leaving, I think all who have professions of service (doctors, nurses, teachers) and want to leave the country should first be required by law to serve a certain period of time within the country (and in a rural part of the country, at that) before even applying to go abroad.

Think about it, the education in this country in the related fields mentioned is relatively cheaper than education anywhere else in the world. And despite its low price, its quality is actually good enough to land graduates jobs that pay them at a rate more than ten times the tuition they paid to get accredited.

Kumbaga, regalo rin galing sa bansa ang edukasyon nila.

I’m going to try to call upon more than the abstractedness of nationalism here; I’m appealing to simple human decency: don’t these potential OFWs feel that there is a debt that needs to be paid here? And its not even money from them that’s needed! They’re not being asked to give up their Dollars. They’re being asked to just delay their striking a jackpot for awhile to help serve their countrymen who, quite frankly, are in more urgent need of help than Mr. and Mrs. Johnson in the Orlando Home for the Aged!

That’s unfair? That’s not democracy? Well, fuck democracy! Fuck any noun that we try to romantically live up to! Living up to those glorified labels blinds us from realities.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT gave me another reminder of how old I’m getting. A blockmate, a peer, a generational equal, celebrated his 21st birthday.

Should I start saving for pension?

Before you know it, I’ll be attending blockmates’ weddings, become ninongs of their kids, testifying in wife battery trials, crying in their funerals…

Sorry. Maybe that was a little too dark.

Back to Wednesday night…

The grub was Chinese and it was pretty damn good, even if I struggled through a minor attack of food allergies. (Pucha! Scallops pala yun sa soup… akala ko itlog!)

Conversation was beyond my spectrum—digressions into Japanese pop culture—but everyone was nice. Ended the night with the videoke machine; everyone singing timeless sing-together-while-high-or-drunk classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “My Sharona,” and even “Kung-fu Fighting” (shout out to my man Rocky Ong who threw it down while being pimped out with his white and apple green kicks). After I downed bottle or two, I did my best female-nasal voice ala Alanis for “Hand in My Pocket” (para sa mga may bulsa!).

GIN was “my date” (who else?) which is enough to make any situation “ the time of my life.” (IYOOOOWN OH! A little somethin’ somethin’ for the rumor mill… Apir PA-RE!)

I got worried there for a minute though when Gin and a certain Ms. Leynes had a sip of something (actually buong glass yung kay Gin) which made them a little “more happy” behind the mic. But then Edsel, the birthday boy, didn’t even drink and he started singing “I’m Too Sexy.” Surreal night, man. Blackmail videos are on my cell.

Happy birthday, Edsel! Happy 21st! Don’t worry, dude… I’ll be joining you at that number by October. (Are the grey hairs coming soon?)


Only the likes of Japs and Gin would get the next part…

Vagueness is intentional…

CLUE: Put your “triangles” in the air! And waive ‘em like you just don’t care! (Gets?)
A night of fishy beginnings…

Inviting her, taking care of her, chatting with each other…

Subliminal song dedications…

“Oh, she’s not back from the bathroom yet?”

Playful, almost flirtatious banter…

And I AM NOT A PART of the scenario I’m describing.

(Gets mo na ba?)

In the words of a scribe and a thespian from the block-formerly-known-as-E, “Play on, playa… play on!”

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Starbucks smile

I NEEDED TO GET OUT of the house today. I woke up to another argument with The Doña (that’s what I call my mom). I made an intentionally cocky remark for fun and when she called me mayabang, I proudly proclaimed without missing a beat, “Atenista ako eh.” That triggered a general rant by The Doña about how I epitomized the stereotype. She capped off her pointless rant by telling me to refrain from cockiness until I start earning.

What the fuck does that mean?!

1. It was a pointless statement.
2. This coming from a lazy old lady who has relegated her “occupational status” to “yelling-at- the-maids person” while continuing a small time catering company that I STARTED
before my junior year of high school!

As you will learn all too well, I struggle with the paradox of loving my mother without necessarily respecting her. “Good boy image” aside, she’s earned that paradox from me.

So I needed to get out. With my books (A Death in the Family by James Agee, Radical Chic… by Tom Wolfe), a notebook (okay, I’m cheap: I use scratch paper), and an overpriced black Pentel ballpoint pen, I took off to Quad (I guess it’s called Glorietta now but I like to keep it old school).

After an hour at an internet café, which saw me sending emails denying posting porn on my creative non-fiction class e-group (long-story-short: it really wasn’t me!), I proceeded to the nearest Starbucks across from Park Square 2. (That’s right, Mr. Manunulat-feeling-artist-from-the-ghetto pimpin’ it up a bit to enjoy a fucking P120 plastic-glass/cup-thing of practically 40% whipped cream.)

Which brings me to the Starbucks smile.

Fuck it, man!

That ain’t a smile…

That’s a smirk!

My closest friends know I struggle at times with paranoia (mainly because I can get self-obsessed). But I swear that fucking smirk warranted my awaiting Ashton Kutcher jumping out of the bushes or something with his “Yo! You just got PUNK’D!” routine.

Maybe the hidden cameras were behind the doughnuts.

Is that an 8mm lense in my straw?


That smirk got to me.

It was mocking me at so many angles:

“Huuuuuuy… si artist nag-starbucks!”
“Ang peeeeeeeeeeling…”
“Ikaw yun talaga noh? Yung nag-post ng porn…”
“Halaka… magagalit si Ma’am Queena…”

The possibilities are endless. The smirk said that it knew something about me, leaving me to recall all the stupid things I’ve done over the past few weeks.

Am I thinking too hard? Probably.

Maybe she was flirting… probably not.

Baka uso ngayon ang smile na mukhang smirk…? ANOOOOOOOO?

Baka part din siya ng Starbucks Silent Protest…? Labo, tsong.

Or maybe she really heard my name right and just wrote ‘Marc’ for fun…?

3:36pm Mon 27 March 06
Starbucks, Glorietta (
Scratch paper, French handouts ata)

Selling out with this blog

ONE OF THE WRITERS I look up to, Butch Dalisay, once questioned the relevance of blogging—criticizing it from all angles. So he found himself eating his own words when he actually started his own blog (initially an extension of his weekly column “Penman” in the Arts & Culture section of the Philippine Star). He used his first blog entry to justify/rationalize his giving-in.

Well I’ve given in.

And as this is my first ever blog entry, I feel that I too must rationalize my “selling-out.”

I too have openly questioned the relevance of owning a blog. I’ve read the blogs of others, and it’s not that I have anything against their blogs; it’s more of the fact that it seemed that blogging just wasn’t for me.

What I found was that most of my friends read blogs for the thrill of knowing what’s going on with other people’s lives. What is talked about when a conversation about blogs comes up is seemingly always just gossip about love lives and other student melodrama that glorified states of depression, heartbreak, anguish, betrayal, angst, and anger. Under that perception, I concluded that the world of blogging had no place for me. When I’m feeling all that melodramatic crap, I rarely even talk about it, let alone write about it. I just normally get into my mode of “suicidal seclusion” (it’s actually lamer than it sounds; Buckley on the Ipod, fake-slashing-of-the-wrists-with-fingertips—Gin and Japs know what I mean).

Blogging and I weren’t meant to be.

But intrigued by Butch Dalisay’s giving in, and enlightened about blogs existing that are more to my liking (discussing current events, lit, movies, music, art, and clever musings about anything under the sun that are all witty and very well written), I began opening myself to the idea of owning my own blog.

Then during one summer afternoon, triggered by boredom and another fucking Friendster request from a skanky-looking blonde named Stephanie who I don’t know, I dug through my drawer and finally found a small post-it with my Friendster account password. I logged in (for probably only the third or fourth time since Lee created the account for me for my nineteenth birthday), deleted my account, and opened this blog account.

So there it is.

Sell-out na ako.

May blog na si Martin Villanueva.

A couple of explanations…

“MV manunulat” is how I sign my emails (an arrogantly narcissistic proclamation of who I am and what I do other than being an Atenista). “Nagsusulat lamang” is the filename of my journal on my PC which, in a sense, was my “old blog” that was never intended to go outside the My Documents folder.