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.


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