What can you say about poverty in the Philippines?
Howard Grant, Network Engineer at U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
I sure can answer this and it will either get me down-voted into oblivion or banned from this group. Oh well. The truth is the truth.
The Philippines suffers from what I call “corruption of the rich” at the expense of the “religious poor”, controlled by the “religious ramblings of a corrupt church”, complicit in keeping people staring at the sky for answers when they need to look inwards to finding solutions to their problems.
Yes, that was a long sentence.
The Philippines is a great place in many ways based on many factors. The location of the islands and the unspoiled beaches and islands are a sight to see! I was introduced to the Philippines while serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Force along with the US Navy Gator Fleet. We sailed on board numerous US Navy Ships whose home ports was Subic Bay Naval Base back in the 1980’’s and so this was how I was introduced to this amazing country.
Sailing into the Philippines, was an eye-opening and amazing experience. I had never seen such natural beauty in my life. The water was so clear yet blue. The sky was vivid blue.
Weather could come and go in and instant. One moment it was sunny and hot, and then the next moment, there was a thunderstorm and it was raining heavily. The jungles were so full of life. Thick canopies that made it seem like evening-time even though it was midday or early afternoon. The wild variety of wildlife that live in the jungle and the natural vegetation is frightening but amazing.
Lizards, spiders, numerous insects, large snakes, bats, monkeys and other wildlife make it a place where your heart will beat fast because you never know what you’re going to run into. The terrain can be rugged. The dense vegetation brings a coolness when compared to outside temperatures but it can still be muggy and hot in the jungle.
Regardless of where I went, I was compelled by the resourcefulness of the Filipino people. They had great attitudes, amazing smiles, they looked you in your eye when they spoke to you, they remembered your name and they were always friendly and giving.
It was love at first sight for me. I saw a place where people didn’t view me as an anomaly or someone strange. Instead, it seemed as if they saw me as someone to be admired. Being a Black man in America had challenges and problems that were not always front-and-center but were lurking in the background. In the Philippines, I didn’t feel that way. I felt like I belonged, I was admired. I felt like people cared for me and that no matter what, we would always have a good time even if none of us had much money.
As the years passed and I got to know the people on a much deeper basis, I wanted to know more about the abject poverty that I witnessed. For example, on Subic Bay Naval Base, it was beautiful. The grass was always mowed and neatly trimmed. The streets were clean and everything was orderly.
Yet, when approaching the front gate to leave the base, before you could even reach the gate, you could smell the river that flowed under the bridge that separated the base from Olongapo City. We called it “Shit River” because the river was were all of the raw sewage was dumped. Squatters built their shanty homes all up and down the river. Bathrooms were simply holes in the floor where people would urinate and defecate directly into the river.
It was not a pleasant smell and I was quite skilled at holding my breath from the time I turned the corner, got through the checkpoint and would sprint across the bridge as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have to inhale the vile odor.
The sad thing about Shit River is that people would throw money to kids in boats below. They would beg for peso and it was just unimaginable to me, that these kids would be in those boats, begging for peso, and I was almost gagging. If the peso fell in the water, the kids would go in the river to get the peso.
While many will look at my post negatively, I believe in honesty. I was friends with bar-girls first. Actually, it was a combination of bar-girls and store clerks but I make no apologies for my friends and what they did for a living. I know that some people look down on bar-girls but at 18–20 years of age, I was interested in having a good time in a place where I felt at home. The girls always took care of me and made sure that I was safe and made it back to base on time. Many people like to judge and criticize but for some girls, working in Olongapo or Angeles City was their only option to make money for their families. They came from far-away provinces and barangays so they could care for their parents and extended family. Why in the world would I criticize and judge girls that were my age for wanting to take care of their families?
For me, life wasn’t all about beer, sex, crazy clubs or wild parties. I toured & traveled the country. I saw many historical sites. I got to ride on local vehicles from the Victory Liner, jeepneys, trikes, pedicabs, to even riding donkeys!
I got to see caribou being used in farming. I got to visit Baguio and also the Banaue Rice Terraces. I rode motorcycles, played basketball and was taken to fiesta with my friends. For most people who never travel far from their home-towns, my friends took me to so many places and I got to experience life! I was able to expand my world to include people from different backgrounds. Why would I accept ridicule about what those girls did for a living when they were just regular people to me?
I know many of my own countrymen in the US who would send their parents or grandparents to a nursing home or old peoples home and forget about them if they got sick. I know people who didn’t feel like raising their children so they put them up for adoption because they used poverty as an excuse.
Some of my friends had children fathered by military men and tourists that had abandoned them but yet they cared for the children. Yes, some of the kids were given up for adoption. Yes, some of them were victims of racism because they were mixed but they were good kids.
I saw, and treated, all of my friends exactly how I wanted to be treated. They were human beings with feelings and emotions. We laughed, cried and shared many experiences and emotions together. Some happy, some sad. Sometimes we argued but which group of friends have never had an argument or disagreement? I formed life-long friendships with those girls and make absolutely no excuses, or apologies, for my friendships.
I would walk up Magsaysay Drive and buy souvenirs and things from the different stores. Back in those days, we had 110 size film & 35mm cameras and would turn in our rolls of film to be developed. Do you remember those cameras? I loved them!
The developing machines would be in the window so Marines and Sailors would sit and watch as our pictures were processed. I got to know the girls that worked in the stores and shops. They would tell me where to go and if someone was a good person or if I should stay away from some people. It was funny because they would never directly come out and say “Stay away from that person!” They would just give you a look, a raised eyebrow maybe or a smirk on their lips and you would instantly know to stay away from someone or certain places. .
As we talked and got to know each other, I recognized the advantage that I had, even as a Black American, over the average Filipino. I had pretty much the same level of education, and oftentimes less education than they did, but the US military provided an opportunity for me to leave my background of poverty and to get a career because of the size of the US military and its commitments around the world. They had no such option.
Initial Discovery of Problems
I learned that the Philippines suffered from corruption very quickly after I arrived. The small shops were taxed heavily and there was no evidence of where the money was going or what it was being used for. While Olongapo was a relatively clean city due to the US presence, there were several areas of abject poverty. The girls that I hung with were poor and lived in places that would never pass for shanties in other foreign countries. It was so sad to see.
There was either outdoor plumbing or no plumbing at all. Sometimes, raw sewage would ran out into canals behind the house. There were also places with no running water and all water was supplied by a bucket or water pail.
While the people paid their taxes, the governor, mayor and other city officials drove around like they were Kings, surveying their territory. They had bodyguards, big vehicles and plenty of flashy things but the every-day, average people got nothing. All they could do was work extraordinarily long hours and then try to get some rest before doing it all over again the next day.
Buildings were constructed shoddily and haphazardly. There were many places that burned to the ground due to improper electrical work and if there was a typhoon, there would be damage due to flooding, landslides, rock slides, and other natural disasters that the government was always unprepared for. Shoddy construction, contractors using illegal cement standards to the point that a building would collapse under its own weight. If a person needed construction, they would need to hire an independent agent to manage and supervise the construction so that corners weren’t cut and substandard replacements put in, instead of the actual quality items that a builder or architect may have ordered. Everything was built to the standard of “cheapest cost for builder, highest profit for the contractor”.
I want to touch on drug abuse. While I didn’t know anything about drug use back in the 80’s, over the years I learned about how the Chinese and others had began peddling the dangerous products in PI.
President Duterte has come under fire for the way he’s handled the drug problem. I never knew how rampant the drug problem was until he took office and began his war on drugs. I do not believe that it’s a war that he’ll ever be able to win.
Let’s deal with facts. No excuses here.
The poor take drugs to ease their pain. The sale of drugs is what desperate people do in order to try to make money simply to survive. The problem is that everybody wants to be a distributor and the person who actually sells the drugs is the one at the highest amount of risk. That person faces pressure from the police, pressure from the distributor, pressure from the customer and pressure from vigilantes who want to rid the streets of drugs and drug pushers. This makes for a toxic combination where people put little value on the lives of those who either have a drug problem, sell drugs or distributes them. Drug addicts are seen as having meaningless lives and people will kill them before giving them a chance to seek treatment.
Yes, it’s true that some drug addicts bring a criminal element to society. They engage in petty theft, litter, and can be a nuisance. But do they deserve to die? I thought life was precious? I thought there was supposed to be a “sanctity of life.” Am I wrong?
Killing addicts won’t solve the problem. I equate a person with a drug problem the same as a person with cancer. They are sick. They are ill. They are dependent on a substance to survive.
Doctors don’t kill cancer patients. If a person is diagnosed with cancer, the doctor doesn’t pull out a gun and shoots them in the head. No, the doctor attempts to treat the cancer. The same should happen to those who are addicted to drugs. Give them a chance at rehabilitation.
As for the drug dealers, they play a crucial and deadly role in this triangle of danger and murder. Ridding the world of dealers will not solve the problem. IN order to beat any war on drugs, the people must stop having a desire for drugs. Stop the demand for drugs and the sale of drugs will stop. This is a supply-demand situation at the very heart. Stop the DEMAND and the SUPPLY will dry up.
I have no problems with drug dealers being locked up in prison. But that leads to another issue that the country faces that must be addressed.
Is incarceration the answer?
Incarceration in the Philippines is an international joke but also an international tragedy. Most jails and prisons are very poorly constructed. In some facilities, inmates roam freely around these mini cities, going from place to place within the compound, doing their tasks, working, making money, having conjugal visits, selling drugs, and doing all sorts of shady things from within the compound walls. In these types of jails, the only real punishment is that the inmates are not at home. They have food, alcohol, games and everything made available to them. It seems that some people would rather be in jail where they are much safer and not at risk. There is little rehabilitation and the inmates come out and have the same prospects as inmates in the US. No education, no real skills, no strong family background to go to and the streets are waiting for them to fall right back into the same trap.
Then, there are some prisons that are overcrowded and understaffed. The actual prisoners run the prison. the few guards that are there know that if there ever was a revolt, their chances of survival or beating a revolt would be very slim.
In the facilities that are overcrowded, it’s a human travesty. The conditions are deplorable and subhuman. I wouldn’t allow my animals to live in these conditions so why would we treat humans in such a manner? They will only be angry and vindictive upon release.
People get locked away for years and years, with no trial date. No court date. No lawyer. No justice. How can this be? In a country that claims to value human life and human dignity, how can they treat people in such a manner?
Because of the way they treat people, the gangs will always be there, waiting for the inmates to return. Drug syndicates don’t get put on hold when someone is arrested or incarcerated. They continue to operate. So, stay away from drugs! It’s simply not worth it!
Corruption In the Police Ranks
Police turn their heads or are involved in the drug trade.
Not all police officers are bad. I would hope that most of them are good. I’ve seen some amazing officers in Baguio but I’ve also seen some corrupt officers in Manila.
The war on drugs, crime and poverty will never be won if there is corruption within Law Enforcement. These men and women, are the backbone of a society that is supposed to be law-abiding and responsible. We, as human beings, are responsible to, and for, each other as we go through this thing we call “life.” Laws are enacted to protect the public at large. Not everyone follows the laws so that’s why the Law Enforcers are there. They do this job for a reason.
However, in order to fix many of the problems in the country, corrupt officers must be removed from their positions.
The corruption isn’t limited to drug offenses. It’s all around, on many different levels.
Let’s talk about traffic & police corruption.
If you have a traffic offense, you don’t go to court. You open your wallet, right there in public, and you offer the police cash. As a foreigner, your fee will be much higher than the fees for a Filipino citizen. So for example, if you are accused of running a red light or making an illegal stop, that will probably cost you $25-$40. So, if the average Filipino makes $3 per day but here is a police officer pulling in let’s say $50-$75 per day, that is really good money.
Do you really know how to drive?
Shifting away from drugs, prisons, police and corruption, let’s talk about driving. Do you need a drivers license? Buy one! There’s no need to actually know the rules of the road! You have no need to actually know how to drive! Just pay off the Land and Transportation Office (LTO) person and you have a license! Get that license and you can figure out how to drive later! It’s easy, right?
Filipino’s are some of the worst drivers on the planet! Sorry for that comment. I love you all but some of you are horrible drivers!
Do you have an overloaded truck, with bald tires, no lights, brakes that barely work, leaks oil all over the place? No problem! Take that truck out on the main roads, drive in the left-hand passing lane at a entire 20KPH and let traffic pile up behind you.
Do the same thing if you have a scooter, or a pedi-bike with a sidecar.
Do you need to make a right hand turn from the far left lane? Go for it! Just turn right in front of everyone else, stopping traffic, causing people to have to go around you and causing traffic jams. Just close your eyes and press on the gas as hard as you can! It’s not your problem if you run over some people! They should have known you were coming!
If you’re on your pedi-bike, or motorcycle tricycle, just clog up traffic by riding along right there in the main road, pedaling, chatting, waving at your friends, updating Twitter or Facebook as you go along slowly and traffic behind you is piled up. Great job!
Can people really blame you because you don’t really know how to drive? Your Uncle, Kuya or Father taught you to drive by having you sit in their raggedy car and turn the steering wheel. Or you learned by watching the Jeepney driver as he drove his route.
How can we fix the problems?
In order to fix the problem, the LTO, and police needs to start checking for valid licenses! It’s time to impound cars, motorcycles and trucks and lock up illegal drivers! You will only have to arrest a few people before the news spreads and suddenly people will stop driving and go to get real drivers licenses.
When you have corrupt leadership, corrupt law enforcement and government offices, the people ultimately suffer. Taking a shortcut isn’t always the best way. It’s like cheating on an exam because you don’t know the correct answer. If you cheat, you may pass the exam but do you really know the material? What kind of grasp do you have on the information?
The Church; Family, Marriage, Children & Divorce
So there’s corruption in government, corruption in business and then lastly, I’ll talk about corruption in the church.
We don’t hear of the child rape issues in the Philippines like we do with other countries. Here in the Philippines, priests just have their secret girlfriends and “special friends” who they go to in order to satisfy their sexual needs. People know. It’s an open secret in many places. Yes, I would rather have a priest with a secret girlfriend, lover, or even a secret family than a priest that is molesting children!
The church is antiquated but plays a critical role in the Filipino life. Filipino’s are devout Catholics. They will attend mass as often as they can but most go at least a minimum of once per week. They may not stay for the entire mass but they go throughout the day and are always looking to the church, the priests, nuns, and leadership, to tell them what to do.
The church is an integral part of the society. It forms the basis for a lot of the hospitality, congeniality, friendliness, and work ethic for many Filipino’s. The church teaches, or encourages, the people to work hard and to be diligent. The church gives them hope.
Where I find fault with the church is their antiquated beliefs, especially when it comes to birth control which is discouraged and preached against by the church. As a result, you have people in poverty, who can barely feed themselves, having babies. Lots of babies. It’s not uncommon to see a mother who has had 5 or more kids. I know of several families with more than 15 kids. They’re all destitute. The kids work as soon as they can (5 years old or even younger) to beg and work to provide a few peso for their families. It’s terrible.
What compounds the problem is that children are oftentimes born ill and then are malnourished or undernourished. The parents, already poor and saddled with children they can’t care for, have to focus their energies on those children that are able to contribute by begging or working. The parents/families have no insurance and as a result, the infant mortality rate is high. In a world where the strong survive, for a country that claims to be “pro-life”, there are thousands of children dying because their parents can’t care for them.
The church is against divorce and it’s against the law to divorce in the Philippines. So you have people that are married, who haven’t lived together in 30 years, who are with other partners, and they let their children grow up in a single parent environment. The Mother can barely provide and the Father is long gone.
Filipino men seem to love having “one woman on the side.” It is absolutely not all men, but many men do have lovers. They have the so-called “side chick.” And if that side chick gets pregnant, then there are now more problems. How does a man provide for a child when he can barely feed himself? The people work hard but when the average salary for the poor is approximately $3 per day, there’s no way that you can provide quality of life for your children.
Children go to school hungry and the schools are not the place for kids to go to get a meal. How does a child study when their stomachs are growling?
The Church & Contraceptives
The church must change its position on birth control and contraceptives. The insane and ridiculous belief that sex is only for reproduction is primitive and counterproductive. People need love. People need human interaction. The physical touch of another human being is crucial and critical in the survival of our species.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sex or sexual intimacy. Whatever your opinion is on when a person should have sex is irrelevant to this discussion. What’s important is that we don’t introduce unwanted babies into the world. I really don’t care about your religious views. Babies are created when a male sperm meets a female egg. Period.
If people are being intimate sexually, then that’s their business. They should have the opportunity to prevent unwanted pregnancy and unwanted babies by using contraceptives and birth control. There are so many Filipino men that have absolutely no idea what a condom is or how to use one! That’s absurd!
Guys! If you’re going to have sex, put a raincoat on your package! This is protection all around. For you, for her and if you’re going to “have a side chick” then you’re protecting each other as well. Use contraceptives! Protect yourselves!
It’s irrelevant if you “believe” in premarital sex or sex outside of marriage. It’s really none of your business, quite frankly. Just be in support of people preventing diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is supposed to educate the children of the Philippines. Instead, I see it as an international joke and abuse of the Filipino people’s hard earned tax money. Department heads, school principals and people in leadership spend more time in conferences than anywhere else. It is not unusual for teachers, principals, school heads and administrators to have 6–10 conferences, per school year! What for? Why are they wasting the people’s money that way?
Conferences cost money. With the typical conference being a minimum of 3–4 days, with the average being 5-days, DepEd is paying for hotels or resorts, meals, transportation and the associated conference costs. Guest speakers, workshops, project materials and the training materials also cost money. It doesn’t matter if there are corporations helping to fund some of these conferences! At the end of the day, the Filipino tax payer is being burdened with these school conferences that are absolutely not necessary!
Children sometimes travel for hours to get to school. They go through horrible traffic conditions, cross rivers in rubber inner tubes, walk up muddy trails and then are expected to learn, even though they’re exhausted.
While this may be fun, if you’re not sleeping well or eating well, do you think you’ll be happy going to school like this?
She is so cute but is this the best that the Filipino people can do for their children?
The children are the heart of every country. Cute children grow up to be angry adults. Is this the best that the Philippines can do?
I don’t understand how these schools are oftentimes falling down, have major problems and barely enough money to keep the facilities operating properly, but DepEd has money to send people, who usually make the highest salaries in the department, to training classes and conferences in cities all around the country. That is ridiculous! Stop wasting the people’s money!
Computer Labs are given substandard computers and systems, usually built in China by companies with a reputation for poor quality products, and then put out to the students. With barely any money for Internet budget, it’s not a strange thing for schools to have 100 computers but no Internet access. How can you teach kids about modern technology and the Internet, yet have no Internet access at the school? How can schools limit Computer Lab activity for schools of 1600+ students to 2 hours per week, if at all? Many of the Computer Labs are for display only.
As this is my area of expertise, I was shocked to see the level of knowledge that existed when it came to Information Systems. Most “system administrators” would barely pass at basic computer repairs if placed in a more advanced workplace.
People Cause Problems
The last thing to touch on is the mindset of the Filipino people. People complain about crime, they complain about their salary, complain about their lives but they are happy people. The problem I see is that many Filipino’s UNWITTINGLY contribute to their own failures. Their poverty is based on their willingness to take shortcuts or not do things right.
If you throw trash in the streets, in the rivers, in the sewers and not in the proper receptacles, they should not be surprised by the inevitable backlash that will happen. So as we said before, you have corrupt government officials. So are the sewage systems constructed properly or do they have the proper drainage? Probably not. Now, clog those sewers with garbage from Filipino’s throwing their trash out of the car window, off the back of their bikes, out the back of a Jeepney and where does that trash go? So now, you have sewers that are clogged, rivers that are clogged, roadways full of trash in a country where typhoons and heavy rain are part of life. If you throw trash out into the streets, do you know what happens?
This is what happens.
And even this.
So when your entire place floods and you lose your house because it washes away due to shoddy construction practices, then who is really to blame? Shortcuts used by the contractors, government officials and cheap building materials always invites disaster.
How to fix?
This will be a monumental task. It won’t be easy.
Eradicate corrupt government officials. Raise the minimum wage to a level of basic human decency. Filipino’s should make a minimum of P1000 per day, which is slightly less than $20. That would raise the standard of living tremendously and while the price of goods and services would increase, the need for corruption would certainly diminish. The people will always struggle to survive if they can’t make a basic decent wage. There are no surprises here! Pay the people a decent salary! Corporations are getting rich from the labor of the people, who are exhausted!
Fix the school system. Stop wasting money on Conferences, Meetings, and Trade Shows for the DepEd leadership, School Heads, Principals, and other personnel that DepEd considers to be important. Reduce the number of managers needed. Streamline the process for School Heads to receive funding to run their schools as well as make appropriate repairs, when needed. Pay the teachers a decent salary! There are teachers with Masters Degrees that don’t make $500 US a month. That’s horrible. Fix the broken pay system! Enough with these stupid conferences. Once or twice a year is fine. Four, five, six or more conferences per year is absurd! Knock it off!
Drug Abuse Prevention
Continue the crackdown on drugs but open Drug Treatment Centers. Don’t just arrest drug addicts; treat them! Help them overcome their dependence on drugs. If you pay people a decent salary, not as many of them will turn to drugs.
Let’s be honest. There will always be people who abuse drugs. But there will also be people who won’t see a need for drugs because their lives will have meaning. They won’t be destitute and use drugs as a way not to feel hungry or have to deal with their poverty.
Fix the police! It’s time to retrain officers. Most officers are physically fit but are they mentally competent? Are they dedicated to their jobs? Do they care about their communities and the people they serve or do they only do the job so that they can collect a salary?
Refine the laws. Make laws clear and understandable. Don’t enforce laws on the poor but allow the rich to go by. Be fair. Justice does not care how much money you have! Justice cares about truth.
Fire all officers who have taken bribes. They can’t be trusted. If you are willing to break the law for a few peso then what is your limit? What amount of money is too much to take for an activity? Those who take bribes betray the history, traditions, culture, morality and the integrity of the Filipino people. Accepting bribes paints innocent people as being greedy and it’s unfair to judge the many by the actions of a few.
Land Transportation Office
Fix the LTO! Stop giving away licenses. Make people actually go out and prove they can drive. Getting in a car, putting on your seat-belt, shifting the gear selector lever into “Reverse”, then into “Drive” and then immediately into “Park” without moving one centimeter, is not a way to administer a driving test! Make sure the person knows how to actually drive. Make them drive onto the city streets and into traffic. See if they know how to use a turn signal. Do they know how to use mirrors? Do they know what a stop sign is for? How about a stop light? Do they know what a red light means? This will reduce vehicular homicides, accidents, and reduce congestion.
Enforce the traffic laws! Fine people for operating illegal vehicles. Ban trikes from the highways and major roads. Do away with the habal-habal! There’s no reason 6 (or more) people should be on a motorcycle! If a parent is on a bike with an infant, with no helmet, and the kid is dangling off the mothers lap, then fine everybody, confiscate their license and impound their motorcycle! That will stop these crazy accidents where babies die from accidents.
Yes, I know that impounding a families vehicle is very harsh, especially for the poor, but we have to be more intelligent than what has been going on! How many children have to die from these accidents?
This is a picture of a habal-habal in the province. Do you think that’s safe?
What could possibly go wrong?
Oh! This looks so safe!
I was trying to count the helmets in the picture above…maybe I’m blind, but I don’t see any helmets!
The Philippines has plenty of flaws. I’ve touched on many but there are more. The Muslim-Christian conflict, particularly in Mindanao, Philippine New People’s Army (NPA), and the incursion of China into Philippine territory.
The People’s Republic of China is seeking to dominate Asia, Africa and the world. They are doing so by attacking the thing that humans love; money. China waves pesos and dollars and suddenly Filipino’s, Americans, and other countries lose their minds and puts everything they own up for sale.
Giving in to China weakens countries. Owing large debts to China is of no benefit to any country. Africa is being invaded by China. So are many other territories in Asia. Move cautiously. Be well aware of what China is trying to to become the lone superpower in the Asian theater so that they can dominate both from an economic and military standpoint. There should be no room for bullies in Asia.
Overseas Foreign Workers
Students need to be taught how to fix their country. The students of today are the future of the Philippines. The country needs attorneys, doctors, teachers/educators, engineers, technicians, and specialists that are motivated young people who will not bow to corruption. The country needs strong, independent, caring, wise, cautious but optimistic leaders who will not bow to the whims of the church but will use honest and prudent judgement for what will work best for the country. It’s too bad that the students spend more time dancing, holding fashion shows, and participating in fiesta’s than actually being in the classroom and learning skills that will help them through life.
Every day, it seems like there are students practicing for some parade, some fiesta or some event that will cost their families money that they can’t really afford and takes away from the overall education of the student.
Yes! The parades and the fiestas are amazing! Yes, the students work hard! They practice long hours and they look beautiful in their uniforms, dresses, gowns and all the pageantry. I get that it’s beautiful to watch.
But, I don’t care how well you can dance! Neither does the rest of the world! That is a fact! Filipino boys and girls are some really awesome dancers but what kind of job is that dancing and parading around in a beautiful gown going to actually get you?
Students can do all the pageantry and parade things when school is on break. Do it then. But when there is school in session, those things need to be given a lower priority.
Learning life skills such as reading, writing, math, woodworking, sewing, auto mechanic repair, sciences, plumbing, electrical and other real life skills are what students need to be concentrating on. Not looking pretty in flashy clothes!
Movie Stars, Athletes & The Rich
The country needs visionary leaders who will break the cycle of admiration for movie stars and the rich athletes as if their wealth will magically transform the Philippines. The rich movie stars and actors care about themselves and their immediate families only! They may love their fans but you won’t see those stars paying for housing, clothing, food, or medication for their fans! Stop idolizing those who have money!
The Philippines exports more talent than any other country. Students get an education, find an agency and then fly away. Unfortunately, they oftentimes are abused at the hands of their employers.
The Joanna Demafelis Story
I had heard of many stories of Filipino’s being abused while working overseas but one tragedy struck me incredibly hard and that was regarding Joanna Demafelis, who was a maid for a family in Kuwait.
I will state that I am typically a person who has felt conflicted regarding the Death Penalty. I think that it’s oftentimes abused and that innocent people do end up being put to death.
But in this case, Ms Demafelis was working for a Kuwaiti husband and wife. They abused her repeatedly and eventually killed her. What broke my heart was the fact that those Kuwaiti savages, who are not worthy of being referred to as human beings, stuffed that girl in a freezer and then left. She was not found for more than a year. Who in the world would do such a savage and cowardly thing? What kind of mentally deranged animal would stoop to such levels as to do this to another human being? Surely they’re not human and so they were able to justify treating Ms Demafelis in such a way.
It hurt my heart to see someone treated this way. I hold no kind emotion towards those vile and repugnant animals who murdered her. I never knew her but she was a human being. You don’t do those things to people!
The savages, who I will not name, have been sentenced to death. In my opinion, death is too kind and would be a gift for them. Death would be too easy. Too convenient. If it were up to me, I would exact great pain on them. They should be forced to work in some of the worst conditions that many of these countries force Filipino workers to work in. Make them pour concrete. Force them to work 20 hours per day, 7 days per week. No days off. No medical care. No breaks. I would work them to death. The entire time they were working, I would force them to look at a picture of Ms Demafelis’ lifeless body and how they murdered an innocent woman. I don’t care if they go insane. That’s not my problem and it’s not your problem either. Let them suffer for what they did to her. Yes, this is harsh. Yes, this is cruel. Yes, you can call me “mean-spirited” but that girl deserved no such death by those evil people.
Death sentences in Kuwait for maid murder
I mention the things that I have because it’s more than one case. There are many!
Filipino domestic worker bleeds to death in Dubai
Beaten, trapped, abused and underpaid – migrant domestic workers in the UAE
Abused OFW escapes employer in Dubai
Stop Supporting Billionaires - You’ll Never Be One!
In order to help the world appreciate the contributions of the Filipino people, more young Filipino’s need to stay home. Work for your country. Stop going abroad to be abused at the hands of foreigners. You will never be a billionaire working for those rich people.
Start your own businesses. Maybe start your own labor unions. Organize and make these countries pay better wages. Large corporations want, and need, your work and labor but don’t want to pay you part of their record profits. There are billions of dollars going to a small number of people, while the average Filipino worker that is working outside of the country, receives a small salary that isn’t fair for the amount of work that they’re doing. That’s not fair! Make them pay better wages! They are getting richer and richer from your efforts while you are working so that your body will wear out and you can say “I had a good job.” Congratulations! You worked yourself to death and what do you have to show for it? You’ll have little to nothing!
The People Make The Country
I don’t have all the answers. Many will disagree with things I’ve said but I am only thinking out loud. One thing for certain however, is that we need to get people to stop relying on others and begin to look inwards about their future.
Even though I have listed many flaws, I must be fair and say that the Philippines is an amazing place. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to most places in the Caribbean, having lived In Jamaica until I was 6-years old, I’ve been to every state in the US except for Montana and Idaho. I’ve lived in Japan. I’ve been to Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and Singapore. I’ve been to many places in Canada. I’ve been to the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany. I’ve been to Tinian, Saipan, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands and have also lived in the Marshall Islands. I’ve been to some places that I can’t mention due to military security. However, in all of the places that I’ve visited and lived, there has been no place like the Philippines.
Regardless of the problems, the people are the heart of any country. In the Philippines, while they have their own way of surviving, you won’t meet kinder people anywhere. They are truly amazing people.
For all of the negative things about the country that the average Filipino can’t do anything about, you will find a resilient people. They find ways to get things done. For every one Filipino that will swindle you blind, there are 999 good Filipino’s that will go out of their way to help you. They work extremely long and hard hours. They will do jobs that many people won’t like or want to do. They are a determined people. They’re loyal.
They love their families and they love to sing. While some of them really need to work on their vocal “skills”, it’s always fun to listen to a group of Filipina girls trying to sing the latest songs and they may, or may not be, on key or in tune!
They are a happy people regardless of the problems they face. Filipino’s may never top the worlds list of “most wealthiest people” but they have things that that money simply can’t buy. They are warm, passionate, loving, giving, caring, honest, dependable, and usually forgiving.
If I had one criticism of the Filipino people, it is that they are not as forgiving to each other as they are to foreigners. A Filipino will forgive a foreigner for a major betrayal with a mere apology but that same Filipino will hold a grudge against their own countrymen for some small or even insignificant disagreement.
Love more than your family. Love everyone equally. Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. This is advice that even I can use. I do hold grudges but I’m working on stopping that negative trait. It’s not all Filipino’s that hold grudges. Many do, some don’t.
I love the Philippines. People ask me all the time why I love the Philippines and it’s hard for me to put into words. Imagine that! A guy like me that can write all day and describe so many things but when it comes to describing my love for this country, I get emotional and just say “the people are the best people in the world.” They truly are.
Now, let’s put things in perspective! Of course there’s the 10% of the population that won’t be always so nice but I’ll take the 90% awesome people any day of the week. The country has treated me well. The locals treat me as one of their own. I reiterate; I love the people of this country. I don’t know how else to say it.
I don’t worry about my safety. I’m comfortable there and you will be too. Stay away from vices and questionable activities and you’ll have no problems. The Philippines isn’t the only country with poverty and it won’t be the last. The problems won’t disappear overnight. But with the right attitudes and leadership, poverty can be a thing of the past. I hope for the day when poverty will be eradicated from the Philippines.