View Full Version : Flashback: what if the Philippines indeed became one of the states of America?

06-13-2012, 12:06 AM
What if we didn't pursue our independence from the US in 1946 and just became one of America's states, would have we been better off economically? What would have been the effect on our sense of nationhood?

06-13-2012, 01:09 PM
I think geography would have played the primary factor in this long-discussed scenario. It is not really as easy as it seems, even in the information age, to exercise full sovereignty over a territory an ocean and a half away. Looking back on that era in the aftermath of the second world war, the devastation of the capital would have cost two arms plus a leg and a half to set everything back to rights. America would have probably ditched us right after World War II all the same.

Going back to the original question, if America had made us into its full-fledged 51st State, I think at the very least we would have lost most of our natural resources a long time ago, in the era before the EPA and stricter congressional oversight on trade, and more so climate and the environment. America may have used us as the ultimate provider of raw material. Yes, we would have gotten the vote, and perhaps given the distance, we might have become the State with the most number of votes in the Electoral College given the Filipino proclivity to multiply like rabbits, and thus of great great impact politically. But we may also have been treated as third rate dirt poor cousins, and as such always subject to the whims and caprices of the mainland regardless of our political numbers.

10-04-2012, 10:17 PM
"I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans." - Manuel L. Quezon

Personally, I prefer it the other way around at present because it is more sinful to see and realize that our very own brothers are the ones ransacking the country's coffers. I can understand it better if invaders are the ones stealing our resources instead.

If we became the 51st state, probably there could have been less poverty and a lot of our kababayans would have migrated easily (no need for visas) to the east and west coasts so population could have been controlled in this part of the world. We could have had better medical benefits for our elders and better pension for the retired ones. There could also be no traffic and crime rate could have been very low plus traffic could have been better managed. China wouldn't be creeping in and Sabah could have been retained as part of our territory.

10-05-2012, 12:35 AM
Or at least magkaroon na ng snow dito, joke joke joke!

Seriously though, given the current situation, the pros would have been more than the cons. I always thought that our independence from the US was premature. We were not ready to govern ourselves thus the results you see today. If we were governed by them like Puerto Rico or Guam during the initial years then things would have been better IMO. The Americans would provide us structure and the correct way of running a country and more importantly learn how to plan for the future. Either that or we Filipinos just simply don't know how to run a country.

Sam Miguel
12-03-2012, 03:45 PM
Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech

By Jonathan Turley, Oct 12, 2012 07:14 PM EDT

The Washington Post Published: October 13

Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.

In the face of the violence that frequently results from anti-religious expression, some world leaders seem to be losing their patience with free speech. After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”
It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”

A willingness to confine free speech in the name of social pluralism can be seen at various levels of authority and government. In February, for instance, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Martin heard a case in which a Muslim man was charged with attacking an atheist marching in a Halloween parade as a “zombie Muhammed.” Martin castigated not the defendant but the victim, Ernie Perce, lecturing him that “our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did.”

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people — challenging social taboos or political values.

This was evident in recent days when courts in Washington and New York ruled that transit authorities could not prevent or delay the posting of a controversial ad that says: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

When U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said the government could not bar the ad simply because it could upset some Metro riders, the ruling prompted calls for new limits on such speech. And in New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority responded by unanimously passing a new regulation banning any message that it considers likely to “incite” others or cause some “other immediate breach of the peace.”

Such efforts focus not on the right to speak but on the possible reaction to speech — a fundamental change in the treatment of free speech in the West. The much-misconstrued statement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that free speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a crowded theater is now being used to curtail speech that might provoke a violence-prone minority. Our entire society is being treated as a crowded theater, and talking about whole subjects is now akin to shouting “fire!”

The new restrictions are forcing people to meet the demands of the lowest common denominator of accepted speech, usually using one of four rationales.

Speech is blasphemous

This is the oldest threat to free speech, but it has experienced something of a comeback in the 21st century. After protests erupted throughout the Muslim world in 2005 over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Western countries publicly professed fealty to free speech, yet quietly cracked down on anti-religious expression. Religious critics in France, Britain, Italy and other countries have found themselves under criminal investigation as threats to public safety. In France, actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has been fined several times for comments about how Muslims are undermining French culture. And just last month, a Greek atheist was arrested for insulting a famous monk by making his name sound like that of a pasta dish.

Some Western countries have classic blasphemy laws — such as Ireland, which in 2009 criminalized the “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” deemed “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.” The Russian Duma recently proposed a law against “insulting religious beliefs.” Other countries allow the arrest of people who threaten strife by criticizing religions or religious leaders. In Britain, for instance, a 15-year-old girl was arrested two years agofor burning a Koran.

Western governments seem to be sending the message that free speech rights will not protect you — as shown clearly last month by the images of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the YouTube filmmaker, being carted away in California on suspicion of probation violations. Dutch politician Geert Wilders went through years of litigation before he was acquitted last year on charges of insulting Islam by voicing anti-Islamic views. In the Netherlandsand Italy, cartoonists and comedians have been charged with insulting religion through caricatures or jokes.

Even the Obama administration supported the passage of a resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council to create an international standard restricting some anti-religious speech (its full name: “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief”). Egypt’s U.N. ambassador heralded the resolution as exposing the “true nature” of free speech and recognizing that “freedom of expression has been sometimes misused” to insult religion.

At a Washington conference last yearto implement the resolution, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that it would protect both “the right to practice one’s religion freely and the right to express one’s opinion without fear.” But it isn’t clear how speech can be protected if the yardstick is how people react to speech — particularly in countries where people riot over a single cartoon. Clinton suggested that free speech resulting in “sectarian clashes” or “the destruction or the defacement or the vandalization of religious sites” was not, as she put it, “fair game.”

Sam Miguel
12-03-2012, 03:47 PM
^^^ Continued

Given this initiative, President Obama’s U.N. address last month declaring America’s support for free speech, while laudable, seemed confused — even at odds with his administration’s efforts.

Speech is hateful

In the United States, hate speech is presumably protected under the First Amendment. However, hate-crime laws often redefine hateful expression as a criminal act. Thus, in 2003, the Supreme Court addressed the conviction of a Virginia Ku Klux Klan member who burned a cross on private land. The court allowed for criminal penalties so long as the government could show that the act was “intended to intimidate” others. It was a distinction without meaning, since the state can simply cite the intimidating history of that symbol.

Other Western nations routinely bar forms of speech considered hateful. Britain prohibits any “abusive or insulting words” meant “to stir up racial hatred.” Canada outlaws “any writing, sign or visible representation” that “incites hatred against any identifiable group.” These laws ban speech based not only on its content but on the reaction of others. Speakers are often called to answer for their divisive or insulting speech before bodies like the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

This month, a Canadian court ruled that Marc Lemire, the webmaster of a far-right political site, could be punished for allowing third parties to leave insulting comments about homosexuals and blacks on the site. Echoing the logic behind blasphemy laws, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that “the minimal harm caused . . . to freedom of expression is far outweighed by the benefit it provides to vulnerable groups and to the promotion of equality.”

Speech is discriminatory

Perhaps the most rapidly expanding limitation on speech is found in anti-discrimination laws. Many Western countries have extended such laws to public statements deemed insulting or derogatory to any group, race or gender.

For example, in a closely watched case last year, a French court found fashion designer John Gallianoguilty of making discriminatory comments in a Paris bar, where he got into a cursing match with a couple using sexist and anti-Semitic terms. Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud read a list of the bad words Galliano had used, adding that she found (rather implausibly) he had said “dirty whore” at least 1,000 times. Though he faced up to six months in jail, he was fined.

In Canada, comedian Guy Earle was charged with violating the human rights of a lesbian couple after he got into a trash-talking session with a group of women during an open-mike night at a nightclub. Lorna Pardysaid she suffered post-traumatic stress because of Earle’s profane language and derogatory terms for lesbians. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled last year that since this was a matter of discrimination, free speech was not a defense, and awarded about $23,000 to the couple.

Ironically, while some religious organizations are pushing blasphemy laws, religious individuals are increasingly targeted under anti-discrimination laws for their criticism of homosexuals and other groups. In 2008, a minister in Canada was not only forced to pay fines for uttering anti-gay sentiments but was also enjoined from expressing such views in the future.

Speech is deceitful

In the United States, where speech is given the most protection among Western countries, there has been a recent effort to carve out a potentially large category to which the First Amendment would not apply. While we have always prosecuted people who lie to achieve financial or other benefits, some argue that the government can outlaw any lie, regardless of whether the liar secured any economic gain.

One such law was the Stolen Valor Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, which made it a crime for people to lie about receiving military honors. The Supreme Court struck it down this year, but at least two liberal justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, proposed that such laws should have less of a burden to be upheld as constitutional. The House responded with new legislation that would criminalize lies told with the intent to obtain any undefined “tangible benefit.”

The dangers are obvious. Government officials have long labeled whistleblowers, reporters and critics as “liars” who distort their actions or words. If the government can define what is a lie, it can define what is the truth.

For example, in Februarythe French Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law that made it a crime to deny the 1915 Armenian genocide by Turkey — a characterization that Turkey steadfastly rejects. Despite the ruling, various French leaders pledged to pass new measures punishing those who deny the Armenians’ historical claims.

The impact of government limits on speech has been magnified by even greater forms of private censorship. For example, most news organizations have stopped showing images of Muhammad, though they seem to have no misgivings about caricatures of other religious figures. The most extreme such example was supplied by Yale University Press, which in 2009 published a book about the Danish cartoons titled “The Cartoons That Shook the World” — but cut all of the cartoons so as not to insult anyone.

The very right that laid the foundation for Western civilization is increasingly viewed as a nuisance, if not a threat. Whether speech is deemed imflammatory or hateful or discriminatory or simply false, society is denying speech rights in the name of tolerance, enforcing mutual respect through categorical censorship.

As in a troubled marriage, the West seems to be falling out of love with free speech. Unable to divorce ourselves from this defining right, we take refuge instead in an awkward and forced silence.

Sam Miguel
12-03-2012, 03:52 PM
10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

By Jonathan Turley, Jan 13, 2012 10:34 PM EST

The Washington Post Published: January 14, 2012

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.

Assassination of U.S. citizens

President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)

Indefinite detention

Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While the administration claims that this provision only codified existing law, experts widely contest this view, and the administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts. The government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)

Arbitrary justice

The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)

Warrantless searches

The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)

Secret evidence

The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.

War crimes

The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)

Secret court

The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)

Sam Miguel
12-03-2012, 03:54 PM
^^^ Continuation

Immunity from judicial review

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)

Continual monitoring of citizens

The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)

Extraordinary renditions

The government now has the ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers — including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

These new laws have come with an infusion of money into an expanded security system on the state and federal levels, including more public surveillance cameras, tens of thousands of security personnel and a massive expansion of a terrorist-chasing bureaucracy.

Some politicians shrug and say these increased powers are merely a response to the times we live in. Thus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) could declare in an interview last spring without objection that “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, terrorism will never “surrender” and end this particular “war.”

Other politicians rationalize that, while such powers may exist, it really comes down to how they are used. This is a common response by liberals who cannot bring themselves to denounce Obama as they did Bush. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), for instance, has insisted that Congress is not making any decision on indefinite detention: “That is a decision which we leave where it belongs — in the executive branch.”

And in a signing statement with the defense authorization bill, Obama said he does not intend to use the latest power to indefinitely imprison citizens. Yet, he still accepted the power as a sort of regretful autocrat.

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

The indefinite-detention provision in the defense authorization bill seemed to many civil libertarians like a betrayal by Obama. While the president had promised to veto the law over that provision, Levin, a sponsor of the bill, disclosed on the Senate floor that it was in fact the White House that approved the removal of any exception for citizens from indefinite detention.

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 10:12 AM
In Napa, California, an anti-Filipino attack backfires

By Benjamin Pimentel

3:58 pm | Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO – The letter, arrogant, vile, hateful, was clearly meant to provoke.

It called the growing Filipino community in the city of American Canyon, in Napa County, “filthy.”

In a rambling, vicious rant, it accused them of having women with “CAUCASION” (sic) husbands “to assist in ensuring their half-breed children have ‘straight noses’ in order to be accepted in non-Filipino society.”

It’s not clear who sent it. It also was not clear if the letter writer was white or non-white, or if that person (or persons) even lived in American Canyon or in Napa County.

But whoever sent it clearly knew it wouldn’t be popular. The letter was signed “Concerned American Canyon Neighbors.” That made sense in a way — he/she/they probably knew the reaction would be swift and strong.

In fact, it was.

The city council of American Canyon quickly considered a resolution condemning the attack and embracing a policy of tolerance. And that wasn’t enough for many of the city’s residents and their leaders.

Last week, despite the cold spell that recently hit the Bay Area, about 40 people marched from city hall to a shopping center. They held signs that said, “We (heart) everyone in AmCam.”

One of the marchers was the city’s mayor, Leon Garcia whose wife, Eva, is Filipino-American. A newly-elected city councilmember, Kenneth Leary, was also there. “We don’t tolerate racism in any form,” he told the Napa Valley Register.

And it wasn’t just talk. American Canyon has a fairly Filipino-friendly city government. One can browse the city government Web site in Tagalog. City leaders are known to take part in Filipino events.

It’s a wonderful community. My wife and I once considered moving there years ago. We once joined a city-sponsored fun run.

Part of the reason we liked American Canyon was because it’s in Napa County, famous for its vineyards and wineries and other attractions. Another reason was its huge Filipino community. In fact, we have many friends who live there. One of them is my kumpare Persi Trance who saw the solidarity march as an affirmation of his belief in American Canyon.

“Natuwa ako doon,” he told me. “That made me happy. The mayor and the city councilmembers did something immediately. Then some of the businesses supported the action by providing the sings.”

“I’m not worried,” he continued. “The Filipino community is well-established here. And it’s really diverse. Do I think there could be Tea Party type racist violence here? I don’t think so.”

But he’s lived in the U.S. long enough to know that racism still exists, that it would be naďve to think that racial tensions in American are a thing of the past.

“Sa akin, bahagi iyan ng buhay sa America. That’s part of living in America that there are those who are ignorant and have racist tendencies.”

But he also picked up on the point I raised: the letter writer/writers launched an anonymous attack – because he/she/they knew the backlash would be immediate and decisive.

“Kung alam nilang tama ang ginagawa nila, hindi sila magtatago,” Persi told me. “If they knew what they did is okay, they wouldn’t find the need to hide.”

I found out about the letter on “Positively Filipino,” the new online magazine based in the Bay Area. That’s worth noting, in a way.

The magazine’s name comes from the infamous sign at a hotel in Stockton in the 1940s. It said: “Positively No Filipinos Allowed.”

The sign was clearly displayed in a public place, clearly aimed at intimidating, humiliating Filipinos. Whoever put up the sign knew it was okay to convey its message of hate, a message made even more abhorrent with the word “positively.”

No need to hide. No need to use false names.

That positively was not the case this month in Napa County, in a city called American Canyon.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 11:05 AM
Love letter to Filipinos

By David H. Harwell

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:39 pm | Sunday, February 17th, 2013

I am writing to thank Filipinos for the way you have treated me here, and to pass on a lesson I learned from observing the differences between your culture and mine over the years.

I am an expatriate worker. I refer to myself as an OAW, an overseas American worker, as a bad joke. The work I do involves a lot of traveling and changing locations, and I do it alone, without family. I have been in 21 countries now, not including my own. It was fun at first. Now, many years later, I am getting tired. The Philippines remains my favorite country of all, though, and I’d like to tell you why before I have to go away again.

I have lived for short periods here, traveled here, and have family and friends here. My own family of origin in the United States is like that of many Americans—not much of a family. Americans do not stay very close to their families, geographically or emotionally, and that is a major mistake. I have long been looking for a home and a family, and the Philippines is the only place I have lived where people honestly seem to understand how important their families are.

I am American and hard-headed. I am a teacher, but it takes me a long time to learn some things. But I’ve been trying, and your culture has been patient in trying to teach me.

In the countries where I’ve lived and worked, all over the Middle East and Asia, it is Filipinos who do all the work and make everything happen. When I am working in a new company abroad, I seek out the Filipino staff when I need help getting something done, and done right. Your international reputation as employees is that you work hard, don’t complain, and are very capable. If all the Filipinos were to go home from the Middle East, the world would stop. Oil is the lifeblood of the world, but without Filipinos, the oil will not come from the ground, it will not be loaded onto the ships, and the ships will not sail. The offices that make the deals and collect the payments will not even open in the morning. The schools will not have teachers, and, of course, the hospitals will have no staff.

What I have seen, that many of you have not seen, is how your family members, the ones who are overseas Filipino workers, do not tell you much about how hard their lives actually are. OFWs are very often mistreated in other countries, at work and in their personal lives. You probably have not heard much about how they do all the work but are severely underpaid, because they know that the money they are earning must be sent home to you, who depend on them. The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen. They have their pictures taken in front of nice shops and locations to post on Facebook so that you won’t worry about them. But every Pinoy I have ever met abroad misses his/her family very, very much.

I often pity those of you who go to America. You see pictures of their houses and cars, but not what it took to get those things. We have nice things, too many things, in America, but we take on an incredible debt to get them, and the debt is lifelong. America’s economy is based on debt. Very rarely is a house, car, nice piece of clothing, electronic appliance, and often even food, paid for. We get them with credit, and this debt will take all of our lifetime to pay. That burden is true for anyone in America—the OFWs, those who are married to Americans, and the Americans themselves.

Most of us allow the American Dream to become the American Trap. Some of you who go there make it back home, but you give up most of your lives before you do. Some of you who go there learn the very bad American habits of wanting too many things in your hands, and the result is that you live only to work, instead of working only to live. The things we own actually own us. That is the great mistake we Americans make in our lives. We live only to work, and we work only to buy more things that we don’t need. We lose our lives in the process.

I have sometimes tried to explain it like this: In America, our hands are full, but our hearts are empty.

You have many problems here, I understand that. Americans worry about having new cars, Filipinos worry about having enough food to eat. That’s an enormous difference. But do not envy us, because we should learn something from you. What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full.

I have many privileges in the countries where I work, because I am an expat. I do not deserve these things, but I have them. However, in every country I visit, I see that you are there also, taking care of your families, friends, bosses, and coworkers first, and yourselves last. And you have always taken care of me, in this country and in every other place where I have been.

These are places where I have been very alone, very tired, very hungry, and very worried, but there have always been Filipinos in my offices, in the shops, in the restaurants, in the hospitals, everywhere, who smile at and take good care of me. I always try to let you know that I have lived and traveled in the Philippines and how much I like your country. I know that behind those smiles of yours, here and abroad, are many worries and problems.

Please know that at least one of us expats has seen what you do for others and understands that you have a story behind your smiles. Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat.

David H. Harwell, PhD, is a former professor and assistant dean in the United States who now travels and works abroad designing language training programs. He is a published author and a son of a retired news editor.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 09:44 AM

To the American who wrote Filipinos a love letter

By Benjamin Pimentel

1:40 pm | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

(American expatriate David H. Harwell’s moving piece “Love letter to Filipinos” was published in the Inquirer on Feb. 17. This is a response.)

Dear Mr. Harwell,

Thank you for your letter, for insights that remind us why, despite all its problems, the Philippines has many things to offer the world.

You’re also critical of your homeland, the United States. In a way, I understand. I’ve lived in the US for nearly a quarter of a century. I’ve caught glimpses of the cold, heartless America you talked about.

But you also said, “In America, our hands are full, but our hearts are empty.”

That’s a stunning image. I must say, though, that I myself encountered a different America.

You spoke of people who fell into what you called the American Trap, who chose to “live only to work, and work only to buy more things that we don’t need.”

But not all Americans live that way.

To be sure, many are struggling now. Like Filipinos in the Philippines, they do so for their children. For there’s talk now of “Generation Screwed,” of young Americans in their 20s and 30s for whom the future is bleak, who may end up being the first generation to have less prosperous lives than the ones their parents enjoyed.

As the father of two young boys, I worry about that. But many things about the United States give me hope.

Maybe it’s because I live in the Bay Area, where people tend to be hopeful and open-minded. I wouldn’t even use the word “tolerant.” To “tolerate” suggests being told, “Okay, you’re a strange, even offensive, bunch, but I guess we’ll just have to live with you.”

In the Bay Area, the approach is more of to “engage,” to say, “Oh, you’re from the Philippines. So what’s life like where you’re from, and what of your country might we be able to use and learn from?” People here seem always eager to know what they learn from people from other lands.

Some dismiss that as “political correctness,” but that culture of engaged openness is a key reason my wife and I have enjoyed living here.

Actually, that culture even speaks to the good news that your letter underscored. Many Americans are not arrogant, clueless and narrow-minded as many believe. Many of them are like you: eager to learn from other peoples of the world. And as you explained in your letter, there is much to learn from the Philippines. On the other hand, there clearly are so many lessons the Philippines can learn from the American story.

I’m sharing this with you because I worry about sweeping portrayals of either the Philippines or the United States, of Filipinos and of Americans, or of any other group or country.

Many Filipinos now live outside the Philippines. Most of them, roughly four million, are in the United States. Most of them still love the Philippines, and hope to see the country succeed and prosper. But they also consider the United States home.

You painted a glowing, life-affirming portrait of our homeland. But I worry that, particularly for the young Filipino-Americans, who may not know much of the Philippines, but also want to be connected to the country of their parents, the picture you presented is incomplete.

This week, the Philippines will again celebrate the People Power Revolt that ended a dictatorship in 1986. Many of us took part in that historic uprising. And it was heartening for me to know, after I moved to the US, that many Americans helped wage that fight.

Eventually, I realized why that was so. For fighting for justice has been part of the American story. I must tell you how moved and inspired I’ve been by the Civil Rights struggles in this country in the 1960s.

Young Filipinos, in the Philippines and in the United States, can learn so much from those struggles. And I know many young Filipino-Americans want to know more about the Philippines.

Right now, many of them on college campuses across California and the entire US are preparing for an annual Filipino Spring ritual unique to the US. They call it PCN, Pilipino Cultural Night, when thousands of young FilAms hold a night of music and poetry and plays celebrating their Filipino-ness.

Some of them even take their commitment beyond those shows, travelling to the Philippines to work on social and political campaigns.

They can learn so much from the Philippines. But they also can also learn so much from the story of America, with its complex, painful, but sometimes also inspiring story.

Please don’t view this response as a rejection of your heartwarming insights into my homeland.

Instead, I hope you see this as an affirmation of the strengths and even beauty of yours.

This is, in many ways, my attempt to build on what you said.

For I really believe, Mr. Harwell, that there are many lessons and stories, powerful and uplifting, that we can find and celebrate both in the Philippines and in the United States.

Maraming salamat po.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 01:43 PM
Phl must be half empty, British royal quips

(The Philippine Star)

| Updated February 22, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Britain’s Prince Philip wonders if the Philippines is now “half empty” because of the large number of Filipino nurses working in UK hospitals.

The comment drew mixed reactions yesterday, according to a report by BBC News.

“The Philippines must be half empty – you’re all here running the NHS (National Health Service),” Prince Philip was quoted as saying.

The 91-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth was addressing a Filipino nurse he met during a visit to Luton and Dunstable Hospitals where he unveiled a new cardiac center.

While some reports called it a “racist remark,” BBC noted that the Duke of Edinburgh is “well known for his outspoken and sometimes controversial comments.”

A report recalled how Prince Philip asked a group of British students during a 1986 visit to China: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.”

During a trip to the Cayman Islands in 1994, he asked a native: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

Speaking to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, the prince said in 1998: “You managed not to get eaten, then?”

Meanwhile, the hospital’s spokesperson insisted that Prince Phillip would never intend to cause offense and liked to make odd jokes “to put people at ease.”

The Filipino nurse, on the other hand, seemed to take Prince Phillip’s joke in good humor and laughed.

Filipino nurses continue to work in the UK because of the high salary and other benefits.

According to recent data, 16,184 out of the UK’s 670,000 nurses are from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas showed a two-digit increase in the number of Pinoys abroad in 2011.

A total of 10.46 million Pinoys are in 217 countries and territories as of 2011, the commission reported. This is a 10.7-percent increase from 9.45 million in 2010.

The number is also equivalent to more than a quarter (25.4 percent) of the country’s workforce, pegged at 41.94 million as per Labor department data.

02-24-2013, 12:06 PM
We will be voted out of the Union.

Sam Miguel
02-25-2013, 09:26 AM
The Dynamic of the Filipino Diaspora

By Rodel E. Rodis


5:22 pm | Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Organizers of the 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora—set to convene February 25-27, 2013 at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City—hope that the conference will “track the progress and highlight the best practices of Diaspora engagement.” This is the broad mission laid out by the Summit’s principal sponsor, the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO) which seeks to harness the resources and energy of the 12 million overseas Filipinos in support of its “flagship program- Diaspora to Development (D2D)”. cfo.gov.ph

CFO hopes that all this harnessing of global Filipino talents will contribute to domestic jobs generation and economic development. This will be accomplished, according to the CFO, by matching ventures of overseas Filipinos with Philippine business partners in areas like technology transfer (Alay Dunong), educational exchange (Balik Turo), Diaspora philanthropy (Lingkod sa Kapwa), tourism initiatives, medical missions and arts and cultural exchanges.

Among those attending the Summit will be members of the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC) which was formed at the first Summit, members of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) and other Filipino associations overseas along with recipients of the CFO Presidential Awards for Filipino individuals and organizations overseas; local Philippine-based participants, resource persons, speakers from the government, multi-lateral agencies, academe, and civil society.

‘Transnational community’

While “Diaspora” generally describes historic mass dispersions of people with common roots like the Jewish, African, Indian and Chinese diasporas, it is also defined as a “transnational community” referring to a people with a shared identity as a singular ethnic group extending or going beyond the national boundaries of their country. They are united by how they are collectively viewed and treated by the people in the host countries they live in.

The tipping point of the Filipino diaspora

When overseas Filipinos were lobbying for the right to vote in Philippine elections in 2003, Rep. Teddy Locsin fiercely opposed the move by arguing that Filipinos who “abandon” the Philippines should not have the right to participate in its governance and, besides, he said, they do not have enough knowledge of Philippine current events.

If Locsin ever watched Ted Unarce’s documentary “Modern Day Slaves” (moderndayslavesmovie.com), he would be disabused of the absurd notion that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) abandoned the Philippines. If anything, it is the Philippines that abandoned the OFWs to their cruel fates just so that OFWs can remit huge chunks of their hard-earned salaries to the Philippines ($23.5 B in 2012).

As to the other point raised by Locsin, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban noted that with interactive news websites, cable TV programs, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, cell phones, Skype, Magic Jack, e-mails, teleconferencing and other electronic wonders”, actual physical presence in the Philippines is no longer required to acquire a thorough knowledge of Philippine political life or to participate in it.

Binary nationalism

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), those temporarily working in the Middle East and other countries, constitute only one group within the overseas Filipino community. Among those who reside and work permanently abroad, there are Filipinos who have integrated themselves in the countries they live in and who have acquired the citizenship of their adopted countries.

Among them are those who Sorbonne French Prof. David Camroux described as those with “binary nationalism” which he defined as “a double mirrored identity in which a sense of one identity is contingent on a sense of the other, leading to dual – and indeed multiple – senses of non-exclusive loyalties”.

In his essay, The Philippine State and the Filipino Diaspora, Camroux asked: “Does a dual citizenship Filipino-American, for example, feel a sense of dual loyalties and allegiances, a kind of dual nationalism, concomitant with his/her dual citizenship?” Dual nationalism is like loving a mother and a father equally without deciding which love is greater than the other.

Filipino Americans expressed this “binary nationalism” when they assumed the lead in mobilizing the global Filipino community to protest China’s encroachment in the Spratly Islands in 2011 with simultaneous rallies and demonstrations in front of China’s consular offices in North America and in Europe on July 5, 2011. This simultaneous protest action was repeated on May 11, 2012 after China invaded the Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal (uspgg.org).

The Summit’s goal of “Diaspora to Development” (D2D) envisions overseas Filipinos contributing to the welfare and development of the Philippines. But, and this should be asked by the Summit delegates, what about the Philippines contributing to the welfare of Filipinos in the Diaspora?

India provides the Philippines with a role model for how to engage its Diaspora. In May of 2004, a cabinet-level department was created, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), which its website describes as “dedicated to the multitude of Indian Nationals settled abroad.” It seeks to “connect the Indian Diaspora community with its motherland” by providing information, partnerships and facilitations for all matters related to Overseas Indians.”

The MOIA established the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in the 43 Indian Missions across the world in countries that have a significant overseas Indian population. This ICWF is “aimed at providing ‘on site’ welfare services on a means tested basis in the most deserving cases including: (i) Boarding and lodging for distressed overseas Indian workers in Household/ domestic sectors and unskilled labourers; (ii) Extending emergency medical care to the overseas Indians in need; (iii) Providing air passage to stranded overseas Indians in need; (iv) Providing initial legal assistance to the overseas Indians in deserving cases, (v) Expenditure on incidentals and for airlifting the mortal remains to India or local cremation/burial of the deceased overseas Indian in such cases where a sponsor is unable or unwilling to do so as per the contract and the family is unable to meet the cost.”

The MOIA focuses on “developing networks with and amongst Overseas Indians with the intent of building partnership with the Diaspora.” It aims to “engage with the Diaspora in a sustainable and mutually rewarding manner across the economic, social and cultural space.”

In the program of the 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora, the issue of what can be done to help Filipinos in the Diaspora is covered in only one workshop – Global Legal Assistance – to be led by the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FILDEF) which provides free legal defense to Filipinos in the US facing criminal prosecution (notably a teenager in Texas facing the death penalty) and deportation. That’s it.

Will there be any discussion about how the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) undermined overseas Filipinos by disenfranchising 238,455 OFW voters by a resolution passed in December of 2012? What about the clamor for Pres. Aquino to appoint an overseas Filipino to the Comelec to protect and advance the interests of Overseas Filipinos?

Every departing OFW contributes $25 to a trust fund set up by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an adjunct of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) which is mandated to provide programs and welfare services to OFWs and their dependents. This trust fund has now reached P14.8 B, including assets and investments.

According to John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, this OWWA fund only covers those who are still legally working abroad who pay into the fund. Monterona’s group is advocating for OFWs to have lifetime membership in the OWWA Fund which “must serve the needs of OFWs — whether documented or not, whether with or without contract — and their families as well, through concrete services and benefits including medical assistance, burial, repatriation, social security, pensions and other welfare essentials.” Will the Global Summit advocate for these OFWs?

Sam Miguel
02-25-2013, 09:27 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Global Filipino diaspora council

While it is understandable that the CFO cannot stake out political positions or criticize co-governmental entities like the Comelec and OWWA, this limitation does not apply to the Summit delegates who can advocate Filipinos in the Diaspora.

An offshoot of the First Global Summit was the formation of the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC) which plans to organize overseas Filipinos in all the continents into a potent group advocating for the interests of overseas Filipinos. The first regional summit was held in Rome, Italy in September 2012 attended by Filipinos from virtually every country in Europe, resulting in the formation of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD). The next regional summit will be held in Dubai in 2014 to organize Diasporic Filipinos in the Middle East And Africa. Other continents will follow in the future.

India views its Diaspora community as a ’bridge’ to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of origin. “The success of this bridge is often predicated upon two conditions: the ability of the Diaspora to develop and project a coherent, intrinsically motivated and progressive identity and the capacity of the home country to establish conditions and institutions for sustainable, symbiotic and mutually rewarding engagement.

Diaspora to Development (D2D) is the goal of this Summit but the CFO should also look towards forging a “symbiotic” engagement with the Filipino Diaspora - ”Development to Diaspora” (D2D). These should be the “mutually rewarding” twin goals of the Global Summit in the future.

Perhaps the Commission on Filipinos Overseas can be elevated to be the Department of Overseas Filipino Affairs following the mission of the MOIA as stated below.

“The emergence of significant Diasporas has in recent years brought into sharp focus two key facts. First, there is a large expatriate population of skilled people from emerging economies in the developed world. Second, overseas communities can constitute a significant resource for the development of the countries of origin. The movement of the high skilled and low skilled workers from less to more developed economies and back opens several new opportunities for development. To view the Diaspora only through the looking glass of remittances and financial flows is to take a myopic view. Not all expatriates need to be investors and their development impact measured only in terms of financial contributions to the home country.

An overseas community can and does serve as an important ‘bridge’ to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of origin. The success of this bridge is often predicated upon two conditions: the ability of the Diaspora to develop and project a coherent, intrinsically motivated and progressive identity and the capacity of the home country to establish conditions and institutions for sustainable, symbiotic and mutually rewarding engagement. Home countries are now beginning to recognise the need to pursue and promote the dynamic of the Diaspora and development.

Inidan Community

The overseas Indian community thus constitutes a diverse, heterogeneous and eclectic global community representing different regions, languages, cultures and faiths. The common thread that binds them together is the idea of India and its intrinsic values. Overseas Indians comprise People of Indian Origin and Non Resident Indians and today are amongst the best educated and successful communities in the world. In every part of the world the overseas Indian community is recognised and respected for its hard work, discipline, non-interference and for successfully integrating with the local community.

Overseas Indians have made significant contributions to the economy of the country of residence and have added in considerable measure to knowledge and innovation. Overseas Indians share a strong bond with their country of origin. This is reflected in their language, cultures and traditions that have been maintained, often over centuries, and continue to be vibrant and unique. It is now being witnessed in the growing popularity of Indian films, dance, music, arts and culture on foreign shores, the strong surge in remittances back home, the return of many to live and work in India and in their increasing engagement with India’s development. The relationship between India and its overseas community is growing, new partnerships evolving and newer multi-faceted dimensions being explored.

India’s engagement with its Diaspora is symbiotic, the strands of both sides of the relationship equally important to create a resilient and robust bond. To engage with the Diaspora in a sustainable and mutually rewarding manner across the economic, social and cultural space is at the heart of the policy of the Ministry. To create conditions, partnerships and institutions that will best enable India to connect with its Diaspora comprehensively is central to all our programmes and activities.

As a new India seeks to become a global player of significance, the time has come for a strong and sustained engagement between India and overseas Indians. The time has also come for overseas Indians to benefit from the exciting opportunities that India provides. The time is now.”

Sam Miguel
03-05-2013, 08:47 AM
Comelec’s disenfranchisement of 245,000 overseas voters angers global Filipinos

By Ted Laguatan

2:35 pm | Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

At the recently concluded Second Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora, a major conference of Filipinos overseas held at Makati’s Dusit Hotel, attendees expressed frustration and anger at the summary decision by Comelec to remove the names of some 245,000 Filipinos overseas from its qualified voters list.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez stated that under Republic Act 4630 Section 19, “failure to vote in two successive elections is grounds for disqualification from the Comelec Voters List.”

He added: “There appears to be no cogent or compelling reason not to apply the law.” To many, Jimenez’ statement displayed Comelec officials lack of sensitivity to the situations of Filipinos overseas and disregard for their voting rights.

Here are nine reasons that are not only cogent, but are also compelling enough as to why the 245,000 Filipinos overseas voters (OVs) should not be disenfranchised:

1. The aggregate contributions of OVs keep the economy of the Philippines afloat. The country owes them much.

2. Without their sacrifices in going to distant foreign lands and cultures, family separation, loneliness, extreme weathers braving, harsh immigration laws, etc., millions in the Philippines would not have adequate food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care.

3. By having registered to vote, OVs show their willingness to participate in the Philippine democratic process of electing leaders.

4. The best voters are OVs. Warlord dynasty politicians cannot buy their votes nor coerce them. Thus they will independently vote for the most honest and competent candidates, leading to a better quality of governance which the Philippines desperately needs.

5. It takes a lot of effort to reach Filipinos overseas to register as they are so busy working aside from the fact that thousands live and work far away from the nearest Philippine Consulate. Civic minded Filipinos, consulate officials and the Comelec itself – went to great efforts to enable them to register. Now, with a snap of their fingers, some Comelec officials remove 245,000 of them from the voters list. This does not make sense.

6. The inadequate method used by Comelec to warn OVs that they will be removed from the voters’ list if they don’t indicate that they will vote in the next elections does not effectively give notice. They had this announcement published in two Philippine newspapers. How probable is it that OVs working in faraway foreign lands or working as seamen in ships – will get this message? Hardly at all. As a result, only 29 OVs complied.

7. Philippine lawyers affirm to me that while Congress gave Comelec the power to remove voters from the voters list, it also has the power not to remove them. There are no legal impediments for the Comelec to not remove OVs from the voters list if the Commissioners choose that option.

Congress gave them this discretionary power to enable them to use their common sense to make intelligent decisions based on the given facts. Preserving the voting rights of OVs who contribute much to the country compels Comelec not to remove them from the voters’ list.

(Having acquired my law degree in the US and practicing American law, I need to rely on Philippine lawyers to give me the above information.)

8. The Comelec has repeatedly announced that it is aggressively pursuing more voter registration for overseas Filipinos. Why then go against this supposed goal by dropping thousands of already registered OVs? Why waste considerable amounts of money getting them to again register in the future?

9. Common sense, fairness, democratic principles, respect for citizens’ rights to vote, an understanding of the difficult physical locations and work situations of OVs, a recognition of the service and sacrifices of OVs to the country, the general interest of the citizenry and the Philippines – and for other unstated reasons – all these – compel the Comelec not to remove 245,000 OVs from the voters’ list.

I could think of additional reasons aside from these nine but they should be enough to show that Comelec’s inability of not being able to come up with one single intelligent reason why they should not remove thousands of OVs from its voters’ list – shows the quality or more accurately, the lack of it – in Comelec’s policy and decision making process. It shows terrible insensitivity and disregard for the voting rights and concerns of hundreds of thousands of overseas voters who contribute enormously to the country’s welfare.

Comelec’s announcement through its spokesperson that they could not find one single intelligent reason why they should not remove 245,000 OVs from its voters list is not so much an insult to the intelligence of Filipinos but may be an insult to the collective intelligence and decision making process of the Comelec itself.

Some Comelec Commissioners may have been in good faith in carrying out this decision with some mistakenly believing that the law absolutely compels them to remove voters who are not able to vote consecutively twice in a row, which is not the case. Their discretionary powers allow them wide latitude.

Comelec and other institutions or individuals should not be bound to carry out bad decisions when a mistake is made. We all make mistakes especially when we have wrong or incomplete facts. We should be humble enough to recognize our mistakes when we make them – and correct them.

Here, Comelec made a serious mistake when it summarily removed 245,000 OVs from its voters’ list. The commissioners should reverse themselves and restore the names that were removed, as it is the right thing to do for the good of all and the country.

03-06-2013, 08:39 AM
SC upholds with finality Migrant Workers Act

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 6, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed with finality questions on the legality of several provisions of Republic Act 8042, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

In a resolution released yesterday, the SC upheld its decision last Dec. 17 reversing a ruling of the Manila Regional Trial Court declaring sections 6, 7, 9 and the last sentence of the second paragraph of Section 10 of R.A. 8042 invalid.

The SC dismissed the partial motion for reconsideration of the government.

“The Court resolved to deny with finality the motion for partial reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General for the petitioners as the basic issues raised therein have been passed upon by this Court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” read the SC decision.

Section 6 of R.A. 8042 defines the crime of “illegal recruitment” and enumerates the acts constituting the same. Section 7 provides penalties for the prohibited acts.

Section 9 allowed the filing of criminal actions arising from illegal recruitment before the RTC of the province or city where the offense was committed, or where the offended party actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense.

Finally, the last sentence of the second paragraph of Section 10 holds the corporate directors, officers, and partners of recruitment and placement agencies jointly and solidarily liable for money claims and damages that may be adjudged against the agencies.

The SC stood by its earlier finding that “illegal recruitment” as defined in Section 6 of RA 8042 is clear and unambiguous.

The SC saw nothing unconstitutional with Section 9 of RA 8042, allowing offended parties to file the criminal case in their place of residence in addition to the place where the crime is committed.

It held that the fixing of an alternative venue for violations of Section 6 of RA 8042 different from the venues set in the Rules of Criminal Procedure is “consistent with the law’s declared policy of providing a criminal justice system to protect and serve the best interest of the victims of illegal recruitment.”

As to the last sentence of the second paragraph of Section 10, the SC said the “liability of corporate directors and officers is not automatic.

To make them jointly and solidarily liable with their company, there must be a finding that they were remiss in directing the affairs of that company.”

Sam Miguel
03-15-2013, 08:53 AM
Widespread Philippine indifference towards overseas Filipinos

By Rodel Rodis

6:47 pm | Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

MANILA – Delegates attending the 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora held in Makati on Feb. 25-27 expressed great alarm at the widespread indifference of many Filipinos in the Philippines towards overseas Filipinos and a general ignorance of their conditions. How is it possible that just when the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released figures showing record remittances by overseas Filipinos, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced the delisting of 238,455 overseas Filipino voters?

While the Comelec’s December 14, 2012 resolution disenfranchising more than a quarter of all eligible overseas Filipino voters drew howls of protest from overseas Filipinos, the issue barely registered a ripple in the Philippine press.

To be fair, not all local commentators exhibited this general indifference and ignorance. Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban was unabashed in his appreciation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

“Our OFWs toil diligently in foreign shores, braving loneliness, illness, family separation and extreme weather. In the process, they collectively remitted last year a total of $21.4 billion, up 6.3 percent from the $20.1 billion sent in 2011. They are the single biggest source of foreign currency for our country. Their relatives here used these remittances to buy homes, appliances, motor vehicles, food items, clothing and toys, thereby keeping our vibrant economy the envy of the world.”

But sadly, the Comelec commissioners proved to be the rule more than the exception in terms of its indifference to the aspirations of the estimated 12-15 million Filipinos who live and work outside the Philippines.

Presidential disappointment

Even Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III proved to be a disappointment when he declined to personally address the delegates at the Global Summit that was sponsored by his Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO). Greg Macabenta, former national chair of the National Federation of Filipino Associations in America (NaFFAA) lamented his absence in his column: “any indication of the importance of the conference, in the eyes of the President of the Philippines, may be gleaned from the fact that he has only sent a videotaped message to the delegates. One senses that this “Gathering of Heroes” is not important enough to merit his personal presence. Aquino also sent a recorded message for the first conference.”

Comelec en banc session

That was not the only disappointment. After the Philippine Congress finally approved the amended Overseas Voting Act (OVA) in the first week of February and sent the bill to Pres. Aquino for his signature, overseas Filipino convenors of the Summit requested Pres. Aquino to sign the OVA into law either at the Global Summit or during the week of the Summit to allow delegates to witness the signing of the bill that they had lobbied for since the greatly flawed Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) law was enacted in 2003.

The OVA law carried an odious provision requiring overseas Filipinos who register to vote to sign an affidavit of intent to return back to the Philippines within three years or face incarceration of up to a year in jail. This provision discouraged overseas Filipinos – most of whom planned to live and work abroad for more than three years – from registering to vote.

The resulting low registration turnout vindicated the self-fulfilling prophecy of the skeptics who predicted that overseas Filipinos were not interested in participating in Philippine politics. Despite this extreme disincentive, however, more than 350,000 overseas Filipinos registered to vote in the 2004 elections. But a lesser number registered for the 2007 and 2010 elections and only about 300,000 registered for the May 2013 elections bringing the total to less than 900,000 overseas vote

New overseas voting act

The approval of the new voting act with the removal of this voter-deterring provision was a source of great relief for advocates of suffrage for overseas Filipinos who wanted to be present when the president signs the new bill into law. But Malacańang Palace sent word that Pres. Aquino could not accommodate the request for them to attend the signing ceremony because he was too busy that week, perhaps campaigning for his Team PNoy senate slate. Did he not understand that a photo-op of him signing the OAV bill in front of overseas Pinoys would draw support for his slate from overseas Pinoys, like the 65% of them who voted for him in the May 2010 presidential elections?

Perhaps Pres. Aquino should talk to one of his own Team PNoy senate candidates, Sen. Koko Pimentel, who announced in a press conference last month that he expects six million overseas voters to cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election following enactment of the Overseas Voting Act, which he sponsored in the Senate.

Pimentel said that the Senate’s approval of the bill on February 5 “was a red-letter day for the over 13 million overseas Filipinos…Maybe not in this coming election in May, but once the OVA amendments take effect, overseas Filipinos may soon be able to register and vote using mail, whether postal or electronic, fax, and other secure online systems.”

Pimentel added: “In 2016, when Filipinos come together as one nation to decide on the next administration, one of our biggest legacies to voters around the world is an OVA law that offers flexibility in terms of new technologies,” Pimentel said. Under the amended Overseas Voting Act, “the participation of overseas Filipinos in the election of national officials would be as easy as their turning on their computers and connecting to the Internet to register or to vote.”

Former Filipinos?

Global Summit delegates trooped to the Philippine Senate building on Feb. 28 to personally thank Sen. Pimentel and Sen. Loren Legarda for their support of the OVA bill. During a roundtable discussion about issues of concern to overseas Filipinos, Sen. Legarda encouraged “former Filipinos” to invest in the Philippines. At that point, I said “Senator, there is no such thing as a “former Filipino”. You can be a former Philippine citizen but never a “former Filipino”. Once a Filipino, always a Filipino.” Sen. Legarda readily agreed.

While Sen. Legarda and Sen. Pimentel were meeting with the Summit delegates, another Team PNoy senate candidate, Cynthia Villar, was busy putting her foot in her mouth. When she was interviewed on TV by host Wennie Monsod, she was asked why she intervened in favor of nursing school diploma mills in 2005. Villar replied that she did so because she believes there is no need for Philippine nurses to graduate with Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees since they only want to become “room nurses” or caretakers anyway.

The social networks of global Filipinos exploded with fury. Here is one comment, among thousands that were posted: “Telling your precious Pinay nurses that they don’t even need to have a BSN because they only want to work abroad as a room nurse and that they don’t really need to be good because they are only there to be a caretaker for others is utterly degrading and demeaning. And by the way, there’s no such thing as a “room nurse”. Operating room nurse, yes. Emergency room nurse, yes. But a room nurse? Seriously?”

Villar should not underestimate the gravity of her gaffe and the influence of outraged Philippine nurses working abroad who remit billions of dollars of their salaries to their families in the Philippines. One word from them to their relatives and Villar’s hopes to succeed her husband in the Philippine senate will be dashed.

Sam Miguel
03-15-2013, 08:54 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Dismal alternatives

Unpalatable as some of Aquino’s Senate candidates may be, the alternatives offered by the opposition UNA slate are even more dismal. One UNA candidate, Nancy Binay, has only held one job in 39 years – being the personal assistant of her father, Vice-President Jojo Binay. Another UNA candidate, Jack Enrile, son of Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, was questioned by Karen Davila on TV about his involvement in killing three people (his bodyguards were “over eager” in the first two and the third, movie actor Alfie Anido, committed suicide, he claims). And another candidate, JV Ejercito, son of convicted plunderer, former Pres. Joseph Estrada, is running a very public feud with his half-brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. He said he is pro-RH but voted anti-RH to please his mother.

Despite the absence of inspiring candidates to vote for, representatives of the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC) still sought to get the Comelec to reconsider its decision to disenfranchise 238,455 overseas voters.

At a scheduled meeting at the Comelec headquarters in Manila on March 1, GFDC delegates from the United Kingdom (Gene Alcantara) and Norway (Nitnit Hogelshom) explained the difficulties that overseas Filipinos encounter in having to travel all the way to the nearest Philippine consular office just to register and then to vote. Another explained that 250,000 Filipinos serving in maritime vessels around the world find it next to impossible to vote in the consulates they originally registered in.

GFDC spokesman Ted Laguatan pointed out that the provision of the law Comelec relied on to delist the overseas voters was simply discretionary, not mandatory, as they may have believed. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. acknowledged that perhaps the Comelec may have been too hasty in its interpretation of the 2003 OAV law.

Overseas voters re-enfranchised

On March 5, the Comelec reconsidered its decision and voted unanimously to reinstate the 238,455 overseas Filipino voters it had ordered delisted in December.

It was a major victory for the GFDC which was formed only in September of 2011 and which last year organized a European Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora attended by over 250 delegates from 29 European counties. The GFDC plans to hold a Summit of Filipinos in the Middle East and Africa in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Oct. 15-18, 2014. Singapore is the projected site of the Diaspora Summit of Filipinos in Asia.set for 2016. Meanwhile, in February of 2015, the 3rd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora will return to Manila.

Greg Macabenta reported in his Business World column that “the new organization has lined up a set of goals and programs that should have considerable impact on the country down the road. When that happens, perhaps the President of the Philippines will consider it fit to honor Global Filipinos with his personal presence.”

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 09:16 AM
US Immigration reform needed but compromise bill a tough sell for all

By Emil Guillermo

11:59 am | Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

On my first visit to the Philippines, well after my father and uncle died, I met my aunt for the first time.

She had me over for a family meal in her middle class home in the Manila suburbs.

And because I was American, I was naturally served whisky.

That was her view of Americanos.

I looked at my aunt, and had a “there but for fortune” moment. When my father immigrated to the US, it was with a sense of youthful male bravado. He went with his brother, sister stayed home.

What if my father stayed home?

Then I would be a Filipino in the Philippines and have a totally different life.

My father never petitioned for my aunt. Never had the money. And she never felt compelled to leave her home and her family in the Philippines.

At least the option of family reunification was there.

Now as we look at the new Immigration reform bill introduced by the so-called “Gang of 8,” we’ve got a compromise that’s typical of a compromise. You love it as much as you hate it. Do you pass it?

The bill really changes the nature of how Filipinos have traditionally viewed immigration.

Like other Asian Americans, immigration generally has been about the one’s individual betterment, but only as a means to better the entire family. Family unification has always been key.

But that has resulted in long waits for visas, as long as two decades.

Brothers and sisters could be petitioned for. As well as children, all of them.

So in true compromise fashion, the new bill allows for an unlimited number of immediate family members to join an immigrant, eliminating backlogs.

But before rejoicing the new V family visa, here’s what the bill will change.

You won’t be able to petition brothers and sisters. Nor will you be able to petition for adult children over age 30. And if you are LGBT, forget it. There’s nothing in the provision for you.

The family portions are the biggest concerns among Asian Americans. But just those changes, changes the nature of immigration.

The goal used to be more humanistic. The Statue of Liberty’s inscription said it all:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless…”

Forget that. Lady Liberty’s not holding a torch shining a pathway to citizenship. She’s folding her arms and making you prove your worth. That’s modern immigration reform for you.

If the new bill passes, there’s even a merit visa. Citizenship is going to be like applying to college.

The real test of immigration shifts from the accommodation of one’s yearning to be free to your proving your value to America.

What do you bring as an H1B STEM worker, as a temporary or agriculture worker? You’re a good person? We’ve got plenty of those.

Remember the bill was primarily instigated to deal with illegal immigration, an estimated 11-12 million people. So the bill is tough. Ten year, 13, maybe 15 year waits will be normal if security triggers aren’t met. The triggers set the bar at a 90 percent apprehension rate at the border to allow for the provisions of the bill to kick in.

Why so tough? Because no one wants you to confuse any of this with amnesty.

You pay a fine (about $500), all back taxes, have no criminal record or of voting illegally, and then you start the path out of your TNT status and toward what will be known as the “Registered Provisional Immigrant.”

An RPI from the RP? If you pass all the background checks. (Odd that the Senate seems to be for background checks for those here illegally, but not for people who may use guns illegally).

There are some good parts of the bill.

You get a break if you’re a lowly ag worker who qualifies for a new “Blue” card. Or if you were young when you entered the US and qualify under the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act will finally pass and it will extend to older dreamers where previously it was cut off at 29.

Both Dreamers and blue card workers are eligible for green cards in five years.

But the big winners here are the growers who need workers, as many as 400,000 estimated in California alone, and the tech workers who come in with H1B visas. The caps have been lifted and can now be as high as 180,000.

The big losers may still be workers and small businesses who must submit to a faulty process known as E-Verify, a system prone to mistakes and could actually prevent people from working.

If the bill passes, immigration will definitely be different, and if laws were as strict as this proposal 20, 30, 50 years ago, many of us would still be in the Philippines.

There’s still a chance some of the bill could change for the better, especially on the family reunification issues.

But there’s also the sense that with the Boston story developing, those who want to ditch the bill will have more political cover than ever to do so. And so much needed reform in a system may not be achieved.

That’s how dysfunctional politics is in America, and I wonder if it has the effect of making people abroad all the more willing just to stay put.

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 09:19 AM
US Senate Bill allows thousands of Filipinos to immediately come to America

By Ted Laguatan

12:28 pm | Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

While so much attention has been given to the provision allowing for the legalization of an estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the newly introduced Senate Bill known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (Bseoima) – little notice has been given to its other provisions which allow for the immediate entry of family members of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who have been waiting for years for immigrant visas to be available to them. It also increases the quota for employment based petitions for professionals from the present level of 15% of the total of immigrants entering the US annually to 45%. The combined numbers of family member immigrants and more immigrant professionals from the Philippines will amount to a new wave of thousands of Filipinos coming to the US should this Bill become law which is likely – given the fact that there is now bi-partisan support for a comprehensive immigration reform law.

For sure, the legalization provision of Bseoima will benefit thousands of out of status Filipinos who either overstayed or worked illegally. They entered the US on tourist, business, student, working, investors, religious, entertainer, crewman, transit, trainee or some other visa. Some even entered the US without any visas but simply crossed the border from Mexico or Canada.

The Senate Bill is 844 pages long and in some parts are very difficult to understand for the layman and even for lawyers who do not understand immigration law. But let me simplify some of the most important provisions that are most relevant to Filipinos (in question and answer format). But a little Caveat is in order: Bseoma is not yet law. The House of Representatives will have their own version. Discussions will be ongoing within the Senate and within the House. The two bodies will then have their final versions out of which a final joint agreed upon Bill hopefully will result which President Obama can sign into law (if acceptable to him).

Q. Who are qualified to file for legalization?

A. Generally: Those who were present in the US as of December 30, 2011 and physically present at the time of filing. He (or she) must be a person of good moral character and not have committed serious crimes and not be a public charge (on welfare). His spouse and minor children will also qualify as dependents even if they do not meet these conditions.

Q. What status will a qualified applicant have?

A. He will have a status referred to as “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI). With this status, he can stay, work and travel in and out of the US. After ten years, the RPI may apply for Lawful Permanent Resident Status and after three years as an LPR be able to file for US citizenship. For those who entered the US before the age of 16 and graduated from High School and are persons of good moral character and not on welfare - they can immediately apply for naturalization after only 5 years of being RPIs. For those who worked as agricultural workers, special provisions also allow them to file for LPR status in less time than a regular RPI.

Q. Will the immigrant visa petitions of LPRs for their spouses and minor children be speeded up?

A. Yes, because these petitions will be treated as Immediate Relative Petitions of US citizens for which visas will be immediately and always available.

Q. How about the petitions of LPRs and US citizens for their adult single children?

A. They will be given “V Visas” which will enable them to immediately come to the US, be given work permits and wait for their immigrant visas here. The same thing is true with married adult children of US citizens who are below 31 years old be eliminated.

Q. How about the siblings of US citizens and married children who are over 31 - who already have pending immigrant visa petitions.?

A. They will be given visas allowing them to visit for 60 days but without work permits. Also, when this law is enacted, new petitions by US citizens for siblings or married children over 21 will no longer be allowed.

The Senate Bill also imposes penalties on non-lawyers who provides immigration legal services in order to protect immigrants from exploitation, fraud and incompetence. Some of these individuals operate both in the US and also in the Philippines.

There are other important provisions which I will address in the future.

Sam Miguel
05-06-2013, 09:11 AM
Aquino must sign the Amended Overseas Voting Act ASAP

By Rodel Rodis

9:07 pm | Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

After the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) law was finally passed in 2003, its most enthusiastic supporters vowed to get it immediately amended as soon as possible. It would take almost a decade of patient lobbying but, finally, the global lobbying effort paid off with the passage by Congress of the Amended Overseas Voting Act (OVA) on February 7, 2013.

The OVA bill had the backing of President Benigno S. Aquino III, who received more than 65% of the overseas Filipino vote in the 2010 presidential elections and whose mother championed overseas Filipino suffrage. But, almost three months after the OVA was approved by Congress, the bill has not yet been signed into law and there are less than 13 days left before the May 13 national elections.

Just three months ago, Manila’s dailies announced that “before it adjourned for the campaign period for the midterm polls, Congress approved amendments to the law on overseas voting, which proponents hope could result in increased number of registrants for the2016 polls.” (“Congress OKs amended overseas voting law”, Feb. 8, 2013, Sun Star).

“The House of Representatives earlier this week ratified the bicameral conference committee report on House Bill 6542 and Senate Bill 3312. The Senate has also ratified the bicam report,” the Sun Star news report added.

Request to witness historic signing

Delegates attending the 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora, held in Makati on Feb.25-27, requested that they be invited to Malacańang to witness Aquino’s signing of the OVA bill into law. These delegates included members of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

Mr. Paolo Domingo of the Appointments Office of Malacańang responded to the request on Feb. 26, 2013: “The President is sending his apologies as he will not be able to accommodate the request of USP4GG/NaFFAA officials to witness the signing of the OVA bill due to his full schedule.” Does this mean that the OVA was received by Malacańang?

Suffrage for overseas Filipinos

In January of 2003, I joined more than two dozen Filipino Americans who traveled to Manila to lobby the Philippine Congress to pass the Overseas Absentee Voting bill (Republic Act No. 9189). We had been working on suffrage for overseas Filipinos since we met with President Corazon “Cory” Aquino in Malacańang in April of 1986. Cory Aquino promised support for this right and included it in her 1987 amendment of the Philippine Constitution in 1987.Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states: “The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.”

From 1987 on, various bills were introduced in the Philippine Congress to implement this constitutional provision but they all failed. It was not until January of 2003 when an overseas suffrage bill faced its best chance of passage.

Abandoned the Philippines?

Unfortunately, Makati Rep. Teddy Locsin, who was President Cory Aquino’s press secretary in 1986 when she announced her support for overseas Filipino suffrage, was by 2003 its major opponent. When I spoke with him about the bill in January of 2003, Locsin explained that he was opposed to it because, he said, Filipinos who “abandoned” the Philippines have no right to participate in its governance. I replied that Filipinos in the Middle East, in Hong Kong and Singapore and in other places around the world – who work in slave-like conditions as overseas contract workers to support their families in the Philippines – never “abandoned” the Philippines. The Philippines abandoned them!

Locsin should know that many Filipinos in the US left the Philippines because of their opposition to martial law, as some like Ninoy Aquino and his family were direct victims of martial law.

Poison pill amendment

By the first week of February of 2003, we were informed by the bill’s supporters that Rep. Locsin had offered to drop his opposition to the bill if the sponsors would accept a”friendly amendment”. When we heard what he wanted to include, we were outraged and said “no way!” But we were told that “half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.” If we didn’t accept Locsin’s amendment, we were told, the bill was doomed. The bill’s sponsors assured us: “let’s accept the bill with his amendment and then we will work to amend it after it passes.” We agreed, reluctantly, and the amended bill passed Congress and was quickly signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Feb. 23, 2003.

Imprisonment for ‘not less than a year’

Locsin’s amendment required overseas voters to sign an affidavit that they intend to return back to the Philippines within three years of registering to vote abroad. Section 24.9 then states: “Immigrants and permanent residents who do not resume residence in the Philippines as stipulated in their affidavit under Section 5(d) within three (3) years after approval of his/her registration under this Act and yet vote in the next elections contrary to the said section, shall be penalized by imprisonment of not less than one (1) year, and shall be deemed disqualified as provided in Section 5(c) of this Act. His/her passport shall be stamped “Not allowed to vote.” Not less than one year???

Though we feared that this draconian penalty would discourage any sane person from registering to vote, more than 350,000 actually did, many believing that the affidavit requirement would be removed sometime soon so they need not fear incarceration.

Dual citizenship

In that same year, Congress also passed the Dual Citizenship law otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 where a natural-born Philippine citizen who automatically lost his/her native citizenship due to naturalization as a citizen of a foreign country, would now be eligible to apply for Dual Citizenship, a right enjoyed by citizens in more than 99 countries around the world.

But when duly sworn dual citizens registered to vote for the 2004 Philippine presidential elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rule that they were not eligible to vote in Philippine elections because they had not established a one-year residency in the Philippines, a “defect” that was remedied in the case of immigrants and OFWs by their executing the affidavit of intent to return within 3years.

Nicolas-Lewis vs. Comelec

Confronted with the Comelec’s refusal to allow them to register and vote in Philippine elections despite their reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, Loida Nicolas-Lewis and nine other Filipino-Americans filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Philippine Supreme Court on April 1, 2004 to order the Comelec to allow them to register and vote in time for the May 10, 2004 presidential elections.

But by the time the Supreme Court ruled on the petition of Loida Nicolas-Lewis, on June 10, 2006, the issue of the petitioners’ right to register and vote in the May 2004 elections had been rendered moot and academic. But, writing on behalf of a unanimous Court, Justice Cancio Garcia noted that “the broader and transcendental issue tendered or subsumed in the petition, i.e., the propriety of allowing “duals” to participate and vote as absentee voters in future elections, however, remains unresolved.”

Sam Miguel
05-06-2013, 09:12 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Duals’ right to vote

The Supreme Court then ruled that “there is no provision in the dual citizenship law – R.A. 9225 – requiring “duals” to actually establish residence and physically stay in the Philippines first before they can exercise their right to vote. On the contrary, R.A. 9225, in implicit acknowledgment that “duals” are most likely non-residents, grants under its Section 5(1) the same right of suffrage as that granted an absentee voter under R.A. 9189.” In other words,” duals could register to vote without having established residence in the Philippines.


In fact, the Supreme Court noted, “it is very likely that a considerable number of those unmarried children below eighteen (18 ) years of age had never set foot in the Philippines. Now then, if the next generation of “duals” may nonetheless avail themselves the right to enjoy full civil and political rights under Section 5 of the Act, then there is neither no rhyme nor reason why the petitioners and other present day “duals”… be denied the right of suffrage as an overseas absentee voter.”


The Nicolas-Lewis v. Comelec Supreme Court ruling opened the door for dual citizens to register and vote in the 2007and 2010 Philippine elections. In fact, there is some evidence that at least in the US, most of those who registered to vote for the 2007 and 2010 elections were dual citizens. “Duals” do not face the risk of going to jail for “not less than one year” as single citizens do.

Reason for low registration

When Rep. Locsin visited the San Francisco Philippine Consulate on November 8, 2008, he asked why so few overseas Filipinos registered to vote in Philippine elections. I told him it was his fault, it was because of the affidavit of intent to return provision he inserted in the 2003 OVA law. Rep. Locsin agreed that in light of the unanimous Supreme Court decision in the Nicolas-Lewis case, there was no longer any justification for the affidavit of intent to return. He promised that if he were reelected to the Batasan, he would sponsor a bill to remove it from the OAV law. But he was termed out of office.

Out of the 350,000 “single citizen” overseas Filipinos who registered to vote in 2004, more than 248,000 of them failed to vote in the 2007 and 2010 elections. At the OAV Summit held at the Comelec headquarters in Manila on September 28, 2011, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes declared that under Philippine election law, Comelec was required to remove these voters from the list of qualified voters for the May 2013 elections for their failure to vote in two consecutive elections.

I explained to Chairman Brillantes that because the affidavit of intent to return had not yet been removed from the law, many overseas voters reasonably feared that voting in the 2007 and 2010 elections would be evidence that they did not return back to the Philippines within three years as they promised in their affidavits. The possibility of incarceration for “not less than one year” discouraged them from exercising their right to vote.

No delisting of overseas voters?

Chairman Brillantes assured the OAV Summit attendees that those who registered to vote in 2004 elections and did not vote in the 2007 and 2010 elections would be allowed to vote in the 2013 elections.

However, on December 14, 2012, the Comelec reversed itself and voted to remove the 248,000 voters from the Comelec’s voter rolls.

This reversal drew the outrage of delegates attending the 2nd Global Summit who formed a delegation to meet with Comelec Chair Brillantes on March 1, 2013 to discuss the removal of the 248,000 overseas Filipino voters. As a result of the meeting, the Comelec reversed itself again and voted on March 5, 2013 to re-enfranchise all the delisted overseas voters if they show up at the Philippine Consulates where they originally registered in 2004 and fill out a manifestation of intent to vote.

With less than two weeks to go before the May 13, 2013 Philippine elections, the number of previously delisted voters who have shown up at the consulates to reclaim their right to vote has been pitifully low. One reason is that these overseas Filipino voters are still fearful of incarceration if they vote.

To disabuse them of this fear, whether real or grossly exaggerated, all that would be necessary is for Aquino to sign the Amended Overseas Voting Act into law as it includes a provision nullifying the affidavit of intent to return.

When OVA arrived in Malacańang

According to sources within the Commission on Overseas Filipinos (CFO), the OVA bill that was approved by Congress on February 7, 2013 has only been received in Malacańang this week, a snail pace that was the result of a byzantine congressional bureaucracy.

Although the Bicameral Conference Committee Report was approved by the Senate on February 5 and then approved by the House on February 6, the “consolidated bill” was not formally transmitted by the Senate Legislative Bills and Index Services to Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile for his formal signature until March 18, 2013 and Enrile did not actually sign it until April 1, 2013. It was then transmitted to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on April 5, 2013 for his formal signature. Speaker Belmonte signed it only on April 29, 2013 and it was then when the OVA bill was formally transmitted to Malacańang for the signature of Aquino.

Aquino’s advisers may be informing him that there is no immediate need to sign the OVA into law now because the registration of overseas voters for the 2016 Philippine national elections will not begin until October 31, 2014. What Aquino should know is that perhaps as many as 248,000 single citizen Filipino voters abroad are waiting for him to sign a law that will remove for them the threat of a criminal penalty for failing to return back to the Philippines within three years of registering to vote in 2004.

President Aquino, please sign the Overseas Voting Act into law now. ASAP. There is so little time left.

Sam Miguel
05-07-2013, 09:15 AM
Heritage report distorts the immigration debate

By Editorial Board, May 07, 2013 12:48 AM EDT

The Washington Post Tuesday, May 7, 8:48 AM

FORMER SENATOR Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), now leader of the Heritage Foundation, knows that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is likely to judge that immigration reform — including eventual citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants — will be a shot in the arm for the U.S. economy. After all, the CBO has done so with previous such legislation. That explains why Mr. DeMint, a bitter opponent of legalization, has launched a preemptive attack on the CBO — “puppets of the Congress,” he called the office the other day — and why Heritage has issued a study slamming amnesty for unauthorized immigrants as a drain on taxpayers.

The Heritage paper, chock-full of assumptions that most economists dispute, is a blatant attempt to twist the immigration debate. It concludes that newly legalized immigrants would cost $6.3 trillion more in benefits over their lifetime than they would pay in taxes. (That’s $5.3 trillion more than they would cost without legalization, the think tank said.) The study updates a similar one by Heritage in 2007, which pegged the fiscal cost of amnesty at that time at a mere $2.6 trillion.

There’s no question that granting the full range of government benefits to illegal immigrants — even if they become eligible for citizenship 13 or 15 years from now — will impose long-range fiscal costs. However, most economists say the costs of illegal immigration would be far outweighed by the benefits of legalization for overall economic activity,growth,business start-ups and labor market efficiency.

That’s not news for the construction industry in Arizona, where hostile state laws have driven away thousands of illegal immigrants and builders have scrambled to find scarce workers. It’s not news on farms from coast to coast, where more than half the labor force lacks documents and growers worry that their crops will go unpicked without a system to legalize unauthorized migrant workers.

Moreover, by ignoring the effects of legalization on the overall economy, Heritage failed to take into account the effects on federal revenue as workers emerge from the shadows to start businesses, travel without fear of arrest and deportation, earn higher wages and contribute to job creation.

The authors of the Heritage study acknowledge that the population of illegal immigrants, most of whom lack high school diplomas, would impose no greater burden on the budget than native-born Americans and legal immigrants with similar educational levels would. What Heritage really objects to is redistributive government programs, which one of the study’s authors termed America’s “cradle-to-grave welfare state.”

Influential Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, rolled their eyes at the Heritage report with varying degrees of politeness. In a letter last month to Heritage, Mr. Rubio, who has risked his political future and putative presidential aspirations to champion immigration reform, noted that the real impact of legalization and citizenship must take into account “both its baseline costs and its impact on growth.” Mr. Barbour, who doesn’t appear to be running for anything, could afford to be more blunt. “It’s a political document,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s not a serious analysis.”

That’s true, as the CBO is likely to make clear when it publishes what is certain to be its more dispassionate, and less political, assessment of the proposed legislation. In the meantime, lawmakers should bear in mind that waves of previous immigrants — Irish, Italians, Jews, Germans and others — have been greeted by prophesies of doom. Still, the United States thrived — with the help of those same poorly paid, roughly educated newcomers whose integration triggered such derision.

Sam Miguel
05-08-2013, 08:50 AM
Anti-Filipino graffiti slams Fil-Ams; police probing it as hate crime

INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau

4:19 am | Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

UNION CITY, California–A vandal or vandals defaced Filipino-American establishments over the weekend by spraying graffiti anti-Filipino messages, and police are investigating the case as a hate crime.

UnionCityPatch.com http://unioncity.patch.com/, a hyperlocal news site reported that those targeted were the Toppings Too restaurant, the Filipino Advocates for Justice office and the Filipino Community of Alvarado and Vicinity building, which houses various offices including the Union City Chamber of Commerce.

The pieces of graffiti appear to be written in the same handwriting. Though the identity of the perpetrator is unknown, the graffiti appears to name two ethnic groups.

On the Filipino Community building, located at 3939 Smith St., the vandal crossed out “Filipino” and wrote “Mex” above the word “community,” with “f— Filipinos” underneath.

Similarly, the graffiti scrawled on Toppings read “Mex” and “f—- Filipinos” on one side of the restaurant’s entrance door with “AMS” on the other, suggesting possible tensions after the renaming of Alvarado Middle School after Filipino-American labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Veracruz.

Members of the Filipino-American community were saddened to see such divisive messages in the community.

Tracie Noriega, a member of the New Haven Pilipino American Society for Education, said in a statement that the acts of vandalism are “extremely disheartening.”

“It is also disheartening that the vandalism is claimed by and against two ethnic groups that have roots in very similar experiences,” Noriega added.

“The formation of the United Farm Workers Union was grounded in inter-ethnic solidarity to fight oppression. It was in the spirit of unification that the Mexican and Filipino Farm Workers struck together for better working conditions. As a Filipino-American community, we continue to stand with all of our neighbors in peace and unity.”

Christopher Cara of the Filipino Advocates for Justice echoed similar sentiments.

“The best thing we can do is move forward in the spirit of building,” he said.

“Graffiti that incenses any group by race constitutes a hate crime,” said Cmdr. Ben Horner of the UCPD.

According to Horner, a hate crime is a felony and could be punished with civil fines and prison terms, depending on how much vandalism occurs.

Meanwhile, the Union City Police Department is urging anyone with information to come forward.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact Union City police at 510-471-1365. Anonymous tips can be left at 510-675-5207 or by e-mailing tips@unioncity.org.

Sam Miguel
05-10-2013, 10:04 AM
Influential overseas Filipino groups endorse candidates on basis of competence, integrity

By Ted Laguatan

12:11 pm | Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Overseas Filipino voters can positively change the quality of Filipino leaders and the quality of Philippine government. In general, overseas voters cannot be bought or coerced. They earn money through honest hard work and hired gun toting goons are not around to intimidate them to vote for certain candidates. As such, given the proper objective information about candidates, they will vote for the best candidates. They are in fact the best voters that money cannot buy.

The US based US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) chaired by philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis and the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC), a global organization of community leaders from several countries – are two of the most influential organizations among Filipinos overseas. USP4GG has effectively lobbied with both the Philippine and US governments for policies, decisions and legislation that have benefited Filipinos everywhere. GFDC is recognized by the Philippine Commission on Filipinos Overseas as a global organization of Filipino community leaders from different countries whose goal is the betterment of life for Filipinos overseas and those in the Philippines.

The lawyers for both groups, Atty. Rodel Rodis and myself, appeared last March before the Comelec and successfully persuaded the Chairman and other Commissioners to reinstate some 239,000 overseas Filipino voters who were disenfranchised for failing to vote twice. Rodis argued that the failure was not out of apathy but because of circumstances beyond their control. I argued that while Congress gave the power to Comelec to remove voters who failed to consecutively vote twice, it also gave Comelec the power not to remove them. In other words, I pointed out that Comelec is not absolutely mandated to remove voters who failed to vote twice – but in fact is given the discretion to remove or not to remove – and suggested that common sense and wisdom factors compel the Comelec to exercise their discretion to reinstate the disenfranchised voters.

To their credit, Chairman Brilliantes and Commissioner Grace Padaca listened to our reasoning and in a subsequent Commissioners’ en banc meeting, reinstated 239,000 disenfranchised overseas voters. I respectfully urge Comelec to continue exercising its good discretion not to disenfranchise in the future overseas voters who fail to consecutively vote twice. They usually fail to vote not out of apathy but because the ballots did not reach them for some reason or another which is not their fault.

USP4GG and GFDC have drawn up a list of Senatorial candidates whom they have endorsed. The list serves as a voting guide for overseas Filipinos as well as for those in the Philippines. Using the same objective criteria, it’s probably not surprising that the candidates endorsed by both groups are a mirror image of the other except for the addition of Teddy Casino in the GFDC list. Both organizations are non-partisan and selections of the endorsed candidates were based on: competence, integrity and a track record of accomplishing observable good results that benefit people.

The Senatorial candidates endorsed by USP4GG and GFDC are listed below. (Not listed according to priority preference):

1. Loren Legarda 2. Alan Cayetano 3. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. 4. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara 5. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 6. Risa Hontiveros 7. Bam Aquino 8. Grace Poe 9. Edward Hagedorn 10. Eddie Villanueva 11. Teddy Casińo (endorsed by GFDC only)

The Partylist endorsed by both USP4GG and GFDC is Akbayan Citizens Action Party.

According to the Philippine Commission on Filipinos overseas, about 11 million Filipinos live and work abroad in 217 countries. Of these, only about 915,000 Filipinos overseas are registered to vote. Many more would have registered if there had been no condition in the Overseas Absentee Voting Act (OAVA) which required them to sign an affidavit promising to return to the Philippines. If they do not sign the affidavit, they cannot register to vote. On the other hand, if they sign the affidavit, they are compelled to return to the Philippines within three years or face imprisonment.

As such, thousands have refused to register because of this oppressive condition. A typical comment among OFWs: “Sure, it’s important to vote, but would I give up my right to stay and work abroad to support my family in just to vote. That would be stupid.”

How did such an onerous provision which clearly infringes on a citizen’s right to vote get included in the OAVA? A certain Congressman named Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin insisted for it to be included. My understanding from those who followed the hearings on this legislation is that Locsin repeatedly questioned the patriotism and loyalty of overseas Filipinos for the simple reason that they left the Philippines to live and work abroad. He insisted that this anomalous condition be embedded in the OAVA.

Knowing the chilling effect of this required “promise to return” condition on potential overseas voters, the US based US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) – embarked on two courses of action: File a petition to nullify this condition in the Philippine Supreme Court – and also get the Philippine legislature to amend the OAVA to get rid of the offensive “promise to return” condition. In both actions, the USP4GG prevailed. The Supreme Court decided in the case of “Nicolas et al v Comelec” that the condition does not apply to Filipinos who have dual citizenships. And just a few months ago, the Congress of the Philippines amended the OAVA where the draconian condition was removed and the word “absentee” was also removed from the title of the law: “We are not absent when it comes to helping the Philippines.” OAVA has now become Overseas Voting Act. (OVA).

President Aquino should sign this into law anytime now. While it’s too late for this new law to have any effects on the elections next week, it certainly will have an impact on the 2016 elections. With the removal of the offensive Locsin condition, more overseas Filipinos will register to vote.

Another reason why many overseas Filipinos are not able to register is because registrations have to be done at Philippine Consulates or Embassies. So many live and work in far flung areas such as in the Alaskan fisheries processing plants, distant oil fields in the Middle East, isolated towns in the US or else work in ships that are constantly at sea.

Even for many of those who have registered, some still cannot vote sometimes as the ballots for voting have not reached them because they have either changed addresses or else work as crewmen.

In order to maximize the number of overseas Filipinos registering and voting, there is little disagreement as to the need to make online registration and voting online. Hopefully, by next year, online registration and voting will already be installed.

While the present number of registered overseas Filipino voters is not yet overwhelming, their numbers will eventually increase due to the changed legislation removing the “promise to return” condition and online registration. Moreover, in a very real sense, their ability to generate more votes eventually will be more obvious when they become more aware that they can influence their Philippine relatives to whom they send financial aid – to vote for certain candidates. As such, aside from the billions of dollars and other currencies overseas Filipinos send to the Philippines – which has improved and sustained the economic life of the country – they will also eventually positively change the quality of government leaders and government in the Philippines – for the good of all.

For OFWs like myself, to see a better Philippines where thousands of talented bright Filipino children can develop to their full potentials as human beings instead of digging through dirty smelly garbage cans for scraps of food just to survive – is a dream that I hope will someday come true.

05-13-2013, 10:11 AM
Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the US?

By Rodel Rodis

2:30 pm | Sunday, May 12th, 2013

This was the question posed to me by a curious TV reporter on May 7, just three days after a stretch limousine traveling across the San Mateo Bridge carrying nine Filipino nurses to a bridal party suddenly burst into flames killing five of the occupants, including the bride.

When she interviewed me in my law office in San Francisco, Ann Notarangelo, the reporter who is the weekend anchor of CBS 5′s Eyewitness News, explained that she was only asking the question because it was on the minds of her viewers. She thought I might know the answer as I taught Filipino American History at San Francisco State University and I am the legal counsel of the Philippine Nurses Association of Northern California. Plus, I added, I am also married to a Filipino nurse.

Ann said that she was frankly surprised to learn that 20% of all the registered nurses in California are Filipinos, a considerably large percentage since Filipinos number only 2.3 million (officially 1.2 million) out of a state population of 38 million.

“I never noticed it before,” Ann told me, “because I generally don’t see people in racial terms.” But, she said, in reflecting back on all the times she visited friends and relatives in hospitals all over California, she now recalls seeing Filipino nurses everywhere. Not just in California, I said.

There but not quite there

The seeming anonymity of Filipino nurses in the US – of being there but not being quite there – is likely no more. The video clip of the fire-engulfed limousine was the top story in the US over the weekend. The media reported that the fatalities included Neriza Fojas, 31, a newlywed bride who was planning to get married again in the Philippines in June; Michelle Estrera, 35, the bride’s Maid of Honor who worked with her at a Fresno medical facility; Jennifer Balon, 39, and Anna Alcantara, 46, of San Lorenzo, who both worked at the Fruitvale Healthcare Center; and Felomina Geronga, 43, who worked at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland.

Americans also learned about the nurses who escaped the fire and were treated for burns and smoke inhalation: Mary G. Guardiano, 42; Jasmine Desguia, 34; Nelia Arrellano, 36; and Amalia Loyola, 48. In a TV interview shown all over the US, an anguished Nelia Arellano blamed the limo driver for failing to stop immediately and for selfishly refusing to help them get out of the burning limo.

As the TV camera started rolling, Ann posed the question to me: “Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the US?”

There are push and pull factors that are at play, I explained. The main push factor is the poor Philippine economy where an average RN earns only about 5% of what an RN is paid in the US. The main pull factor is the nursing shortage in the US.

Americans should not to be too surprised at the large number of Filipinos in the US. After all, the Philippines was a US colony from 1899 until the Japanese occupation in 1942 and, some would argue, a “neo-colony” for many decades after the Philippines was granted independence by the US in 1946.

It does not surprise the British to see many Indians and Pakistanis in England, nor does it surprise the French that there are many Algerians in France. They understand that people from the colonized countries generally tend to gravitate and immigrate to their “mother” countries, even after their native countries were granted independence.

Four waves of immigration

There are four waves of Filipino nurse immigration to the US.

The first wave came after the US began its colonization of the Philippines and needed local health care professionals to meet the health needs of the subject population which is why the US Army recruited Filipinos to work as Volunteer Auxiliary and Contract Nurses.

Under the Pensionado Act of 1903, Filipinos were sent to the US as government-funded scholars (pensionados) including those pursuing a nurse education. Some of those who stayed for employment as nurses in the US went on to form the Philippine Nurses Association of New York in 1928. The association’s first president was Marta Ubana, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Many other pensionado nurses returned back to the Philippines to help set up and manage the 17nursing schools that were established in the Philippines from 1903 until 1940.Large numbers of the graduates from these nursing schools thereafter immigrated to the US as, unlike with the Chinese and Japanese, there were no immigration restrictions against them since Filipinos were considered “US nationals” and even traveled with US passports.

One of the pioneer Filipino RNs was Isabel L. Mina who graduated with a nursing degree from the University of the Philippines in 1919 before working at the Mary Chiles Hospital in Manila. Together with two other Filipino nurses, Josefa Cariaga and Petra Aguinaldo, Isabel boarded a ship in 1921 to go to Hawaii where they worked in a hospital before moving to California. The three close friends then boarded a train and traveled to New York where they worked in a local hospital for several years before deciding to return back to Manila.

Information about Isabel Mina was obtained by her San Francisco-based granddaughter, Lissa Sobrepena, who found out about her grandmother’s exploits when she logged on to Ancestry.com. For a fee, the website showed her photos and documents of her grandmother including copies of the two passport applications Isabel Mina filled out when she lost her US passport while traveling in the US.

What stunned Lissa was learning that her grandmother’s best friend was Petra Aguinaldo, who quite coincidentally, just happened to be the grandmother of her husband, Robert Sobrepena. Neither Lissa nor Robert knew that their grandmothers – who died before they were born – were close friends and that they had traveled together across the US as RNs.

Second wave

The next big wave of nurses from the Philippines began in1948 when the US State Department set up an Exchange Visitor Program to “combat Soviet propaganda”. According to Catherine Ceniza Choy, associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (Duke University Press, 2003), owing to the “special relationship” between the mother country and its former colony, a large percentage of the exchange visitors came from the Philippines, and many of them were nurses or nursing students.

Among these nurses was Maria Guerrero Llapitan who came to the US in 1948 to take post-graduate nursing courses at Baylor University in Texas. Maria had served as the supervisor of the operating room of a hospital in Bataan before it fell to the Japanese invaders in 1942. After completing her postgraduate studies at Baylor, Maria moved to Chicago to work at the Cook County General Hospital where she met her fiance. She then went to Hunter College for Women in New York to get her nursing degree while working at Sloane-Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York.

Maria married her fiancé in San Francisco where they set up a family in 1951. She later was among the Filipino nurses who formed the Philippine Nurses Association of Northern California in 1961.

Third wave

The third wave of Filipino nurse immigration to the US came after 1965 when US Immigration laws were liberalized to allow Filipino nurses and other professionals to immigrate to the US. It also allowed Filipino nurses to come to the US on tourist visas without prearranged employment and to then adjust their status in the US.

During this period, the number of nursing schools in the Philippines soared from 17 in 1940 to 170 in 1990 to more than 429 at the present time. Many of these nursing schools were diploma mills exploiting the desire of many Filipinos to enter the nursing profession.

Unfortunately, as a result of the only 15-20% of the Filipino nurses who immigrated to the US after 1965could pass the state nursing board exams. This led to the establishment in 1977 of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) to help prevent the exploitation of graduates of foreign nursing schools who come to the United States to work as nurses but who can’t pass the nursing board exams here.

The CGFNS developed a pre-immigration certification program that consisted of: a credentials review; a test of nursing knowledge (CGFNS qualifying examination), and an English-language proficiency examination (TOEFL).

Since 1977, CGFNS has administered more than 350,000 tests to approximately 185,000 applicants in 43test sites worldwide. From 1978 to 2000, the data showed that 73% of CGFNS test takers came from the Philippines, followed by the United Kingdom (4%), India(3%), Nigeria (3%), and Ireland (3%).

05-13-2013, 10:11 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Role model

Menchu Sanchez immigrated to the US in 1980s and has worked as an RN for more than 25 years, the last three years at the New York University Langone Medical Center. When Superstorm Sandy battered New York last October, Menchu was taking care of 20 at-risk infants in the Intensive Care Unit of her hospital.Sandy knocked out the electric power to the hospital causing Menchu to organize the nurses and doctors to carry the babies in warming pads down 8 flights of stairs to safety. Menchu was invited to sit beside First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Nation address of US President Barack Obama on February 12, 2013.

In his speech, Pres. Obama cited Menchu as a role model: “We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, she wasn’t thinking about how her own home was faring. Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.”

Many Filipino nurses who entered the US on H-1work visas after passing the CGFNS tests benefited from the passage of the Nursing Relief Act of 1989 which provided for their adjustment to permanent resident status if they had H-1 non-immigrant status as registered nurses and had been employed in that capacity for at least 3 years.

But the “sunsetting” of this law in 1995 effectively decreased Filipino nurse immigration to the United States.The passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1998 (IIRIIRA) further discouraged nurse immigration to the US.

Grow your own

The passage of restrictive legislation was fueled by nativist fears of foreign nurses taking American jobs as was expressed in July of 2009, when former Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry complained to the press: “In fact, it’s so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” Barry told the Examiner. “And no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses — and so that we don’t have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places — having to hire people from somewhere else.”

Grow your own nurses the US did. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, US nursing schools produced close to a million nurses from 2006 to 2011.

While the demand for Filipino nurses may have waned in the US, the demand for Filipino nurses in the rest of the world did not diminish. Filipino nurses working for the National Health System (NHS) in England drew international attention last February when Britain’s 91-year-old Prince Philip, while on a tour of a new cardiac centre in Bedfordshire, England, turned to a Filipino nurse and said: “The Philippines must be half-empty – you’re all here running the NHS.”

Not quite, not by a long shot, your majesty.

According to Reuben Seguritan, general counsel of the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA), the Philippines is the world’s largest supplier of foreign-trained nurses with 429 nursing schools and 80,000 nursing students. To place this number in perspective, City College of San Francisco, with 89,000 students, does not have the resources to accept more than 75 students into its nursing program. The nursing students are chosen by lottery from a list of about 500 students who otherwise qualify for acceptance, a selective system practiced by community colleges all over California.

Is there a fourth wave of Filipino nurse immigration to the US?

Yes, but it hasn’t arrived yet. According to recent CNN report, “Demand for health care services is expected to climb as more baby boomers retire and health care reform makes medical care accessible to more people. As older nurses start retiring, economists predict a massive nursing shortage will reemerge in the United States.”

The CNN report adds: “We’ve been really worried about the future workforce because we’ve got almost 900,000 nurses over the age of 50 who will probably retire this decade, and we’ll have to replace them,” [economist and nurse Peter] Buerhaus said.”

The fourth wave may come as early as 2014 when the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, comes into effect and about 30-40 million Americans without any health insurance will finally be covered by health care insurance

LPG Marketer’s Association party-list Rep. Arnel Ty believes that Obamacare will “stimulate” the US hiring of foreign nurses. “This will hopefully spur US demand for new foreign nurses and other health practitioners such as pharmacists, physical therapists, medical technologists, radiologists, and speech pathologists,” Ty said.

To another question posed by the TV reporter, I answered that do not know the exact number of Filipino nurses in the US. All I know is that number, whatever it is, was significantly reduced by 5 on the evening of May 4, 2013.

Sam Miguel
05-24-2013, 09:45 AM
Chances of immigrating to US improve for Pinoy vets’ children

By Jose Katigbak,

STAR Washington bureau

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 24, 2013 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Some 20,000 adult sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans moved closer to their goal of immigrating to the United States when a US Senate committee unanimously voted to fast-track their visa applications.

The Senate judiciary committee by voice vote agreed on Tuesday to include the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification amendment to a landmark Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIB) bill that will be considered by the full Senate next month.

The amendment introduced by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono aims to speed up the reunification of veterans who have become naturalized Americans and their adult children living in the Philippines.

Naturalized citizens who petition for their adult children or siblings generally have to wait for at least a decade in order to be reunited with them. For some countries such as the Philippines, the waiting period is as long as 23 years due to high demand by Filipinos for immigrant visas to the US, immigration lawyers said.

Eric Lachica, a spokesman for the Washington-based American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV), said about 20,000 adult children of living or deceased Filipino-American war veterans who have approved petitions to immigrate will have immediate priority in getting visas once the CIR bill is passed by the US Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

Ed Navarra, chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), thanked Hirono for pushing the amendment.

Other amendments submitted by Hirono failed, including one that would have provided limited relief for families due to prolonged separation from their siblings or children not in the US.

“This is extremely disappointing,” said Navarra. “We are nonetheless appreciative of the senator’s determined efforts to fight for families and speak for millions whose voices aren’t often heard.”

The comprehensive reform bill seeks to give some 11 million people living in the US illegally a chance at citizenship.

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:46 AM
Filipino WWII veterans used to cover up for senators’ inaction on family unification

By Emil Guillermo

INQUIRER.net US Bureau

1:35 am | Sunday, May 26th, 2013

It used to be the victims of the Japanese American internment camps.

Now it’s the Filipino veterans of WWII who provide the penance and cover for politicians and all their sinful ways.

Last week in Washington, D.C., Celestino Almeda, a frail 96, and the spokesperson for the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, gladly acknowledged and thanked the members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for passing an amendment by voice vote that would speed up the immigration process for their families.

Currently, the Filipino WWII veterans who were able to immigrate to the U.S. remain separated from their families. Many of the relatives who wait to be re-united have done so for more than a decade.

The amendment, introduced by Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, would allow adult children of living or deceased Filipino American WWII veterans to get immediate priority for visas if the bill is approved by the full Congress and signed by the President. The coalition estimates that 20,000 visas could be issued because of the amendment.

That’s great. But it was the lone family reunification amendment out of 11 submitted by Hirono that was voted in by her colleagues on the committee.

And that’s the tragedy of this new effort for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s not quite comprehensive enough. Family unification, the kind that Teddy Kennedy fought for, no longer is at the heart of the matter.

Now it’s all a about border security, making sure undocumented people don’t get in scott-free for breaking the law.

It’s also more about money ties rather than blood ties.

Your family here? So what? The visas for siblings and older married children have been eliminated. And Hirono’s amendments to restore them failed.

But industries that need workers get their visas. Facebook and friends, get their stem workers.

Manang Baby and Manong Boy, sorry na lang. We’ll send you a balikbayan box, but not a visa.

The exception? The veteranos, who have had to fight for the slow drip of benefits from Congress over the years.

Didn’t they win their fight for equity a few years back? Not entirely. There’s still the matter of proving service (not helped when records were lost), as well as a fight over pension benefits for those in the Philippines, and this matter of family re-unification.

Meanwhile, Congress has continued to use the veterans for political purposes. Every time legislators need a “feel good” moment, they slice off a bit of justice owed to the veterans, and then show off about what a good thing they’ve done for these aging warriors.

It was a ready-made ploy for the immigration bill.

In reality, it was all political show biz and a sop to Asian Americans, since both the House and the Senate have already approved similar measures to speed up the visa applications of veterans’ older children.

More than 200 Asian American groups signed an open letter to the committee backing the family unification efforts of Hirono, defining it as a major community issue.

But only the veterans and their families got some good news in time for Memorial Day in the U.S.

The politicians shouldn’t expect us to be happy as they greet us at their holiday events.

Groups will feel the sting of compromise and say they’re “disappointed.” But that’s not enough. The push should continue for an immigration reform policy that’s more humanistic than corporate.

That would be an immigration bill worthy of our community’s total support.

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:54 AM
Greener pastures abroad slowly drying up


By Tony Katigbak

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 29, 2013 - 12:00am

I came across an interesting but rather disturbing article in last week’s newspaper. It said that about 18 percent of our college graduates are unemployed, according to the National Statistics office. That was disturbing news. And then, in another article was the exact opposite information: that more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are returning home to work here because there are more opportunities in the Philippines than there are abroad. Would you believe that story about the ‘reverse migration’ quoting Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’s statement? She said that more of our OFWs are coming home because of better opportunities here. It’s obviously a PR job and I, for one, don’t bite. I’ll deal with that later.

As for the first part, I can believe the NSO statistics, because the bottom-line here is that our educational system may not be competitive with the standards of more developed countries and may not always provide what is immediately needed in the market. My own personal experience can attest to this. I found it harder to study more advanced subjects compared to students that studied in other countries, particularly those who studied in United Kingdom educational institutions. Sadly, the Philippines lags behind other countries in this aspect. With the government’s program of adding another two years to the education of our youth, we hope to better compete with the rest of the world and hopefully this will help our graduates get better jobs. This way we will be better equipped to entice more of our professionals to stay at home and contribute to the country’s progress.

The sad part is that the fact that the unemployed citizens are college graduates just goes to show that there is a slight mismatch between what is being offered in our school system and what is required in the job market. Having an education is no longer a guarantee for finding a good job. Some employers are looking for specific skills that may not be found in our current crop of graduates.

The article further mentioned that the problem of mismatched skills needs to be addressed and our students need to be more properly prepared to face situations in the real world and in the real employment arena. This is truly important and the government needs to coordinate closer with the academe and the private business community to find out what skills need to be included in the educational program to better equip Filipino graduates with what they need in the real world.

This will no doubt better help our students when it comes to finding work in the real world. But at the same time the government can’t be the only entity working to address the unemployment situation. Private higher education institutions should also reach out to the private business community to create tie-ups and opportunities as well.

This brings me to the second part of the information I saw in the news, which is intrinsically tied to the first item. I find Filipino migrants’ group Migrante, whose vice chairman, John Leonard Monterona, who said that 4,500 Filipinos are leaving our country to work abroad daily – an indication that the employment situation in the country has not improved. I actually believe this considering how many college graduates we have without work opportunities.

According to Baldoz, reverse migration is happening because there are opportunities here that are not available abroad. I don’t think this is exactly the case. Though it is true that a lot of OFWs are trying to make their way home, I don’t think it’s because there are better opportunities for them here but because they are suffering abuses and lessening of opportunities in their work abroad.

This is especially true for the workers in the Middle East who are longing to come home. I don’t think they are under the impression that they are coming home to better employment opportunities here. They just know that the job situations in different places abroad are slowly getting smaller. Labor laws in several OFW locations are now giving priority to local workers over migrant ones. This means opportunities abroad are shrinking leaving a lot of our OFWs with no other option but to return home for the moment until something comes up.

I know there is far more to the story than any one side has to say. Of couse they are all trying to put the positive side forward. I understand what Baldoz was saying about opportunities opening up with Entertainment City in the works but I think she and all of us as well, need to be more pragmatic when it comes to the progress. Definitely I see how opportunities would open up with the new establishments opening their doors in Entertainment City but this is going to be a slow growth and jobs will still be divided between local and foreign workers.

Hopefully, as Entertainment City progresses more better high paying opportunities open up for Filipinos and give them better reasons to stay here. After all, every time I travel abroad I see so many good Filipinos in good positions in Hotel and Restaurant Management positions in so many other countries. They are so hardworking, helpful, and good at what they do. It would be amazing if they could do the same jobs here for the same salaries closer to their families and closer to home. I have no doubt in my mind that Filipinos would rather work here in the Philippines and be near their families rather than leaving for 12 to 18 months minimum at a time. As we look forward to the future hopefully we can work on the things that can make this happen: bettering our education and increasing quality job opportunities in the country.

05-30-2013, 03:24 PM
Singapore’s Lessons for an Unequal America


Inequality has been rising in most countries around the world, but it has played out in different ways across countries and regions. The United States, it is increasingly recognized, has the sad distinction of being the most unequal advanced country, though the income gap has also widened to a lesser extent, in Britain, Japan, Canada and Germany. Of course, the situation is even worse in Russia, and some developing countries in Latin America and Africa. But this is a club of which we should not be proud to be a member.

Some big countries — Brazil, Indonesia and Argentina — have become more equal in recent years, and other countries, like Spain, were on that trajectory until the economic crisis of 2007-8.

Singapore has had the distinction of having prioritized social and economic equity while achieving very high rates of growth over the past 30 years — an example par excellence that inequality is not just a matter of social justice but of economic performance. Societies with fewer economic disparities perform better — not just for those at the bottom or the middle, but over all.

It’s hard to believe how far this city-state has come in the half-century since it attained independence from Britain, in 1963. (A short-lived merger with Malaysia ended in 1965.) Around the time of independence, a quarter of Singapore’s work force was unemployed or underemployed. Its per-capita income (adjusted for inflation) was less than a tenth of what it is today.

There were many things that Singapore did to become one of Asia’s economic “tigers,” and curbing inequalities was one of them. The government made sure that wages at the bottom were not beaten down to the exploitative levels they could have been.

The government mandated that individuals save into a “provident fund” — 36 percent of the wages of young workers — to be used to pay for adequate health care, housing and retirement benefits. It provided universal education, sent some of its best students abroad, and did what it could to make sure they returned. (Some of my brightest students came from Singapore.)

There are at least four distinctive aspects of the Singaporean model, and they are more applicable to the United States than a skeptical American observer might imagine.

First, individuals were compelled to take responsibility for their own needs. For example, through the savings in their provident fund, around 90 percent of Singaporeans became homeowners, compared to about 65 percent in the United States since the housing bubble burst in 2007.

Second, Singaporean leaders realized they had to break the pernicious, self-sustaining cycle of inequality that has characterized so much of the West. Government programs were universal but progressive: while everyone contributed, those who were well off contributed more to help those at the bottom, to make sure that everyone could live a decent life, as defined by what Singaporean society, at each stage of its development, could afford. Not only did those at the top pay their share of the public investments, they were asked to contribute even more to helping the neediest.

Third, the government intervened in the distribution of pretax income — to help those at the bottom, rather than, as in the United States, those at the top. It weighed in, gently, on the bargaining between workers and firms, tilting the balance toward the group with less economic power — in sharp contrast to the United States, where the rules of the game have shifted power away from labor and toward capital, especially during the past three decades.

Fourth, Singapore realized that the key to future success was heavy investment in education — and more recently, scientific research — and that national advancement would mean that all citizens — not just the children of the rich — would need access to the best education for which they were qualified.

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, who was in power for three decades, and his successors took a broader perspective on what makes for a successful economy than a single-minded focus on gross domestic product, though even by that imperfect measure of success, it did splendidly, growing 5.5 times faster than the United States has since 1980.

More recently, the government has focused intensively on the environment, making sure that this packed city of 5.3 million retains its green spaces, even if that means putting them on the tops of buildings.

In an era when urbanization and modernization have weakened family ties, Singapore has realized the importance of maintaining them, especially across generations, and has instituted housing programs to help its aging population.

Singapore realized that an economy could not succeed if most of its citizens were not participating in its growth or if large segments lacked adequate housing, access to health care and retirement security. By insisting that individuals contribute significantly toward their own social welfare accounts, it avoided charges of being a nanny state. But by recognizing the different capacities of individuals to meet these needs, it created a more cohesive society. By understanding that children cannot choose their parents — and that all children should have the right to develop their innate capacities — it created a more dynamic society.

Singapore’s success is reflected in other indicators, as well. Life expectancy is 82 years, compared with 78 in the United States. Student scores on math, science and reading tests are among the highest in the world — well above the average for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the world’s club of rich nations, and well ahead of the United States.

The situation is not perfect: In the last decade, growing income inequality has posed a challenge for Singapore, as it has for many countries in the world. But Singaporeans have acknowledged the problem, and there is a lively conversation about the best ways to mitigate adverse global trends.

Some argue that all of this was possible only because Mr. Lee, who left office in 1990, was not firmly committed to democratic processes. It’s true that Singapore, a highly centralized state, has been ruled for decades by Mr. Lee’s People’s Action Party. Critics say it has authoritarian aspects: limitations on civil liberties; harsh criminal penalties; insufficient multiparty competition; and a judiciary that is not fully independent. But it’s also true that Singapore is routinely rated one of the world’s least corrupt and most transparent governments, and that its leaders have taken steps toward expanding democratic participation.

Moreover, there are other countries, committed to open, democratic processes, that have been spectacularly successful in creating economics that are both dynamic and fair — with far less inequality and far greater equality of opportunity than in the United States.

Each of the Nordic countries has taken a slightly different path, but each has impressive achievements of growth with equity. A standard measure of performance is the United Nations Development Program’s inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, which is less a measure of economic output than it is of human well-being. For each country, it looks at citizens’ income, education and health, and makes an adjustment for how access to these are distributed among the population. The Northern European countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway) stand towards the top. In comparison — and especially considering its No. 3 ranking in the non-inequality-adjusted index — the United States is further down the list, at No. 16. And when other indicators of well-being are considered in isolation, the situation is even worse: the United States ranks 33rd on the United Nations Development Program’s inequality-adjusted life expectancy index, just behind Chile.

05-30-2013, 03:25 PM
^ Continued

Economic forces are global; the fact that there are such differences in outcomes (both levels of inequality and opportunity) suggests that what matters is how local forces — most notably, politics — shape these global economic forces. Singapore and Scandinavia have shown that they can be shaped in ways to ensure growth with equity.

Democracy, we now recognize, involves more than periodic voting. Societies with a high level of economic inequality inevitably wind up with a high level of political inequality: the elites run the political system for their own interests, pursuing what economists call rent-seeking behavior, rather than the general public interest. The result is a most imperfect democracy. The Nordic democracies, in this sense, have achieved what most Americans aspire toward: a political system where the voice of ordinary citizens is fairly represented, where political traditions reinforce openness and transparency; where money does not dominate political decision-making; where government activities are transparent.

I believe the economic achievements of the Nordic countries are in large measure a result of the strongly democratic nature of these societies. There is a positive nexus not just between growth and equality, but between these two and democracy. (The flip side is that greater inequality not only weakens our economy, it also weakens our democracy.)

A measure of the social justice of a society is the treatment of children. Many a conservative or libertarian in the United States assert that poor adults are responsible for their own plight — having brought their situation on themselves by not working as hard as they could. (That assumes, of course, that there are jobs to be had — an increasingly dubious assumption.)

But the well-being of children is manifestly not a matter for which children can be blamed (or praised). Only 7.3 percent of children in Sweden are poor, in contrast to the United States, where a startling 23.1 percent are in poverty. Not only is this a basic violation of social justice, but it does not bode well for the future: these children have diminished prospects for contributing to their country’s future.

Discussions of these alternative models, which seem to deliver more for more people, often end by some contrarian assertion or other about why these countries are different, and why their model has few lessons for the United States. All of this is understandable. None of us likes to think badly of ourselves or of our economic system. We want to believe that we have the best economic system in the world.

Part of this self-satisfaction, though, comes from a failure to understand the realities of the United States today. When Americans are asked what is the ideal distribution of income, they recognize that a capitalist system will always yield some inequality — without it, there would be no incentive for thrift, innovation and industry. And they realize that we do not live up to what they view as their “ideal.” The reality is that we have far more inequality than they believe we have, and that their view of the ideal is not too different from what the Nordic countries actually manage to achieve.

Among the American elite — that sliver of Americans who have seen historic gains in wealth and income since the mid-1970s even as most Americans’ real incomes have stagnated — many look for rationalizations and excuses. They talk, for instance, about these countries’ being homogeneous, with few immigrants. But Sweden has taken in large numbers of immigrants (roughly 14 percent of the population is foreign-born, compared with 11 percent in Britain and 13 percent in the United States). Singapore is a city-state with multiple races, languages and religions. What about size? Germany has 82 million people and has substantially greater equality of opportunity than the United States, a nation of 314 million (although inequality has been rising there, too, though not as much as in the United States).

It is true that a legacy of discrimination — including, among many things, the scourge of slavery, America’s original sin — makes the task of achieving a society with more equality and more equality of opportunity, on a par with the best performing countries around the world, particularly tricky. But a recognition of this legacy should reinforce our resolve, not diminish our efforts, to achieve an ideal that is within our reach, and is consistent with our best ideals.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:55 AM
Fil-Am Pinay rises to company commander in U.S. Army

INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau

2:57 am | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

HONOLULU–Filipino-American Captain Susan Barroga Lindsey has been promoted to company commander of Intelligence & Sustainment for the US Army 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii.

Capt. Lindsey will take on the position in a change of command Ceremony on June 6 at General’s Field, Honolulu, Hawaii.

As company commander, she will perform administrative, accountability and personnel support to division staff responsible for equipment accountability, unit discipline, positive command climate, and training soldiers to meet the needs of any mission.

“I joined the U.S. Army because I wanted to do something more with my life, I wanted to be someone more,” the 30-year-old Lindsey states. “It was no overnight success. I sacrificed my time with my family and friends. Worked late nights and early mornings and studied hard. i committed to a greater purpose–serving my country and my fellow Americans.”

Her mother, Connie, came to the U.S. almost 30 years ago. “Growing up, I watched her struggle and work hard as a single mother to give my brother and me a better life,” Lindsey recalls. “By her example, she taught me never to give up, to strive to be the best I could be. Because of her, I am proud of my heritage, and I am proud to serve the country that made my mother a citizen.”

Lindsey graduated from San Diego State University at 22, with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in psychology. Lindsey enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2006 and served with the 4-16th Civil Affairs (USACAPOC)(A) Army Reserve while continuing her education. She was commissioned as an Army Officer in 2008 while obtaining a master’s in interdisciplinary studies.

Lindsey was born in October 1983 in Mountain View, Calif., and raised in San Jose. She is the daughter of Floyd Dean Lindsey of Buckeye, Ariz. and Concepcion Barroga Lindsey of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. She attended Columbia School in Sunnyvale and Lynbrook High School in Cupertino, Calif.

After completing the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 2009, Lindsey was assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas as the Signal Intelligence Platoon Leader for the Military Intelligence Company of First Brigade, First Armored Division.

She was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2009-2010), stationed at FOB Warrior, Kirkuk Province, Iraq. Upon her return, she was assigned as the Assistant Battalion S2 for the 4-17th Stryker Infantry Battalion. Lindsey attended the Military Intelligence Captains Career Course in 2012 at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

She was assigned as the Intelligence Operations Officer to the Fifth Battlefield Coordination Detachment, (94th Army Air Missile Defense Command), at Joint Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Force Base.

Lindsey comes from a long line of military service members. Her family’s military history dates back to the American Revolutionary War. She is the only female in her family’s history to serve in the U.S. military.

“To command is an honor and a privilege,” she says. I once thought my greatest victory was becoming an officer, but I was wrong. My greatest victory is seeing my soldiers inspired and empowered to succeed. The sons and daughters of America are the nation’s greatest asset. It is my duty to protect them. They are the future of this country. And they deserve the best leaders to excel in their life. Watching my soldiers inspires me to lead.”

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:58 AM
Washington Post raises questions about Fil-Am’s death

By Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:08 am | Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Did she have to die?

The Washington Post on Sunday weighed in on the death of Filipino immigrant Mylene de Leon Scott at a Virginia supermarket on May 29, saying that the police had some explaining to do for using lethal force to subdue the “tiny woman.”

In an editorial on Sunday, The Post called out the Loudon county sheriff for giving an assessment that was “not just preliminary but premature” in declaring that his officers had responded according to procedure in deciding to fire on Scott.

“The county sheriff, Michael L. Chapman, seems to think his deputies had no choice but to shoot Ms Scott, 38, who was working as a pizza server at the time of her death. Based on what he acknowledges is preliminary information, he says the officers acted according to procedure, in justified self-defense, when Ms Scott came at them with the knife,” read The Post editorial.

Scott, a 38-year-old pizza server at a Costco outlet in Sterling, Virginia, was shot dead after she allegedly started behaving strangely at the supermarket at around 3 p.m. on May 29. Police said she had threatened to harm her fellow employees while wielding a knife and scissors and had refused to surrender.

The Philippine Embassy and the Filipino community earlier called for an investigation of Scott’s death, observing that “disproportionate force” had been used to take control of Scott.

Scott was known to have been suffering from depression after her divorce and the loss of custody of her two sons.

Device malfunction

In the editorial, The Post noted that police had considered Scott to be “menacing” despiteťher small size—“barely over five feet tall and not much more than 100 pounds.”

The newspaper also wondered why the officer’s Taser, by the sheriff’s account, did not work when one deputy tried to subdue Scott.

“That’s curious and concerning. It’s also unclear. Did the officer who fired the Taser miss Ms Scott? Did the device malfunction? Was Ms Scott somehow, unlikely as it seems, impervious to the electroshock?

“In fact, Tasers are relatively simple to use and generally highly effective, delivering a potent jolt from a range of up to 20 feet that almost always incapacitates the subject,” said the editorial.

“The sheriff’s office needs to find out why the Taser failed—and explain why Option B was to fire a volley of bullets at Ms Scott in a shopping aisle,” The Post said.

Sam Miguel
07-03-2013, 08:17 AM
Hope for TNTs

By Belinda A. Aquino

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:45 pm | Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

HONOLULU—The US Senate recently passed (68-32) the much-debated immigration bill, which gives hope to hundreds of thousands of Filipino TNTs and millions of undocumented immigrants in America.

The ambitious bill intends to overhaul the outdated US immigration system by creating a “path to citizenship” for some 11 million illegal aliens, while enforcing tough measures to secure America’s borders, especially with Mexico.

This is only the “first base” for the bill, which still has to pass through the House of Representatives whose Republican majority has held a consistently hard line on illegal immigration issues. The House will have its own version of the bill.

But it gives some hope to the legions of Filipino TNTs, the term used for illegals from the Philippines on the run. It’s shorthand for “tago nang tago,” or always hiding with no permanent address.

No one knows exactly how many TNTs are in the United States, but the reputable Pew Research Center estimates that there may be close to 250,000. They are concentrated in big cities in the states of California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Washington. They are also now gravitating to nontraditional destinations of Filipinos like the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Although Hawaii has the highest percentage of Filipinos in the whole United States, there are not that many TNTs because it is a small state. It’s much easier to get lost in the woodwork in huge cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Miami than in, say, Honolulu or Kahului on Maui.

Still the Pew Center estimates that there are some 30,000 undocumented Filipinos in Hawaii—about 4.6 percent of the state’s workforce, not an insignificant number. This is the main reason the Hawaii congressional delegation, like US Sen. Mazie Hirono, the first woman-immigrant senator of Japanese ancestry, and US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a fourth-generation Japanese-American, are strongly supportive of the bill and its plan to institute reforms.

Recent immigrants to Hawaii, the great “melting pot” of the Pacific, come not only from the Philippines but also from China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Micronesia and other Pacific islands, and Latin America.

But as much as the bill, if it becomes a law, holds some promise for the teeming illegals in this country, the envisioned “path” will not be easy. To qualify for naturalization, undocumented aliens must apply for a new Registered Provisional Immigrant Status, pay a fine or fee or any back taxes, pass a background check, and not have a “disqualifying” criminal record. This is only one requirement of the proposed law.

I think that many TNTs, given these stringent conditions, would rather remain in the shadows than be “found out” and later targeted for deportation. They cannot just submit themselves willingly without risking being unmasked. Even when there were previous amnesty options, many TNTs were afraid to come forward for fear of opening themselves to deeper scrutiny. The fear factor is hard to overcome, and they will continue to live in the shadows until they find a way to legitimize themselves by, first of all, finding a competent lawyer to represent them.

But for others who have nothing criminal to hide, or who were children brought to the United States and raised here illegally through no fault of their own, submitting themselves to the test is the way to go. What can they lose?

This recalls the classic case of the Philippine-born undocumented journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his reports. He was a child when his parents sent him to California to stay with his grandparents. When he turned 16 and wanted to get a driver’s license, it was discovered that he had been staying in the United States illegally!

Instead of disappearing in the dark like the other TNTs, Vargas fought his case in the courts and became a leader of the movement for drastic immigration reform. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine, along with others like him, who came to the United States unwittingly.

“We are also American” is their mantra. The new bill, while not perfect, promises a new beginning in reforming the US immigration system that has long been broken and is discriminatory and unjust to various sectors of American society.

Sam Miguel
08-01-2013, 10:02 AM
Were Filipinos ‘aliens’ in the US?

By Rodel Rodis

2:31 pm | Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

The last time I spoke with Joe Alfafara was at the funeral of the mother of his life partner, Anita. I had known Joe for more than 20 years but that lunch conversation, which turned out to be our last, was our most expansive in years. We talked about his life, and about his father, Isidro, and about his uncle, Celestino, both of whom immigrated to the US in 1929.

Joe died quite suddenly of a heart attack on June 23, one month shy of his 66th birthday, and we never did get to finish our discussion about his Uncle Cel whom he greatly admired. He was going to search for photos of his uncle who died in 1989 at the age of 90. I promised him I would one day write about his uncle’s historical achievement. So here it is, Joe.

Celestino Alfafara is celebrated in Filipino American history lore as the man who won “the California Supreme Court decision allowing aliens the right to own real property.” In the most recent conference of the Filipino American National Historical Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June 2012, “The Legacy of Celestino T. Alfafara” was the focus of the plenary on “Fighting Anti-Alien Property Laws”.

Before Alfafara, the only way Filipinos could own property in California was if they collectively purchased it in the name of their fraternal organizations like the Caballeros de Dimasalang the Gran Oriente Filipino and the Legionarios del Trabajadores.

When I read the text of the Alfafara California Supreme Court decision that was decided on May 22, 1945, I was surprised to learn that it was not based on a violation of the “equal protection” clause of the US Constitution. In fact, the California Supreme Court specifically ruled that its decision did not violate the Alien Land Act, a state initiative passed by California voters in 1920 barring aliens from acquiring real property in the state.

Celestino and Isidro Alfafara arrived in the US in 1929 when they were already about 30, unlike most of the 125,000 younger Filipinos who immigrated to the US from 1908 to 1925. It was their misfortune to enter the US job market just as the Great Depression was driving poor whites from Oklahoma and other Midwest states to compete with Filipinos and Mexicans for the lowest paying farm worker jobs available in California.

Too old to enlist in the US military, Celestino and Isidro endured years of working in intermittent seasonal labor in the fields of Hawaii and California, as cannery workers in Washington and Alaska and as bus boys, janitors, cooks, and other hard jobs. What sustained them was their dream to one day own their own piece of land.

That opportunity came to Celestino in June of 1944 when he found a piece of property in San Mateo County that was on the market for $65. He made a written offer to the seller, Bernice Fross, who signed the purchase agreement. But after Celestino handed her the money, Fross changed her mind and refused to transfer the property to Celestino. So he sued for specific performance of the contract.

At the court trial of the contract dispute, Fross argued that it was unlawful for her to sell her land to an alien. The judge concluded, however, that Celestino “is not an alien and is not barred or prohibited from holding or receiving real property in the State of California by the Alien Property Initiative Act of 1920.”

Fross appealed the lower court decision all the way to the California Supreme Court. On May 22, 1945, Associate Justice John Wesley Shenk penned the unanimous decision of the court.

Under the California Constitution of 1849, Shenk wrote, the right of to acquire property was an “inalienable” right, a right that was also to be enjoyed by “foreigners who are, or who may hereafter become, bona fide residents of this state.” A 1913 law extended this right to include “aliens eligible to citizenship.”

In 1920, through the state initiative process, the Alien Land Act was adopted which barred the taking and holding of real property by aliens ineligible to citizenship.

As Justice Shenk explained, “under the laws of this state and of the United States, the plaintiff is entitled to acquire and possess real property unless he is an alien, and is ineligible to citizenship. The two factors must concur. In other words, he must not only be an alien but he must also be ineligible to citizenship (to) be excluded from the right to acquire and hold property in this state.”

Shenk noted that under the Nationality Code of 1940, the right to become a US citizen “shall extend only to white persons, persons of African nativity or descent, and descendants of races indigenous to the Western Hemisphere” and to those “native-born Filipinos” who served in the US military. Since Celestino never served in the US military, Shenk wrote, he was ineligible for citizenship.

But, he also wrote, “it is likewise clear that the plaintiff is not an alien” because an “alien” is judicially defined to be a person who owes allegiance to a foreign government.

According to Shenk, “the United States is now exercising and, since April 11, 1899, has exercised sovereignty over the Philippine Islands.” On that day, Shenk asserted, the Filipino became, not an alien, but a “national of the United States” – “a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”

Since Celestino was not an “alien”, he could purchase property in California. Bernice Floss was ordered by the Supreme Court to sell her property to him. And that’s how history was made.

Sam Miguel
08-15-2013, 09:17 AM
Scapegoating a Filipino American TV Producer

By Rodel Rodis

7:22 pm | Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO – Few Filipino Americans, or Asian Americans for that matter, are as deeply respected or as highly regarded in the field of television journalism as Lloyd LaCuesta, who retired last year after working at Oakland TV station KTVU for 35 years. Lloyd, currently a journalism professor at San Jose State University, was the founder and first president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and also the first president of Unity Journalists of Color. In the course of his distinguished career, he won six Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Last week, Lloyd and I were interviewed by Balitang America TV reporter Henni Espinosa about the recent firing of Cristina Gastelu by KTVU for her alleged involvement in KTVU’s embarrassing airing of the fake names of Asiana Airlines pilots in its July 12 noontime news hour by anchor Tori Campbell.

Lloyd told Henni that he has known Cristina for years, even before she was hired by KTVU in 1999, and that he has always had great respect for her as a professional journalist. He said that he was shocked to learn that she and two other staffers were blamed by KTVU for the Asiana fake names fiasco. When Lloyd spoke with her after she was fired, she told him that her first thought was that her father would be greatly disappointed in her as he was always so proud of her achievements, especially for winning an Emmy award as a producer.

“She is very, very upset about what happened. She’s taken it to heart,” Lloyd told Henni. “I hope it will not follow her. I hope she’s able to get another job in this business, because she’s a very valuable journalist.”

Cristina was also concerned about the deteriorating health of her mother, Tessie, a Registered Nurse from Zamboanga, who is suffering from brain cancer. This health condition was disclosed by noted lawyer and columnist Ted Laguatan who introduced Cristina’s parents to each other when they were all living in Chicago. After he set them up for a date, “the rest is history”.

On his own, Lloyd investigated the incident that led to the firing of Cristina and two other KTVU staffers and he concluded that no one should have been fired for that unfortunate incident.

In his letter to KTVU General Manager Tom Raponi, Lloyd wrote: “It does point out that we all need to work harder at the craft of journalism and educating ourselves to sensitivities.”

Former KTVU political editor Randy Shandobil expressed disappointment in the decision of KTVU to fire the three staffers. He told the San Francisco Chronicle: “People are overtaxed and have more responsibility sometimes than they can handle. And sometimes, in situations like this, terrible mistakes happen that are bigger than one person. It’s systemic.”

Finding scapegoats is one thing but being racially selective in doing so is another matter altogether. Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman cited a reliable source who reported that KTVU did not fire Michelle Toy, a Chinese American, who as KTVU’s Managing Editor, had authorized the airing of the offensive names, because “KTVU didn’t want to offend the Asian Community. They were worried about a backlash.”

How clueless can KTVU be? It was clueless when it fell for the Internet hoax and broadcast the fake names of the Asiana pilots (“Sum Ting Wong”, “Wi Tu Low”, “Ho Lee Fuk”). As Lloyd explained in his letter to Raponi “Common sense indicates that simply sounding out the names would have raised red flags.”

But KTVU is clueless again in firing Cristina but sparing Michelle Toy so as not offend Asians. Does KTVU not realize that Filipinos are also Asians?

The National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) is scheduled to hold a summit in Las Vegas this week and a resolution will be presented there to condemn KTVU for firing Cristina Gastelu and to demand that KTVU rehire her immediately.

The NaFFAA resolution will also encourage KTVU “to repair its credibility and relationship with the Bay Area Filipino American community by meeting regularly with NaFFAA and working with NaFFAA to develop a pipeline of talented Filipino American journalists who could add to the station’s diversity.”

Shame on KTVU.

08-29-2013, 01:59 PM
Highways and slums: What I learned about the Philippines

by Rachelle Ocampo

Posted on 07/31/2013 3:29 AM | Updated 08/01/2013 6:51 PM

NEW YORK—“I didn’t know that there were highways in the Philippines and where are all the slums?”

I was in shock when my friend made that comment as I flipped through my pictures on my phone during my trip to the Philippines in early July.

I began to explain that despite how the country is portrayed, the Philippines is more developed than he thought.

I wondered where he got the notion that there were no highways and that it was all slums.

Was it the media's fault or was he just misinformed? Perhaps it was personal experience.

It bugged me that all that people see is an under-developed and poverty-stricken Philippines.

Didn’t they see the expanding high rises of Makati or hear of the programs trying to help the squatters in the slums of Metro Manila?

Do not get me wrong, there is still much room for improvement, but instead of focusing on the negatives, we should focus on supporting programs that are doing solid and sustainable work.

Giving back

As a Fil-Am, I constantly ask myself how I can give back to Filipinos, both in the Motherland and here in my own community.

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, I became more serious about educating and building collaboration as the current President of Pilipino American Unity for Progress Inc (UniPro).

UniPro is where I am constantly exposed to the issues that Filipinos face on a daily basis and it is what led me to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as one of the 10 delegates chosen for the 2nd Filipino Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro).

This 3-day leadership immersion program was sponsored by the Philippine ambassador to the US, Jose L. Cuisia Jr, his wife Vicky, and partner, Ayala Foundation. This program opened my eyes to the common misconceptions, the need for a stronger education system, and most importantly, the true beauty of the Philippines.

After deep discussions with other delegates, we realized that we all had similar feelings of overwhelming responsibility. This was a result of being exposed to many of the issues that Filipinos are faced with every day. I’m sure that this was an unintentional result, but there is a reason why they chose us.

Selling the Philippines

We were chosen to represent the Fil-Am community, learn about the struggles of the everyday Filipino, and were to bring back these experiences to the States so we could further engage our communities in supporting Philippine development.

What struck me the most during our meetings with the most influential people in the country is that they were all trying to “sell” the same reoccurring theme. We would hear the same mantra: to come back to the Philippines, that it is a better place now and, of course, that "it’s more fun in the Philippines!"

The Philippines that most of us know is that country that our parents knew. When we previously visited the Philippines, we were taken to visit our parents’ respective provinces, then spent days at the mall or church.

We were warned not to speak in English when we were in public or to ever take taxis alone. They told us not to give money to anyone begging. Never trust anyone.

These warnings probably stemmed from when our parents left the Philippines for a “better life” in the States. It never dawned on me before this trip that maybe I should just have common sense when I travel — just like I would be cautious in the streets of New York City.

New way of thinking

Out of all the meetings and discussions I had with the top influential leaders of the Philippines, Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga’s Enchanted Farm, resonated the most with me.

Since many of our parents left the Philippines when it was a land of severe corruption and social unrest, he urged us to “create a new way of thinking of the Philippines.”

We do have the best of both worlds (living in America as a US citizen and still being able to call myself a Filipina). He said the “greatest asset of America now are the immigrants. You are their connection to the rest of the world.”

This stirred something inside me and I realized that this is what I have been looking for.

From the time when I started community work at St John’s University as an undergrad, I have been making connections and building relationships within the Filipino community in the New York metropolitan area.

Now I am searching for a venue to engage Fil-Ams to physically give back to the Philippines, and Gawad Kalinga may be the ideal venue for my passion to connect my two worlds.

The homeland

The two main obvious challenges for Fil-Ams to return more frequently to the Philippines is time and money, particularly 2nd gen Fil-Ams in college and transitioning into their young professional careers.

And when they do visit the Philippines, they are trapped visiting the same family members, spending time at the same malls, and if they’re lucky sightseeing for a day or two.

Why not provide a venue for Fil-Ams who are already on vacation with their families returning for about two weeks and instead of having two weeks with family and malls, they can schedule a week at GK’s Enchanted Farm (in Bulacan and soon in Bacolod, Palawan, CamSur, Samar, and Butuan) to join the day to week-long camps to help build sustainable communities?

Fostering this relationship between Fil-Ams who have the passion to make a difference in the Philippines and looking for an outlet can create a flood of goodwill that is naturally flowing in each of our veins. We have just been looking for a way to nurture it and make it a reality. This is the time and place to do it.

My hope is that more Fil-Ams realize the true beauty of the Philippines, which are the people. Filipinos are what make Philippines a beautiful country to live, visit, and thrive in.

Creating this one-week opportunity for social good will help spread the overall health of a gradually improving country, including highlighting Filipinos.

Yes, there are highways. And there is more to the Philippines than its slums—we have the best people on earth. - Rappler.com

08-29-2013, 02:01 PM
To you, future Amerikano

by Shakira Sison

Posted on 07/31/2013 8:13 AM | Updated 08/01/2013 7:24 PM

You there holding that US Visa application or looking for US job prospects online. You with the fervent St Jude prayers and the long shot dreams, I feel you.

I feel you because I've been there with my throat feeling like I swallowed 15 polvorons before my visa interview. In the cold US embassy in Manila, there was a woman who was sobbing after being rejected a visa to see her dying father, and an old man presenting lot titles to prove his wealth so he could see his great grandchild.

With my armpits soaked in sweat from nervousness but cold from the wintry AC, I sat behind my fellow interviewees because I didn't want to draw attention to myself as belonging to their red denial bracket — 20s, single, college degree. At that moment, I couldn't risk being denied.

I was fearful of the consular officers, especially the infamous Asian woman who was reportedly trigger-happy with the denial stamp (she already denied me a visa a few years back). They sat there expressionless behind thick glass, spending the day deliberating our fates.

Who gave them so much power, I wondered, mostly in my bitterness about being evaluated based on a few documents over just a minute of their time. How dare this country block my entry when I was pretty much an American child?

Like you, I was raised on Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and every other imaginable American television show. English was not a second language, but a status symbol. "You're so American" was a compliment, and it was necessary to be familiar with every "stateside" salt-sprayed, yellow snack food and overly sweet high-fructose corn syrup candy bar.

Everyone and their mother had a relative who sent home an occasional Balikbayan Box filled with goodies that were a glimpse of the shiny newness of America.


Because of these factors, I thought I'd belong. I didn't doubt my English, I practiced it with an American accent once during a trip to Disneyland. I thought Manila made me snappy, resourceful, and worldly — I was perfect for the country I was going to make my new home.

I didn't even want to go. Like you, I loved my country and vowed not to be one of those overly ambitious people who deserted the homeland. But also like you, for money, family, or in my case — love, I was called to make the move to the other side.

The fates conspired and I got an approved visa stamp. I bought my ticket and flew towards my fate and the rest of my life.

They paint it so colorfully, this life abroad. I caught glimpses of it in my cousins' yearly school photos, Christmas studio shots, and pictures of uncles' and aunts' new homes and cars.

When I saw something I liked in a magazine, my mother would tell me to write my Ninang a letter and ask for it, and I did: Chuck Taylors, Boss guitar pedals, Avocet bike computers, a paisley Pop Swatch watch.

I had no concept of the cost of living in the US (just the exchange rate), not that it mattered. To me, like to many Pinoys, America was a place where everyone bought what they wanted willy-nilly. It was a place that was far from the constraints of my developing country. America was where want could always equal have.

You see, our overseas relatives don't burden their loved ones with their difficulties. They don't mention the thousands of dollars in annual spending for immigration lawyer fees (just to be able to stay), or the dead-end limitations of the TNT (undocumented) life.

They don't mention the stress of working so hard for the possible eventuality of being sent home. They don't talk about the lonely silence of being away from loved ones, the ache for the tropics and the home-cooked meals, or even their slightest difficulty in their adopted tongue.

Making it

For one, it was embarrassing to admit that after 18 years of school with English as the medium of instruction, and 26 years of American television, my new immigrant self often stared obliviously at the person I was talking to, unable to decipher the garbled New England, Southern, or California accent.

The rhythm of American English is different from our melodic one. They don't teach you this in school (although maybe they do now in Manila's call centers, where they teach you how to speak Ameri-cuhnnn). I learned, the way I did for many things, that I had to step away from The Pinoy Way, to even come close to assimilating into American life.

But these things aren't reported home to those left behind. One does not hear about the shared 4-person room your Auntie stays in because she became a nanny instead of a business manager like she was in Manila.

You don't regale them with stories of your life as a janitor in a hospital when you topped your Philippines nursing class. You don't talk about the constant fear of not making it, of failing your family, of not being able to send money home. You never talk about hardly being able to live the hammered-on, painted-in idea you have of the American Dream.

Instead you buy stuff you don't really need. You spend too much time at the mall looking at things you think your family would love, picturing a dress on your daughter, and a Lakers hat for your dad.

You work too much for usually less than you'd hoped, skimping on yourself to send more back home. Or you fall into debt because someone got sick, or you got a little carried away with shopping, or on that new car, or a house that you couldn't really afford.

Or you make it. You land a great job that pays the bills, with more than enough to go around. You meet the love of your life, marry and have baby Americans. You get your papers, you sponsor your family, and they all come to join you in the States.

You watch your dollar, put money away, and appreciate a society where you can live on what you earn, and where your children can be free to make up their own minds. Either way, no matter how much you blend in now and how little you left behind, there is still someone left behind.

So you always send pictures, always happy ones, because nobody needs to know that it's not as picturesque as it sounds. Without you, lives and homes are being built in the homeland.

Children are being schooled and are growing so fast. You see it everyday on Skype — the world that goes on without you but is sometimes funded by you, by your toiling in the secret silence of being in another land. That’s when you realize that this is the less than perfect version of what we've often called “a better life.”

So yeah, you — the one reading this on a laptop in a quiet room while waiting for your noisy family to go online. I feel you. And I want to give you a hug. – Rappler.com

08-29-2013, 02:03 PM
The smell of America

by Shakira Sison

Posted on 04/11/2013 8:06 PM | Updated 07/26/2013 12:56 AM

“Amoy States (It smells like the States)!” We screamed as we ripped the tape off the large box that arrived via freight. Inside we hoped to find various knick-knacks and tchotchkes from our relatives in Chicago – key chains, theme park shirts, M&Ms, recorded TV shows on Betamax tapes, my grandfather’s huge log of government cheese, and random clothing items. If we were lucky, a pair of shoes would fit one of us perfectly, or with a little help from tissues stuffed into their toes. We opened these boxes as if they contained new lives.

Growing up in the Philippines, the thought of America brought about images of abundance, brightly lit stores one walked into and asked for whatever they fancied that day, items that would be brought out in the exact color or size one imagined or saw in a magazine, being worn by a celebrity, or on a highway billboard.

This was all a far cry from what we were used to in pre-globalized Southeast Asia, when wearing down my sneakers was the only time I’d make it to the store. I would choose among a few local brands and cross my fingers that they had my size. I watched the lady with the microphone in SM Shoemart say shoes' inventory codes in quick succession as she signaled the numbers with her fingers to someone in a hidden overhead storage room. It would be a couple more years before China churned out cheap Nike replicas. Until then, a box from the US smelled like love.

For the longest time I couldn’t identify this smell other than the emotions it would bring. It had a crispness, a sort of newness that represented everything that my world was not. My packed school lunch came wrapped in paper napkins my fishy sandwich soaked and tore, or plastic bags we had to wash and dry at the end of the day. A meal of stew would require reusing a mayonnaise jar, transported upright so its faulty seal would not get grease all over the books I carried in a hand-me-down backpack. Even Tang juice powder was expensive. We watered it down and added sugar so it wouldn't run out too quickly. My parents refused to buy us Cheez Whiz or breakfast cereal. We settled for a local farmer’s coconut jam and rice porridge instead.

There was an empty Pringles can that contained all of our crayons. They were all broken, chipped, and fused together that it was impossible to draw in a single color. We had a box of random socks we shared between 4 siblings, and if you happened to grab the ones that were too stretched out to stay up, you had to find a rubber band to keep them from sinking into your shoes all day. They were all turning yellow and hardening with age. The garters had started to disintegrate from the heat and would leave bits of white rubber on your skin.

My brother had one big, yellow toy dump truck. I would haul pebbles in them when he would let me. Otherwise, I made my own toys from the Styrofoam packing blocks of office mimeographing ink. I attached a small motor from a broken toy car and hooked it up to a C battery. I taped flaps of masking tape to the rotor to serve as blades. I put my boat in a drum of water and turned it on. It spun around before the crucial addition of a masking tape rudder. It entertained me for days.

You can imagine our thrill of looking through an American magazine and knowing we had an aunt somewhere who had all of the advertised products nearby -- the Barbies, the Matchbox cars, the Play Dohs and Etch-A-Sketches. We fantasized about the Hostess Twinkies ads in our comic books. We fought over the rare Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar that found its way into our home. Once, a pair of white Tretorn sneakers appeared inside one of the shipped boxes and our eyes lit up! After arguing about who it fit best, we discovered they were both left shoes. It broke our hearts.

It is often said that smell is the strongest trigger of memory. I learned this quickly when I moved to the US decades later and stores smelled like all of the boxes we opened with such joy as children. It made me feel like I had arrived in a place where I could buy whatever I wanted, and twice! But after a while I realized that the smell was actually a chemical mix I associated with cleanliness and newness – it was an aroma of plastic, detergent, cleaning products and packaging materials, and had nothing to do with the actual smell outside! At that time of the year it smelled of burning wood, crisp fallen leaves, and cold air.

If I close my eyes in New York City in the summer, I swear it smells just like Cubao, but without the clacking of the cigarette vendors' wooden box cases or the passing whiff of garlic peanuts or the kerosene used to fry fishballs in woks kept in place by chicken wire. Sometimes I buy some caramelized peanuts from a street vendor outside Central Park because of its nectary aroma. I pretend it's sweet Nagaraya, and then I start pining for the scarcities of my homeland that the abundance of things in this country cannot replace.

I also learned that I couldn’t buy everything I wanted, or that I didn’t need to right away. I found out that America was a lot more than its mass-produced items and strategically stocked store shelves. The coveted white sneakers meant much less when I could buy them anytime, or when I saw them abandoned on city sidewalks, lightly worn and heavily ignored.

I found out that the homes and kitchens of my new country were nothing like the America I imagined from movies and pictures. And as quickly as I got here, the grass-is-always-greener phenomenon produced a whole new array of smells that pulled me back to the land I left – its grilled eggplants, its meaty tamarind stews, its briny coastal air.

Rudyard Kipling said, “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” These days when I walk out my door, I smell nothing. I'm both happy and sad because it means that this must now be home. - Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
09-04-2013, 09:41 AM
Symposium tackles challenges of growing up Fil-Am

By Hiyasmin Quijano

INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau

4:45 am | Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

CARSON, California—Filipino American elders and youth explored the challenges of Filipino American youth during a symposium on “Defining the Filipino Identity” held August 24 at the 7th Annual Philippine Heritage Institute International Congress in the Carson Community Center.

The conference highlighted the important role and involvement of youth, civic engagement, politics, the significance of the city’s Rizal monument and growing up Fil-Am.

The Jose P. Rizal’s Monument Movement (JPRMM) along with the Philippine Consulate General Los Angeles, the City of Carson and the Knights of Rizal organized the event.

Among the concerns tackled by panelists were issues such as drugs, gangs, teenage pregnancy and lack of mentorship.

Fil-Am youth speakers pointed out that one barrier they faced while growing up was the lack of guidance from parents and mentors to direct them to leadership roles and routes for higher education.

A panelist admitted turning to gangs to get help, fit in and get attention while the parent was working a lot.

Solutions discussed were positive self-image, self-empowerment and visible relationship structures like peer-to-peer friendships or mentorships.

“Be involved in community work,” said Paz Villanueva, mother, grandmother and leader of the Bayani Campaign, a coalition that aims to improve the community, youth solidarity, the family and school.

“And be true to who you are as a Fil-Am. Excellence comes from hard work,” said Clarence Monteclaro.

Speakers shared information on assimilation while the audience responded by sharing their own experiences.

The US has the largest Filipino overseas population. A 2008 national survey of Filipino Americans from K-12 grade by National Federation of Filipino American Associations Washington, DC, showed that there were slightly over half-a-million school-age (five to 19 years old) Filipino students. Not all are in the public school system. Many are enrolled in private schools.

“The more I learned about our Filipino history and culture, the more I realized that my purpose in life is to help uplift the future generations who will come after us,” said Eric Tandoc.

“And we don’t need letters or titles after our names to be able to make important contributions to our community,” added Tandoc.

The conference included flag and national anthem etiquette by Gil Mislang. Mayor Jim Dear of Carson was observed paying close attention to the presentation.

“I was listening closely to the etiquette and I would like to add that I grew up in a generation that was against war,” Dear explained.

“The people are our boss and not the military. The military is supposed to prevent war,” added Dear.

The conference encouraged Fil-Am youth to vote, know their local politicians and consider working in and running for public office.

Of an estimated 95,000 residents of the City of Carson, 20 percent are Filipino Americans.

Panelists acknowledged what can be improved for next year’s youth symposium to better connect with the youth.

“The youth, ages 18 and under, have priorities that reflect their lifestyle and daily habits,” said Clarence Monteclaro. “Attending conferences or community engagement projects are rarely at the top of the list.”

“To understand this problem, we must realize what interests and priorities are held highest amongst our youth and include such priorities,” added Monteclaro.

Sam Miguel
09-11-2013, 09:22 AM
From Inquirer Global online - - -

9/11: Fil-Ams recall horror of terrorist attack on the World Trade Center

9:00 am | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Disbelief, a sense of loss: Dr. Dennis Dimaculangan, New Jersey

It was my non-clinical/research day, and I was assigned to the lab to work on my lab mice for my research work. At the time I was a neuroanesthesiology fellow at SUNY (State University of New York) at Brooklyn. I was happy that I did not have to wake up early and be in the operating room giving anesthesia at 7:30 a.m. like in a regular clinical day. So I got some extra sleep and I got to drive from my apartment in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, to work at around 9 a.m. As I was listening to the car radio, there was a report of a plane crashing into one of the WTC towers and that firefighters and rescue teams had been dispatched to respond to the accident. I thought it was just a wayward Piper plane that lost control.

When I got to my lab, the bigger story started to emerge as more news spread. A second plane had hit the second tower, and it started to look more like a planned terror attack on NYC than just a wayward or lost pilot. Subsequently, we all heard that both towers collapsed. I remember the feelings of disbelief, the deep sense of loss realizing such iconic structures that represented the world as well as America’s might and power—gone. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the thought of many people dying and many survivors that needed treatment will be coming to our emergency room.

It felt surreal. This type of scenario happens only in the movies—but that time it was for real. I was called to go down to the OR to help with preparations for an anticipated disaster scenario—an influx of injured survivors from collapsed towers. SUNY sits in the heart of Brooklyn and is seven miles away from Manhattan. With the magnitude of the disaster it was anticipated that all area hospitals including ours would be swamped with injured survivors. Hospital beds were rolled down to the ER and all available staff was called to help and be ready. We—doctors, nurses, medical students and staff at SUN—waited and waited, but no survivors came. Even our satellite hospital—Long Island college hospital that sits closer to the towers by the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge did not get that many victims save for some who got treated with smoke inhalation. This told us that most of the victims died. I remember there was almost total communication blackout for a period of time—one of the major broadcast towers in the city that happened to stand on the rooftop of one tower fell with it. We only got news from one Channel 2, which was broadcasting from a different communications tower.

It took a while for me to get in touch with Marlen and the kids because landlines and cell phones were also dead. I only got in touch with them late in the evening when we were sent home to our families. They were OK. That morning Marlen had dropped off Marco to school, and Bea was asking her mom to let her watch her favorite morning show, “Barney.” Sadly the only broadcasts available kept on showing repeated footages of the planes crashing and people jumping to their death from the buildings. It was sickening, and they had to shut off the TV.

I’ve come to a realization that we live in a complex and dangerous world. Anything can happen and you can lose everything or you can be gone in just a snap. I make it a point to kiss, hug and show my loved ones how much I love them before leaving home every day. Although no close relatives or friends were victims, September 11 still hit close to home as the brother of a surgeon friend and the husband of Marco’s schoolteacher perished in the attacks. God bless their souls.

New York City is cosmopolitan, diverse and it is the world—walk around this city and you will meet people from every part of the globe. It’s a beautiful city, a great place to live and enjoy life and contribute to the betterment of society. NYC and America have shown fortitude and resilience. Life must go on, but we should never forget.

The heartache remains: Fiel Zabat, West Side, NYC

I was in the city that unforgettable day, and though 12 years have passed the horrors and heartache of those weeks remain in my psyche. I still feel the pain just talking about that traumatizing day.

I was about three miles north of the Twin Towers, going to work early at Bloomingdale’s, hurrying not to miss the morning meeting. My affable manager Holly excused herself for a phone call. She returned to us ashen-faced and told us that her husband’s flight was canceled due to a bombing of the World Trade Center in the lower Manhattan area.

At that point we proceeded to the Employees’ Lounge and joined the hundreds of others already riveted to the television screen, witnessing the destruction of the Big Apple’s pride, the World Trade Center. The entire store was ordered to immediately close, and for everyone’s safety, we were politely asked to remain in the building and nobody could get out. Several eager customers were outside, waiting at the doors that would not open for that day or days after.

Fear was paramount because our store could be an easy target, it being the crossing station for Uptown/Downtown and East/West subway lines, which carried thousands of people into the city at that early hour. It is also a major thoroughfare for land vehicles ferrying people to their jobs in the city.

The telephones were cut off, so we could only imagine the chaos outside; we could see through the closed doors and windows people’s frantic attempts to get a ride home. Taxicabs were taking in strangers going towards the same route at sky-high fares, and buses were overloaded to the max with passengers clinging from the windows and subways were eventually shut down as most feared the underground system might be the next target with sarin gas. We spent the day fixing our displays, nervously waiting for word when we could leave, worrying about our friends and families who lived or worked near Ground Zero.

Finally at about 2:30 in the afternoon, the doors opened to let out the stampede of furious workers who were insanely eager to get to loved ones. Very few buses were heroically loading their vehicles with anxious passengers fighting to get home. Thousands of people walked to their homes in Queens and Jersey and the surrounding suburbs, crossing all the bridges, leaving a scarred city behind.

The full impact of the event hit me when I walked home to the West Side, passing by so many people stranded in lobbies of buildings, not knowing if there were more attacks to come. Reaching my apartment building, I joined the thousands of people on the streets, frozen by the sight of hundreds and hundreds of fire trucks and ambulances rushing into the Roosevelt Hospital next block. You could see the look of anxiety and confusion on their faces while holding up handmade placards hailing the heroes who were doing the most difficult tasks of trying to bring the injured and the dead into the hospitals and clinics nearby.

September 11 still chokes my heart. I felt personally violated. Visiting Ground Zero after a few months still weighs on my chest and soul, seeing the pictures of innocent New Yorkers pasted on every remaining space of every remaining wall or fence. The vulnerability of the mightiest nation in the world had been exposed, and America, a beacon of hope for the world, was forced to its knees.

Fiel Zabat is a multi-awarded production designer/art director for stage, film and television and of late, a sales Sspecialist for Chanel in Bloomingdale’s. She maintains residences in New York, California and her beloved Manila.

A most horrific welcome to the US: Dr. Jay Jimenez, New Jersey

I had just recently arrived in the United States on June 21, 2001, to begin a Surgery residency at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was about to finish my shift at the hospital’s Caledonian campus (across Prospect Park) and was seeing my last consults in the emergency room when a nurse rushed in and told us that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC). On the televisions, the image was of a smoking hole in the side of one of the towers. I thought at first that this was a terrible accident and that the pilot of a small plane had somehow lost control and indeed had crashed into the WTC. Only later, when the video of the second airliner flying into the adjacent tower was flashed, did I realize that this was not an accident at all but a deliberate act.

The hospital promptly called a “Code D” (which I took to mean “disaster”). We finished morning rounds and the attending surgeons rushed back to the main campus on DeKalb Avenue to attend to the expected casualties. All post-call residents were required to stay on and help the ones just beginning their duty-shifts that morning. The surprise was that it turned out to be a quiet day for our hospital. The few patients who came arrived in the mid-afternoon. These people had to walk across the bridges to get here. They all complained of difficulty breathing and were diagnosed to have (and received treatment for) smoke inhalation injuries. The Code D was later lifted early that evening and I arrived back in my apartment at around 7 in the evening.

My relatives lived in Mahwah in northern New Jersey—a town often referred to as a “bedroom community,” whose inhabitants worked in NYC and commuted to and from the city by train and bus every day. I myself had made the trip many times, and always, would change from PATH train to the N or R subway line UNDER the WTC on my way to Brooklyn. Now, it would be different. Along the bus and train routes, in ALL the towns from NYC to Mahwah, the public spaces began flying many small American flags (with pictures and candles) in remembrance of their family and friends who died in the tragedy.

Sam Miguel
10-03-2013, 08:55 AM
Law requires teaching of Fil-Am farm workers’ role in California labor history

INQUIRER.net US Bureau

8:24 am | Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

SACRAMENTO, California—Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed into law a first-of-its-kind bill requiring the state curriculum to include the contributions of Filipino-Americans to the farm labor movement in California.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), sponsor of AB 123, noted that Brown’s signing of the bill is the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of October, which is Filipino American History Month.

“The goal of AB 123 is to supplement California’s rich farm worker history with the contributions of the Filipino-American community,” explained Bonta, the first Fil-Am elected to the California legislature.

The Filipino-American population is the largest Asian population in California and continues to grow “yet the story of Filipinos and their crucial efforts to the farm labor movement is an untold part of California history,” Bonta added.

Bonta cited the contributions of farm worker leaders such as César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, and that “generations of people who follow their stories have benefited from their commitment to social and economic justice in innumerable ways.”

However, missing from the current curriculum are events such as the Delano Grape Strike of 1965, led by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), made up of first-generation Filipino leaders (Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong).

A week following this strike, the National Farm Workers Association, led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, combined forces with AWOC and by the fall of 1966, the numbers grew to approximately 2,000, almost entirely Filipino and Mexican workers. Eventually, their combined forces grew to approximately 10,000 by 1970.

“By signing AB 123, Governor Brown has made an unprecedented move to give students a more complete account of California’s farm labor movement and ensure that these important leaders, such as Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong are remembered by future generations of Californians,” explained Bonta.

Dolores Huerta, an iconic social justice and labor rights activist, spoke in support of the bill in committee: “The students of California need to learn that the sacrifices made by both the Filipino and Latino workers benefited all Californians. AB 123 will ensure that the history is taught accurately.”

The bill is particularly important to Bonta because of his personal heritage and history. Bonta was raised as a child in La Paz, the United Farm Workers’ headquarters, where his parents organized Filipino-American and Mexican-American farm workers.

Also, as the first Filipino-American elected to the California State Assembly and the godson of José Gomez, executive assistant to César Chávez, Bonta has committed himself to the cause of farm workers and ensuring that the legacy of the farm workers is properly taught to the children of California.

Bonta concluded, “I am proud that Governor Brown recognizes the contributions of Filipinos to the history of our state and country by signing AB 123 and including them in the history and social sciences curriculum taught in California schools.”

10-11-2013, 09:59 AM
Fil-Ams feel brunt of gov't shutdown

by Melissa Romero

Posted on 10/11/2013 2:41 AM | Updated 10/11/2013 7:38 AM

WASHINGTON DC, USA – Manny Sayoc knows he shouldn’t be so upset. The engineering project manager has been out of job for the past week, but it’s given him time to travel, visit family, and relax.

“Compared to my friends, family, and the millions of Americans who have been hit much harder by this shutdown, I feel I am one of the last who should complain,” says Sayoc, a Filipino-American who resides in Arlington, Virginia. But, he adds, “I’m complaining for them.”

Sayoc is one of the 800,000 federal government employees who has been affected by the United States government shutdown that entered its second week and has left thousands without jobs, without national parks to visit, and with families scrambling to make ends meet.

The US House of Representatives said Thursday, October 10, they would offer a temporary increase in the federal debt ceiling, but only if US President Barack Obama could agree to certain long-term negotiations.

However, the plan does not necessarily mean an end to the shutdown, and until then workers like Sayoc are stuck without a paycheck.

In addition to his managerial job for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Sayoc, 39, is an officer in the US Navy reserve. Like all government employees, he received his furlough notice via a letter that identified him as a non-essential employee.

He’s not the only one Fil-Am who has felt the brunt of the shutdown.

His own brother, a government contractor for the US State Department, is at risk of being terminated. His brother-in-law, who is not a government employee, has also been affected: “The dysfunction of our government has sent detrimental ripples in the economy,” says Sayoc, “directly affecting my brother-in-law’s sales in the financial sector.”

Fellow Fil-Am Cristina von Spiegelfeld, 34, has also been furloughed from her job as an attorney, but is fortunate that her husband works in the non-profit sector and can provide for the family. Still, with a 10-month-old baby and 3 ˝-year-old son, the DC resident wonders how long she can go without getting a paycheck.

Unemployment benefits

If the shutdown goes into its third week, she admits she may have to join the thousands of DC, Virginia, and Maryland residents who have applied for unemployment benefits. As of October 8, the DC Department of Unemployment Services received 11,000 unemployment claims from federal workers.

“I'm still on the fence about it,” von Spiegelfeld says. “I'm weighing whether it's worse to deal with paperwork and DC bureaucracy or the demoralizing mental effect of having to tap into the family's emergency funds.”

Sayoc says he plans to apply for unemployment, as he’s already feeling “the pinch of not having a paycheck and the lack of government support, services, and facilities.” While Sayoc is still working part-time for the Navy, he’s not getting paid and must use his personal funds to pay for flights overseas for work.

But, he adds, the unemployment check isn’t just for him. Like many Fil-Am working abroad, Sayoc has a family back home that needs his support. “These side effects from the shutdown can be felt as far away as the homes of our relatives in the Philippines who rely on our support.”

According to the World Bank, families in the Philippines received US$10 billion from relatives in the United States in 2013. The longer the shutdown lasts, the less help Fil-Ams are able provide their already struggling relatives back home.

The irony of it all, says Saynoc, is that he and his parents moved to the US to take part in the freedom and countless opportunities typically associated with the states. At least for Saynoc, the government shutdown has muddled the idea of the American dream.

“As a citizen, a public servant, and a member of the US military I am concerned about where our nation is headed,” says Saynoc. “I know the world is watching and I am sure I am not the only one uncertain of America’s footing as the front-runner in economics, freedom, democracy, stability, and justice.” – Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
10-30-2013, 07:51 AM
Fil-Am labor leader arrested in immigration rally

By Maricar MC Hampton

Filamstar.net/INQUIRER.net News Partner

7:38 am | Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC—”No, I wasn’t surprised. I was expecting to be arrested,” said Gregory Cendana, as he reflected on being arrested during the immigration reform rally dubbed “March for Dignity and Respect” held last Oct. 8.

Cendana, executive director of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (Apala), was among the hundreds of activists, including eight Democratic congressmen—John Lewis, Luis Gutiérrez, Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison, John Crowley, Charles Rangel, Al Green and Jan Schakowsky—who were apprehended as they gathered at the National Mall to put pressure on Congress to pass the comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Inspired by others who were willing to take a stand for what they believe in, Cendana decided he wanted to follow suit.

“If others are willing to risk facing arrest, I wanted to be able to do that, too, especially as a young Filipino gay man,” he said. “I felt like it was an opportunity to really show Congress that we mean business and we want to make sure immigration reform passes.”

As thousands of protesters were busy chanting, dozens of Capitol police handcuffed them before leading them off to police wagons. Those arrested were charged with crowding obstruction and incommoding, Capitol police said.

Cendana recalled, “That weekend, there were more than 200 events that happened across the country, and this was kind of a culmination of different activities.”

“I knew that going to the rally, I would be participating in the exercise of civil disobedience. People knew that before they went there. So we blocked off a street in front of the Capitol.

“We were put in a facility and I was there for more than 12 hours. (Then) they asked us whether we would accept the fine and I said yes. The fine was $50.”

Although Cendana cannot confirm the exact number of Filipino-American organizations present, he believes he was the only Filipino arrested.

Cendana said he was thrilled that the arrests brought national attention to the cause of immigration reform.

“The aim was to get a lot of people engaged, not only in the rally, but in civil disobedience. This is one of the bigger civil disobedience demonstrations in support of immigration reform. Basically it was a big rally of more than 20,000, and 200 of us led the march to the Capitol.”

Cendana admitted it was not his first arrest. “I was arrested in front of the White House back in 2009, also on account of immigration reform.”

So, will he consider doing it all over again?

“I will always be open to it,” he said, “especially over this next couple of months, I know the conversation around immigration reform is going to pick up.”

Sam Miguel
11-05-2013, 09:08 AM
5 Fil-Ams honored at culmination of History Month celebrations in SF

INQUIRER.net US Bureau

8:54 am | Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

San Francisco, California—After a month long celebration, the Filipino American History Month culminated on Oct. 30 with a special recognition given to five outstanding Fil-Ams for exemplary contributions in their respective districts.

The event was sponsored by San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Board of Education Commissioner Hydra Mendoza in partnership with SF-Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon, and the Filipino American Arts Exposition led by Al Perez.

In addressing the Fil-Am community, Mayor Lee extolled the importance of recognizing the history of immigrants “not just individuals who make the headlines, but also the working-class neighborhoods.”

“Mabuhay! (Long Live!),” Mayor Lee said during his opening remarks. “As manager of the city, it’s not just about building jobs, it is important to make sure the city recognizes the history of immigrants.”

The first ever Asian-American to head the city as mayor, Lee has 23 years of public service and administration skills that have helped spur the economy including in the areas of park development, transportation, housing, education and public safety.

Saying he was told “No jokes tonight,” Mayor Lee remarked, “Filipinos helped us build the Golden Gate Bridge—let’s not forget that—by the hands of immigrants and people who worked hard. “

And because it is reflective of the city, the city mayor said that is the reason why some streets were named after Filipino heroes. “People will ask me who is Rizal, Bonifacio or Mabini?” Thus, he often replied, “They were very special.”

He likewise cited a well-known Fil-Am—Victoria Manalo Draves, for her enthusiasm in sports where she became part of the city’s history.

“But part of my job is to reach out to communities…we need more people from the Philippine community to serve milestones,” he stressed, as he pointed to Mendoza as one example from the Fil-Am community, who now serves under his office as education advisor.

“We have Hydra Mendoza, my advisor. Many Filipinos who don’t go to public schools should avail of our services. “

He said, “I ask you to continue to make sure the Filipino leaders and the community serve not only as ambassadors but to manage the city of San Francisco. “

Ascalon expressed his deepest appreciation to the Mayor’s Office, especially Mayor Lee, as he closed the monthlong commemoration of the Filipino American History Month.

“This is a monthlong learning where our exhibit exemplified the community’s role starting from farm to table to the passing of Assembly Bill 123—the Fil-Am involvement in the Farm Labor Movement,” Ascalon said.

“Fil-Ams are not just ethnic, they are Americans—desiring to be recognized,” he said.

The San Francisco Filipino Cultural Center’s board of directors, meanwhile, announced the building of a cultural center space located between Mission and 4th Streets in District 6’s South of Market neighborhood. Projected inaugural opening is March 2014.

Outstanding Filams honored

Supervisor John Abalos (SF-District 2), the city’s district with the largest Fil-Am population, awarded Dory Camino for her marketing, communication and social contribution to the district.

“Dory Camino’s father, Antonio, is a first-generation Filipino-American in San Francisco,” Abalos said, “He used to be a janitor in Westborough High School in Daly City.”

District 6 Supervisor Jay Kim, recognized Rey Cayetano, another Fil-Am, who was awarded by The Guardian as 2011 winner in Film Photography and Arts, for his inspiring photo exhibits in the district.

Kim said District6—South of Market and 6th Street—is home to a strong Fil-Am community due largely to better public school system and affordable housing.

“Hard work, dedication, passion—Rey is a true San Franciscan,” Supervisor Kim said.

In District 5, Supervisor Eric Wang awarded the group Kasamahan Organization for its contribution to the community with impact on social justice.

District 4 Supervisor Cathy Tang honored Raymond Portado for his commitment to the youth or the younger population by sharing his talent in the arts.

Supervisor David Chiu recognized Genevieve Jopanda, executive director of Hepa B Free campaign in the city, for her monumental achievement and dedication in championing public health. The Hepa B program provides free and low-cost vaccines and free health education to individuals and families.

Sam Miguel
11-05-2013, 09:13 AM
SC rules Filipina’s marriage of convenience to American valid

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:24 am | Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—For love or convenience? Either way, the marriage would be “equally valid.”

The Supreme Court has refused to nullify the marriage of a Filipino woman to an American, even if she claimed that she only wed him to acquire US citizenship.

The high court’s Third Division, in a decision dated Oct. 16, denied the woman’s petition, saying that as far as the state was concerned, the couple, regardless of their motive, freely consented to the marriage and were therefore bound by it.

“Although the court views with disdain the (her) attempt to utilize marriage for dishonest purposes, it cannot declare the marriage void. Hence, though [her] marriage may be considered a sham or fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, it is not void ab initio and continues to be valid and subsisting,” the Court said in an 11-page decision written by Justice Jose Mendoza.

The division chair, Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., and members Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta, concurred in the ruling.

The justices ruled that “marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as convenience, companionship, money, status and title, provided that they comply with all the legal requisites, are equally valid.”

According to case records, the petitioner and her husband were married in civil rites at a Mandaluyong City court in October 2004.

In December 2006, however, the wife petitioned the Imus City Regional Trial Court for a declaration of nullity, admitting that she had only wed the American to acquire US citizenship and even arranged to pay him $2,000 in exchange for his consent.

She described their marriage as “one made in jest,” adding that immediately after their marriage, they separated and never lived as husband and wife because they never really had any intention of entering into a married state and complying with their marital obligations.

Moreover, she said, she never heard from her husband again and she was unable to pay him the $2,000 that she promised because he never processed her petition for US citizenship. The husband, served a summons in the United States, did not take part in the case.

Favorable ruling

Despite opposition from the Office of the Solicitor General, the petitioner was able to secure a favorable ruling from the Imus RTC in 2008 and from the Court of Appeals in 2011, both of which agreed that the marriage was a farce and should not have been recognized from its inception.

The OSG elevated the case to the Supreme Court, saying that the case did not fall within the concept of a marriage in jest as the parties intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage. The OSG argued that consent should be distinguished from motive, the latter being inconsequential to the validity of a marriage.

The high court agreed, saying that the petition for nullity had no merit because there was a clear intention by the couple to enter into a real and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the requirements of an application for citizenship.

“There was a full and complete understanding of the legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise legal tie that was necessary to accomplish their goal,” the justices said.

The justices also scolded the petitioner for making “a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage,” saying: “She already misused a judicial institution to enter into a marriage of convenience; she should not be allowed again to abuse it to get herself out of an inconvenient situation.”

They reminded the petitioner that the Constitution declares that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the state.

“It must, therefore, be safeguarded from the whims and caprices of contracting parties. This court cannot leave the impression that marriage may easily be entered into when it suits the needs of the parties and just as easily nullified when no longer needed,” they said.

Sam Miguel
11-05-2013, 09:16 AM
Dilemmas resulting from sham divorces and remarriages

By Lourdes Santos Tancinco

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:10 am | Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Remarriages are commonly looked upon as fraud in immigration circles. A letter emailed to me by a reader raises this concern:

“I came here (US) on a tourist visa and I was able to change my status to H1B. My wife at the time was given an H4 visa. Before my visa expired our relationship fell apart, and we got divorced. She got married to a US citizen, and I’ve been out of status for 12 years now. Her marriage did not work out and she divorced her husband. Now, she’s a US citizen and is fighting breast cancer. I took care of her during her chemotherapy and we got back together. If we remarry, will she be able to petition me?” –Jim

A US citizen may petition a spouse as an immediate relative. For a marriage to be valid, a prior divorce must be valid. The divorce must be valid under the laws of the jurisdiction granting the divorce. This divorce decree must also be recognized in the state or country where the couple was residing.

In the case of Jim, if the divorce was legally recognized, there should not be a problem about reconciling and remarrying his spouse again. The main concern is whether Jim’s spouse really had a valid marriage with the US citizen. If the marriage to the US citizen was only intended to obtain legal status, and both Jim and his spouse really did not separate, then the petition by his spouse may be denied. These are usually referred to as “sham divorces” and the wife may be considered to have entered into a fraudulent marriage. While she is now a US citizen, there is still a possibility that an investigation will be conducted not just focusing on Jim’s marriage but on his wife’s marriage to the US citizen as well.

Not all fraudulent

Not all remarriage cases are fraudulent. If in the 12 years of their separation, they had indeed lived separately and subsequently reconciled, then the suspicion or presumption of fraud may be overcome. Jim may remarry. However, he should expect to undergo an extensive examination on the merits of their marriage and their prior divorce. His chance of receiving the green card depends on what proof is submitted or gathered by the immigration officer.

A real sham

In a related remarriage case of Anna and Roger, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was right in its finding of fraud.

Roger was married to Anna in the Philippines. He left for the US on a visitor’s visa and then divorced Anna. This came as a surprise to his wife but Roger explained he needed to file this divorce to obtain his green card.

Thereafter, Roger married a US citizen, Michelle, and they lived together for two years. While married to Michelle, he continued to communicate with Anna. He visited Anna regularly in the Philippines. Anna and Roger had a child born during the time that Roger and Michelle were married. As soon as Roger got his green card, he abandoned Michelle and divorced her.

Roger then applied for naturalization to become a US citizen. During his naturalization interview, it was noticed in his application that he had a child from Anna while living with Michelle. This raised a red flag for the USCIS examiner and his case was investigated. Michelle signed a written document when the US immigration agents visited her. She said that Roger used her to get the green card and did not know that he was still having an affair with his ex-spouse.

Roger’s application for naturalization was denied. He subsequently went back to the Philippines to remarry Anna. He is, however, not allowed to remarry in the Philippines because their first marriage is still valid in the Philippines. Can he still file a petition for Anna and their child?

De facto marriage

While the Philippines does not recognize Jim’s divorce, his decree of divorce is recognized as valid in the state where it was obtained. It is good for purposes of remarrying a US citizen.

Unfortunately, Roger’s legal problem with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is not whether the divorce is recognized for purposes of the petition. His main problem is that he committed “fraud” with regard to his marriage to Michelle. While the divorce is legally valid, his actions while he was still married to Michelle indicate that the divorce was actually a sham divorce. Jim, in fact, still had a “de facto” marriage to Anne.

Roger will have to overcome legal obstacles not only in his petition for Anna but also in saving his own permanent resident status from being revoked.

Entering into marriage carries various rights and obligations for a couple. Much as one desires to legalize one’s stay in the US, marrying for convenience and entering into a sham divorce should be avoided. In reality, sham marriages can result in serious adverse consequences and are usually compounding problems rather than solutions.

Sam Miguel
11-11-2013, 09:40 AM
Muted outrage at US immigration

By Rodel Rodis

2:04 pm | Friday, November 8th, 2013

The humiliating experience suffered by 63-year old cancer survivor Carina Yonzon Grande, when she arrived at the Seattle International Airport on October 1, 2013 to attend her daughter’s US wedding, was covered by the Philippine media. Grande recounted her ordeal at the hands of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers after she presented them with her Philippine passport with a 10-year US visa valid until 2017, her round trip plane tickets, and her shuttle vouchers.

Grande was asked by ICE officer Kevin Mam about the purpose of her visit and the length of her stay. “I gave him an honest answer,” Grande told television network, “that the purpose of my travel to the US was to visit my grandson Joshua at Everett and also to attend my daughter’s wedding on October 26 in L.A., and that I was staying for two months,” she said.

The ICE officer then noticed that Grande had visited the US on numerous occasions; in fact this latest visit was her 13th. “I confirmed by saying yes, since the family could afford it,” she replied.

She might be a ‘TNT’

Something about her answer aroused the suspicions of Officer Mam who then directed her to a small room where she would be held for further questioning. For the next six hours, without food or water, Grande was asked detailed information about all her relatives in the US. She answered all their questions and provided them with the names and phone numbers of all her relatives in the US including that of her 90-year old Aunt Nerissa. The ICE officers then used Grande’s cell phone to call her relatives.

A Facebook page for Carina Yonzon Grande

It is standard operating procedure for ICE Officers to test their suspicions when they call relatives. So when Officer Mam spoke with Grande’s Aunt Nerissa, he told her that Grande was coming to be her caregiver, isn’t that true? The 90 year old aunt must have thought, to her pleasant surprise, that her niece was coming to take care of her. How sweet of her. So she said yes.

ICE Officer Mam then returned to Grande’s room and accused her of being a liar based on what her aunt confirmed to him. Grande denied the officer’s allegation because, she said, her aunt was not even aware that she was arriving in the US.

“While Officer Mam kept on repeating his questions about why I was in the US, a fellow officer by the name of Chang, joined and shouted, calling me a liar. He even searched my purse where I had wedding cards (with money) for my daughter and future son-in-law, and a birthday card for Joshua (also with money) and other stuff. He scattered all the items in my purse on the table, asking why they should believe me, when my aunt, according to him, seems to be the honest one,” Grande said.

“While doing this, another officer passed and shouted ‘Who is she, a TNT?’” she said. “I was already shaking, very tired, exhausted, and weak. I had not eaten because of this interrogation,” she added.

[A “TNT” (tago ng tago – hiding and hiding) is Tagalog slang for “illegal alien”].

Grande’s choices

The ICE supervisor, “a certain Mr. Caldwell”, later joined the interrogation and warned Grande that she will “suffer the consequences” if she did not confess.

Grande described her predicament. “If I lie, they would have to arrest me and put me in jail. He even showed me the jail cell. I said, ‘I am telling the truth, and that they can put me in jail because I will never ever admit doing the things I am wrongly being accused of,” she said.

This Supervisor Caldwell then advised Grande that she had two options: “be deported to the Philippines on the next flight of the same day or be put in jail and barred from entering the US for 5 years”.

“Exhausted, hungry, and sleep-deprived, I chose option one,” Grande said. “It is disheartening that at my age, I didn’t receive any respect from these officials. I was treated like a criminal. I was not allowed to talk to my daughter and grandson and my cell phone was taken away from me. Even after the interrogation concluded, they did not give it back to me.”

“It pains me so much that I was mistreated like this. I have never been so humiliated and demeaned in my life! I am still hurting and hope other people will not suffer the extreme humiliation I recently experienced,” she said.

ICE sorry view of Filipinos

The sorry treatment of Corazon Grande reflects the US immigration authorities’ derogatory stereotyped view of poverty in the Philippines that they are ready to believe that even a retired senior employee of the Asian Development Bank will go to great lengths to enter the US just to work as a caregiver for $10 an hour for her aunt.

The US has a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enabling the citizens of 36 participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism, business or transiting the U.S. for 90 days or less without obtaining a US visa. Unlike the Philippines, the citizens of those countries do not have to provide proof to the US Embassy that they possess significant resources that they will not work illegally in the US.

The US Embassy in Manila had already investigated Grande’s economic background before issuing her a tourist visa. She had already visited the US 12 times in the past and had never overstayed or violated US immigration laws. But she was still subjected to intense interrogation by the ICE likely because she might be a “TNT”as she is, after all, a Filipino.

In a separate statement provided to a TV network, Ken Shaw, the fiancé of Grande’s daughter, whose wedding Grande was coming to the US to attend, complained about her inhumane treatment: “She was cruelly interrogated for 6 hours after a 15-hour flight and held without food and water. Derogatory racial slang was hurled her way and she was shown and threatened with a jail cell. Her belongings were carelessly rifled through, wedding cards and gifts from relatives for the couple plainly visible throughout this process.”

Media coverage

Inquirer Multimedia reporter Matikas Santos described Grande’s harrowing experience in an October 8, 2013 article (“Filipina on her way to attend daughter’s US wedding, held, deported”) which instantly drew 6,367 hits from readers who posted her article on their Facebook and other Internet websites.

Santos then wrote a follow-up article the following day (“DFA will assist Filipina elderly allegedly mistreated in Seattle airport” October 8, 2013) where she reported the statement of Raul Hernandez, the spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, who said “We stand ready to assist Filipino travelers who feel aggrieved over how foreign government agents treated them. We are ready to receive more details from the complainant and assist her through our office that handles Assistance to Nationals cases, the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs. Based on these specific details, we will move forward on this issue,” he said.

And then that was it. There were no further articles about what happened to Carina Yonzon Grande in the Inquirer or in other Philippine media.

NaFFAA’S response

When I asked the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) to denounce the treatment of Grande and to demand an apology from ICE, a NaFFAA official denied my request. “We don’t really know how this woman handled herself during the interrogation, usually immigration officers call people at their destinations to investigate and in this case what if they said that she will indeed be caring for someone and gets paid,” he surmised. What if.

Another NaFFAA official feared being “burned” because of “two incidents here in the Midwest where two people were turned around to fly back home, one came previously as a tourist in NY and was hired as a babysitter in another state and was making $10 an hour, we investigated and the immigration officer found proof in her papers that she was illegally working. There is an agency in NY that hires tourists and sends them out of state to work illegally,” she also surmised. What if.

That’s why NaFFAA refused to express any outrage at the mistreatment of Grande. After all, there was always the possibility that ICE might have been justified. What if.

Sam Miguel
11-11-2013, 09:41 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

A lousy Toyota

A few years ago, a woman called me from Manila who tearfully recounted her traumatic experience at the hands of an ICE officer at the San Francisco International Airport. She said that she works as a real estate broker in Makati specializing in high end Forbes Park homes. Every time she completes a sale, she said, she rewards herself with a visit to her favorite city, San Francisco.

As she does not have a family, she said she was able to buy herself a Mercedes Benz sedan in the US which she uses whenever she is in San Francisco. On her last visit, an ICE officer noticed the numerous occasions she traveled to the US which prompted further investigation. The officer examined the contents of her purse and asked her about her Costco card and her California driver’s license. She responded that she buys goods at Costco and that she needs a driver’s license to drive her car and showed him the car registration.

The ICE officer then furiously screamed at her and said, “I have been working here for the US government for 20 years and all I can afford is a lousy Toyota and you have a Mercedes Benz???”

He then accused her of being engaged in “human trafficking” and that’s likely how she could afford a fancy car. There was absolutely no basis for his accusation but the ICE officer knew that he had the power to draw whatever conclusion he wanted to make without having to answer to anyone for it. It was his sole judgment call.

Before she knew it, the real estate broker from Makati was on the next flight back to Manila with her 10-year multiple visa to the US canceled.

I asked the emotionally distraught broker if she wanted to publicize her traumatic ICE experience but she declined saying she feared that the publicity would only jeopardize her chances of ever visiting her favorite city in the future.

Bello denounces ICE

There was at least one public official who commented on the treatment of Corazon Yonzon Grande. Rep. Walden Bello (Akbayan partylist), the chair of the House Committee on Overseas Filipinos, urged the US government to hold the ICE officials accountable for their disgraceful treatment of Mrs. Grande.

“It appears that this was standard operating procedure that immigration officers subject newly-arrived visitors to the US. Without any iota of evidence, Mrs. Grande was referred to as a ‘TNT’ or an illegal immigrant. She was detained for six hours, deprived of her phone and any means to communicate with people outside the detention cell, and called racist slurs,” Bello charged.

“Human rights and respect for human dignity should never be compromised in the effort to plug the leaks of the US immigration system. The abuse and humiliation that Mrs. Grande suffered, all in the guise of upholding immigration laws and protecting American national interests, must certainly be remedied by the US government and its representatives here in the Philippines,” Bello added.

What Rep. Bello deplored should have been echoed by the editorials of Philippine newspapers but, instead, there was nothing but muted outrage.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page entitled Justice for Corazon Yonzon Grande was just opened with this tagline: “We Demand Justice for maltreatment of Filipina Senior Citizen Carina Yonzon Grande by US Immigration Officials at Seattle International Airport”.

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 10:31 AM
‘Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin’ takes a fresh look at Filipino-American interracial romance

By Brylle B. Tabora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:00 am | Monday, December 16th, 2013

Director Randolph Longjas’ “Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin” is a comical study of a Filipino-American couple trying to cope with one another’s cultural differences.

An entry to the Cine Filipino Film Festival last September, “Ang Turkey” is a “mockumentary” that focuses on couple Cookie (played by Tuesday Vargas) and Matthew Adams (Travis Kraft) whose love story is being documented by an online Fil-Am dating site that considers them the best way to promote interracial relationships. Both found love online.

Cookie is a single mother from a middle-class family who lives off deboning bangus (milk fish) to provide for her son; while Matthew, or Matchu, is your average Joe, whom Cookie thinks could take her to greener pastures.

As they go along, the couple meets oddball people in the Philippines and peculiar customs and habits inherent to Filipinos: karaoke music, superstitious in-laws, questionable immigration laws, unexpected pregnancies and rotating blackouts.

And soon the two start to talk about moving to the US and processing Cookie’s visa. But it seems Cookie has some reservations about these.

The film also stars Julia Clarete, Cai Cortez and JM De Guzman. The script is written by Allan Habon.

Familiar scenario

The conception of the story was just something out of the ordinary, Longjas said.

“We were in a mall when we were brainstorming for what our entry for Cine Filipino would be,” Longjas said. “Then we noticed a restaurant full of foreigners with Filipino women as their partners. We’ve come to realize that this type of setup is not a surprise to our culture anymore. In fact, it’s a familiar scenario in Filipino families. From there, we’ve agreed that we can explore this type of relationship through injecting a crash and burn humor of the two different cultures.”

Longjas said he wanted to reintroduce Fil-Am relationships in a fresh light.

“We wanted to offer a reality that we usually despise or laugh about,” he said. “This experimental comedy explores the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of two people on a universal love trip, which does not discriminate against color, stature, age or culture. It is a celebration of the Filipino experience in a foreigner’s perspective, and the realization of the American dream in a Filipino’s eyes.”

Ultimately, we shall find out in the film whether Cookie and Matchu’s love found its way despite their differences or eventually got lost in translation.

“Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Dec. 18.

01-27-2014, 01:10 PM
The Morality of Migration


The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless.

In announcing the Department of Homeland Security’s policy directive on June 15 stating that undocumented migrant youths who meet certain conditions would no longer be deported, President Obama said that “It was the right thing to do.” What he did not say was whether he meant “the right thing” legally or morally.

Obviously, he considered the action to be legal, even though this invocation of his administration’s power drew strong criticism from many, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But the president’s grounds for believing it moral were much less clear.

This should come as no surprise: the morality and politics of migration are among the most divisive issues in much of the world. In the United States, discussions of immigration flow seamlessly into matters of national security, employment levels, the health of the American economy, and threats to a presumptive American national identity and way of life. Much the same is true in Europe. Not a week goes by without a story of refugees from Africa or Asia perishing while trying to arrive at the shores of the European Union.

Nor are such developments restricted to the resource-rich countries of the Northern Hemisphere. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Singapore, Israel and Jordan are countries with the highest percentage share of migrants among their total population, while the United States, the Russian Federation, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada and France lead in the actual number of international migrants. Migrations are now global, challenging many societies in many parts of the world.

Whereas from 1910 to 2012, the world’s population increased slightly more than fourfold, from 1.6 billion to to more than 7 billion, the number of people living in countries other than their own as migrants increased nearly sevenfold, from roughly 33 million to more than 200 million.

Migrations pit two moral and legal principles, foundational to the modern state system, against each other. On one hand, the human right of individuals to move across borders whether for economic, personal or professional reasons or to seek asylum and refuge is guaranteed by Articles 13 and 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the other hand, Article 21 of the declaration recognizes a basic right to self-government, stipulating that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” Under the current regime of states, that fundamental right includes control over borders as well as determining who is to be a citizen as distinguished from a resident or an alien.

The international system straddles these dual principles but it has not been able to reconcile them. The irony of global developments is that while state sovereignty in economic, military, and technological domains is eroded and national borders have become more porous, they are still policed to keep out aliens and intruders. The migrant’s body has become the symbolic site upon which such contradictions are enacted.

Why not advocate a “world without borders” then? From a moral point of view, no child deserves to be born on one side of the border rather than another, and it is deeply antithetical to our moral principles to punish individuals for what they cannot help being or doing. Punishment implies responsibility and accountability for one’s actions and choices; clearly, children who through their parents’ choices end up on one side of the border rather than another cannot be penalized for these choices.

A strong advocate of the right to self-government might retort that rewarding certain children for the wrongs committed by their parents, in this case illegal immigration, by legalizing undocumented youths is illogical as well as immoral and that “the right thing to do” would be to deport all undocumented migrants – parents and children alike. Apart from the sheer impracticality of this solution, its advocates seem to consider undocumented “original entry” into a country as the analog of “original sin” that no amount of subsequent behavior and atonement can alter.

But such punitive rigor unfairly conflates the messy and often inadvertent reasons that lead one to become an undocumented migrant with no criminal intent to break the law.

If conditions in a person’s native country so endanger his life and well-being and he becomes willing to risk illegality in order to survive, his right to survival, from a moral point of view, carries as much weight as does the new country’s claim to control borders against migrants. Immanuel Kant, therefore, called the moral claim to seek refuge or respite in the lands of another, a “universal right of hospitality,” provided that the intentions of the foreigner upon arriving on foreign lands were peaceful. Such a right, he argued, belonged to each human being placed on this planet who had to share the earth with others.

Even though morally the right to hospitality is an individual right, the socioeconomic and cultural causes of migrations are for the most part collective. Migrations occur because of economic, environmental, cultural and historical “push” and “pull” factors. “We are here,” say migrants, “because in effect you were there.” “We did not cross the border; the border crossed us.”

01-27-2014, 01:11 PM
^ (Continued)

We do have special obligations to our neighbors, as opposed to moral obligations to humanity at large, if, for example, our economy has devastated theirs; if our industrial output has led to environmental harm or if our drug dependency has encouraged the formation of transnational drug cartels.

These claims of interdependence require a third moral principle — in addition to the right of universal hospitality and the right to self-government — to be brought into consideration: associative obligations among peoples arising through historical factors.
States cannot ignore such associative obligations. Migration policies, though they are often couched in nation-centric terms, always have transnational causes and consequences. It is impossible to address Mexican migration into the United States, for example, without considering the decades-long dependency of the rich California agricultural fields upon the often undocumented and unorganized labor of Mexican workers, some of whose children have now grown up to become “Dreamers” (so named after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act introduced to Congress in 2001). Among the three million students who graduate from United States high schools, 65,000 are undocumented.

The United States owes these young people a special duty of hospitality, not only because we, as a society, have benefited from the circumstances under which their parents entered this country, but also because they have formed strong affiliations with this society through being our friends, students, neighbors and coworkers. In a liberal-democratic society the path to citizenship must follow along these associative ties through which an individual shows him or herself to be capable and worthy of citizenship.
Migratory movements are sites of imperfect justice in that they bring into play the individual right to freedom of movement, the universal right to hospitality and the right of collectives to self-government as well as specific associative moral obligations. These rights cannot always be easily reconciled. Furthermore, international law does not as yet recognize a “human right to citizenship” for migrants, and considers this a sovereign prerogative of individual states. Nonetheless, the responsible politician is the one who acts with a lucid understanding of the necessity to balance these principles rather than giving in to a punitive rigorism that would deny, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “the right which nature has given to all men of departing from [and I would add, from joining with] the country in which choice, not chance has placed them” (1774).

Whether or not President Obama considered all these moral aspects of the matter, his handling of this issue shows that he acted as a “responsible politician,” and not opportunistically as some of his critics charged. It was “the right thing to do.”


Seyla Benhabib is the Eugene Meyer professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University. She is the author of “Dignity in Adversity. Human Rights in Troubled Times” (2012).

Sam Miguel
01-29-2014, 10:16 AM
My Tsinoy dilemma

by Kathleen Yu

Posted on 01/21/2014 1:49 PM | Updated 01/26/2014 4:40 PM

My philosophy professor once asked my class, “Is a whale shark a whale or a shark?”

Most of the class picked up on the answer immediately: the whale shark was a shark with whale-like characteristics. I personally thought it was a stupid question; “whale” was obviously an adjective that described the word “shark.” But my professor wasn’t finished. “How do you know?” he asked the class, smiling.

“We don’t,” one of the smart alecks in class declared, and we all burst out laughing. Our professor shifted the discussion to another topic, and I soon forgot about his strange question

This amusing recollection came back to me several months later, on the plane ride back from my first trip to China. I found myself seated next to two Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) headed back to the Philippines from their respective stints abroad. One of the women had spent several months working at a butcher in Hong Kong, only to return home when her permit wasn’t renewed. She was a plump middle-aged woman, gregarious and engaging. The other, a short, thin woman in her early thirties, was returning from Saudi Arabia after filing an abuse complaint against her former employers. Both women took to each other immediately, and were deep in conversation even before the plane took off.

Relieved to be hearing the familiar undertones of a friendly conversation in Filipino (you can imagine how happy I was to be hearing them, after spending a week conversing in nothing but Mandarin), I quickly introduced myself and joined in their conversation. Both women stopped talking abruptly, obviously surprised by my awkward attempt at familiarity. Finally, the plump woman spoke

“You can speak Filipino?” she exclaimed, obviously surprised. “But you look so Chinese!”

“I was born in the Philippines,” I explained. “Why wouldn’t I be able to speak Filipino?” The plump woman frowned, considering my words carefully. “You look like you have Chinese blood,” she finally said.

“Both of my parents are Chinese,” I continued. “But I was born in the Philippines. I’m a Filipino.” The other woman shook her head. “No,” she said. “You’re not a Filipino. Both of your parents are Chinese. You’re Chinese.” Her friend agreed.

Not Filipino?

“You’re definitely a Chinese,” she said. “You don’t look Filipino at all.” I frowned. How could I not be a Filipino? Wasn’t I a Chinese-Filipino, a Filipino with Chinese heritage? Didn’t that make me as “Filipino” as these two OFWs who sat next to me, wildly excited to be back in the country with their families again? How could they tell me that I wasn’t a Filipino when I was born in the Philippines, and I’d spent all 22 years of my life there?

I thought about it carefully, remembering my philosophy professor’s whale shark question. I finally understood what he meant when he’d asked the class, “How do you know?” This was the exact same problem I now faced, as I struggled to justify to these two female OFWs why I was a Filipino with Chinese heritage—and not a Chinese who just happened to be born in the Philippines. My mother would be able to explain this so much better, I thought wryly.

As the president of a Tsinoy nonprofit and one of the leading Chinese-Filipino researchers in the Philippines, my mother is something of an expert in these kinds of matters. She has done extensive research on Chinese-Filipinos living in different parts of the country, and found that so many of us shared similar characteristics with many of our Filipino counterparts—while also retaining some very unique “Chinese” characteristics.

We are like a smaller sub-culture within a larger, encompassing culture—we share a lot of characteristics with our Filipino counterparts, but we are also unique in our own right. As Chinese-Filipinos, we exercise a lot of influence on the Filipino culture as well. Many of our customs and habits—holidays like Chinese New Year and specialty dishes like siopao, siomai, and mami, for example—have already been widely adopted by the mainstream culture. This is primarily due to the sheer number of Chinese Filipinos currently residing in the Philippines. We are considered one of the biggest “Chinese” populations in Asia, comprising nearly 1.6% of the total Philippine population as of 2005.

Prominent Chinese Filipino businessmen were also responsible for creating the “shopping mall culture” that many Filipinos are so proud of, setting up well-known chains like SM and Robinsons. Many of us are pillars in Philippine society, contributing widely to the advancement of arts, culture, and education. You’d only have to visit the Gokongwei Buildings at both the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University to fully appreciate how actively the Chinese Filipino community has contributed to advancing educational initiatives here in the country.

More or less

With all the positive contributions of the Chinese Filipino community, I find it hard to believe why those two female OFWs still felt that I was more “Chinese” than “Filipino.” Perhaps the biggest reason for this divisiveness is not because we are really very different from each other (my mother’s research has found that the Chinese Filipinos are actually more culturally similar to Filipinos than to the Chinese from Hong Kong and China), but that we as Filipinos have become so accustomed to identifying ourselves in terms of what makes us “different” and “unique” from the next group that we’ve forgotten how much more important our similarities are, how much more we can grow together if we focused not on the things that made us different—but on the common threads that bring us together

At the end of the day, my Tsinoy dilemma is not really a question of whether I’m more “Chinese” or more “Filipino.” Neither is it a question of the real difference between “Chinese Filipino” and “Filipino Chinese.” Rather it is a question of how Filipinos in general have chosen to identify with each other, opting to focus on the small cultural differences that make us different instead of finding the small, common threads that have long bound us together as one culture and one society. Because at the end of the day, we are all really just Filipinos—living together in one country and sharing the same resources.

The sooner we learn to accept that, the sooner we can come together as one, cohesive society. – Rappler.com

Kathleen Yu is a Communication Research student at the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Co-Founder and CEO of tech start-up Rumarocket. Her mother, Angela Yu, is one of the leading researchers of Chinese Filipino culture in the country.

Sam Miguel
01-29-2014, 10:23 AM
^^^ I have a good friend who looks Chinese, has a Chinese surname, attended a Chinese-Filipino school, and whose parents speak, read and even write in Mandarin and Cantonese. When he says Chinese surnames he says it with a Chinese inflection (like CHWA instead of CHUA, or WEE-LWAN instead of UYLOAN).

Like Kathleen up there however, he was born and raised in San Juan and Quezon City. And unlike Kathleen, he barely made it past his Mandarin lessons as a grade school kid. He doesn't know shit about Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect. He hates chopsticks because he doesn't quite know how to use them, and always asks for a knife and fork when we eat out.

Whenever you ask him he will say, without a hint of doubt or irony, that he is Filipino, that he is most definitely, categorically not Chinese. He is not ashamed of his Chinese heritage, and still follows a lot of their traditions and customs. It is just that he identifies himself as Filipino.

I wonder what Kathleen's mother, Angela would say about my friend?

Sam Miguel
03-14-2014, 09:52 AM
Bullied by the system, Filipino American senior faces eviction

by Vivian Zalvidea Araullo

Posted on 03/13/2014 3:33 PM | Updated 03/13/2014 10:54 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Benito Santiago, 63, stands in the kitchen of his third floor walk up apartment on the fringe of San Francisco’s South of Market district, pointing at faded photographs, tourist-spot magnets, and souvenir programs of dance parties; his life’s memorabilia on display on his refrigerator door.

In one of the photos, a youthful, carefree version of Santiago smiles.

Frail but still young-looking, Santiago chose to live the life of a struggling artist. He never married or had children. “I didn’t have enough money in a bank account,” he said, eyes downcast as he recalls lost loves. “And the ladies, they saw through that.”

Santiago, a first-generation Filipino American, is a ballroom-dancing instructor, a drummer, and a music instructor for special-needs children. He has held many odd jobs through the years, hustling for gigs that came and went, and making just enough to cover the monthly rent of $573.40 and buy food. The one constant he’s had in his life for the last 37 years is his one-bedroom apartment.

“I thought I was going to just live here and retire here, take time to catch up on reading, listen to albums,” Santiago said.

When $20,000 isn’t enough

Around Thanksgiving last year, he came home to a notice posted on his door. The new owners of his building were evicting him, and offered to buy him out for $20,000.

“If I didn’t take the offer in that first week, then all bets were off,” he said, summarizing the eviction notice. In panic, Santiago started giving away his things to friends.

Every room in his apartment is now filled with boxes of his life’s stuff – vinyl records, books, ties, hats, musical instruments. Another tenant in the building told Santiago that he was not leaving that easily and would try and fight the eviction. That woke Santiago up.

“Twenty thousand dollars is not going to last. Across the street, a one bedroom is (renting out for) $4,000,” he said.

A US Census Bureau report released last year shows that San Francisco now has the highest median rent in the nation, pushed up by the arrival of new, wealthy residents from the tech industry.

Lawyers and advocates for elders have told Santiago that as a senior, he could get a reprieve and continue to live in his home until December. “What comes after? I see a big question mark,” he said.

Santiago stoically goes down his short list of options: Relatives do not have room for him; he’s putting in bids for low-income housing; he’s hoping a Catholic-run retirement home for impoverished seniors, Saint Anne’s Little Sisters of the Poor, will take him.

He has even thought of enrolling in a gym that operates 24 hours, 7 days a week – because that would be a roof over his head.

“At least, there’s a shower there, and I could stay clean,” he said.

Weathering tough times

Santiago has weathered tough times before. He’s lived in a janitor’s closet, trading that sleeping space for doing odd office jobs. Poverty and hardship are nothing new to him.

It’s only when he talks of the other elderly San Franciscans who have been evicted that his voice shakes with grief. Santiago’s eyes fill with tears as he recalls the story of an elderly woman who eventually died on the streets, homeless, after she was evicted in 1994.

“She could have been a mother or a grandmother,” Santiago said. “My wishful thinking is for these [real estate] speculators to have a conscience. They may have a lot of money, but how do they feel when a mother or grandmother is out on the streets?”

He stops. He’s unable to speak for a few minutes. He silently cries for poor, elders, people with disabilities, and the families who, like him, face an uncertain future in a city that has no more room for them – even if they’ve known no other home but San Francisco.

Santiago’s mind wanders to memories of his childhood. “As a Filipino child and teenager growing up in San Francisco, I was always the youngest, the runt in the group,” Santiago recalled. Whenever confronted by bullies, he would let the bigger boys do the fighting, while he ran away.

“Now, I’m too old to run. I have to stand my ground and take whatever political and economic blows they can throw,” he said.

Anti-eviction protest

Santiago has become part of a protest movement to amend California’s Ellis Act, the law that allows landlords to evict tenants in order to sell the rental apartments as condo units.

He is also one of several evicted seniors who have filed criminal complaints in San Francisco of elder abuse against their landlords in early February. The seniors say evicting them endangers and inflicts physical and emotional harm on them, a violation of California Penal Code 368, which protects elders and dependent adults.

“I’ll stay here, meeting the challenge instead of turning around and exiting. It’s not just for me. I’m doing this for seniors and those with disabilities,” he said.

Finally, says Santiago, he’s learning to stand up to his bullies. – Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
03-14-2014, 10:06 AM
^^^ Why doesn't he come home to the Philippines?

$20,000 is more or less P900,000 at present exchange rates.

He's 63 years old, with maybe 10-15 years to go. If he lives out his days in Olongapo or Los Banos for instance, he could get by with just paying between P2,500 to 3,000 a month on rent, maybe plunk down another P1,000 to 1,200 on utilities, and another P1,500 on food and water. That's P5,700 a month, maximum. Or P68,400 for a whole year. Or P684,000 for 10 years. That will still leave him P212,000 after 10 years.

And that is assuming he doesn't put that money into any other business or investment instruments. He could take P500,000 of that, maybe get a variable-utility insurance plan, get back maybe P1.5 to 2 million in 10 years.

His remaining P400,000 will tide him over for five years with some P56,000 left over. After five years he could take out maybe P200,000 from his plan, by which time it should have earned enough to not have the original P500,000 amount touched anymore.

Then again he obviously never gave his future much thought, so maybe this is asking to much of him at age 63.

04-13-2014, 07:15 AM
Culture trap?

By Juan L. Mercado

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:13 am | Saturday, April 12th, 2014

The Internet carried this week a riveting article titled “Trapped Between Cultures—Neither Filipino Nor American.” The author is Dr. Eugenio Amparo, who has lived in the United States since 1974 when he started residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Now Amparo is retired. “I find time to contemplate [issues ranging from] quantum mechanics to the history of the bra,” which has led him to an “uncomfortable conclusion.” Neither Filipino nor American, he is “trapped between cultures.”

A 2012 head count shows 14,785 Filipino physicians in the United States—a distant second to Indians. And 2,952 Filipino nurses took US licensure exams from January to September 2013—up by nearly 11 percent.

Nurses have a recent face. In his 2013 State of the Union Address, US President Barack Obama said: “When Hurricane ‘Sandy’ plunged New York University Langone Medical Center into darkness, nurse Menchu Sanchez from the Philippines didn’t think of her own home… Her mind was on the 20 newborns in her care.” The “rescue plan” she organized—taking babies down eight flights of stairs—kept them all safe.

As a child in Iloilo City, Amparo recalls dreaming of America: cars, supermarkets, snow. “Now, I have a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz in a three-car garage; a refrigerator full of food; and obesity. Add loneliness. I miss the Philippines.”

When he visits, “I envy the close family and friendship ties.” His first cousins are scattered in Metro Manila. Sundays, they lunch together in Quezon City. “By contrast, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I met, in the past 10 years, with my brother in Virginia and sister in Oregon.”

Amparo’s daughter lives in San Francisco—a two-hour drive from his home. They meet once every two months. “My son and grandchildren are a 20-minute drive away.” It’s a major feat to see them once a week.

“Americans are too busy.” The world’s greatest economic power also has the loneliest people with a very high prevalence of depression. “I am not American enough to resign myself to loneliness, as a consequence of a rugged individualism…”

The solution? Retire in the Philippines? But it takes almost two hours to drive 13 kilometers from the University of the Philippines in Quezon City to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila. You can barrel 104 kilometers from Sacramento to San Francisco in the same time. “I’m no longer Filipino enough to be patient with Manila traffic.”

Dealing with the US Department of Motor Vehicles or Internal Revenue Service can be frustrating. But it is done without bribes. “Our medical school alumni association donated a cargo container of supplies for [PGH]. It was confiscated by Customs and released only after politicians intervened.”

“I am no longer Filipino enough to ignore the chasm between rich and poor. A few minutes from Manila Polo Club, street children beg for coins. In the provinces, an unnerving darkness swallows up the small villages. I’m now too American to ignore all this, although I barely noticed it when I lived in the Philippines.”

“As a child I was so dirty and had to be periodically dewormed… My stomach has become too American, but I still long for bamboo shoots, hearts of palm, dinuguan, lechon, and talaba.”

What gnaws is the emergency services gap. America lulls you into the feeling that police, firemen or paramedics are a 911 call away. “I don’t see how an ambulance can possibly make it through Manila traffic.” You bump into armed guards outside gated communities, even in a noodle restaurant. “It seems no one expects the police to be of any help against criminals.”

That’s a partial profile of the diaspora. Filipino doctors and nurses also serve in Asean countries, the Middle East, Europe. While touring a cardiac center in Bedfordshire, Britain’s 91-year-old Prince Philip turned to a Filipino nurse and cracked: “The Philippines must be half-empty. You’re all here running the National Health Service.”

Today, the Philippines licenses 89,000 nurses who graduate from 491 schools. Another 4,500 new doctors are turned out by 38 medical schools, not to mention 1,240 dentists. But some will join an average of 3,568 Filipinos who migrate daily today. Given half the chance, 19 out of every 100 would scram for good, Pulse Asia surveys found.

Medical services here remain skewed. Private health facilities, considered by clients as providing better services, were heavily used by patients from higher-income groups (about 15 percent) than from the penurious (about 5 percent), the Asian Development Bank notes.

The poor trek to rural health units and village health stations. Despite heroic efforts like Doctors to the Barrio programs, they provide shabby service: “Diagnosis is poor, resulting in repeat visits. Medicines are inferior and rarely available. And politicians try to bore into contracts for supplies—and threaten doctors who balk. So, many altruistic qualified doctors quit.”

In a country where legislators gorge on pork barrel, the total health expenditure per capita stands at 3.9 percent of GDP. Contrast that with the Western Pacific regional average of 6.1 percent. There have been attempts at innovative reforms, such as health-sector public-private partnerships, among others.

Migration, however, seeks out talent across the board. Three of our five children have migrated: a pilot, a lawyer, and a United Nations official. That’s par for the course.

Health personnel who stay don’t begrudge those who scoot. Ever homesick migrants pay back in service to the poorest in their countries of adoption. Dr. Eugenio Amparo, we’re sure, is one of those who “bloom wherever they are planted.” That service remains to be documented more fully.

11-24-2014, 08:42 AM
Obama on immigration–What took him so long?

Emil Guillermo


6:10 AM | Thursday, November 20th, 2014

When I talk to Jose Antonio Vargas, the undocumented Filipino activist, now filmmaker in America, he couldn’t drive without papers. But he was driven.

That’s what fighting for immigration reform will do. But this week as he was continuing to spread his message, other unauthorized immigrant/activists in Chicago were turning themselves in.

“It’s the same thing I did with a group of 11 in August,” said Vargas, adding that there’s such a backlog nothing is done immediately. But the tactic was clear.

“The Republicans keep saying ‘Get in the back of the line’ but there is no line. So we started one.”

That’s just one of the reactions President Obama’s impending executive action is getting.

You haven’t heard? President Obama is just about to make things interesting.

As I write, the full details aren’t yet out. But enough has been leaked to set the political world abuzz.

The president is going to ride that new third rail of politics—immigration—all the way out of office.

It’s not comprehensive immigration reform. It’s more like some temporary fixes under the rubric “Executive Action.” They are the things the president has always been able to do, but it seems he’s felt he could use immigration as a bargaining chip to get other things he wanted.

You’d be right in asking, “What’s he been waiting for?”

In fact, there was a whole red herring debate over whether he could or could not take action.

He could have. He just thought he could get some deal with the Republicans. In a divided government, that hasn’t worked out. So here comes the quick, Obama executive immigration fix, no Congress necessary.

According to media reports, the plan would provide deportation relief for up to five million people.

It would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program for DREAMers, that could make many more people eligible by changing the cutoff date to 2010 and eliminating the age limit on individuals.

And undocumented parents of children who are citizens or legal residents may be able to get work permits.

The proposal still wouldn’t include the family unity items Asian Americans want to see, like a speedier process for bringing relatives to the US.

But there could be new tech visas in the offing. And there’s talk about eliminating the mandatory fingerprinting program under Secure Communities, or S-Comm, that led to massive deportations of hundreds of thousands of immigrants since 2009.

Just remember it is constitutional. Republican presidents have done it. But also remember it isn’t amnesty.

Amnesty would be permanent. This is more like a de-emphasizing of certain rules, within the discretion of the president. Look at Obama as the Prosecutor-in-Chief. He’s choosing to relax certain areas. But certainly not all.

Remember, Obama’s the guy who has been behind over two million deportations in his administration. That’s how earnest he’s been in dealing with the GOP to the dismay of immigration advocates.

The leak by Fox did act as a heads up to the Tea Party regulars to gear up for the “executive action is amnesty and amnesty is unconstitutional” fight.

When The New York Times finally got their leak on so they didn’t have to quote Fox, we knew that the truth was somewhere in between here and Asia, where the president chose to recover from those dismal midterm elections.

It does seem to be a good way to get away from it all, doesn’t it?

Obama started his Asia trip with the release of Asian American Kenneth Bae from the North Koreans (which proves the pres has more game than Dennis Rodman). But maybe the immigration leak works out for the president as well.

Nothing like talking about executive action on immigration when you’re halfway around the world in Myanmar, far from your most outspoken opponents. (And a kind of shout out to Burmese American immigrants.)

That didn’t stop Tea Party House members from announcing there’s a December 12 deadline to fund the government and they’re looking to put a lump of coal in everyone’s stocking.

Already Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) (who beat Eric Cantor) are leading a charge to attach a rider blocking any immigration reform–or else. The “or else”? Shut down the government, of course.

If the message of the low-turnout midterms was that voters want the politicians to start working toward solutions, apparently some didn’t get that memo.

Asian Americans, however, are solidly for executive action on immigration, according to the multilingual exit poll of over 4,100 Asian American voters that was conducted by AALDEF in collaboration with 65 national and local community groups in 11 states.

In response to the question “If Congress does not act on immigration reform, do you think President Obama should take his own executive actions on immigration?,” 65 percent of Asian Americans polled said yes.

Where are Filipinos? Another poll of multilingual Asian American voters done by Asian American Decisions came up with some data that shows Filipinos are in line with other Asian Americans backing immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

But it will make for exciting partisan Thanksgiving dinners, when the family can sit according to status and party and jawbone until the food coma kicks in.

Sam Miguel
05-13-2015, 07:53 AM
OPINION | Why Pinoys don't bring their 'bad habits' abroad, Part 1 of 2

By: Cesar Polvorosa Jr., InterAksyon.com

May 12, 2015 11:18 AM

The online news portal of TV5

(Editor’s note: Cesar Polvorosa Jr. is a business school professor of economics, world geography, and international business management in Canada. He is also a published writer in economics, business, and literature.)

The streets of Manila embody chaos: Masses of vehicles crowd the roads, crisscrossing each other’s paths with buses and jeepneys stopping almost everywhere to disgorge and pick up passengers amidst the incessant assault of blaring horns and suffocating, lingering smog.

Equally ill-disciplined pedestrians trudged across sidewalks cheek by jowl with makeshift stalls in a landscape of potholed roads.

A sudden thunderstorm leaves commuters stranded and wading in putrid floods aggravated by overflowing clogged esteros.

The gridlock in the streets of Manila symbolizes the glacial pace of good governance and progress in the sprawling archipelago. However, as I have observed in my three-part article on the Filipino Diaspora, the Filipino driver and commuter easily adapts to traffic conditions in say, North America and does not bring over his/her “bad habits” from the Philippine homeland. Why?

‘Survival of the fittest’ behavior

The unruly Filipino suddenly transforms into a courteous and law-abiding driver and/or commuter when overseas especially in western countries (though ingrained “bad habits” occasionally surface). What is it about the West such as Canada that encourages people to obey traffic rules?

The Filipino is acutely aware that traffic rules and regulations will be applied strictly and equally with stipulated sanctions regardless of class or status. To violate traffic rules is to stick out like a sore thumb because almost everyone else is following them. Furthermore, attempts to bribe or pull rank and exhibit arrogance from a sense of entitlement will only worsen the situation.

The “survival of the fittest” behavior is not needed since infrastructure is much improved.

On the other hand, what is it about the Philippines that fosters anarchy on its roads? Traffic rules are frequently violated or often ignored in exchange for a bribe or because of connections. The infrastructure is also so broken down and inadequate that drivers take “creative shortcuts” to reach their destination in the quickest possible time.

In short, the Filipino driver or commuter’s behavior is shaped by “the rules of the game” which is the popular definition of “institutions.”

The institutional approach spells out the role of the reward and punishment mechanism of institutions in influencing behavior.

There is no clear incentive in the Philippine setting to follow the basic courtesy of the road. There is a widespread perception that rules are not applied equally that combines with a deep distrust of authority.

In fact, following rules such as staying in line will almost guarantee that one will fall behind because others are not lining up properly and are getting ahead.

Particularly in North America, celebrities and politicians are sometimes in the news for publicized traffic violations and the sanctions meted out. For instance, a popular mayor in the Toronto area struck a sign post with her car some years ago for which she was fined $110. Can this actually happen to a Filipino politician or to politicians of many other countries?

What is the origin of this distorted incentives mechanism and flawed institutions?

Causes: Small elite, extractive institutions

The centuries of colonization under the Spaniards and the half century of American rule installed a small elite, extractive institutions and engendered dynasties that aggrandize themselves and controlled the country’s resources.

The outcome over generations had been institutionalized corruption and poor governance which permeated the bureaucracy. If franchises can be granted that strengthens the oligarchy how much more for receiving bribes to overlook traffic violations?

Vested interests and the rule of a small elite lead to corruption and class privilege resulting eventually in highly unequal income distribution and the quagmire of poverty. The people subsequently endure years of inadequate and deteriorating infrastructure. Minor functionaries had no incentive to be honest when the officials above them are corrupt. In turn, the impoverished state of the country leads droves of its citizens to immigrate.

Poor governance, deplorable road discipline, and traffic conditions are just symptoms of Philippine under-development. Note the similar conditions in many developing regions such as Africa which has the highest road fatality rate among the regions of the world. Under-development in turn is a multi-faceted process involving history, culture, institutions, geographies, and resulting motivations.

There is a rich literature on modernization theory or explanations on the prosperity and poverty of nations which include a classic work such as Webber’s “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” to a present day influential work, “Why Nations Fail” by Robinson and Acemoglu.

Sam Miguel
05-13-2015, 07:54 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Growth from achievement motivation

For our purpose, David C. McClelland’s landmark book “The Achieving Society” (1961) wherein he argued that cultural customs and especially the motivation for achievement are the major triggers of economic growth is especially relevant for the focus of this article as he discussed the role of the need for achievement through entrepreneurship. He observed that long run economic growth is preceded by a high level of achievement motivation.

We analyze the work of McClelland and examine their implications in the Philippine context. The achievement motivation and success is hobbled in societies where a small elite corners resources and where it is widely perceived that unequal advantages are critical for upward mobility.

In short, personal networks and financial resources become the vital ingredients of success. Philippine society is notorious for reliance on family connections and padrinos - the patronage system.

The amassing of wealth and influence becomes a self-perpetuating system of the elite few. As business Professor Michael Lewis noted about the Philippines, “Leadership is based on family name, age, and connections.” (When Cultures Collide: 477).

There is distrust of outsiders for they may desire the same positions and resources and thus, hampers cooperation transcending the family and clan.

Over the generations, Philippine politics have degenerated into dynasties and personality based contests. Laws and regulations i.e. formal institutions are not taken seriously and are weakly implemented such as in poor traffic management.

Subsequently, informal institutions i.e. beliefs, customs value systems, etc. try to compensate and become the basis for interactions and transactions such as using personal connections in traffic violations. The distorted incentive system and unfairness leads to cynicism, apathy, and resignation - and the Philippines is certainly not unique in this regard.

Similarity with Latin America

Why did Latin America to which the Philippines is highly similar in culture and colonial history lagged behind North America which was also colonized by the Europeans? In both Philippines and Latin America the encomienda model was instituted by the Spaniards which concentrated wealth in the hands of the few that led to a vicious cycle of corruption and penury.

In contrast, famed British historian Niall Ferguson (6 Killer Apps) observed the high rate of land ownership of household heads in Canada and the US compared to a Latin American nation such as Mexico. Canadian and American pioneers were motivated to work hard and become entrepreneurial as they own land and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The historical and economic paths of the US vs. Russia are also worth analyzing.

Independent American immigrant families settled the Western frontier and developed self-reliance and entrepreneurship incentivized by the free enterprise system and enforcement of private property rights.

The Russian nation developed through their conquest of their Eastern frontier eventually reaching Alaska beyond Siberia and the Pacific. These rugged Russian pioneers were mostly serfs in servitude to their nobles. They were motivated to work hard to ensure survival in the harsh environment but they cannot be entrepreneurial nor become prosperous under feudalism. The Russian character of expansionism became an antecedent to Marxism and authoritarianism. For the serfs, resiliency became the imperative amidst hardships and an unjust system.

Resiliency is basic human trait

In the wake of the horrific devastation of typhoon Haiyan the public discourse centered on the celebration of the resiliency of the Filipino. Indeed, the Filipino is a hardy race.

“Resiliency” or the “ability to bounce back” is however a basic human trait as self-preservation requires resiliency. Many nations notably the Japanese, Koreans, and Germans have gone on to excruciating war time sufferings, demonstrated admirable resiliency, and advanced beyond survival to unprecedented heights of prosperity in their countries’ histories.

There are various inspiring national motivations - attaining the American dream through free enterprise and the conquest of the frontier, the passion of the Chinese to reclaim past glory, the fortitude of the Japanese and the Germans to rise like the phoenix from the ashes of defeat, the ascent of South Koreans under the shadow of a hostile North, etc.

What about Filipinos? What is the distinct narrative that the Philippines offers to the world? What motivates Filipinos to become achievers - or are they in fact motivated to succeed? The focus has been on the resiliency of Filipinos because as Philippine history would demonstrate, the nation survives and endures through wars, natural disasters, and years of misrule - but is unable to become an achieving and prosperous society. As I posed the issues before: Is there a Filipino Dream? Is it a well-articulated, deeply and widely shared national vision? Finally, do Filipinos dare to dream big?

06-04-2015, 10:52 AM
History repeating itself

Randy David


Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:09 AM | Thursday, June 4th, 2015

In the last decades of Spanish colonial rule over the Philippines, Filipinos found themselves split into basically three groups. The first accepted Spanish rule but called on Spain to reciprocate their loyalty with better treatment. The second took Spanish rule as a given, but campaigned for a greater voice in the governance of the islands. The third group rejected foreign rule and pressed for full independence.

The same divisions reappeared under American colonial rule. The three groups were called, respectively, “annexationists,” “autonomists,” and “independentists.” The first desired full integration of the islands into the United States. The second called for self-rule under American patronage. And the third worked for full independence from foreign rule.

These categories occur wherever the inhabitants of a place think of themselves as constituting an entity distinct from those who wield power over them. The perceived difference typically draws from various sources of identity: race, ethnicity, religion, language, culture, history—or a mixture of any of these. Where we were as a people not too long ago, there the rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front find themselves today. They and those who came before them have long regarded our government as a foreign imposition on the Bangsamoro community. They draw their emancipatory aspirations from the same sentiments that animated the American Revolution against the British, and, indeed, the Filipino wars of liberation against Spain and the United States.

The affiliations described are, of course, never permanent. Some start out as “reformists” and graduate to being “revolutionaries.” Others begin as revolutionaries and turn into reformists. After a long and difficult struggle, they are persuaded to lay down their arms in exchange for a political settlement that is less than their original goal but promises to be better than the status quo. Indeed, some go back to being revolutionaries after their hopes are dashed by recurrent duplicity and betrayal.

I imagine that the same divisions exist today in Southern Mindanao. The “annexationists” demand greater attention by the Manila government for neglected Mindanao, but they think this can be achieved by a respectful integration of its institutions into a more inclusive Filipino nation. Mindanao’s traditional elites belong to this mold.

Then there are the “autonomists.” Most of them are original advocates of secession who, having grown weary of war, agree to negotiate a political settlement that permits them meaningful self-rule within the framework of the Philippine Republic. The MILF is the current champion of this path.

At the polar end of this political spectrum are the motley rebel groups who are still calling for secession. We can count among them the so-called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the many idealistic but unaffiliated Moros whose disenchantment with previous peace agreements has made them totally distrustful of the Manila government.

If it successfully hurdles the legislative process with its key provisions intact, the Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region would be the most comprehensive measure ever to be crafted by any Filipino administration to address the Moro problem. It would be, by any measure, a bold and gigantic step toward curing the historical injustice that was produced by the unilateral annexation of Muslim Mindanao by an independent Filipino nation.

A Bangsamoro law that is basically a rehash of the congressional act that created the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao would only maintain the same systemic conditions that led to the failure of the ARMM experiment. I dare say that all the Mindanao peace accords that had been signed under previous administrations essentially entailed buying off the loyalty of Moro leaders in order to keep the region exploitable for the benefit of interests other than those of the peoples of Mindanao. The inevitable failure of such a law would only recruit more people into the secessionist rebellion.

It is remarkable that the legislators who demand guarantees that the creation of a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region would not be a prelude to an independent state are the same ones who seek to strip the autonomous region’s government of the very powers and resources it needs to make genuine autonomy viable. In so doing, they are only creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To me, the main message of the bill now pending in Congress should be: that we, the Filipino people, recognizing the historic injustices that past generations inflicted on the people of this region, now seek to bind these wounds once and for all. That we do so of our own accord—not out of fear, but in solidarity with those who, like us, have felt the oppressive hand of colonialism.

Once upon a time, Filipinos took comfort in the words of the American writer Mark Twain, who himself might have been branded a traitor by his own people. He used to be, he said, “a red-hot imperialist,” who could not wait to see the American eagle “spread its wings over the Philippines… put a miniature of the American Constitution afloat in the Pacific….” Explaining how he turned into an ardent anti-imperialist, he said: “But I have thought some more, since then… I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way.”

* * *

10-18-2015, 05:30 AM
E di pati nagtitinda sa bangketa Inglisero na din. Alangan naman yung lang mga naturingang pinagpala ang pwedeng umastang Kano...hehe.

01-25-2016, 03:11 PM
To Fil-Am Republicans: Do you really want to be part of this?

By: Boying Pimentel


INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau

09:30 PM January 18th, 2016

Twenty years ago, one of the biggest political questions in the United States was whether Colin Powell, the popular former U.S. general, was going to run for president and whether he would do so as a Democrat or a Republican.

He eventually announced that he wasn’t running for president as he ended speculation on his party affiliation: Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, declared himself a Republican.

In fact, he said he hoped to become an active member of the Republican Party, saying, “I believe I can help the party of Lincoln move once again close to the spirit of Lincoln.”

A year later, he again used that phrase, calling on fellow Republicans to “let the party of Lincoln be in the forefront, leading the crusade, not only to cut off and kill discrimination, but to open every avenue of educational and economic opportunity to those who are still denied access because of their race, ethnic background or gender.”

“It is our party, the party of Lincoln, that must always stand for equal rights and fair opportunity for all,” Powell said at the 1996 Republican National Convention.

It was when I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” that I really understood what Powell was talking about.

It may come as a shock to many that the Republican Party was once the most progressive and most courageous political movement in the United States. This was, after all, the party that led the struggle in eradicating what’s still considered the ugliest stain on American history: slavery.

Lincoln stands out in “Team of Rivals” as a skillful political strategist and a visionary leader with a big heart, who, even on a personal level, rejected the prevailing view (held by top Democrats of the time) that African Americans were subhuman.

Recalling his relationship with Lincoln, the African American leader and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, said, “He treated me as a man; he did not let me feel for a moment that there was any difference in the color of our skins.”

Fast forward 150 years and we have a radically different picture: The party of Lincoln is now the party of Trump.

Today, the most popular politician in the party of Lincoln is calling for a ban on all Muslim travel to the United States and appears to become even more popular in Republican ranks with every brazenly racist comment.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said early in his campaign. “ They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

The party of Lincoln is now also the party of Ted Cruz who defended Trump’s comment on Mexicans by saying, “I don’t think you should apologize for speaking out against the problem that is illegal immigration.”

The last six months have been excruciatingly painful for anyone trying to follow and understand U.S. politics.

This Republican presidential primary season has been the nastiest and most mean-spirited campaign I’ve witnessed since I moved to the U.S. a quarter of a century ago. Last week’s Republican debate was simply mind-numbing.

Take one of the highlights of the evening featuring yet another one of Trump’s over-the-top fear-mongering rants. Asked if he’d consider rethinking his call for a ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S., he quickly answered: “No.”

“Look, we have to stop with political correctness,” Trump continued. “We have to get down to creating a country that’s not going to have the kind of problems that we’ve had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers, with the — with the shootings in California, with all the problems all over the world. I just left Indonesia — bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb. We have to find out what’s going on.”

This is also a question Fil-Am Republicans should be asking: What’s going on? What’s happened to the party of Lincoln?

As Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke described the debate in his headline: “Fear-filled GOP debate shows candidates lack one iota of self-awareness.”

It was entertaining to watch, until one realizes that the debate featured leaders of a political movement that still exerts considerable influence on life in the U.S. and even the world.

Tough to disagree with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni who writes: “The only sane response was sorrow that this is a presidential election in the greatest democracy on earth, and that blowhards like Trump and Cruz are, for now, setting the pace and the terms in one of our two major political parties.”

Again to Fil-Am republicans: Do you really want to be part of this?

12-27-2017, 09:17 AM
US bills and policies that could harm immigrant families

By: Lourdes Santos Tancinco Esq. - @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net US Bureau / 02:37 AM December 27, 2017

The year 2017 has been challenging for most immigrants. Many Filipino immigrants have been concerned with changes in federal policies and how these are affecting families and employment. The following developments are reasons for apprehensions about the future of U.S. immigration:

Attacking Family Immigration

A bill known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act seeks to cut current legal immigration by at least 50%. The serious impact of this bill is the big reduction in family member categories of those who can be petitioned. It includes limiting qualified family members to only minor children and spouse of the U.S. citizens.

Under the RAISE proposal, parents, adult married or unmarried children and siblings of U.S. citizens can no longer be petitioned. In addition, the age of minor children will be reduced to those under the age of 18 (from the current 21).

For millions of Filipinos who are beneficiaries of family petitions, this bill will be a disappointment, especially for families who have been waiting decades to be reunified. This bill definitely does not bode well for family reunification.

Merit-Based System

Without taking into account family unity and the needs of businesses, the RAISE Act proposes to eliminate the current employment system of immigration. It prioritizes skills over family unity by designating a point system for future immigration applicants.

Heightened Enforcement

In his first month in office, President Trump released his on Interior Enforcement Executive Order prioritizing enforcement. He ordered a budget to hire more than 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that may lead to more raids and mass deportations. An enforcement only bill, H.R. 243, was introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) that dramatically expands immigration enforcement and further criminalizes undocumented immigrants.

Fixing DACA

Young unauthorized immigrants are looking forward to legislation that will provide a solution to their predicament, given the termination of the DACA program in September of 2017. The DREAM Act bill would have provided a permanent solution by granting conditional permanent status to DACA beneficiaries and allowing them to become U.S. citizens in 5 years. Other bills like the SUCCEED Act also provided a permanent status but came with restrictions.

Under those bills, Dreamers would be prohibited from sponsoring their children and spouses in order to prevent chain migration. There were also provisions that would compel Dreamers to sign away their rights to any immigration benefit or relief, like immediate deportation without due process if they commit minor crimes such as driving without license, or shoplifting.

All the above bills are contained in the White House Principles on immigration and obviously will have negative impact on many immigrants. The most disheartening proposals are the attacks on family, the foundation of this nation and the spirit behind our immigration law. Our community must continue to advocate for what is right and bring the message to our legislators in their home districts this holiday season. Ask them to support immigration bills that are humane and value family unity instead of forcing them apart.

I waited until December 22 to write about an immigration update hoping that I would bring good news about a positive development on the DREAM Act. Those who are beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will have to wait until January 2018 to find out whether or not Congress will pass the DREAM Act, which is the permanent fix to the DACA program for young undocumented immigrants. This holiday season will still be spent with uncertainty hanging over the future of DACA recipients. While this is a disappointment to many, I am still hopeful that with bipartisan support in Congress, there will be an opportunity for passage of the DREAM Act early 2018.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

04-19-2018, 08:18 AM
Filipino immigrant wins case in US Supreme Court

01:04 AM April 19, 2018

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Tuesday that part of a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes is too vague to be enforced.

Tuesday’s decision involves James Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who came to the United States legally as a 13-year-old in 1992.

After he pleaded no contest to two charges of burglary in California, the government began deportation proceedings against him. The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law.

Immigration officials relied on a section of immigration law that lists crimes that make people eligible for deportation. The category in which Dimaya’s convictions fell is a crime “that, by its very nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force…may be used in the course of committing the offense.”

Immigration judges would have allowed Dimaya to be deported, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down the provision as unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Tuesday.

The court’s 5-4 decision – in an unusual alignment in which new Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberal justices – concerns a catchall provision of immigration law that defines what makes a crime violent. Conviction for a crime of violence makes deportation “a virtual certainty” for an immigrant, no matter how long he has lived in the United States, Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion for the court.

The decision is a loss for President Donald Trump’s administration, which has emphasized stricter enforcement of immigration law. In this case, President Barack Obama’s administration took the same position in the Supreme Court in defense of the challenged provision.

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that the court’s decision “means that Congress must close loopholes that block the removal of dangerous criminal aliens, including aggravated felons.” He ended by saying “Keep America Safe!”

With the four other conservative justices in dissent, it was the vote of Trump-appointee Gorsuch that was decisive in striking down the provision at issue. Gorsuch did not join all of Kagan’s opinion, but he agreed with her that the law could not be left in place.

Gorsuch wrote that “no one should be surprised that the Constitution looks unkindly on any law so vague that reasonable people cannot understand its terms and judges do not know where to begin in applying it.”

The case turned on a decision from 2015 that struck down a similarly worded part of another federal law that imposes longer prison sentences on repeat criminals. The majority opinion in that case was one of the last written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 and whose seat Gorsuch filled.

The 2015 decision “tells us how to resolve this case,” Kagan wrote.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement after the ruling that it “significantly undermines” its “efforts to remove aliens convicted of certain violent crimes.”

The decision does not, however, interfere with the government’s ability to deport people who are convicted of clearly violent crimes, including murder and rape, as well as drug trafficking and other serious offenses.

The ruling is limited to a category of crimes that carry a prison term of more than a year, but do not otherwise comfortably fit in a long list of “aggravated felonies” that can lead to deportation.

The case was initially argued in January 2017 by a court that was short a member because of Scalia’s death and the refusal of Senate Republicans to act on Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Deadlocked 4-4, the justices scheduled a new round of arguments once Gorsuch joined the court.

The case is Sessions v. Dimaya, 15-1498.

10-22-2019, 09:31 AM
‘Pinay Visionaries’ being honored during Fil-Am History Month

INQUIRER.NET U.S. Bureau / 01:23 AM October 22, 2019

SEATTLE, Washington — Filipina American women leaders, laborers, scholars, scientists, and activists who have been the backbone of the Filipino American community are the focus of the Filipino American National Historical Society’s commemoration of Filipino American History Month.

These Filipina Americans overcame racial and gender discrimination and persevered to contribute to their respective fields and the Filipino American communinity. With “Pinay Visionaries: Celebrating Filipina American Women,” FANHS honors Filipina American women leaders across the United States, including:

Dorothy Laigo Cordova– Founder and Executive Director of the Filipino American National Historical Society. She began organizing and advocating for the Filipino American community since the 1950s. Her vision has paved the way for FANHS, Filipino American History Month, and Filipino American Studies.
Victoria “Vicki” Manalo Draves– the first Asian American Olympic gold medalist. She won two gold medals in platform and springboard diving in 1948.
Felicisima “Ping” Serafica – the first Filipina American professor of psychology to receive tenure in the U.S. She helped establish one of the Philippines’ first hospitals for children with mental disabilities and the country’s first interdisciplinary mental healthclinic.
Thelma Buchholdt – the first Filipina American elected to a legislature in the United States in 1974 and the first Asian American elected to serve as President of the National Order of Women Legislators.
Dawn Bohulano Mabalon – the first Filipina to receive a Ph.D. in History from Stanford University. She was a professor, a historic preservationist, and the author of Little Manila is in the Heartand Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 (and later ratified in 1920), the 19th Amendment gave women in the United States the right to vote.

While Filipina American women (and many other women of color) could not vote until much later, the 19th Amendment was a measure that dramatically modified the political and social landscape of the United States.

FANHS encourages organizations and communities across the United States to incorporate this theme of celebrating Filipina American Women in their Filipino American History Month events. Stories of Pinay Visionaries in people’s lives are welcome at #FAHM2019 on social media, including Instagram, Twitter <@fanhs_national> and Facebook page @FANHSnatl.

The celebration of Filipino American History Month in October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States, which occurred on October 18, 1587, when “Luzones Indios” came ashore from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California. In 2009, U.S. Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month in the United States. Various states, counties and cities in the U.S. have established proclamations and resolutions declaring observance of Filipino American History Month.

The year 2019 also marks the 37th anniversary of the Filipino American National Historical Society. Across the nation, the 37 FANHS Chapters, colleges, universities, museums, and community groups, will be commemorating Filipino American History Month with various activities and events to bring awareness of the significant role Filipinos have played in American history.

10-22-2019, 09:33 AM
New Mexico looks to PH in filling teacher shortage

By: Sam Ribakoff - @inquirerdotnet

Associated Press / INQUIRER.net US Bureau / 01:34 AM October 22, 2019

AZTEC, New Mexuci — It was a cold Monday morning at C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec. Students stumbled into Shannon Albores’ history class and take off their rumpled jackets. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they greeted their teacher by saying in unison, ‘magandang umaga!‘— which is Filipino for ‘good morning.’

Albores was born and raised in a city called Cebu in the Philippines. There she earned a teaching credential and started teaching kindergarten and elementary school. She liked it, but after learning of an opportunity to teach abroad — and with it, the chance to earn a higher salary — she took the opportunity.

Albores, along with seven other teachers from various parts of the Philippines, started working in the Aztec Municipal School District at the start of the 2019 school year to fill persistently unfilled vacancies at the school district, especially in special education departments in all grade levels.

“These are positions that had been vacant for seven years,” said Tania Prokop, the Deputy Superintendent of the Aztec Municipal School District, “luckily we found a local company to bring teachers here from the Philippines.”

That Farmington-based company charges fees to those teachers, and its owner said she keeps those fees as low as possible because she, herself, paid much higher fees when she came to this country years ago through another agency that charged her twice as much.

School districts, like Aztec, and others throughout the country have turned to an emerging international contract teacher industry that recruits teachers from around the world to teach in school districts throughout the country. One of those contracting companies, Bepauche International, has its offices in Farmington.

“Our pool of teachers can be 500 to 1000 teachers big. We’re ready and willing to fill vacancies,” said Cheryl Marie Maghinay, the co-owner of Bepauche International, via telephone from the Philippines, where she was on a recruiting trip looking for Filipino teachers to send to schools across the U.S.

Maghinay herself was a teacher, immigrating to the U.S. from General Santos city in the Philippines. She got her masters degree in education in the United States, and then taught in Antelope Valley, California, and then on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

On the Navajo Nation, Maghinay said she saw the need schools in the U.S. had for teachers, especially in rural schools, so in 2015 she said she started Bepauche International to bring qualified Filipino teachers to the U.S.

“We check to see if our teachers are legitimate,” Maghinay said. The teachers she works with not only have to have a degree in education, and years of experience teaching, but she said she also looks for teachers with a certain amount of familiarity with U.S. culture.

Maghinay then coordinates with school districts in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Montana, and now New Mexico, for teachers that she vets to conduct interviews with school administrators over video telecommunications apps like Skype.

The Aztec school district isn’t alone in its teacher vacancies problem. School districts throughout the state, and the country, are in dire need of qualified teachers.

A report published in 2018 by New Mexico State University found that there were 740 unfilled public school teacher vacancies throughout the state. Some school districts have tried to fill those positions by hiring more long-term substitute teachers.

The New Mexico State University study points to factors that may explain why there might be so many unfilled teaching positions — comparatively low salaries, working conditions and high work expectations, as well as a high level of stress revolving around job insecurity and a high rate of student testing.

The problem, however, plagues school districts nationwide. A study from the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank, estimated that the country currently has a shortage of 112,000 teachers.

Maghinay first started working here in the U.S. on a temporary worker visa, called a H-1B visa.

Initially Bepauche worked with Filipino teachers to get them H-1B visas, which allows recipients to stay and work in the country for a maximum of six years, with the option to apply for citizenship while working. But as the Trump administration began its crackdown on immigration, H-1B visas eventually came under scrutiny, and in 2019 32% of H-1 B visas were denied, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documents released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Now Bepauche, and numerous international teaching contracting companies across the country, apply for J-1 visas, that technically are for students and teachers participating in “cultural exchange,” programs. The visa can be extended for a maximum of five years, and recipients cannot apply for citizenship or permanent residence.

The end result of the complex process that brings teachers from other countries to San Juan County happens in the classrooms.

Along with teaching her students bits and pieces of the Filipino language, C.V. Koogler Middle School history teacher Albores says when she teaches aspects of world history, she tries to include snippets of Pilipino history into her lesson, and how that history connects and interacts with world history — especially U.S.-Philippine relations.

That subject matter not only includes the American invasion and occupation of the Philippines from 1899 to 1902, but also the establishment of the first public school system by Americans in the Philippines.

“We learn from the culture, but at the same time we share our culture,” says Albores, “Our students are very interested. They ask a lot of questions. It’s a privilege for me to be in a history class, I can share the history of the Philippines.”

“You will learn a lot from here,” said Erika Rose-Cahilig, a fifth grade teacher who is also contracted through Bepauche at Park Avenue Elementary, “There are big opportunities for teachers to learn, at the same time, we will have a chance to share and talk about our culture.”

Maghinay moved to Farmington in 2016 to take on a teaching position at Kirtland Central High School, and, with her, Bepauche moved into a small office on Main street. With that office space, Maghinay built and now co-owns a Filipino grocery store and restaurant attached to her office called Manila Sunrise. It is filled with Filipino snacks, frozen fish, Boba milk tea and a rotating menu of Filipino dishes cooked by Mary Grace Hundumon.

Maghinay hopes that the market can not only serve the needs of San Juan County’s Filipino population, which she described as, “bigger than you think,” but she also hopes that the market can introduce Filipino food and culture to local people.

“In the Philippines rice is the staple food, here it’s a side dish,” said Riva Alipin, an integrated algebra teacher at Aztec High who is also contracted by Bepauche. “We’re slowly adjusting, but we’re gaining weight because of carbs and more calories in the food here.”

Alipin, Rose-Cahilig, Albores, and five other international teachers all live in an apartment complex in Aztec.

They all agree that they are enjoying working in Aztec, but there are adjustments. Other than the cold weather, the teachers are adjusting to the food in Aztec, behavioral problems in their classes, and some still feel a little bit jet lagged from a 14-hour plane ride from the Philippines that ended in Albuquerque the weekend before school started,

“Of course we miss the food, and our family, but it’s okay, through the internet we can contact them anytime,” said Alipin, “but that is the biggest challenge we have to endure, being far away from home.”

Another challenge rarely talked about is the fee each teacher paid to come to Aztec. Bepauche itself charged $4,500 for “service fees.” Another $4,000 went to procuring visa and transcript services, and another $1,500 went toward airplane tickets and other miscellaneous travel costs.

“That’s big money in our country,” said Alipin, “like a half million.”

Albores described having to go into debt to a “loan shark” in the Philippines to help raise the needed funds.

Maghinay acknowledges the high cost, and the debt that most of her clients have to take on to pay it, but, she said, “I paid a lot of money when I first got here, so I try to make our prices fair.” The $10,000 is about half of the total amount of what she said she paid when she came to the U.S.

In 2010 a group of Filipino contract teachers filed a class action lawsuit against the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, claiming they were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitative contracts.

Maghinay stresses that she, and her company, are transparent at the very beginning about the cost of her services.

“I have to protect our teachers,” she said, “I know what they’re going through. I remember I got depression, I couldn’t sleep when I first got to the U.S., I know all of those things. We treat teachers like our own family.”

The contracted teachers interviewed for this story had nothing but praise for both Bepauche and the Aztec school district.

“Here we found a family,” Alipin said, “We are happy to be in Aztec.”