BLIND SPOT: Go Back or Go Beyond

February 22, 2018

 

 

“Where no man has gone before” – the battle cry of an iconic science fiction TV series that follows the engagements of a space vehicle, Enterprise.  So, enterprise goes where no man has gone before.  

“President Duterte has ordered a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait, saying the Philippine government is determined to hold the Gulf state responsible for the Filipino workers abused by their Kuwaiti employers.” (https://news.mb.com.ph) “The repatriated OFWs, according to the DFA, will be leaving for their home provinces after receiving P5,000 each in financial assistance from the government.” bworldonline.com) I don’t mean to be ungrateful and unappreciative; but 5,000?

Once in a conversation with a teacher, I commented on the unusual large number of fathers taking and fetching their children to and from school, of its practicality since the daddies would be going to work anyway; they might as well take the school’s route.  But the teacher laughingly replied that the fathers are not working.  After my puzzled and surprised reaction, I was offered the explanation that it is quite challenging for returning OFWs to find a job around here.  Now, that is quite sad.  But the creative Filipino never runs out of talents to get by unconventional encounters.  

The recent program of repatriations from Kuwait is initiated by a local party, specifically the Philippine government.  But more repatriations could come as some OFW populated Arab states take a populist stance on employment.  “Saudi Arabia  has banned foreigners from certain jobs in favor of giving them to Saudi citizens.  The Kingdom’s Minister of Labor ordered that jobs in 12 private sector areas would be restricted to domestic applications from early September 2018.” (www.independent.co.uk)

A Saudi employed Filipino engineer who is staying in the nation for a short vacation shares that it is a common joke among his colleagues to start preparing for transfer of employment out of the Kingdom, once the jobs are given to unemployed citizens; and they are projecting that wave would take a massive rise in 2020.  So, where do these guys go when that time comes?  It seems to be a trend or a tragedy of the millennium. The principles of globalization is seemed to be taken from the inside and inverted inside out; and policies seem to be pushed towards a populist position.  There’s the US
travel ban, BREXIT, and European anti-immigrant initiatives, among others.  I guess, you could understand some Italians are freaking out when in the last year, their nation suddenly transforms to African and Arab avenues. Although there are still nations like France or  Germany

Although it’s already a cliché by now, let’s still look at the dominant reasons why Filipinos venture out of the country. Filipinos seek overseas employment to escape the local high unemployment rate, and discrimination in job application.  (Are we so prejudiced against our own people?)  Overseas employment is a reaction to family pressure or influence.  It also gives a chance to run from unstable economic conditions, and seek the refuge of higher salary and more rewarding employment benefits. (www.rmniloilo.net, https://businesstips.ph, https://thepinoyofw.com) But I think it’s the bold risk taking Filipino spirit of adventure that takes us beyond borders; or is it the status symbol of having set foot on foreign land?

Since over the horizon looms the inevitably imminent exodus of repatriation (if they could not manage to exit to another foreign country), Philippine society has to be arranged for its arrival on our portals; and make this landscape as in fine fettle for the repatriates as it is for the residents.  A fitting preparation would be to reverse the very reasons Filipinos travel to toil. Employment opportunities should be opened. There should be more job openings in the nation. Discrimination should be eliminated in the job application process. Perhaps, a more unbiased and systematic set of procedures could be legally standardized to set a fairer environment of employment. Now, what can we do with family and peer pressure and influence? We’re going to deal with a whole cultural mindset here. Could the nation work for healthier economic conditions? Could we move towards more reasonably priced commodities, more efficient state services, a more conducive climate for entrepreneurship, lower taxes? (Yeah, right, lower t
axes) Employers should work towards more e and better employee benefits; the kind that they have in other countries that we wouldn’t have to go there.

But haven’t the past administrations been trying to accomplish all these for decades now? And yet, the Filipino hard worker all the more has sought to cross borders. Fear has it that the this Filipino hard worker may get caught in a deadlock between nations who protect their own and a own nation who could not protect its own.

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”      Hebrews 13:14


 

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