Leaving for home

In the New York Times Magazine there’s A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle (registration required to read the artilce), which takes an exhaustive and in the end, rather inspiring look at Filipino OFW’s. There are the social costs of working abroad -and the social gains: surprisingly, some studies say children of OFW’s are better fed, even better adjusted, than the children of non-migrants; if there’s “brain drain,” there’s “brain gain”, OFW’s bringing home knowledge and connections; our bureaucracy is a model for other countries, though we often have nothing but bad things to say about it; it can build dependency, but also breed independence; if our culture has remained static over the centuries, it has breaking old habits and eliminating old limitations. Things have changed:

With about one Filipino worker in seven abroad at any given time, migration is to the Philippines what cars once were to Detroit: its civil religion. A million Overseas Filipino Workers - O.F.W.’s - left last year, enough to fill six 747s a day. Nearly half the country’s 10-to-12-year-olds say they have thought about whether to go. Television novellas plumb the migrants’ loneliness. Politicians court their votes. Real estate salesmen bury them in condominium brochures. Drive by the Central Bank during the holiday season, and you will find a high-rise graph of the year’s remittances strung up in Christmas lights.

Read the article and compare it to what you see around you, and the people you know.

My column for today is Making political parties obsolete. Another, related article was Randy David‘s Sunday column on volunteerism. Sylvia Mayuga, on the other hand, focused on the things that don’t change.

Amando Doronila says the country is showing signs of being a failed state, because of political killings. And yet, as I point out in my Inquirer Current entry, the country has actually inched away from its 2005 Failed State Index rating of 56: last year, it was rated 68, a substantial improvement (i.e. we were ranked as less failed, but still within the orange “failing” category).

Justice Isagani Cruz says a legislative trick -the insertion of a rider in a law on an otherwise unrelated subject- may be the political salvation of Senator Lito Lapid.

Continued commentary on Julia Campbell from last Sunday’s Inquirer editorial and from Howie Severino.

In the blogosphere, Big Mango uses a medical strategy for problem-solving: if they use the triage system in emergency rooms, can there be a political triage?

Ruben Nepales of the Inquirer’s Nepales Report has highly enjoyable cultural notes on people of Filipino ancestry in Hollywood who deny their origins, and on the Filipino-American obsession with awards.

The Bunker Chronicles says DZMM’s embarking on televising its broadcasts is the worst kind of television -TV on the cheap.

Yugatech presents some very interesting figures on Internet penetration in the country:

Still, the internet usage growth rate from 2000 is 291%. If you extrapolate that, we could make an educated guess of 10.15 Million for 2007 or 11.6% penetration.

Photo caption of the day:
Fatdaddy
“The President visits Niño Muhlach.”

95 comments

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    • hvrds on April 23, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    More bodies to export – Please see governments census on labor force:

    http://www.census.gov.ph/data/pressrelease/2007/lf0701tx.html

    Total labor force – 56M

    Labor force participation rate – 64% (36M)

    Total number of personal income tax payers – 2M +

    Total percentage of personal income tax as revenue source in national budget – 10%+

    Total contribution of Business Process Outsourcing to total GNP in real terms – 1.5% as of 2006

    Total percentage of labor force employed in BPO – less than 1%

    Source of almost 50% of growth in GDP are from sub-sectors that have very little links to the domestic economy. Less than 5% of employment linked to these sub-sectors.

    Prognosis for First World Status by the year 2020 by GMA –

    Delusional!

    Is there a National Economy? Only in Theory

    • janie on April 23, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    yep, will look forward to the end of this entry. my father is a seaman and there was a point in my life where i would blame the government for my dad being such. but i’ve managed to move on.

    • vic on April 23, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    I agree with you to make political parties obsolete and start from scratch again. Any format other than existing now might work. But then again given the same personalities, may not. Can’t win any other way..

  1. lol at the picture.

    • janie on April 23, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    that picture is in the front page of almost all the major broadsheets. how pathetic.

    • Jeg on April 23, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Nino Muhlach? I thought that was Jabba the Hutt. I need glasses.

  2. what’s pathetic about it?

  3. dark thoughts, dark personality.

    • janie on April 23, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    there are bigger issues than him, and more important ones.

    • janie on April 23, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    anyway it was just an opinion.

  4. opinion reveals your personality. blogs reveal your character. When you do nothing but whine and see nothing but ugliness, something’s wrong with psyche. It is frightening esp.if you are still young. So young with so much emotional baggage because of what you read. giving negative reaction to a photo of a family is what is pathetic.

    A photo of a politician trying to appear to be pro-poor by eating with the masa is what is pathetic.

    • UPn student on April 23, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    I’d rather read about OFW’s and their plight as penned by a Filipino writer, not from the eyes of a New York Times reporter. Surely, deQuiros or Rina-J-David have already done indepth interviews and analysis of the OFW phenomenon, haven’t they?

    • janie on April 23, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    if you think my reaction to their photo is frightening, you might want to check out other people i know who whines and notices more ugliness that i do, because as far as i can see it, it is way way far and more offending from my opinion.

    anyway, thanks for the comment still. we are all entitled to our own opinions right?

    cheers!

    and oh, i see the bright side of life as well.

    • vic on April 23, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    What’s wrong with the picture anyways? It’s a picture of a post operative husband, a wife (also the President) and their grand daughter. We could lambast the couple in regards to issues especially of running the country, but please they are family like yours and mine and take personal issues out of politics…

  5. “…surprisingly, some studies say children of OFW’s are better fed, even better adjusted, than the children of non-migrants…”

    I’m surprised you find that surprising, given that OFW families can probably afford more food than most non-migrant families. They’re likely more financially secure too, and that security could be enough to offset the absence of a parent as a factor in the children’s social adjustment.

    • Errol on April 23, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Definitely uncalled for, Jannie, even if you hate PGMA’s guts. I think the little girl in the picture is adorable.

    And the section about the OFWs is very enlightening, Manolo. It’s nice to finally read about the topic in a good light. Hopefully the sacrifices of the OFWs will spark a positive Philippine societal change to more patriotism and cultural open-mindedness, among other things.

  6. The President visits Niño Muhlach.”

    i don’t get it. who’s nino muhlach? the cute girl or big mike?

    and what’s “lol” funny about the picture?

  7. There are the social costs of working abroad -and the social gains: surprisingly, some studies say children of OFW’s are better fed, even better adjusted, than the children of non-migrants; if there’s “brain drain,” there’s “brain gain”, OFW’s bringing home knowledge and connections; our bureaucracy is a model for other countries, though we often have nothing but bad things to say about it;

    good for the OFWs. But most of them really had no choice, especially during these hard times were the cost of living is through the roof.

    most pinoys, if given a decent wage, would rather stay with the family and work here if given the opportunity. problema lang nga eh, kulang na talaga ang kikitain mo ngayon sa taas ng kuryente (have you seen your bills lately) at bilihin.

    mlq3 says our situation is a model for other coutries to emulate. i disagree. I think we should be providing more decent paying jobs within the country so that the middle class are not forced to make the difficult choice of leaving dahil desperate na ang situation nila. Nothing wrong if you want to work in other coutries and earn more, pero at least kung maganda ang sitwasyon ng bansa natin, may choice sila ano whether to stay or go.

    • janie on April 23, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    i have nothing against the picture.. and yes, mikaela is adorable. what i think was not ok was that all of the broadsheets had it in their front pages, when in fact there are more important issues. its not the family thing that i am against for, its the way media, for that matter, whether intentional or not, tries to dissuade its audience on what the real issues are.

    if you deem it uncalled for, id respect that opinion.

    • Mita on April 23, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    OFW situation…my take on it is let’s not be so negative. the world is getting smaller and travel has become so much more affordable than in the past. this has made it so much easier for workers to cross borders – and they have. not just us. so let’s not get so paranoid about it at maiiwan na naman tayo sa pagka-nega natin. i really believe we should be proud of our workers – we not only fit into but shine in any society, any culture, anywhere in the world.

    Unlike john marzan, I say an individual ALWAYS has a choice – like me. Balik for good.

    • camry on April 23, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Despite the positive results on the deployment of OFWs, I still do not want to see young Filipinas working as domestic helpers in other countries.

    The Filipino people defeated the Spaniards more than a century ago not only to gain independence but to get out from slavery. However, 20 or 30 years ago, Filipinas went to Spain and other countries to work as domestic helpers bacause jobs in the Philippines can not provide a decent income to sustain the needs of a family.

    I believe it is time for Filipinas to stay with thier families. They have contributed a lot already.

    The Filipino people deserve good choices of staying in the coutry to raise a family.

    • vic on April 24, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Maybe we can learn from South Koreans. We can look at how they were able to build export oriented factories and able to produce products of international qualities and also provide sufficient well-paying jobs for their populace. South Koreans now have a choice either to move to other countries, not as migrants workers, but as immigrants or stay home and still not worry about jobs and their children future.

    • manuelbuencamino on April 24, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Vic to janie

    “but please they are family like yours and mine and take personal issues out of politics…”

    So keep family pictures in the family album.

    • manuelbuencamino on April 24, 2007 at 12:14 am

    John,

    Come to think of it I’ve never seen a picture of Mike and Nino together. Maybe MLQ is correct – they’re one and the same!

    That short dark woman seated on his right must be the one Mike calls “Mi Igorota”. I wonder if “Mi favorita” has seen the picture.

    Anyway, just like Voltaire and Bencard, I will defend to the death Mike’s right to describe women as he sees fit. It’s not just a matter of free speech, it involves cultural issues as well. Right, Bencard?

  8. john marzan:

    apologies. i meant, lol at mlq3’s caption of the picture. i see nothing wrong with the photo.

    • renmin on April 24, 2007 at 12:30 am

    The Ca t :

    opinion reveals your personality. blogs reveal your character. When you do nothing but whine and see nothing but ugliness, something’s wrong with psyche. It is frightening esp.if you are still young. So young with so much emotional baggage because of what you read. giving negative reaction to a photo of a family is what is pathetic.

    April 23rd, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    One thing’s for sure, this comment reveals a lot about The Ca t’s personality.

    Sorry, just couldn’t resist. Reveals a lot about my personality. 😉

    • UPn student on April 24, 2007 at 1:25 am

    The New York Times article has a lot of anecdotal material stuff for anyone’s fancy, to include extra-marital affairs, children-out-of-wedlock, drugs, bigamy along with OFW-children sending $400.00 a month to their parents. A few poems, too, plus tales of prostitution. It also has this:
    …At least three studies have examined “left behind” families in the Philippines. All found the children of migrants doing as well as, or better than, children whose parents stayed home. The most recent, from the Scalabrini Migration Center in Manila, involved a national survey of 10-to-12-year-olds. The migrants’ kids did better in school, had better physical health, experienced less anxiety and were more likely to attend church. “For now, the children are fine,” it concluded. Joseph Chamie, editor of The International Migration Review, an academic journal, calls the finding typical. “There’s not much scientific evidence that children have developmental difficulties when a parent migrates,” he said.

    One theory is that remittances compensate for the missing parent’s care. The study found migrants’ kids taller and heavier than their counterparts, suggesting higher caloric intake, and much more likely to attend private school. The extended family can also act as a compensating force. And so can modern technology in an age of cellphones and Webcams. There is no doubt that migration has costs. “We don’t have a focus group without people crying,” said the Scalabrini researcher, Maruja Asis. The point is that not migrating has costs, too — the cost of wrenching poverty.

    • baycas on April 24, 2007 at 8:20 am

    we can only wish he can be up and about and be able to walk in Baguio again…

    • cvj on April 24, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I think it’s cultural the way the elderly couple above uses a grandchild as a buffer to a relationship that has long since dried up.

    • cvj on April 24, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Vic (at 12:03am), Upn Student and Ca t would have an issue with that recommendation.

  9. Remember Seung-Hui Cho, was a South Korean national before they migrated to the US due to poverty.

    You still have to hear (knock on wood) a Filipino who became anti-social due to inability to adjust in a new environment.

    Bottomline is bakit ang South Korean ang gagayahin ninyo?
    Their improved economy does not prevent their people from migrating too.

    • cvj on April 24, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Ca T, not only is your remark irrelevant (Vic was discussing economic policies, not social behavior), you have also committed the fallacy of composition. When it comes to a person’s behavior, what is true of the part is not necessarily true of the whole. To say the least, not all South Koreans are like Cho. Neither are all Filipinos like Andrew Cunanan.

  10. Are we not talking about improving economy in order to prevent the people from voting with their feet.

    Then came Vic who suggested to emulate South Korea blahblahblah.

    Why is my remark irrelevant?

    My point is, if Sokor is able to improve its economy, how come there are South Koreans who are also migrating.

  11. Andrew Cunanan’s case was not a problem of adjustment due to migration. It’s more of relationship of people in the third gender.

    • rego on April 24, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Again, good job Mita!

    • cvj on April 24, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Ca T, you’re remark is irrelevant because it does not address the topic. Vic is discussing economic policy, while you bring up an individual’s bad behavior as an objection.

    My point is, if Sokor is able to improve its economy, how come there are South Koreans who are also migrating.

    Both can be true. Vic made that suggestion precisely because South Korea’s economy is better than ours. (For one thing, their per capita income is three times that of the Philippines.) Still, that does not mean that all Koreans are rich. It would be foolish to generalize.

    Andrew Cunanan’s case was not a problem of adjustment due to migration.

    I’m not saying it was. I’m just saying don’t generalize.

    • rego on April 24, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    I mean Ca T.

    • rego on April 24, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    There is really a bad side and good side on everything. And Migration is not an exemption.

    Everyone has a choice on where to dwell into. You want to see only the bad its really up to you. Personally I would rather take the bad side with the good side. Ganyan lang naman talaga ang buhay eh.

    I also believe that going out of the country is a very personal choice. I dont believe that Filipinos doesnt have a choice but to go abroad. Out of my 10 siblings, only three came to US. The rest decided to stay in the Phil because they believe life is better there than here.

  12. OFW situation…my take on it is let’s not be so negative. the world is getting smaller and travel has become so much more affordable than in the past. this has made it so much easier for workers to cross borders – and they have. not just us. so let’s not get so paranoid about it at maiiwan na naman tayo sa pagka-nega natin. i really believe we should be proud of our workers – we not only fit into but shine in any society, any culture, anywhere in the world.

    I’m not being negative re the ofws at all. they had to do what they had to do to survive.

    but i’m disappointed in our government (especially the current one) for screwing things up and leaving few opportunities here and making life more difficult for pinoys that many had to go somewhere else to earn a decent living.

    it used to be ang karamihan ng mga nag-o OFWs ay mga mahihirap na pinoy. but recently more and more of the middle class ang nagsisi-alisan na rin to find a better job. that is new and very troubling. i don’t think it’s a good sign at all, no matter how the gov’t spins this disturbing trend.

    Unlike john marzan, I say an individual ALWAYS has a choice – like me. Balik for good.

    good for people like you. balik for good. many OFWS couldn’t even afford to go back home “for good” yet, dahil kailangan nilang magtrabaho at kumita abroad.

    As for your “OFWs ALWAYS have a choice” comment, I’m sure the underpaid public school teachers really wanted to become a “supermaid” in HK or Saudi.

    Or the filipino doctor-topnotcher’s real pangarap is to become a nurse in the US.

    • janie on April 24, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    even if some OFWs wish to go back home, they can’t. not because they don’t have enough finances to support their families but because they can’t even buy their own ticket. sad.

  13. Remember Seung-Hui Cho, was a South Korean national before they migrated to the US due to poverty.

    You still have to hear (knock on wood) a Filipino who became anti-social due to inability to adjust in a new environment.

    Bottomline is bakit ang South Korean ang gagayahin ninyo?
    Their improved economy does not prevent their people from migrating too.

    oo nga naman, bakit natin gagayahin sila, eh baka maging mass murderer pa tayong mga pinoy. 😉

    Ca T, not only is your remark irrelevant (Vic was discussing economic policies, not social behavior), you have also committed the fallacy of composition. When it comes to a person’s behavior, what is true of the part is not necessarily true of the whole. To say the least, not all South Koreans are like Cho. Neither are all Filipinos like Andrew Cunanan.

    I think it’s a racist stereotype of koreans you’ve been hearing lately from some folks (a small minority, thank god) after the VT killings.

    • Gigi on April 24, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    As Manolo probably has noticed, I’m not one to throw out my issue-oriented opinions on his site, but tonight I couldn’t resist making a few comments. Have to add that I do respect those of the others before me.

    RE: American reporter covering OFW phenomenon instead of Filipino reporter. Point well taken, but I think it’s always interesting to read different points of view. Besides, DeParle is no stranger to poverty-related issues. Here’s a brief description of his background, according to NY Times Magazine:

    “Jason DeParle was a reporter covering poverty in New Orleans in 1987 when he won a fellowship from the Henry Luce Foundation and set off for the Philippines to try to make sense of life in the slums of Manila. “I would see these pictures of packed hovels there, and I would wonder: How do these people survive?” he told (NY Times) last week. To answer his question, DeParle — who has written extensively about poverty for The Times Magazine — soon moved in with the Comodas family in the Manila slums.”

    RE: Comment about Koreans being mass murderers, etc. Perhaps these were “only” jokes or meant to be amusing in some way, but the VA Tech tragedy holds real issues and concerns among South Koreans and Korean immigrants in America. They do fear negative stereotyping and a backlash against their communities here. I think we can all empathize; for instance when we initially heard that it was an Asian shooter, my husband and I looked at each other and said at the same time “S**t I hope he’s not Filipino.” Apparently our knee-jerk reaction wasn’t ours alone, we heard the same thing from other Filipino/Filipino-American friends.

    I suppose I don’t have to say this but I will anyway: the problem that contributed to this tragedy wasn’t that of race but of mental illness. Apparently there were so many indications that Cho was a danger to others as well as to himself, but officials and professors at the university could do nothing more than they did because of existing laws; their hands were tied. And by the way, gang violence and juvenile delinquency is a REAL problem among Filipino immigrants here, at least in Los Angeles. We (meaning the community in general) don’t want to talk about it, but it exists in a frightening way. Which doesn’t help us one bit, in fact it only makes it more difficult for those who are trying to address the underlying issues and solve the problem.

    • ronin on April 24, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    The remittances of OFWs should serve only as a stop-gap measure while the government tries its best to improve the economy. Only then can OFWs go home for good. As an OFW myself, I do not want my children to follow in my footsteps.

    • janie on April 24, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    to ronin:

    right. i remember my father reminding that to my brother who at his young age wanted to be a seaman.

  14. My point is, if Sokor is able to improve its economy, how come there are South Koreans who are also migrating.

    i bet we beat the sokors at least 10 to 1 sa pagalis sa bansa or going to other countries to find work (in places like the US, Saudi, HK, Lebanon, Kuwait, UK etc.)

  15. cvj,
    Again, you should wear your thinking cap.

    First, there is no fallacy of composition in my statement.

    A fallacy of composition as you know it and am sure you understand it is a line of reasoning which assumes that because an individual has certain characteristics, a group where he belongs has those characteristics too. BTW, this is different from FALLACY OF hasty GENERALIZATION.

    My first statement:

    Remember Seung-Hui Cho, was a South Korean national before they migrated to the US due to poverty.

    Where is the fallacy?

    That is a statement of fact. There is no statement that all South Koreans migrated due to poverty.

    This is my statement which is not a fallacy of generalization.

    Bottomline is bakit ang South Korean ang gagayahin ninyo?
    Their improved economy does not prevent their people from migrating too.

    In fact, I am disputing the fallacy of belief that improved economy will prevent people from migration.

    People of whatever race will always look for better opportunities.

  16. i bet we beat the sokors at least 10 to 1 sa pagalis sa bansa or going to other countries to find work (in places like the US, Saudi, HK, Lebanon, Kuwait, UK etc.)

    True, because we are better equipped, skilled and education-wise.

  17. I think it’s a racist stereotype of koreans you’ve been hearing lately from some folks (a small minority, thank god) after the VT killings.

    What in my statement is racist?

    It was not me who committed the fallacy.

    I stated a fact, cvj did the conclusion.

    Typical of cvj. Writing down what he thinks I think, not realizing that we do not have the same size and weight of brain.

  18. Comment about Koreans being mass murderers

    Where is the comment that Koreans are mass murderers?

  19. it used to be ang karamihan ng mga nag-o OFWs ay mga mahihirap na pinoy. but recently more and more of the middle class ang nagsisi-alisan na rin to find a better job.

    On the contrary. Before Blas Ople opened the opportunities to your so-called mahihirap na pinoy, migration has already been going on since the 70’s with the brain drain problem
    starting with the doctors going to the US, followed by the
    medical technologists that during this time, almost all high school grads would like to become medtechs. Nurses too were flying to US until the Nursing Relief Act took effect in 1994 when recruitment of nurses from the Phils. stopped.

    The US immigration applications for professionals that have been currently processed have been filed since the 80’s yet. There was a time when professionals can apply for greencard from the Philippines.

    Go back to the the 80’s when the Great Debate was about Brain drain:Boon or Bane. The Brawn Drain came later.

    Nowadays, you do not have to go to the library to make a research. The wonder of technology.

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