Reposted with permission Dondon Celestino Lanuza
Note: The following story was collated by Dondon Celestino Lanuza. He wants to share the true to life stories of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
When I was a young child, the Philippine peso was P2.00 to the US dollar (exchange rate).
The president was Diosdado Macapagal. Life was simple. Life was easy.
My father was a farmer. My mother kept a small sari-sari store where our neighbors bought sang-perang asin, sang-perang bagoong, sang-perang suka, sang-perang toyo at pahinginang isang butil na bawang.
Our backyard had kamatis, kalabasa, talong, ampalaya, upo, batao, and okra.
Our silong had chicken. We had a pig, dog & cat. And of course, we lived on the farm.
During rainy season, my father caught frogs at night which my mother made into betute (stuffed frog), or just plain fried. During the day, he caught hito and dalag from his rice paddies, which he would usually grill on coals - thus we have inihaw.
During dry season, we relied on the chickens, vegetables, bangus, tuyo, and tinapa. Every now and then, there was pork and beef from the town market.
Life was so peaceful, so quiet, no electricity, no TV. Just the radio for Tia Dely, Roman Rapido, Johnny de Leon, Tawag ng Tanghalan and Tang-tarang-tang. And who can forget Leila Benitez on Darigold Jamboree?
On weekends, I played with my neighbours (who were all my cousins), these childhood games -tumbang-preso, taguan, piko, luksong lubid, patintero, at iba pa. I don't know about you, but I miss those days.
These days, we face the TV, Internet, e-mail, newspaper, magazine, grocery,catalogs, or drive around. The peso is a staggering and incredible P44.00 to the US dollar rate.
Most people can't have fun anymore. Life has become a battle.
We live to work and work to live. Here are some gruesome experiences of working abroad because in our homeland life and economic situation has become so hard and difficult to earn a living to support your family needs.
Life is not easy. I was in Saudi Arabia in 1983. It was lonely, difficult, & scary there. It didn't matter whetheryou were a man or a woman. You were a target for rape. The salary was cheap & vacations few and far between. If the boss didn't want you to go on holiday breaks, you can't do anything but comply.
What can you do anyway? They kept your passport. Oh, and the employment agency charged you almost 4 months of your salary (which, if you had to borrow on a "20% interest per month arrangement"), this means your first year's pay was all gone before you even earned it due to usurious interest on loans you have to get in order to leave the country to seek employment overseas.
The Philippines used to be one of the most important countries in Asia. Before & during my college days, many students from neighboring Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and China went to the Philippines to get their diplomas. Like Thailand, they went to study agriculture in UP Los Banos and earned their bachelors degree in the Philippines and now we import rice from them. It's the opposite now.
The Philippines used to be the exporter of many agricultural products, but now that is no longer the case. Everything is different. We import goods and products because we do not much land (farms) which our hard-working farmers can cultivate and develop to raise agricultural products for export. The reason behind this is that those self-serving, affluent and mostly anti-Filipino members of the private sectors are focused on developing mega houses, tall buildings, supermarkets, malls and other infrastructures -grabbing and buying out farms from impoverished farmers/land owners at a bargain or a steal.
What happened now?
What is the Philippine government doing?
Checking their own pocket, their own personal interest and pork barrels.
Until 1972, men like President Macapagal was once the most admiredpresident of the world. (Not anymore!)
The Peso had kept its value of P7.00 to the US dollar until I finished college. Today, the Philippines is famous as the "housemaid" capital of the world.
It ranks very high as the "cheapest labor" capital of the world, too. We have maids in Hong Kong, laborers in Saudi Arabia, dancers in Japan, and all sorts of other "tricky" jobs in other parts of the globe.
Quo Vadis, Pinoy? Is that a wonder or a worry? Are you proud to be a Filipino, or does it even matter anymore?
When you see the Filipino flag and hear the Pambansang Awit, do you feel a sense of pride or a sense of defeat & uncertainty?
If only things could change for the better...... Hang on for this is a job for Superman. Or whom do you call? Ghostbusters. Is that a joke or a what? Right or wrong?
This is one of our problems.
We say "I love the Philippines . I am proud to be a Filipino."
When I send you a joke, you send it to everyone in your address book even if it kills the Internet.
But when I send you a note on how to save our country & ask you to forward it, what do you do?
You chuck it in the bin.
I want to help the maids in Hong Kong.
I want to help the laborers in Saudi Arabia.
I want to help the dancers in Japan.
I want to save the people of the Philippines.
But I cannot do it alone. I need your help and everyone else's.
So, please forward this e-mail to your friends.
If you say you love the Philippines , prove it. And if you don't agree with me, say something anyway.
Indifference is a crime on its own.
Juan dela Cruz
You must read these:
OFW appeal to Philippine Government Authorities Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4