Friday, January 4, 2008

Issues of National Concern for Filipinos Abroad

This is a personal commentary I rceived thru email from Mr. Jayme Nava Cruz of Riyadh, which I find very informative to all Overseas Filipino Workers abroad.


Time and again, it's New Year (2008), and I want to take this privilege to share a few thoughts and comments about some topics that should be near to your hearts, and certainly, of tantamount interest to you, all.

In doing so, let me jumpstart by saying that "freedom of expression", or 'freedom of speech', as preferred to be called by many, is indeed, a great 'license', (though associated with consequences), for everyone in most cases. In saying so, the bold fact connotes that we are also entitled to 'freedom of criticism', as long it is within the perimeters of fairness and decency. And in view of this, I have 3-major-comment to make:

I. Appreciation of PPeso against the Green bucks!

It is noteworthy to highlight the claim of our government, which is regularly mentioned on the pages of local and international newspapers, citing that our present government presides a strong economic growth, "kahit sabihin pang nariyang ang milyong outcries nang milyon-milyong OFWs sa nararamdamang hirap nang buhay, especially taking into view the 'all-time-high' appreciation of PPeso against the Dollars, na tunay namang nakapekto sa 'purchasing power' nang lahat nang OFWs. Of course, having a "bullish economy", now and ahead on, is a very good sign of economic recovery. (Sino nga bang Pinoy ang hindi matutuwa?) Nevertheless, we could not deny the fact that unless the benefits of this so called, affluence, is filtered down to the poor, especially to the poorest component of our society, walang makakaramdam nang tutuong kaligayan sa sinasabing uptrend economic recovery. And although one may say that, "it will take sometime to feel and enjoy the positive results of this "economic growth", pero hanggang KAILAN nga ba ang gagawing paghihintay?

Personally, as an OFW, or a "FilExpat" (title nang short film narrative that I've recently wrapped-up), lalu kong nararamdam ang hirap nang pagpasan nang mga gastusin sa pang-araw araw na pangangailangan nang aking pamilya sa Pilipinas sa nagdaang taon. Sa pagbagsak nang dolyar against the PPeso sa merkado, na hindi tumutugma sa hindi natitinag na presyo nang mga bilihin sa Pilipinas, I note that it is now becoming very difficult to ''rehydrate' my bank accounts back home. Nagsimula ang ganitong kondisyon since the 3rd Quarter of 2007. Pretty sure, if this situation will go on "fully unattended", and 'no concrete counter strategies' will be considered and put in place, I won't doubt that in due time, my savings will soon be slowly "dehydrated", and even, bone-dry!

Frankly, the instant move of one of our community groups in Jeddah, na kaagad sumulat kay President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to quickly act on this issue, (consider the $ - PPeso exchange rate of 1$ = 50PPeso), is indeed heroic, at tunay na napapanahon. Yung ginawa nilang pangangalampag is one-perfect-way to show, "what and how to make an issue on, and not". At tunay namang issue ito! Imposible namang bumagsak na ang aming "purchasing power", and yet, we are expected na magawa pang mag cartwheels and dance the Macarena! The Big Q! is, paano nga ba tunay pang nakakatawid yung mga kababayan nating naghihirap din sa Pinas na walang permanenteng tarbaho at nagkakasya na lamang sa kanilang shoestring budget? OK sana yung pagbaba nang dolyar at yang "bullish economy" if it is coincided sa pagbaba nang prices of our basic commodities. The truth of the matter is, both sides, (kaming OFws at yung mga naghihirap na kababayan sa Pilipinas), ang tunay na nakakaramdam nang parusa at problema.

What I am confused of is: Many of our politicians are claiming that they are the best, if not, best of the bests (political and economic tacticians, etc.). Granted that we enjoy great collections of intellectual talents, PERO bakit hindi natin tunay na maramdaman ang tutuong pag-usad bilang isang isang bansa? Perhaps, our 'national guards' should do some moral inquests, i.e. on how they can serve most good the greater number of our populace especially the poor, (tulad nang karamihan naming OFWs) given the resources they have. Sabi nga ni Bill Gates during his 2006 commencement speech sa Harvard, "To whom much is given much is expected!".

I hope, as early as today, (January 1, 2008), our beloved President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, finally find ways and means to smoothen things up para sa aming mga OFWs na tunay namang nahihirapan sa extreme slided-value of US Dollars against the 'all-time-high-appreciation' of PPeso. (The Year 2007 was indeed an 'annus horribilis' sa mga OFWs.). I hope, too, that the concerned government agencies won't suffer of the "will-not-to-know-attitude" with respect to our predicaments on this issue of US$ - PPeso exchange trend. (Ok sana kung sa bawat pagbagsak nang dolyar ay tumataas din ang aming sulwedo.)

II. Importance of Cash Management, etc.

Given the issue as narrated in Item 1-above, I believe it is imperative and prudent that OFWs, (all of us), consider, observe and practice in truth the importance of "'CASH MANAGEMENT". In advocating so, I mean:

a. Yung excessive na paggastos nang wala namang katuturan. Let's face the fact na maraming kababayang Pinoy ang mahilig mag-purchase nang doble-dobleng equipment. Tatlong TV... may pang sala, pang bedroom at pang kitchen. Dalawang 'component'. The sad truth is, some of us are always forgetful of the saying: "Always differentiate what you want to what you only need". I hate to say this, but it is becoming part and parcel of our "Pinoy social attitude". Let's take note that "having the status of Sharon Cuneta" vis-a-vis having the attitude of "feeling Sharon Cuneta" are two different things.

b. Let's tighten our belt. (Maghigpit nang sinturon!) One way of doing so is, umiwas sa gastusin such as throwing 'parties' every now and then. Dito ko lamang nakita at naranasan sa Kingdom na mag-birthday lang, or mag-celebrate nang Valentine's Day kaya, "nagpapa social party na", and take note, imbitado ang halos buong barangay. Para bang laging mayroong 'meeting de avance. Dito ko din halos nakita na marami sa atin ang tunay na "branded conscious". Yun bang dapat naka Armani, Versace at D&G... (kahit sabihin pang hindi magawang bigkasin nang tama ang 'Dolce', idagdag pa ang 'Versace'). It is pretty okay kung can afford at kaya nang bulsa. Paano kung hindi? Though one may argue or make counter comments, albeit, marami sa atin ang may ganitong attitude. Masarap mabuhay sa epicenter of reality. At mas lalung masarap makita at madama na tanggapin ka nang mga kaibigan bilang ikaw..... maging mahirap ka man o mayaman. Matalino man o mayroong mga kakulangan.

In considering our present situation sa pagbagsak nang dolyar, lalu nating isipin ang ating truest and sincerest mission why we are working in here, or elsewhere overseas: Yung kumita nang Pera. Mag-save. (Isn't it that "money saved is money earned?"). Umunlad ang buhay at magkaroon nang comfortable retirement pagdating nang araw. Which in the long run, ay makakatulong sa pag-usad ang ating ekonomiya. In doing so, we will find out that we are helping ourselrves more than we ever know.

III. On a totally different subject: (Various Pinoy artists, art and cultural groups in the Kingdom).

It's a common knowledge, which we should realize, that no matter how much natural talent and ability we might have, we will never reach our full potential without getting a broad experience of our chosen field; that unless our talent comes into contact with an environment where it can develop and flourish, it might lie dormant forever.

The issue in here is: If and when possible, one should get guidelines and trainings from people who sincerely know the craft. Kung kayang pumunta sa mga schools of arts, do it; why not! In addition to our experience na nakukuha sa ibat-ibang undertakings tulad nang mga various cultural and artistic presentations nang bawat art groups, tunay na makakatulong at makakadagdag ang pagkuha nang formal schooling at trainings.

My personal observation is, again, though one may argue: Sa halip na tunay na "i-polish" ang natural talents nang ibang Pinoy artists, they opt na mag-compare at mamintas na lamang. Some are only satisfied sa "feeling-artist- attitude". The grain of truth is: tunay na maraming competent at well-disciplined Pinoy artists na OFWs sa Kingdom. For one, I know so many, pero marami rin yung mayroon lamang na "feeling popular" at may "know-all-attitude". I mean, makasayaw lamang nang modern jazz, feeling na nasa kategorya na nang dating "Ms. Liza Macua", or, Angel Reyes, or, David Pantoja. Nakatulong or na-assign lamang mag design nang stage for a certain cultural program, ayun at feeling "certified art director' na.

Perhaps, it is prudent to consider that our natural creative ability, if it is not honed (via experience and education), let alone, practiced (via various artistic and serious undertakings), is an obvious waste of human talent. And the concerned artist must know this fact.

Now, on the issue of those claiming they are great, well-disciplined artists: Why not share yur real talents and expertise to others? Certainly, knowing what we know, why we can't (share)? Isn't it iyan ang ilan sa mga dahilan kaya tayo binigyan nang nasa Itaas nang talino at opportunity for a full access sa edukasyon?

And finally, doon sa ating mga kababayan, who always find na laging "kabadingan": ang parameters and perimeters of SINING, Pinoy artist man (Pinilakang Tabing), Bollywood, Lollywood, Hollywood, ....... (GISING!).
Again, it has something to do with our mental factors and social attitude...... (yung social insensibilities and artistic bankruptcies) nang ilan regarding the whole matter. As for our Pinoy artists, professional and amateur, in the Kingdom, let us all remember that: "Artists ought to be judged by their artwork, not whether they are gays, lesbians or not!".

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