Thursday, June 26, 2008

Remembering heroism aboard MV Cassandra

Sister, a sister calling
A master, her master and mine!—
And the inboard seas run swirling and hawling;
The rash smart sloggering brine
Blinds her; but she that weather sees one thing, one;
Has one fetch in her: she rears herself to divine
Ears, and the call of the tall nun
To the men in the tops and the tackle rode over the storm’s brawling.

Those lines are from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “The Wreck of the Deutschland” (first published in 1918), a very long and difficult poem dedicated to the German Franciscan nuns who died in a shipwreck during a storm that lashed at the North Sea. The nuns left Germany because of anti-Catholicism.

With the sinking of Sulpicio Lines’ Princess of the Stars during the weekend at the height of typhoon Frank, we are, once again, in a recall mode. A list of past sea disasters and staggering numbers of dead are again brought out for us to behold and shudder at.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dying Filipino caregiver in Canada is being kicked out

In my column last week on “Caregiver” the movie, I ended by saying the movie should have a sequel. Well, it’s that column piece that is having a sequel. And this is for Filipino caregiver Juana Tejada. Juana de la Cruz, the EveryOFW.

I now step aside to project the myriad voices raised on her behalf. First, let me quote portions of a stinging column piece (“Our nanny state, save for nannies,” June 11) written by Joe Fiorito for Canada’s The Star.

“Corey Glass may get to stay. He is the American deserter—call him a war resister; better still, call him a conscientious objector—who came to our country to avoid the war in Iraq.

“All parties in the House of Commons approved a motion last week urging the government to allow him and others like him to remain in Canada as permanent residents. The vote was 137-110 in favor. If the motion is not binding, it has moral force.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Today, the 110th anniversary of our independence, it behooves us to remember the millions of Filipinos toiling in foreign lands so that their loved ones back home could have a better life. Who would have imagined 110 years ago that there would be a diaspora and that Filipino workers—professionals, skilled, unskilled—would populate every nook and cranny of this world?

So much Filipino blood, sweat and tears have been shed on foreign shores. Someday, we hope to see a reversal of fortune and Filipinos will be on the top of the heap in their adopted countries and on top of the world back home.

The other day I watched Chito Rono’s “Caregiver” (from Star Cinema), the Sharon Cuneta starrer on the life and work of a Filipino caregiver and other caregivers in London. I could nitpick on a few things but on the whole, the movie was a great tribute to the overseas Filipino workers (OFW), the caregivers in particular. I definitely recommend it for viewing and I hope many Filipinos abroad would get to watch it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

“Poor” grade for government’s asset reform

“Poor.” This was the dismal grade for the implementation of asset reform laws intended to benefit farmers, indigenous communities, the fisherfolk and the urban poor.

In this season when the country is suffering from a crisis in food security, comes the information that those who belong to the mentioned sectors, with the exception of the urban poor, are mostly food producers. Asset reform in these sectors has been slow. No wonder!

The Philippine Asset Reform Report Card (PARRC) Project gave the dismal grade of “poor” after conducting a survey that involved “the largest samples studied to date of beneficiaries in the four asset reform programs.” The Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Area (Phildhrra) spearheaded the survey project.

Here is the State of the Nation for you. The survey hopes to put asset reform in the nation’s development agenda. I hope government officials in the executive and legislative branches would take a long, hard look at the survey results. They know how to interpret facts and figures and read the signs of the times. (A number of them also know how to be makapal and act as endorsers in product ads and advocacies. These ads may have worked for name and face recall but none of these politicians will get my vote.)